Introduction to Firetask
First of all welcome to Firetask! Firetask was designed to combine concepts from David Allen's well-known Getting Things Done® (GTD®) methodology with Kanban and classical task management concepts such as priorities and due dates in a logical way.
We also wanted to make Firetask really easy to use, thus, providing a great and intuitive user experience is very important to us. Firetask is available exclusively on Apple platforms including iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch.
A Quick Tour of Firetask
The Firetask user interface is based on our interpretation of the GTD workflow and thus, generally divided into four main areas:
- Collect allowing you to quickly collect all your thoughts and ideas in a single place
- Focus being the go-to-place for getting a quick overview of what happens "Today", what comes "Next", and what you are "Waiting For"
- Manage allowing you to manage your "General" task list and all projects you are working on
- Review supporting you with your weekly GTD review, or generally helping you to organize you work using a calendar-based "Dates" as well as our well-received "Kanban" view
There is also a fifth area called "More" that contains additional views that you typically do not need this often as well as the "Preferences" section on iOS.
What is Getting Things Done (GTD)?
Getting Things Done (GTD) is a modern task management methodology created by David Allen. GTD is one of the most widely adopted task management strategies across the globe.
If you don't know how GTD works here are some of the basic concepts:
- Perform a "brain dump" -- collect all your open issues and tasks in your "Inbox"
- Decide whether tasks are actionable, i.e., you want and can complete them yourself, whether you want to delegate them (Firetask provides a "Waiting For" list), or whether they are more of a "someday/maybe" thing
- Organize your actionable tasks into so-called "next action" lists (Firetask provides "projects" for this)
- Assign contexts to indicate, e.g., whether a task can only be done in a certain environment (e.g., you have to be "Home" to do clean up your house; we call this a "category")
- Perform a weekly GTD review where you repeat steps 2-4 on a regular schedule in order to keep your trusted GTD task management system up-to-date
If you want to know more about GTD we strongly recommend reading David's original book on GTD called "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity".
Setting Up Firetask
In general, Firetask is a plug & play app -- you do not need to install anything (on the Mac it is sufficient to drag the app into your Appplications folder), or to sign up for a user account. However, there are a number of things you might want to look into before you add all your tasks to Firetask:
- First of all, if you are a Firetask 3 user you will probably want to migrate your existing data. Migrating your data is easy, but we still recommend checking out our short Migration section below to be on the safe side
- Next you might want to take a look at the Firetask "Preferences" area in order to check out if you would like to customize one or more of our user interface settings
- You also most probably want to switch on iCloud syncing; please check out the section about syncing further below
- If you want to use our Reminders integration you will need to create a reminder list called "Firetask" in the Reminders app and switch on reminders syncing in the Firetask Preferences area
- Finally, if you are new to Firetask you should check out the "Basic Concepts & Workflows" section below and then decide on how you want to structure your task management using categories, projects, portfolios and checklists
If you want to help us with improving Firetask please switch on crash reporting for 3rd party apps -- both on your Mac and your iOS devices. All information shared is completely anonymized and crash reports help us immensely with bug fixing.
Migrating From Firetask 3.x
Since Firetask Pro is a new app both on iOS and macOS and both apps are "sandboxed", we need to move the data from the old apps using a simple export-import procedure. In other words, we "Export" from the old apps and "Import" into the new apps.
- On iOS we use an action extension on the Firetask Pro side, so all you have to do is to go to the "Repository & Syncing" view (on the iPhone on the "More" tab; on the iPad long-press the syncing button) and choose "Export Repository" from the old app, then choose the "Import into Firetask" action from the sharing sheet (you might have to tap on the "dots" to enable it to show up)
- On the Mac you choose "Export Repository" from the "File" menu to write a Firetask XML backup file. You can then import this file from the new Mac app via "Import" (also located in the "File" menu)
A good way to quickly check if everything was migrated is to check the repository info views on both the old and the new app and match the counts. Note that there should be one less project in the new apps (the "Miscellaneous" project whose tasks are migrated as "General" tasks) and two less categories ("To Dos" and "Waiting For").
Only migrate your data on a single device and then switch on iCloud syncing to sync your data across your devices. This will ensure a smooth migration and avoid potential data duplication issues.
If you do not see the "Export Repository" choices you need to update your old apps (Firetask Mac and iPad version 3.8.5 and iPhone version 5.8.5 or newer). Note that you only need to migrate on one device (also the recommended approach); iCloud syncing will automatically transfer the migrated data once you switch on syncing.
