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How to use the iOS Reminders app

Lex Friedman | Jan. 19, 2012
The arrival of iOS 5 last fall brought with it the ability to manage your to-dos in the form of the built-in Reminders app.

The arrival of iOS 5 last fall brought with it the ability to manage your to-dos in the form of the built-in Reminders app. Reminders won't threaten the many task management utilities available from the App Store--Apple's built-in tool is really geared more toward storing simple lists for shopping, packing, and the like. But there are some time- and location-based tricks you can master with Reminders on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Here's a quick guide on how to make the most of the app.


When you first launch Reminders, you'll see, by default, a blank list; the name of that list, appropriately enough, is Reminders. You can create multiple, separate lists in Reminders, and assign individual tasks to any one of them. On the iPad, your lists are always visible on the left-hand side of the screen. On the iPhone, simply tap the lists icon--the three parallel horizontal bars at the upper left--to expose your lists.

To add a new list, tap the Edit button. Then, tap the Create New List link and start typing your new list's name. Tap Done when you're finished. While in Edit mode, you can also rename lists, or use the handles to reorder your lists. Tap the Done button at the top left to exit Edit mode completely.

On the iPad, switching between lists is simple: Tap the list name at left, and that list's contents will immediately appear on the right. iPhone users have a couple of options for list-switching. The first is to tap the lists icon at the top left, and then tap the specific list you're after. The quicker solution, however, is to swipe horizontally across the current list to flip to the next one. Pagination dots at the bottom of the screen indicate how many lists you can swipe through; the leftmost list is your Completed list, which aggregates all the tasks you check off as done.


Now that you've mastered lists, it's time to start adding tasks--reminders, in the app's nomenclature. There are two ways to add a task: You can tap the plus (+) icon at the upper right, or tap in the topmost blank space on the virtual lined paper. (If your list is empty, that means tap the top space to start typing. If you have three entries on your list, tap where the fourth would go.)

Your task can take whatever form you'd like. Your groceries list might contain entries like Eggs, Milk, and Peanut Butter Cups; your Reminders list might instead include items like Get a Birthday Present For Uncle Jim and Take Out The Recycling Cans.

When you're finished typing in your task, it's not entirely obvious what precisely you should do next. As is so often the case in Reminders, you get two choices: You can tap the Return key on the virtual keyboard, or you can tap the Done button at the upper right.


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