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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.

Scheduling reminders

If you want to save other details for your reminder--add a specific time or location at which the reminder should be triggered, schedule a recurring reminder, move it to another list, or add other notes--you need to tap your newly-added entry. From the Details screen that appears, you can tap the Remind Me button to schedule a time- or location-based reminder. To set a time-based reminder, slide the On a Day switch to on, and then choose the date and time your Reminder should sound. Only tasks for which you have scheduled reminder times can be set to recur, repeating the reminder again at daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, or yearly intervals.

Slide the Location slider to On, and you can schedule your alert to sound when you arrive at or depart from a specific location. Reminders, by default, assumes you want your reminder to relate to your current location. If you want it to remind you when you arrive at (or leave) somewhere else, tap Choose Address.

You're limited to addresses in your Contacts list. Thus, you may end up adding some extra contacts, like Work or School--complete with their addresses, of course--so that you can more easily get Reminders to alert you to pick up certain items when you're near those establishments.

Here's how: Launch the Contacts app, and then tap the Plus (+) icon at the upper right. You can put the name of the school, workplace, store, or any frequently visited site in the Company field, add a phone number or skip it, and then scroll down to the field marked Add New Address. Tap that, and then type in the address of your frequently visited place. When you're finished, tap the Done button at the upper right. From now on, you'll be able to use your just-added business as a location for such a Reminder. If you don't mind a slightly cluttered Address Book, it's a great means of making sure you remember to buy lightbulbs when you're near Home Depot.

If you assign your reminder a priority, the Reminders app remembers that, but does nothing with that information--you can't reorder your tasks, and higher priority ones don't move to the top of your list. You will see those priorities reflected only if you review your todos at the iCloud website.

Reminders with Siri

If you use an iPhone 4S, you can also add reminders through Siri. Hold down the Home button to bring up Siri, and then speak instructions like these:

  • Remind me to pick up Frank at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow
  • Remind me to preheat the oven when I get Home
  • Remind me to buy hamburgers the day before Memorial Day
  • Remind me to water the plants, every day, at 7 a.m.
  • Put chocolate milk on my Groceries list


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