The reminders (to-do lists) application that comes preinstalled with OS X (Mountain Lion), called Reminders, not only allows you to enter typical to-do lists but it also synchronizes them with your iCloud Account and therefore certain apple mac devices such as the iPad. Furthermore, lists can be shared amongst other people with an iCloud Account and also be imported and exported. So Reminders is not just a standard "Shopping List" to-do list application. It can also be useful in projects and for business purposes. In this section I will show you how to set up basic To-Do Lists and how to add, delete and edit Reminders (the actual items in the lists).

Begin by opening the application called Reminders - Open FINDER, click on the APPLICATIONS folder and then double click on the REMINDERS application icon. Doing so will open the Reminders application window (Fig 1.2 below) which should be blank to start off with unless another application or piece of software has already added a list to it for whatever reason(s) - There should only be the default list called TASKS in the sidebar (left window pane).

Fig 1.0  Open FINDER, click on the APPLICATIONS folder and then double click on the REMINDERS application icon to continue

Fig 1.1  The REMINDERS application window only has a TASKS list by default - Click on the PLUS button to add another list.

When the Reminders application window appears (above) click on the PLUS button at the bottom of the window (sidebar) to create (add) a new list; called NEW LIST. You can also click on the FILE menu and then on the NEW LIST menu-item if you prefer. Remember, the Reminders application window must be the active window before its menus and menu-items become available.

You can think of lists like folders and reminders like the files within those folders. Or put another way; a list is the actual title/heading on a piece of paper (i.e. Shopping List, To-Do List, Passwords, Renewals or Don't Forget To Pay It) and a reminder is an actual item within a particular list (i.e. Bread, Butter, Milk and Sugar within the Shopping List) whereby you are reminded of that item (i.e. Alert me when it is time to pay that bill). Don't worry if you are confused!! will see what is going on in a minute.

Once you have clicked on the PLUS button a new list will be created called NEW LIST (above). To rename it to Shopping List for example just type Shopping List, as the current name of NEW LIST is ready to be edited (typed over). Hence why typing S will over-write the name NEW LIST. If you need to rename a list from scratch simply click on the list's name and start typing. In the example below (Fig 1.3) I have created four lists simply by clicking on the PLUS button each time and typing in a new name for each new list.

Fig 1.2  You can rename a new list by typing over it - you may need to click on the name first to make it editable.

Fig 1.3  Create each new list by clicking on the PLUS button - Rename each new list when it has been created.

Now that some lists have been created - namely: Shopping List, Bills, Website Renewals and To-Do List - some items (reminders) can be created for them. In this example if I want to create some items (reminders) for the Shopping List list I first need to click on the title/heading Shopping List to make it the active list. From there I can then either click on the PLUS (add) button in the top-right corner of the application window or use the FILE menu >> NEW REMINDER menu-item to create a new, empty, item. When a new, empty, item is created it has a tick box placed next to it whereby you can then type something into the edit box. The tick box can be used later to denote an item has been bought for example.

Fig 1.4  Click on the list you want to work with (i.e. Shopping List) and then click on the ADD button to create a new item

Fig 1.5  Type some wording into the edit box of Item #1

At this point (Fig 1.5 above) I have only created Item #1 for the list called Shopping List. That first item consists of an automatically created tick box and my manual typing of the word Bread. If I want to create another item all I need to do is click on the PLUS (add) button again, in the top-right corner of the application window, and then type some wording into that new item's edit box. I could also press the ENTER keyboard key, instead of clicking on the PLUS button, each time I have finished typing out an item. Here is an example of a short shopping list.

Fig 1.6  Type out an item in the current edit box and then either click on the PLUS button or press the ENTER keyboard key

When you have typed out a shopping list for example you will end up with the last item being empty, after pressing the ENTER keyboard key or clicking on the PLUS button on your last item (i.e. Butter). This is quite normal. The Reminders application just thinks you want to continue with the list of course and therefore creates another item with a tick box and empty edit box. Just ignore that last, empty, item as it will disappear when you click outside of its edit box for example.

To rename an item simply click on its name and then rename it as you would any other text inside a standard edit box. And to delete an item click on it first, to highlight it in grey, and then press the BACKSPACE keyboard key (or DELETE keyboard key if you have one). In this example I have highlighted the Tomatoes (Item #6).

