Thoughts for moving from Things to TaskPaper

Dimitry Jacobs helped me remember that I could copy several to-dos from Things into a text editor in one step—like TextWrangler (Mac)—or an entire project into a notes app like Simplenote or Drafts (iOS).

(See: Emailing To-Dos — Things Support)


You can send emails containing the titles and notes of your to-dos by dragging them out of Things for Mac and into a message in Mail.

Let’s say you used Quick Entry with Autofill when saving a to-do associated with a webpage.

Things test todo 1.png

Things test todo 2.png

When you drag and drop those to-dos from Things into TextWrangler, both notes are enclosed within parentheses. (Not optimal.) In addition, the page title is saved for each note, but the URL isn’t included. Deal breaker.

Things Mac drag and drop todos.png

Lastly, while you can copy multiple to-dos at once, you cannot copy a project and its to-dos, which means you’d need to manually copy and paste the project (along with its notes).


In contrast with the Mac app, you:

  • Cannot copy multiple to-dos at once.
  • Can copy “the contents of an entire project”.
Things test project and todos.png
Preparation: Project to copy from Things for iPhone
Things iPhone share copy text.png
Result after project in Things was copied from iPhone


As a workaround, the combination of the Things apps will speed up the workflow of migrating the rest of my to-dos and projects from Things to my TaskPaper files. I’ll explain “moving” to-dos that aren’t meant to be in a project.

Note: You can skip steps 4–5 when you’re comfortable with the output.

  1. Mac (Things): Create a new, temporary project.
  2. Move—drag and drop—all to-dos that are not in a project into the temporary project.
  3. iPhone (Things): Copy the project. This text copy retains a bit more information—including any URLs, in a slightly nicer format—than copying from the Mac app.
  4. iPhone (Simplenote): Paste contents into a new note.
  5. Mac (Simplenote): Copy the contents from Simplenote.
  6. Mac (TaskPaper): Paste the contents into TaskPaper.[^1] I paste into the top of the file.
  7. Mac (TaskPaper): Move the to-dos out of the temporary project and into my desired locations, then format to my liking.
  8. Mac (Things): After migrating the to-dos from an Area, move them to another Area for safekeeping.[^2] For example, along with my “Automattic” Area, I created another titled “Automattic to TP”.[^3]


If you have Drafts, here’s an alternative to steps 3–5:

  • After copying the project from Things (which means it’s in your clipboard), use Drafts’ Today Widget by tapping on the clipboard icon (“new draft from clipboard”).
  • In Drafts, run the appropriate Dropbox Action on the new draft to prepend its contents into the desired TaskPaper file.


A few other thoughts:

  • In TaskPaper, there isn’t an equivalent to Areas (Things).
  • At the moment, I’m using two separate TaskPaper files: Automattic and Personal. These are my main “Areas”. 🙂
  • One-off to-dos that don’t need an actual project go into a Todos project at the top of each appropriate TaskPaper file.
  • iPhone: I’m trying TaskMator 3, which supports saved searches. (Yay!) I’m not sure I need to edit my TaskPaper files heavily while I’m away from my laptop, so I decided against Editorial.

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Bryan Villarin

Bryan works at Automattic. Cat whisperer. Sometimes, a photographer and card magician.

One thought on “Thoughts for moving from Things to TaskPaper”

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