Firetask: A new(ish) GTD app for Mac OS X

February 19, 2011  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

Our firm has finally settled on a practice management application (more on that in a few days).  That tool should cover our task tracking needs for client work.  But we still need an application to make sure our marketing and practice-development projects stay on course.

Until recently, I had been using OmniFocus.  My path to OmniFocus (via Things and other apps) has been a long and storied one.  But I still wasn’t entirely sold on it.  OmniFocus has some quirks, and it’s not the easiest application to use.  Plus, OmniFocus just isn’t pretty (yes, I know that shouldn’t matter, but it does!).

And then I stumbled upon a new entry into the field, Firetask.  What makes Firetask somewhat unique is that it started on iOS and migrated to Mac OS X after the success of its iPhone and iPad apps.  The design of the desktop client was clearly inspired by the iPad app, both usable and attractive.

Firetask has a few interesting differences from other GTD apps.  First, Firetask is (proudly, I might add), a project-oriented task manager.  Every task belongs to a project (by default, tasks go into the Miscellaneous project).  Unlike OmniFocus and Things, Firetask doesn’t distinguish between types of projects (ie. completable project vs.  single action / area of responsibility).  Second, Firetask has predefined categories.  These are similar to the contexts in OmniFocus, but they include a handy visual icon indicator.  The colorful indicator allows for easy identification of different types of tasks when scanning through a list.  And like OmniFocus, Firetask allows users to define their own categories (although you’re limited to the set of 31 built-in icons).

Firetask has much to like:

  • Attractive interface is quite user friendly, letting you get in and start working without a steep learning curve
  • Category indicators allow me to quickly identify different types of tasks

But Firetask isn’t perfect:

  • No apparent way to add long descriptions, links to email messages, or attachments to task description
  • Needs to make better use of drag-and-drop (for example, the info palette seems to be the only way to change a task from Today to Someday)
  • Using the calendar for entering a due date oddly requires users to click on a different task first
  • Syncing is limited to wi-fi (no MobileMe syncing yet)

Firetask is definitely a contender.  But as you can see, the list of negatives is longer than the list of positives.  Of course, the same is true of OmniFocus and Things (which is what has made choosing a final direction so difficult!).


  1. Have you considered an online browser based project management application? Shared Status is a good one. The just relaunched with a lot of new features. Not exactly GTD, but might work. Just a thought.

  2. Thanks for the heads up. I will check it out.

  3. How does Firetask compare to Evernote, which has a very strong positive review on this site? Thanks.

  4. Some people use Evernote for task management (Firetask’s primary purpose) by using tags and projects within Evernote to build a task management system. To me, that requires too much manual labor to figure out what’s going on. We use Evernote for web clipping, legal research, brainstorming, and other note taking. Tasks (that may build on Evernote information) get put into another system.

  5. Just finished migrating over to FireTask today. Used Things, Omnifocus, Google Tasks, Toodledoo… FireTask seems to be The One.

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