Fig 1.7  Click on an item to highlight it in grey and then press the BACKSPACE keyboard key to delete it

In this next example I have since switched back to the empty To-Do List, by clicking on its title/heading to make it the currently active list, and typed out some TO-DOs. At the moment that list is just a list of to-do items, just as the shopping list is just a list of food/drink items. To make a list more interactive, with date, time and location reminders, you first need to click double click on an item or click on the letter i to its right to bring up its Options window. That options window allows you to add a date, time and location reminder to the currently selected item, which the Reminders application will reminder you of when that date, time and/or location approaches.

Fig 1.8  Double click on an item to bring up its Options window and then click on the ON A DAY or AT A LOCATION tick box

With the Options window displayed you now have the choice of setting up a date and time reminder, a location reminder or both. To set up a date and time reminder click on the ON A DAY tick box, so it becomes ticked, and then change the date and time of notification, if need be, by clicking on their respective settings. Once you are happy with the date and time settings click on the DONE button. In this example I have left the date and time alone just to show you what happens, notification-wise, when the date and time has been reached.

Fig 1.9  Change the date and time of this reminder if you wish and then click on the DONE button

If you need to be reminded (notified) about a certain event (item) when you are at a specific location (i.e. out and about in London with your iPhone) simply click on the AT A LOCATION tick box, enter your location and click on the DONE button (example not shown here). The location option (setting) uses the OS X (Mountain Lion) / iOS 6 location services to pin point where your apple device is at the reminder date and time (i.e. where your iPhone or iPad is when you need to be notified of Mary's Wedding).

When a reminder's date and time has been reached four things happen. On the computer you will see a reminder message requester from the actual notification center whereby you have the option of clicking on its SNOOZE button or CLOSE button. If you do not click on a button the notification (message requester) will stay for a while on the desktop screen, counting the minutes since the event occurred. Clicking on the SNOOZE button means Remind me about this event again every 15 Minutes whereas clicking on the CLOSE button means I will deal with this notification/event later.

As well as the message requester, the Reminders docked application icon will have the number one on it (not shown here) to denote you have one reminder pending and the listed item's (event's) date and time will be coloured red within the Reminders application (not shown here). If you have an iPad and/or iPhone they will also receive the same notification (reminder).

Fig 1.10  The notification center will remind you of your event (i.e. Mary's Weddings) via a pop-up message requester

If you are going to use the Reminders application frequently you might like to click on the Notification Center menu-item, in the very top-right corner of the desktop screen, every now and then to check up on reminders; such as appointments, weddings and so on. You can either leave the notification center visible or open and close when needed.

Fig 1.11  You can use the notification center to check up on up reminders (appointments, weddings and so on)

To mark an event (reminder) as finished simply put a tick next to its listed item with the Reminders application. Doing so will move the item into a newly created system list called COMPLETED. If you click on this special list you will see expired (finished/completed) events (items), such as Mary's Wedding in this example. If you want to mark that event as incomplete (unfinished), perhaps because you want to reuse the event (i.e. change its details), simply untick it and it will go back into its original list (i.e. back into the To-Do List list). To delete a completed item click on it to select it and then press the BACKSPACE (or DELETE) keyboard key.

Fig 1.12  This reminder (item / event) has been marked as completed (finished)

With regards to certain keywords being used within events (items), such as Breakfast and Lunch, the Reminders application will set specific times for them (i.e. 9 am and 12 pm). So if you had an item stating - Lunch with Susan - it would be given today's date and a time of 9 am by default; which you could then change.


By default the Reminders application is only meant to be used on the apple device it is installed on, such as your iMac computer or MacBook Pro Laptop computer. If you want actual reminders synchronized with your iPad and/or iPhone, so they appear on your iPad and/or iPhone, you need to make sure your iCloud Account is enabled for use with the Reminders application - Open SYSTEM PREFERENCES, click on the ICLOUD icon and then make sure there is a tick next to the CALENDARS & REMINDERS application. If there isn't, simply put a tick next to it. Alternatively, you can use the MAIL, CONTACTS & CALENDARS System Preferences to achieve the same thing.

Fig 1.13  

Although the above examples have covered most, if not all, of the basics you should experiment with Reminders on all of your apple devices in terms of creating lists and so on as each device application varies slightly in operation. Reminders is a very good application to have with iCloud because it means you could type out a Shopping List at home on your iMac for example and then take your synchronized iPhone or iPad to the supermarket. As you tick off each food/drink item your partner at home will already know what they are having for dinner!! Remember. Lists can also be Imported and Exported using the FILE menu; so they could be shared between other computers for example.