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Abstractspoon Todolist review


Abstractspoon is a small but mighty program for task management or to do list as the name implies. And, it’s free. If those two points aren’t enough to get you downloading, let me elaborate further  in this review of Abstractsoon Todolist and explain how it can assist to give your productivity a boost.


Todolist is a small program (2.3MB download) that functions as a great task management tool due to it’s speed and simplicity. Each tasklist is saved as an xml file which can also be shared with other users and you can have multiple tasklists open, each as a tab within the program. This makes it ideal for task tracking either for individuals or within small teams and across multiple projects/tasklists. Given the shared file can only be edited by one user at a time the scope for scalability. However, if you find that either you or your small team are in need of a local task management tool this is certainly worth looking at.

Features and use

In using the tool, what you see primarily is an outline view of the tasks to be done with each level being contained within a folder that can be expanded to see the subtasks.

todolist screenshot

Tasks are easily added, edited and moved. From the screenshot a few points to highlight. There are copious columns that can be populated and custom columns can also be added.   The visibility of these columns can also be defined to prevent information overload and superfluous columns that any particular user would not need.

Below the menu buttons filters are already in place and readily accessible. The options with these are also immediately useful! For example, can immediately filter for tasks due today, starting this week etc. Should you wish to look for a bit more exotic filtering, then best refer to the find option.

Along the bottom of your task list you see a few different viewing options. List view, Gantt view etc. For me personally, these get a lot less use that the primary Task Tree but if you fancy a change of scenery then have a look. Of interest also for those SCRUM aficionados is the Statistics which features a burn down list. So, to see your ascending, plateau or cliff (for the efficiency Jedi among you) you can check it out.

The Gantt chart functionality is still in it’s infancy and for those accustomed to working with MS Project will probably be too basic, certainly for serious project planning. However, for viewing project plans in this format it is adequate.

For day to day usage you will want to get familiar with the hot keys and this is where the tool comes into it’s own. Task administration can be easily and quickly handled in this fashion and it makes the program not only a delight to use but more importantly, feasible for usage whereby ones does not spend an inordinate amount of time in organising tasks as opposed to actively getting things done.

Given the relatively blank sheet nature of the program, the ability to form hierarchies and the usage of multiple tasklists within the program it is relatively flexible to allow you to impose your own task handling methodology. Here is one such example of a Getting Things Done(GTD) implementation using Abstractspoon.

The program options also allow for comprehensive customisation to fit to the way you want to handle the program. Within the options is the also vital ability to archive and backup the to do lists. Invaluable to have this automatic back up option in case of disaster(always a possibility if multiple people editing the document!).


In terms of reporting, it is not the program’s forte. However, this can be handled to some extent via printing with stylesheets. Here, a summary of the tasks can be presented in various formats whether for the complete tasklist, filtered or selected tasks.



For me it is nearly always a must to play nice with other programs. Thankfully, it is possible with todolist. I use it together with MS Project, whereby I can import project plans from this 200lb Gorilla and then use todolist for day to day handling and appending of the big picture tasks from MS Project. So, the csv import/export is very useful for such purposes. A few other import/export options also exist such as to freemind, gannt project, etc. Freemind import is also welcome as often projects are best sketched out in this medium. Importing this mindmap then allows some meat to be put on the bones in terms of dates and resources.



I like todolist a lot. I like the speed of use, it’s flexibility, the ability to take in MS Project plans and being able to share the list with the team. One cannot argue with the price, being free, and so I would heartily recommend this product. If you find it useful, I see donations are possible to Dan, the developer.

What has your experience of this app been?

Brendan Toner

Let me welcome you to this alcove of the internet. In this little productivity blog, I detail the trials and tribulations of trying to use my time more effectively utilising the latest productivity tools and techniques. I hope you enjoy the articles, cheers! Brendan Toner, author of Done Before Brekky

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11 Responses

  1. September 1, 2015

    […] give an example below using Abstractspoon todolist. Here, we have the inbuilt function to add any link to each task. Clicking the file icon beside the […]

  2. September 10, 2015

    […] while others like freemind readily lend themselves to export to a specialized todo list app such as Abstractspoon todolist which is my personal favourite, and, it is free! So, having gone through these three steps we have […]

  3. September 16, 2015

    […] are available for several functions but for someone coming from a hotkey centric app such as Abstractspoon todolist the interface can sometimes be slower and more cumbersome to use with clicking on several buttons […]

  4. September 17, 2015

    […] we FLAG it. I assume your software has some option for highlighting tasks. On my favourite app, Abstractspoon Todolist, it appears as a flag. On yours it may be a star or some other icon. So, whichever symbol you use, […]

  5. September 26, 2015

    […] the software I use, Abstractspoon Todolist it is easy to search the tasks that I had completed over a certain timeframe. This enables very […]

  6. December 2, 2015

    […] tasks as it saves the normal searching for files. An example on how to do this is shown below using Abstractspoon ToDoList. In this free app, it is possible to add file links to each task. Clicking on the icon opens the […]

  7. December 26, 2015

    […] When this is done there is a unique ability to easily sum the time durations of the tasks within each of those containers and to determine if it is possible to do them in the time available. This opens up exciting new possibilities for task management. Previously I had spoken on this topic in another article where I took the Big rocks concept from 7-Habits of Effective People and considered how it could be applied in practice. One fundamental tenant of that was to establish if we actually have time to do Big rock tasks and if so, then what time is left over for less substantive tasks. To demo this I used MS Project and the concepts behind resource levelling to illustrate how we can view how much of our time resource has been allocated in the future and what time is available for new tasks. I was not satisfied with the implementation as it used tools used for project management and was not simple enough. I think the method used in this todo list is much more elegant, can still yield the same basic information and is possible to implement in a program specialised for task management – Abstractspoon ToDoList. […]

  8. January 12, 2016

    […] using the summed sub-task time estimates for instant sprint effort planning. Use of the free Abstractspoon ToDoList windows app provides a particularly elegant way to do […]

  9. June 29, 2016

    […] (GTD). The basic workflow can be applied to many general ToDo list applications such as the free Abstractspoon ToDoList. However, for the more complex Task Landscape, this is still work in progress. A demo version has […]

  10. September 9, 2016

    […] Abstractspoon todolist […]

  11. October 16, 2017

    […] giving it a go. You can download it for free from this ToDoList download link. You can find my full review of ToDoList and my coverage of the ToDoList Kanban plugin at the links […]

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