When comparing Todoist vs Trello, the Slant community recommends Trello for most people. In the question“What is the best cross-platform to-do list app?” Trello is ranked 1st while Todoist is ranked 3rd. The most important reason people chose Trello is:
There are two primary columns: the board is shown on the left and all the other controls on the right. The main means of interaction is dragging and dropping to-do cards into the various lists. The board structure is very customizable, and includes a variety of features that help along the way: color-coding, due dates, card images, checklists with a graphics bar that allows following progress easily, and card aging for cards that haven’t been touched in a long time.
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Pro Minimalist UI that's designed for efficient use
Todoist's web and desktop interfaces have a 2-column layout. The right column has all tasks organized in nested lists with color codes and information such as what people are assigned to each task and which project the task is part of. The left column offers ways of accessing various groups of tasks – tasks that have to be completed within a certain timeframe, tasks that are a part of a certain project or have certain labels attached to them, etc. The left column also contains filters that allow even more advanced ways of finding a group of tasks.
The mobile interface follows a similar design philosophy, but gives each column a separate view.
Pro Powerful search and filtering functionality
Todoist allows you to perform advanced queries to find tasks that are overdue, have a certain priority level or label, are within a certain project, are assigned to a certain person, or have a deadline set within a certain date range. It also allows combining different queries, removing certain results from the queries, and creating either/or statements.
These queries can be saved as filters for easy access. Filters can be color-coded.
Pro Multiple ways to organize tasks
Tasks can be structured in nested lists. They can be moved around by dragging and dropping them or via keyboard shortcuts. Tasks can be assigned labels, color codes, priorities, and can also be grouped into projects.
Pro Supports natural language input
Todoist supports phrases like "tomorrow," "next month," "in 3 weeks," or for recurring tasks, "every week" or "every 3 days."
Pro Allows sharing and collaborating on tasks
Anyone can be invited to collaborate on tasks and projects. Users can work alongside five people for free and 25 via the paid version. Collaboration includes the ability to assign tasks, comment on tasks, and receive instant updates.
Pro Monitors productivity and rewards it with karma
Todoist monitors how many tasks are completed and gives karma points as rewards for accomplishing them. It can also display charts showing productivity trends, which are great for finding areas that need improvement and increasing your overall productivity. This feature is a great motivator and an effective way of tracking productivity.
Pro No ads in free version
The unpaid version contains no ads or popups encouraging you to upgrade. The only time you will be asked to upgrade is if you attempt to use a premium feature.
Pro Visual scheduling
By clicking on a task and then selecting “schedule,” a dialog box will pop up with shortcuts like "today," "tomorrow," or "postpone until tomorrow." A date can still be entered manually.
Pro Great home screen and lock screen widgets
The native widget is fully functional and editable without needing to open the app. A premium feature allows you to add and edit the task list on your mobile device’s lock screen.
Pro Can be set to send a daily digest email
You can easily program a digest email that will send you an up-do-date summary of your tasks and deadlines.
Pro Allows creating task templates
Tasks can be saved as templates by going to "task actions" and selecting "export as a template." The template will be saved locally. Saved templates can then be imported by going to "task actions" button and clicking "import from template." This allows you to use past task items as a starting point for creating new tasks.
Pro Extensive integration with a wide range of external apps
Todoist offers integration with a wide range of external apps, including Google Drive, Dropbox, Google Maps, Apple Maps, Zapier, Toggl Button, TaskClone, CloudMagic, IFTTT, Calendar Sync, Google Now, Dispatch, Mailplane, Airmail, Drafts, Workflow, PomoDone, 1Password, Powr of You, Mailbird, Yoke, Taco, Ginger Keyboard, Time Doctor, and Rindle.
Pro Browser extension for "add website as task"
Bookmark any webpage as a to-do item.
Pro Allows creating location-based reminders
Location-specific tasks can utilize the GPS in your mobile device to offer reminders when you are in the appropriate vicinity. For example, grocery lists that are linked to the location of your regular grocery store.
Pro Super quick syncing
You can shift between devices without having to worry about if tasks have been synced or not. Todoist sync will always be quicker than you.
Pro Supports text formatting
You can make tasks stand out by setting them in bold and spice up your project names with emojis. Todoist also allows editing of hyperlinked text in the task comments. Hypertext, bold text, italic text, and emojis are supported in task names, project names, and task comments. Emojis are also supported in label names.