If you did not get Firetask 3.x for Mac from the Mac App Store you can download the latest Firetask 3 version via this link.
Basic Concepts & Workflow
The most important business object in Firetask is naturally the task. Each task either belongs to the "General" task list, or to a project. As Firetask is a project-oriented task management app, projects also play an important role in the Firetask workflow.
Both tasks and projects have a status that also implements parts of the GTD workflow with task statuses such as "Inbox", "Actionable", or "Someday". Both the General task list and each project define an explicit order of tasks; you can rearrange tasks easily via drag & drop. You can also manually control the order of tasks in a number of status or property-based lists such as the Inbox, Someday, or the "Starred" list (see below).
You can create new tasks in nearly all views -- on iOS by tapping on the "+" icon in the top-right corner and on the Mac by double-clicking into an empty area of a task list, or by using the CMD+N keyboard shortcut. By default the task's initial properties will match the current task list's constraints (e.g., if you create a task in the Inbox its initial status is set to "Inbox").
Let's take a closer look at some of the properties the task object supports:
- Title. The title of the task
- Status. The status of the task; only tasks with the statuses "Actionable" or "In-Progress" are shown in most Focus, Manage, and Review views
- Project. The project the task belongs to. If a task does not belong to any project it is part of the General task list
- Category. An optional category for the task that can be used to provide a GTD context; if a task is assigned to a category the category indicator is shown in the category's color to the very right of the task title in all task lists
- Assigned To. You can assign a task to a contributor, or the a contact; if a task is assigned to someone it shows up in the "Waiting For" list
- Starred. By marking a task as starred you make the task show up in the "Today" view in the Focus area; you do this typically with things you want to start working on ASAP
- Priority. Not everyone works with priorities, but if you do you can choose from five color-coded priority levels from "Critial" to "Trivial". The default priority is "Medium"
- Due. By selecting a due date for a task you ensure that the task does not show up in the Focus area before it becomes relevant. We intentionally do not provide due times, since we believe that a task that is also due at a certain time is actually an event and should go into your calendar. However, it is possible to set a reminder time
- Repeat. By specifying a repeat pattern you can define a repeating task. By default the next repeat date will be calculated based on the previous due date; if you check "after completion" it will instead be calculated based on the date you completed the task the last time
- Reminder. You can optionally set up to two reminders. If you do not provide a reminder date the task's due date, or today's date will be used by default
- Notes. Optionally you can describe your task in more detail in the task's Notes area. On the Mac you can find the Notes area on the second tab of the detail sidebar
Tasks do also keep track of their creation date ("Created"), the time they were last modified ("Modified"), as well as their completion date ("Completed"). You can find these properties always at the very bottom of the task detail view.
As already mentioned earlier, the task's Status property implements important parts of the GTD workflow and can generally be used to control the life-cycle of a task:
- Inbox. The Inbox status indicates that this task is still in the Inbox -- it has not yet been decided on
- Someday. If a task has the Someday/Maybe status it means you will not do this in the near-term future, but you are maybe considering doing this "sometime"
- Scratchpad. The Scratchpad status indicates that you should do this ASAP, since it is actually only a 2-minute task
- Actionable. Actionable tasks are tasks that you have decided on, are shown in the General and project task lists, and can show up in the Focus area if they are currently relevant
- In Progress. In-Progress tasks work the same way as actionable tasks, but you are already working on them. We like this intermediate status, since it allows you to clearly see what work is already ongoing and what has not yet been started
- On Hold. Tasks that are On-Hold show up in General and project task lists, but never show up in the Focus area. You put tasks on-hold when you do not want to cancel a task, but you also cannot do anything about it right now (e.g., due to external dependencies)
- Completed. Completed tasks are no longer visible in General, or project task lists. Instead, they are shown on the "Completed" tab of the "Archive" view in reverse order of completion
- Canceled. Like completed tasks, canceled tasks do not show up in General, project task lists, or the Focus area. You cancel a task when you want to keep it around for reference, but you know that it is no longer relevant
- Trash. As it is very easy to delete tasks we keep deleted tasks around, so you can quickly bring a task back if you deleted it by accident
The status of a task is visualized using a circular icon. In task lists you can advance the status of a task by single-tapping or clicking its status icon. Please note that "Actionable" tasks become "In Progress" while, e.g., "Inbox" tasks become "Actionable".
