How to turn plain text into a powerful task management system with TaskPaper

How to turn plain text into a powerful task management system with TaskPaper


Since when did remembering what you need to do become so complicated? A number of to-do list and task list management apps are packed with features to keep them updated. If you don’t need complicated things, TaskPaper may be the perfect choice for you.

What is TaskPaper?

Although called TaskPaper, this tool is not really related to paper. Instead, TaskPaper is an application that allows you to manage your tasks in an easy-to-use format, stored in plain text.

TaskPaper is an adjustable system the way you want. If you just want to remember a few options, TaskPaper may help. If you have a large, complex project that needs planning, TaskPaper can also help you do that. Flexibility is an important part of TaskPaper.

What is TaskPaper?

If you want to keep everything in one big document, you can do that too. You can also choose to use different files for personal, business and anything else.

Although TaskPaper is very simple, it still has a wide range of themes available. If you like a bit of visual flair, TaskPaper’s Dark Mode is a handy addition.

Dark Mode in TaskPaper

The case of plain text

One of the main advantages of storing tasks in plain text format is the ease of data movement. The synchronization processing is not complicated at all. Just select the file and upload it to a cloud service like Dropbox or Nextcloud and the data will be available wherever you want.

Thanks to its simplicity, plain text is also very powerful. Using the standard Unix tools found on Mac, Linux and Windows Subsystem for Linux, you can manipulate your to-do list in countless ways.

Unlike the synchronized backends of complex task management applications, you don’t have to worry about the TaskPaper stopping and losing data. The developer may stop the application, the synchronization service you use may stop working, but you still have the files that contain your task. In addition, the TaskPaper application is not the only tool you can use text files in the format of TaskPaper.

Get started with TaskPaper

Using TaskPaper is as easy as editing a text file, but that doesn’t mean that’s all it has. Easy task entries are part of the appeal of TaskPaper. However, besides that, TaskPaper will still work like many task applications, showing you the content and time to perform the task.

The main hierarchy of documents in TaskPaper appears as projects. To create a project, simply end a line with a colon. To create a task, start a line with a hyphen. Any line of text that does not begin with a hyphen or ends with a colon is considered a note.

Another way to organize tasks is to put them as tags. Do not use hashtags but instead use symbols @. You can tag anything you want, like @today for the tasks you want to solve today or @high for high priority tasks.

Use the tags

TaskPaper also supports due dates. You only need to use a date tag in parentheses. For example, @due (1970-01-01) will set a task on Thursday, January 1, 1970. This time is a past date, so it only works as an example.

You can also use relative dates, like @due (tomorrow) and TaskPaper will find everything for you.

Use TaskPaper on other systems

The basic TaskPaper application is for Mac only, but what if you want to use it on other systems? The TaskPaper file format is so simple that applications exist on nearly every operating system that works with it. For example, TaskMator brings the format of TaskPaper to iPhone.

In addition, there are TaskPaper plugins for most popular text editors. You can even add TaskPaper support to the venerable Vim editor.

TaskPaper is not for everyone, but it offers a combination of simplicity and special functionality that some users will love. If you are interested in this topic, you can refer to the article: The best plain text note application for all platforms for more details.

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