todo.txt: Famous or infamous, you decide

It’s time. I have dreaded this post for years now, and the sour taste I get in my mouth when I think about touching fingertips with the to-do list manager with‘s seal of approval. 😛

I mentioned this quite some time ago, when I brought punch to center stage, and technically speaking that was done out of order. Ideally, we should have talked about the task organizer before the time clock add-on, but it’s water under the bridge now.

I suppose it’s not the fault of todo.txt that left its greasy fingerprints on it. And perhaps I’m not being fair by immediately assuming that is just glomming onto an otherwise useful script in hopes of pulling a little traffic its own way.

Then again, I just checked and the top story on that site is how to remove stains from your clothes with Windex. 😯 Yeah, I’ll trust my instinct this time: They’re glomming.

Let’s get back on track. Here’s todo.txt, which installs as in Arch.


You’ll need to copy the default configuration file from /usr/share/todotxt/todo.cfg to ~/.todo/config before you can get any meaningful work done with todo.txt. Mostly it just wants the location of your todo.txt file, and I have no problem supplying that.

todo.txt uses the command-line parser approach, sort of like taskwarrior and tdl, among others.

There is a full compliment of commands to cover just about every aspect of task management — add, delete, prioritize, do. todo.txt adds the concept of “archiving” finished tasks, as well as the only-slightly-more-common ability to generate reports. There are also a half-dozen ways to list your tasks, whether it’s by priority or some other criteria.

Learning todo.txt is fairly easy, since help (command) tells you everything you need to know about any single command, and how it is arranged. I daresay that is more useful than a man page or a few help flags.

As I understand it, todo.txt arranges separate lists through folder structures, so if you want more than one list, be prepared to work within a folder tree.

todo.txt does not live up to the clean and fashionable output of todo.c though; todo.txt seems to stack tasks from newest to oldest, prefixing an item with its priority if it has one. In that sense, todo.txt definitely has something to learn from the little guy.

I also find it a little taxing after working with todo.c and t, to find that just generates a brief help message, rather than dishing out the list of things in my todo.txt file.

todo.txt also seems to lack some of the intricacy that taskwarrior can give, or some of the interactive element present in tdl or others from long ago.

It’s not a terrible solution though, and I don’t intend to disparage it to any degree. I just feel it’s a buyer’s market for task organizers and to-do list managers, and todo.txt doesn’t do the job with any real flair. It’s easily forgotten, from my perspective.

Taking a quick look at the home page though, it’s obvious that its appeal is in its widespread adoption between operating systems and devices. So it may be that its middle-ground approach makes it easier to pick up, if you rely on more than one gadget to get things done.

But that’s enough for now. I’ve said way too much about a script that doesn’t particularly stand out from my perspective. Of course, I still have issues with fawning over it, and I don’t know if that dirty feeling is likely to go away any time soon. 😕

1 thought on “todo.txt: Famous or infamous, you decide

  1. Pingback: memo: Not bad, just average by comparison | Inconsolation

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