You can directly complete an open task by double-tapping/clicking on its status icon. You can make a completed task again actionable, or bring back canceled and deleted tasks simply by tapping or clicking its status icon. Other status changes are also easily possible by long-pressing the status icon on iOS, or using the right mouse button on the Mac in order to bring up a status menu.
You can delete a task by either setting its Status to Trash, or on the Mac you can also select it and press the BACKSPACE/DELETE key.
It is also possible to convert a task into a project if it becomes too large. The conversion function will take over the project name, priority, category and notes as well as convert all actions to tasks of the new project.
Sometimes you need to perform a number of steps in order to complete a more complex task -- this is where actions come into play. Actions allow you to break down a task into a number of subtasks where each action has its own status.
Actions are intentionally limited to just a title and a status with only three basic action statuses supported ("Actionable", "In-Progress", and "Completed"). If all actions of a task have been completed it does not necessarily mean that the task itself is done, but completing a task will also auto-complete all still open actions.
You can create actions using the "Actions" subview of the task detail view on iOS, or via the actions tab in the task detail sidebar view on the Mac. These views also allow you to freely rearrange the order of actions within a task. Firetask also support inline-creation and editing of actions on the Mac; you can quickly create the first action via the SHIFT+CMD+ENTER keyboard shortcut.
The presence of actions is indicated by a checkmark-style icon if showing task details in task lists is disabled.
Firetask does not yet support direct file attachments, but you can attach links. On iOS you auto-create a link attachment if you use Firetask's share extension from, e.g., Safari to add a new task related to a website.
On the Mac the easiest way to add a link attachment is by dragging a file or link onto an existing task in a task list. For instance, dragging a web address from the Safari address bar will create a HTTP or HTTPS link, dragging an email from Apple Mail will create a link back to the email. You can create links to files on your local hard disks via dragging from Finder, but be aware that these links might not work on other Macs or iOS devices, since the files will not be stored in the exact same location.
You can also drag an email or a link onto a sidebar item such as the "Inbox", or a project or category in the navigation area in order to create a new task with a link attachment based on this link. Tasks created from websites will get the page's title while tasks based on emails will use the email's subject as the title.
The presence of attachments on a task is indicated by a small paper clip icon; you can open an attachment link by tapping/clicking on the arrow beside the attachment in the attachment detail view (a subview of the task detail view on iOS and the third tab on the task detail sidebar on the Mac).
If you need more than a couple of tasks to get something done you might want to create a project. Additionally, projects are generally a good way to structure your task management with regards to content.
You can create a new project using the "+" button in the "Projects" view of the Manage area on iOS, or using the new project toolbar or menu item on the Mac. A project needs a unique name, everything else is optional:
- Name. The Name of the project must be unique. If you get an error that a project name is not unique also check your completed and canceled projects
- Status. The Status of the project
- Portfolio. An optional portfolio that project belongs to
- Category. An optional category for providing GTD context; a project category also serves as a default category for any tasks created in the project
- Priority. The project's priority (the default value is Medium); like the Category also the project priority is applied to new tasks created in the project
- Start. An optional Start date of the project
- Due. An optional Due date for the project
- Notes. The Notes area allows you to describe your project in more detail
Just like tasks, projects also take track of their creation, last modification, and completion dates via their Created, Modified, and Completed properties.
Projects support more statuses than tasks, but less than activities, namely:
- Not Started. Tasks of projects that have not been started yet (Not Started) do not show up in the Focus area
- Active. Only tasks of Active projects show up in the Focus area in order to to not distract you from currently not relevant projects
- On Hold. The On-Hold status allows you to put a project on hold, i.e., its tasks are no longer visible in the Focus area, but it is not canceled, you will continue working on it at a later time
- Completed. Projects with status Completed do no longer show up in the project navigation. You can look up completed projects in the "Projects Archive" in the Preferences area which also allows you re-activate completed projects if needed
- Canceled. The Canceled status works in the same way as Completed, but indicates that you canceled the project instead of finishing it
The project status can be changed either in the project's detail view (visible in the detail sidebar on the Mac), by tapping/clicking, or by long-pressing/right-clicking on the project status icon in the project task list title bar -- very similar to how task status changes work.
Please note that there is no Trash status for projects: if you delete a project it is gone forever (including all of its tasks, but of course with explicit user confirmation)! Please make sure that you really do not need the project anymore if you delete it.