Hypertext, bold text, italic text, and emojis are supported in task names, project names, and task comments. Emojis are also supported in label names.
Pro Quickly browse your list through smartwatch devices
The Todoist app supports Apple Watch and Android Wear for instant action and task viewing through smartwatches.
Pro Integration with any app supporting web-calendar link
Pro Infinite list depth
All subtasks are full featured tasks. This means that at a glance you can see subtasks, unlike other applications that require you to open the task.
Pro Smart Schedule (Let AI schedule your tasks)
Todoist Smart Schedule adapts to your habits over time, analyzing your workload and determining how urgent a task is. By using both your past todos and future todos (as well as the data from millions of other users), it can sort your tasks in most important/ most urgent order, if you want.
Pro Business strategy doesn't hinge on being acquired
Doist publicly declared their opposition to exit strategies like acquisition that regularly leave users high and dry (https://blog.doist.com/why-we-don-t-have-an-exit-strategy-d3256107d958).
Pro On mobile apps, swipe left/right performs fast reschedule/done
Swipe right to mark a task as done, swipe left brings up several rescheduling options (tomorrow, next week, specific date, etc.).
Pro Quickly assign a task to a project as you type with #
Typing # while entering a new task brings up the list of projects (and sub-projects) to assign the task to. Type in any letters of the project name to filter the list to a subset of projects that have those letters in them.
Pro Simple and easy to use interface
There are two primary columns: the board is shown on the left and all the other controls on the right. The main means of interaction is dragging and dropping to-do cards into the various lists.
The board structure is very customizable, and includes a variety of features that help along the way: color-coding, due dates, card images, checklists with a graphics bar that allows following progress easily, and card aging for cards that haven’t been touched in a long time.
Pro Free for unlimited users
Trello offers a very generous free version that has no ads, no restrictions on the number of users, and very little restriction on how the program can be used. The paid features are generally cosmetic, such as the ability to change the background, add stickers or integration with other tools.
Pro Highly flexible workflow
Trello calls items used in the workflow “cards.” Cards are double-sided and can contain subtasks as well as notes and other details.
Card columns can be used to simulate a workflow by moving cards from left to right as they are completed, or as a way of indicating task priority.
The workflow is highly flexible as the columns are completely customizable to suit the task flow. For example, tasks can be put through a workflow "idea > approved > in-progress > pending review > released" or simply "ideas > released" depending on the granularity level needed.
This makes Trello a great solution to feature management as it's possible to set up boards to handle everything from agile sprints to a more generic to-do list, all with status management.
Pro Markdown support with well-rendered images
Trello supports Markdown, meaning that HTML input is represented appropriately. Cards with attachments are also rendered well. For example, images are shown correctly on the card, bug links are detected etc.
Pro Great real-time team collaboration features
Trello has permissions at the board level as well as the ability to assign multiple people to each card. There are a lot of sharing options available and boards can be made visible for the public. It's also possible to subscribe to a card to be notified of its progress. The simplicity of the UI makes collaboration easy because it’s very simple to see the progress of each card and who is responsible for it. It also updates constantly to reflect real-time changes in progress.
The simplicity of the UI makes collaboration easy as it’s very simple to see the progress of each card and who is responsible for it. It also reflect changes on boards in real-time.
Pro Functionality can be extended via plug-ins
Voting, view, and calendar plug-ins further increase the functionality.
Pro Works well for visual thinkers
The UI is based around Kanban, so you can see all your tasks and their status clearly.
Pro Excellent for groups using agile software development
The responsiveness and layers of customization make it easy for team members of various disciplines to collaborate on the same task board.
Each card can have one or even multiple task lists.
Pro Cross-platform and cross-sync
Trello works on all modern devices through the web application and has native apps for iOS, Android and Windows 8/10 devices.
Pro Good performance
Pro Lots of API integrations
Pro Great native app for Android and iOS
Pro Attach files to cards
Keep all of your files (images, documents, etc.) organized on their relevant cards.
Pro Smooth media integration
Works like a charm.
Pro Action history log allows you to rapidly follow changes
There is a global history system which allows to rapidly follow changes. There is also a notification system if another user updates the board while you're watching it.
Pro Features to add voting on cards
Trello offers support for features to add voting on cards, often referred to as 'power-ups'.
