How do you use Todos in Joplin?

Hi there.

I have been using Joplin for several years now as my main notes taking app and am very happy and thankful to the developers.
One thing I never did, and frankly never understood, is how to use Joplin as a todo app. And since I am thinking about switching my current todo setup, I wanted to evaluate Joplin again.

So the way how a new item in Joplin can be a note or a todo item never clicked with me. It seems odd. A todo is just a note which can be checked. So for most todos you have a whole big empty body and then the little title makes the todo. And where ususally an item in Joplin is a note with potentially a lot of content in it (a valueable item in your notebook), now you have a basically a banal thing that basically contains no info and will be deleted soon whenever it is completed?

A todo can be one little atomic task like "buy milk" wich may fit into a bigger context ("Groceries") but it can also be a bigger thing like "implement search functionality" which can contain subtasks or additional info which can go neatly into the "note" body. The latter one might be its own todo with optional subtasks. But in the first case is your groceries list a notebook and you put each item as a todo (which seems like such a waste of space in the hirachy*) or is your Groceries list a todo which contains several awkward - [ ] items which is also weird since you may never "complete" the "Groceries" todo.

I am sorry if I am rambling but I don't get how anyone can use this as a todo functionality and so I wanted to know if people can share their ways. I often found it very useful to see these workflow examples of how people use a todo app (several apps have this on their website to explain the user what they can do and how it is intended to be used). I understand that the way Joplin is build leaves a lot of room but for me it is a little overwhelming and I wonder if anyone can share their experience on how they use it.

* What I mean with this and what is one of the things that generally puts me off, at least of putting atomic tasks as a todo into Joplin. Imagine this then is your notebooks:

Programming [notebook]
-Rust [notebook]
-- Learn about ownership [note]
-- How to get lifetimes right [note]
-- ...
Todo [notebook]
- Groceries [notebook]
-- [ ] Milk [todo]
-- [ ] Bread [todo]
-- [ ] Coffee [todo]
-- [ ] Apples [todo]

Your todos pollute your whole nice notebook structure even though it can be collapsed: Different items have wholly different contents, in the case of atomics, they don't have any content at all. Still they stand next to monumental notes which you put a lot of energy into.

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I don’t use joplin todo, it can hardly be used normally

  • As I began using Joplin for todos, I had to add some recurring todos and other one time tasks to my calendar instead of my todos.

  • I created a - Immediate folder. The - is to have it alphabetically at the top of my folders so it is always available. There are just 3 notes in it. One is Daily notes, which has notes I take during the day, phone calls etc.

  • I use both the Template plugin and the Outline plugin.

  • One subhead is short term. Here I simply list the tasks I expect to complete in less than a week. Things like shopping lists are in my phone and not part of Joplin.

  • Another subhead is Long term. These are for longer term projects. The outline plugin allows me to jump directly to these.

  • Another subhead is Repeating where I list projects that repeat. Some have a list of 4-10 subtasks. Like, turning out a monthly newsletter can be broken down into about 8 steps. Writing articles, getting graphics, editing articles, etc. - For repeating tasks that have lists, I use the template plugin to make them. - Each of the repeating tasks has its own subhead, so I can jump immediately to it from the outline.

  • Below that I have Links. These are links to longer more detailed notes or even notebooks for projects that are long-term.

@Mubirio Like you, I don't find using Joplin's to-do feature intuitive, so I haven't given time to figuring out how to make it useful for me. I hope you'll get some good help/examples from others to help you figure out how to make good use of it.

You probably know this, too, but I don't mind not being able to make use of every feature as long as I'm using the features that are essential for me. (e.g. I probably only use a small % of Word and Excel's features.)

In fact, I do use to-do lists, but because I use Todoist for that purpose (I have it integrated with Outlook with reminders/notifications/calendar), I'm content to ignore Joplin's to-do feature. My guess is that a dedicated to-do app will be better than Joplin's to-do feature will ever be.



This is a current issue :wink: (some relative discussions here, here, etc) . It would be nice to try to do better with the todo even if we can already do a lot of things. I gave an example of what I do (it's even a little more complex now). When I was working on only one computer I was using Taskwarrior (excellent in every way) but since I'm working on different computers (3 in fact) I'm using Joplin (well, I'm tinkering a bit). Joining efforts to make progress on this subject would seem to me very useful. But I don't know if @laurent would rather see a development of Joplin or a plugin :thinking:

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Of course you can say that but it sounds like a default choice that forces you to use a non-free tool (todoist). It's a pity even if I completely understand your reasoning.

@bepolymathe I could be wrong about the future. Maybe a few years down the line, enough people will have worked on the Joplin to-do feature so that it rivals an app like Todoist in features and user-friendliness. Then I'll happily drop Todoist, because who doesn't like a free app that does many, many things as well as paid apps. But for now, especially as a non-programmer that can't contribute anything to Joplin, I don't feel like I'm forced to use a non-free tool because I don't expect Joplin to be awesome at every feature immediately.

Yes yes I understand and I am in the same situation as a non-developer. I don't judge all your usage and I find it logical.

Wow thank you everyone! I will take some time to look through your suggestions, workflows and links. This is much appreciated!

Just out of curiosity, what do you use instead?

github project(online) + markdown todo list(offline)

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@skim1124 @rxliuli Is it make sense for you ? Let's add the possibility to plan todo?

No, I don’t plan to use joplin as a todo tool, not to mention I don’t use joplin client directly at all

I do not like using a MS product but I use Microsoft To Do (it used to be called Wunderlist before MS bought it). Its interface is simple, clean and intuitive. I have dozens of lists. There are desktop and smartphone versions which all synchronize. I can share lists with others if desired. I can sort as desired and drag and drop items from one list to another. I literally have a couple thousand items on it. I use it many times per day (why waste brain cycles remembering small details?).

I should have added that my main concern with using a MS product in this case is my data being mined. I just found this thread after googling how to use Joplin ToDo's for that reason. Like other posters here I never understood the point of Joplin's ToDo's as they are currently implemented. I use Joplin daily for other reasons.

Joplin could have been used as a todo app if it had something like Obsidian has which is a side panel that can list all todos from all the notes. Bear in mind this is a nice UI element not another document page where one has to have it open at all times.

The agenda plugin do that :wink: ... :thinking:

I like to-do notes. I use them time to time when there is some action to do in a note.

Todo notes are pinned in top of notes list and look not the same as regular notes. Thus you always see notes with a deadline defined.

If I need to see all todos I search for "type:todo".
If I need to filter out todo done I using the "views > show completed todos" button.

nb: but for advanced todos and projects management I am currently using Notion.

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I am not sure if it does that. The Obsidian plugin collects individual todo items (checkmark boxes) from all kinds of notes and lists there. This only shows me the todo type notes.

Indeed, it does not