Some users will have many projects, or different areas of work (e.g., the company you are working for vs. private tasks). This is where portfolios can be very handy: they let you cleanly structure your projects via one level of project "folders". We intentionally decided for only a single level, so we can streamline navigation and keep things simple and intuitive.
You can create portfolios in the same way as projects on iOS, simply choose "New Portfolio" after pressing the "+" button in the Projects view. On the Mac you use the "Portfolio" sub-menu item under "File"/"New" in the main menu.
In order to assign a project to a portfolio you have to set the Portfolio property in the project's detail view. Alternatively, you can use drag & drop to drag a project under a portfolio in the project navigation on the Mac.
You can delete portfolios via the portfolio's details on iOS and via the portfolio context menu on the Mac (accessible via the right mouse button when hovering over a portfolio section header).
Unlike projects, categories are intended to provide context, rather than structuring regarding content. You can create a new category using the "+" button in the "Categories" view of the Manage area on iOS, or using the new category toolbar or menu item on the Mac. A category needs a unique name, a color and an optional indicator icon; you can also add notes to a category.
Categorizing tasks allows you to provide GTD context information, so you can select tasks to work on based on the environment and context you are currently "in". For instance, you can mark all tasks that you need to do when you are at home as "Home", while marking all tasks as "Office" that can only be done in your office. Other examples include "Computer" indicating that you need your computer to complete certain tasks.
You assign categories in the project and task detail views using the "Category" property. On the Mac you can also use the right mouse button to assign categories via the task context menu, use the touch bar category icon, or use what we call "command tagging". Command tagging allows you to quickly specify a category by typing the "#" character following the category name while editing a task title; the category will be set when you leave the title field.
Contributors are the basic building block of the "Waiting For" list; every time you delegate a task, you assign this task to a contributor.
Contributors are typically created automatically, e.g., when you select a contact imported from the Contacts app and assign it to a task (using the Assigned To property), or if you use command tagging and type the "@" character followed by a contributor name that does not exist yet when editing a task title.
If you want to create a contributor manually you can do this on the "Contributors" view in the More area on iOS, or using the "Contributor" sub-menu item under "File"/"New" in the main menu on the Mac. The Contributors view also lets you manage contributors, e.g. adjust names, or deleting a contributor that you no longer need.
You might have projects that always follow a specific pattern, i.e., you always need to complete the same or very similar tasks in order to finish these projects. Here is where checklists come into play: a checklist can be used as a kind of "template" for a task list.
You can create checklists manually in the "Checklists" tool in the More area on iOS, or using the "Checklist" sub-menu item under "New" in the main menu on the Mac. Alternatively, you can save an existing project or category task list as a checklist -- on iOS you do this via the "Share" button in the project or category detail view. On the Mac we provide you with additional flexibility: you can select a project, a category, or any number of tasks from any task list and use the "Save as Checklist..." menu item under "Tasks" in the main menu.
In order to insert a checklist into a task list you long-press the "+" icon that you normally use to create new tasks on iOS. On the Mac you use the "Paste from Checklist" menu item located under "Edit" in the main menu: the tasks from the checklist will be inserted at the currently selected task list item (or at the tail of the list if no task is selected).
Checklists are a simple, but very powerful concept and can save you a lot of time -- you should definitely check them out if you have a use case for them.
The Firetask User Interface
As indicated earlier the Firetask user interface is intended to be mostly consistent across platforms. However, we also wanted to provide a user experience that is tailored to the platform, therefore, there are some subtle difference between Firetask on iOS and macOS.
The most noticeable one is probably that the main areas Collect, Focus, Manage, Review, and More are implemented as tabs on iOS, while they are sidebar sections on the Mac. Let us take a closer look at the different views these areas provide.
The Inbox lets you quickly gather ideas and thoughts in order to get them out of your mind. Tasks are by default added to the top of the list, as newer added tasks are typically more relevant. However, you can easily reorder the tasks in your Inbox as you like by using drag & drop.
By default the Inbox shows you all tasks with the status Inbox. You can optionally use the filter button located on the navigation/title bar to narrow the view down to the General task list, or a specific project.
Tap/click a task's status icon to advance its status to Actionable and thus, make it appear in the General task list, or the project it belongs to.