Con Does not listen to user suggestions
Todoist has been shown to be fairly unresponsive to requests from their user community. An example can be seen here.
Con Annual subscription required for notifications and attachments
A yearly subscription costs $29.
Con Awkward data entry
Several aspects of data entry are far more awkward than they should be: Adding notes, moving subtasks within the outline, and scheduling repeating tasks are all handled better by other apps. Adding notes cannot be done while creating the task, but must be done after. Moving items within the outline hierarchy is very clumsy and the use of keyboard shortcuts (such as holding down 2 or 3) requires knowledge of your current level in the hierarchy (which is not always clear). Finally, there is a natural language syntax for repeating tasks but it is very finicky and there is no good feedback mechanism to tell you whether or not it’s working.
Con Heavy premium advertisement
There is a screaming red "Upgrade and get more done" badge fixed in the bottom of the view, and additional features free users cannot access.
Con Labels (@contexts, etc.) only available with premium subscription
Con No way to add additional info to a task
There is no metadata for the task itself, like a description. While a paid feature allows you to write comments and attach files, info could be lost in the conversation.
Con Makes it too hard to see all tasks assigned to you across the app
There is no default or easy-to-access view to simply see all your tasks from all your different projects. You have to use the filter (to:me) which seems like too much effort for something that should really be a default view.
Con Free version has limited functionality
Without a subscription you won’t have access to reminders, comments, or labels and filters. These are features that many users find essential, but aren't included without a subscription.
Con Using "next" actions requires a messy workaround
Todoist was not designed for "next" actions. You can use a workaround by manually setting certain items as priority and then filtering them, but that process requires a lot more management than other tools.
Con Not much independence of customising the layout
This has been a consistent "con" with Todoist. You cannot decide what should be the size of the fonts. You cannot switch between one-column layout and 2-column layout. You cannot view completed tasks. It is a brilliant application of course, but the development team is stuck on its basic idea of the app and after that they just haven't been developing further.
Con Cannot import data
Con Cannot export data
Con Does not have a reminder snooze
Con Mac Mail not supported
Even in the Pro version, Mac Mail is not supported for sending tasks as email attachments. There are some workarounds to send mail, but those attachments will still be impossible to forward.
Con Very basic compared to alternatives
Compared to some other options, this is not a feature-rich app. The free version is not much better than keeping a text file of your to-dos.
Con Lacks advanced task repeating options
For example: second Saturday of every 2 months.
Con Can't mark all completed tasks uncompleted
It's possible to select multiple uncompleted tasks, but there's no way to select completed tasks.
Con Naming convention for labels is very limited
No spaces or special chars are allowed.
Con Recurring tasks are hard to set because the app only supports "natural language"
Con Latest iPhone app only available for iOS 8 and above
The latest iPhone app is only available for iOS 8 and above, which excludes users with iPhone 4 or older models. Older versions of the app that can be used with previous iOS versions can be found here.
Con No decent filtering or complex searches
Con Import feature is bad at handling non-English characters
Con Managing large projects may be difficult
Trello works best with medium to small projects and with very high-level overviews. It is less effective for projects that require very granular management due to the fact that it becomes considerably more difficult to keep track of various cards and priorities as they are pushed off the screen.
Con Not really a to do list
Trello is much more a workflow and project management program than a typical to-do app, which makes it overwhelmingly robust for those looking to jot down their shopping list.
Con Subtasks lack features
Every task can have a list of subtasks which more closely resembles a standard to-do list.
These lack the functions that cards offer you. You cannot comment on a sub-list, give the sub-tasks due dates, or provide additional information. You are limited to only checking them off once completed.
Con Can't create dependencies between cards
Con No desktop client
There is no Windows or Mac client now but you can still access all of the features through your web browser.
Con No multi-board aggregation
If you have multiple boards with tasks on them there is no way to get all the tasks on one board in a way that changes on one board will update the other.
Con Can't get one view of cards across all boards
However, you can view all cards assigned to you.
Con No quick deadline assignment
You have to open a Calendar every time to set a date without any quick options like today, tomorrow etc.
Con You can't add more than 1 Power Up without paying for it
Con Impossible to use Pomodoro timer connected to Trello on iOS
Con Light on features
Trello is focused on simplicity and as such forgoes certain common features that may or may not be important to you.