Optimizing Your Use of Reminders
As soon as you begin using the Reminders app, you’ll discover it has a wide range of potential uses in your personal and professional life, including the following:
- Keeping track of things you want to accomplish
- Creating detailed to-do lists
- Tracking goals
- Maintaining various types of shopping lists
- Jotting down ideas or brainstorming
- Documenting meeting agendas
- Creating a list of phone calls you need to make
- Managing any other type of information that can use a list format
When you launch the Reminders app, by default its app window has two main sections, as shown in Figure 6.2. The left side of the app window comprises the sidebar, which consists of a Search field, a list of your lists stored within the app, and an at-a-glance monthly calendar. On the right side of the app window, the currently selected and active list appears.
Figure 6.2. The main Reminders app window.
When using the Reminders app for the first time, you must create a new list. Each list can have its own label and an unlimited number of items within it. There are three ways to create a new list:
- Select File, New List from the menu bar.
- Use the -L keyboard shortcut.
- Click the plus sign icon at the bottom of the sidebar, to the right of the Hide Sidebar and Hide Calendar icons.
When you create a new list, a listing for it is added to the sidebar with the default label New List. Enter the custom label you want to create for the list, such as Grocery List, Today’s Phone Calls, Meeting Agenda, Today’s To-Do List, Packing List, and so on.
Figure 6.3. Each list within Reminders can have its own name, which you can create or change at any time.
After the list itself has been created, begin filling it in. To do so, move over to the right side of the app window. You can then add new items to a list in several ways, including the following:
- Select File, New Reminder from the menu bar.
- Use the -N keyboard shortcut.
- Press the plus sign icon near the top-right corner of the app window.
- Click the next open line within a list.
As soon as you add a new Reminder item, an empty check box appears on the first line of the page, under the list’s heading. Enter the item title. For example, if you’re creating a grocery list, type the first item on your list (for example, Milk).
When you begin entering an item title, to the right of that item, an Inspector (i) icon appears, as shown in Figure 6.4. At this point, either press the Return key to store that item and immediately enter a second item, such as Eggs, or click the Inspector (i) icon and further customize the first item listing.
Figure 6.4. Customize each item within a list by clicking the Inspector icon to the right of it.
Upon clicking the Inspector icon, you’re given a handful of options that enable you to associate a time/date or location-based alarm with the item itself, as well as priority/notes. From the pop-up window that appears, as shown in Figure 6.5, check the On a Day or At a Location check box to associate an alarm with your listed item.
Figure 6.5. After clicking the Inspector icon, customize a listing by associating an alarm, priority, or notes with it.
By adding a check mark to the On a Day check box, you associate an alarm to this item for a specific date and time of your choosing. Click the Date option to choose a month and day (shown in Figure 6.6). By default, the current date appears. Then click the Hour, Minute, and AM or PM fields, one at a time, to customize the alarm time.
Figure 6.6. Associate a date and time with each alarm you create for a list item.
If you’re using Reminders on a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, or if you sync your Reminders data with an iPhone, you can also associate an alarm with a specific location by checking the At a Location check box.
Upon doing this, you can select any address that’s listed within the Contacts app for yourself or any contact, such as your Home or Work, or the address of your grocery store (shown in Figure 6.7). By default, your current location is used. For this feature to work on your Mac, the computer must be connected to the Internet. Then, you can choose between either the Leaving or Arriving option. Once set, Reminders generates an alarm for the item on your list when you arrive at or leave a specific location.
Figure 6.7. In addition to associating an alarm with a date and time, you can create a location-based alarm for each item so that you’re reminded when you arrive at or leave a specific geographic location.
Each item on each of your lists can have a separate priority associated with it, as well. To set a priority, click the Priority option’s pull down menu (after clicking the Inspector icon associated with a list item) and choose between None, Low, Medium, or High.
One red exclamation point will appear to the left of a low-priority item on your list. Two red exclamation points will appear to the left of a medium-priority item, and three red exclamation points will appear to the left of a high-priority item, as shown in Figure 6.8.
Figure 6.8. Set a low, medium, or high priority for each list item to help you stay organized and efficiently juggle and manage your most important responsibilities, or to highlight your best ideas.
Finally, by clicking the Note option, you can type as many text-based notes as you want to be associated with each item on your list. Instead of typing notes, use the OS X Dictation feature to speak into your Mac and have what you say translated into text and inserted into the Note field.
At anytime, it’s easy to create another list and begin adding as many items to it as you want, or switch between existing lists to view/modify them. To delete an individual item from a specific list, click that item (on the right side of the app window) and press the Delete key. To delete an entire list from the Reminders app, select and highlight a list in the sidebar and press the Delete key. A confirmation pop-up window will display, as shown in Figure 6.9. Click the Delete button to confirm your decision.
Figure 6.9. Select and highlight a list you want to delete, press the Delete key, and then click the Delete button shown here to confirm your decision.
If you opt to keep the at-a-glance calendar displayed near the bottom of the sidebar, you can jump to a specific day by clicking it. Or, you can use the left- and right-arrow icons to the right and left of the Month and Year heading to move forward or backward one month at a time. Clicking the dot icon that appears when you stray from the current day and month enables you to instantly jump back to it.
Figure 6.10. By clicking a date within the at-a-glance monthly calendar, you can create a new list that contains to-do items, goals, or tasks that need to be accomplished on a specific date. Notice that the label on the list is the date you selected from the calendar.
As you’re viewing one list on the right side of the app window, and can see a listing of your lists within the sidebar, you have the option to drag an item from the active list (on the right side of the window) and move it to any other list within the sidebar. To do this, click an item within a list you’re viewing on the right side of the window, hold down the mouse button (or trackpad button), and drag the item to the left, onto another list’s label within the sidebar.
You can also use the Select, Copy, and Paste commands (under Edit on the menu bar), or their related keyboard shortcuts, to copy items between lists or move items around within a specific list.