Put tasks that you maybe want to do "someday" into this task list. In order to move a task from the Inbox to Someday, set its status to Someday, or on the Mac use drag & drop to move one or more tasks between views by dropping them onto the appropriate view (in this case, Someday).
Similar to the Inbox, new tasks are added to the top of the list, but you can freely adjust the order of tasks anytime. There is also a project filter navigation/title bar button available.
The Scratchpad is intended for tasks that you otherwise would do right away (David Allen's 2 minute rule), but do not have the time right now, or you got interrupted by something else. Like the Inbox and Someday, the Scratchpad is a status-based view and shows all tasks with this status.
Unlike in the Inbox, new tasks are added to the bottom of the list, as you probably want to typically go through these tasks in the same order as you entered them. However, you can also reorder the tasks in the Scratchpad via drag & drop.
If a task takes longer than you thought it would you can tap/click its status icon to advance its status to Actionable in order to make it appear in the General task list or in the project the task belongs to.
The Today view allows you to see all tasks that are relevant on this day in one place. The Today task list groups its tasks into up to three sections in the following order:
- Starred is a status-based list and shows all tasks that are currently marked as starred, i.e., have the "Starred" property checked. A starred task has its own position within the Starred list, so you can freely rearrange this list's tasks via drag & drop
- Due Today shows all tasks that are either due today or already overdue; overdue tasks are additionally visualized as "burning" (the flame-like red outline around the status icon)
If you add a new task directly on the Today view it will by default be marked as starred. If you add it from the Due Today section on the Mac the task's Due property will be set to today's date. If you change a task's properties so that it is neither starred, nor due today or earlier, it will disappear from the Today view.
Note that you can configure whether you want to add new tasks by default as starred, or a due today in the Preferences.
Just like the Collect views, the Today view is filterable by General/project.
As far as we know our Next view is quite unique: it shows all upcoming tasks in a single place using two sections:
- Due Tomorrow shows all tasks that will come due tomorrow (or in the next 3, 5, or 7 days -- configurable in Preferences)
- Next Tasks shows the first task of the General task list combined with those from all active projects -- unless the task is already shown in the Due Tomorrow section above
Adding a new task in Next will auto-set its Due property to tomorrow's date.
The Waiting For view shows all tasks that are actionable or in progress and that are assigned to a contributor, i.e., it shows you all tasks you are "waiting for" in one place. The Waiting For list is automatically grouped by contributor.
The General view shows all tasks that are actionable or in progress and do not belong to a specific project. You typically use the General task list for everyday tasks, or for tasks that could be a project by themselves, but are too small for justifying the overhead of creating a separate project.
The General task list is an ordered list, i.e., you add tasks by default at the bottom of the list, but you can freely reorder all tasks as you like.
The Projects view shows a list of all open projects. Each project row visualizes the project's category if set and its progress with a circular progress indicator. This progress indicator shows you the percentage of tasks that are completed, in progress, and actionable as solid dark, dotted, and solid light segments respectively.
You navigate into a project by tapping/clicking on it showing you the project's task list in a new view on the iPhone, or on the right side on iPad and Mac. You can access the project's details by tapping/clicking on the info ("i") button in the task list's navigation/title bar.
The task list's title bar shows you the project's status, name, the first lines of its notes and its category icon. The color of the title bar will resemble the color of the project category if set.
As mentioned earlier projects can be structured via portfolios that can act as one level of project folders. Portfolios are visualized as sections in the project list. They can be expanded and collapsed by tapping/clicking the arrow symbol beside the portfolio name; you can access the details of a portfolio by tapping/clicking the "i" info button to the right of the portfolio name.
In order to keep things simple the portfolios and projects are always displayed in alphabetical order (first the portfolios and their projects, then all projects that do not belong to a portfolio).
The Category view shows a list of all your categories. Categories are intended for providing GTD-style context to your tasks.
You can view all tasks of a category that are actionable or in progress by tapping/clicking on the category in question showing you the category's task list in a new view on the iPhone, or on the right side on iPad and Mac. You can access the category's details by tapping/clicking on the info ("i") button in the task list's navigation/title bar.
The Kanban view provides a fixed Kanban board that was optimized to help you with your weekly GTD reviews. The board contains the following columns:
- Inbox shows your current Inbox
- Starred lists all starred tasks from your Today view
- Today shows all tasks that are due today or already overdue, but not marked as starred
- Due shows all scheduled tasks (i.e., all tasks that have a Due date set) that are due in the future
- Backlog. The Backlog column contains your current backlog (a term borrowed from Agile project management) meaning all tasks that are currently actionable or in progress, but neither starred, nor explicitly scheduled -- ordered by project (General and by project name) and task list position
Using the Kanban view you can easily empty your Inbox and drag tasks directly into the columns they belong to. If you drag a task onto the Due column the task will initially get the due date of the previous task in the list; at the same time a date chooser will appear that lets you adjust this date easily. If there is no task yet in the Due list, or you drag the task onto the top position the task gets tomorrow's due date.
Similar to many other views the Kanban view provides a project filter button.
The Priorities view provides a special Kanban board for those who like to work with priorities featuring one column for each priority (from Critical to Trivial). The tasks are then ordered by project (General and by project name) and task list position -- similar to the Backlog column in the general Kanban view.
Using the Priorities board you can easily adjust priorities by simply dragging tasks between columns. You can optionally limit the view to just the General task list or a single project by using the project filter button.
The Dates view provides a monthly calendar visualization of your scheduled tasks. Each section shows one day; the today's section features an orange background. Arrow buttons and a "Today" button on the top allow you to easily navigate between months and quickly jump to the current month.
If you have switched on the Calendar integration by checking "show calendar utilization" in Preferences you will also see colored triangles in the top-left corner of each day section. These triangles represent the utilization level based on the number and duration of calendar events you have scheduled for this day and the number of productive hours available (configurable): green means there is still plenty of free time for tasks, red means you are already overbooked with events. By tapping/clicking on a triangle you will see the list of events scheduled for that day in a popover view.
The Dates view is the best view to reschedule tasks, as you can easily move tasks between due dates simply via drag & drop. You can again narrow the view to just the General task list or a single project by using the project filter button.
Note that you can easily add new tasks on a specific date by double-clicking into the respective section on the Mac.
The Contributors view shows all contributors that you have created either directly or indirectly by assigning tasks to an imported contact. The badge number to the right of each contributor indicates the number of tasks this contributor is currently assigned to. On iOS you can use this view also to create a new contributor manually using the "+" button.
By selecting a contributor on Mac or iPad, or by navigating into it on iPhone you can quickly see all tasks of this contributor.
The Checklists view lets you view and manage your checklists. Like the projects view, the checklist view is sorted alphabetically. In iOS you can create a new empty checklist by pressing the "+" button.
Tapping/clicking on a checklist shows you its task list. You work with checklist task lists the same way as with project task lists.
Finally, the Archive view shows you all archived tasks, i.e., all tasks with one of the following archived statuses:
Completed shows you all completed tasks with the completion date where you normally see the due date. Use the delete all icon on iOS, or the "Delete All Completed" item in the "Tasks" menu on the Mac to move all completed tasks to Trash Canceled shows you all canceled tasks including their cancellation dates. You can again use the delete all icon on iOS, or the "Delete All Completed" item in the "Tasks" menu on the Mac to move all canceled tasks to Trash Trash shows you all deleted tasks, i.e., all tasks with status Trash. You can use the empty trash icon on iOS, or the "Empty Trash" item in the "Tasks" menu on the Mac to empty the Trash view (permanently deleting all contained tasks)
The Archive view can be practical for looking up when or whether you have completed a certain task (note that you can also easily search within the Archive as in any other task list). It also allows you to quickly make a task again actionable by tapping/clicking on its status indicator in case you accidentally completed it.
Searching For Tasks
You can use the magnifying glass symbol present in all task lists in the navigation bar on iOS, or the "Find" field in the window title bar to quickly search for tasks both in the local task list and in all tasks. The search function searches in task titles, notes, and assigned contributor names.
The Find view containing the search results by default comes up with the local scope selected; you can easily switch to the global search scope by tapping on the "All Open Tasks" tab. Note that in the Archive the global scope searches in all "Archived Tasks" instead.
The search results task list is a fully functional task list allowing you to access task details, swipe actions on iOS and inline editing on the Mac. The order or tasks is fixed and is defined by search result relevance.
Command tagging is a very powerful way to quickly assign projects, categories, contributors etc. to tasks that you inline-create or edit without taking your fingers from the keyboard. Firetask supports the following commands:
- #<project-name>. Assign a project to the task, e.g., "#MyProject"; you only need to write the first few characters that Firetask can use to uniquely select the correct project
- #<category-name>. Assign a category to the task, e.g., "#Email"; again, you only need to write the first few characters that Firetask can use to uniquely identify the given category
- @#<contributor-name>. Assign the task to a contributor, e.g., "@john"; if no such contributor exists, it is auto-created (from a matching contact, or from scratch)
- #!. Mark the task as starred
- #today. Make the task due today (if you use German as user interface language: "#heute")
- #tomorrow. Make the task due tomorrow (if you use German as user interface language: "#morgen")
- ##<date>. Make the task due on a specific date, e.g., "#Nov_2" (or "#11.2." if you use German). Please note that you need to "escape" whitespaces using the underscore ("_") character
- #++, #+, *#-, #--. Adjust the priority of the task to Critical, High, Low, or Trivial respectively
Syncing & Integrations
Firetask provides syncing via Apple's iCloud with the core advantage that you do not need a separate account, you only have to be signed in to your iCloud account in order that you can enable iCloud syncing. In order to enable iCloud syncing, simply switch on "iCloud Syncing" on the "Syncing" tab in the preferences area.
iCloud syncing for 3rd party apps such as Firetask requires you to switch on "iCloud Drive" in the iCloud system settings. If the "iCloud Syncing" switch in Firetask is disabled you are most likely either not signed into your iCloud account, or iCloud Drive is disabled.
If you already have a lot of data on a single device when you switch on syncing we recommend that you first switch on syncing on this device, wait for this device to complete its initial syncing cycle which will upload all your data to iCloud and only then switch on syncing on the other devices.
While incremental syncs should be pretty quick, enabling syncing and performing the initial sync can take a while depending on repository size, network speed and iCloud performance; please be patient and wait for the operation to complete.
Firetask provides an optional one-way integration with Apple's Contacts app. The Contacts integration is always enabled, but you can deny access to the Contacts app when first starting up Firetask.
The Contacts integration allows you to assign tasks not only to previously created contributors, but also to all of your contacts (automatically creating a contributor when a contact is assigned for the first time).
Firetask's integration with Apple's Calendar app allows you to view your daily event utilization in the Dates view and to access the events of a certain day by tapping/clicking on the utilization triangle for a specific date (see Dates for more details).
The Calendar integration is switched on by default unless you have denied access to the Calendar app when first starting Firetask. You can configure event utilization visualization in the Preferences area.
Firetask also provides a simple integration with Apple's Reminders app that automatically imports all reminders that are created in a reminders list called "Firetask".
Please note that you have to create this reminder list manually in the Reminders app and you have to switch on the Reminders integration manually in the Preferences app.
Firetask provides a simple URL schema that allows you to create new tasks via a URL in your Inbox. The URL schema has the following format:
The URL schema also supports a number of additional, optional parameters:
- ...&due=<date> where <date> is an ISO date (YYYY-MM-DD, e.g., 2018-11-25 for November 11, 2018)
- ...&priority=<priority> where <priority> can be Critical, High, Medium, Low, or Trivial
Remember that you always need to escape spaces using "+" or %20, e.g., if you want to assign the new task titled "My new task" to the project "My Project" you need to create the URL as follows:
Additional Functionality on macOS
With Firetask Pro we have brought much of the functionality that was originally only available on the Mac to iOS. However, there is still some functionality which is only available on macOS (with some of it also technically only possible on the Mac).
Quick-entry & Global Hotkey
On the Mac Firetask supports global quick-entry functionality: you can define a global hotkey (i.e., a keyboard shortcut that is also accessible from within other apps) that brings up the quick-entry panel which can be instantly used to create a new task.
You can easily create another task without taking your hands from the keyboard by pressing the ENTER key and continuing typing. You can dismiss the quick-entry panel using the ESC key.
The default keyboard shortcut for the global hotkey is CONTROL+CMD+.. However, you can easily customize the hotkey in the Preferences area. Make sure that you do not use a key combination that is already in use by another global keyboard shortcut that you use.
The Menu Bar (macOS only)
The Firetask menu bar on the Mac provides the following menus:
- The Firetask menu provides access to the About Firetask dialog showing you the version and build number of the currently installed app version as well as the Preferences area
- The File menu contains all quick navigation menu items as well as import and export functionality (currently only used for data migration from older Firetask versions)
- The Edit menu provides access to the "Paste From Checklist" submenu as well as search functionality ("Find")
- The View menu mainly contains menu items providing keyboard shortcuts for general user interface functionality such as, e.g., showing and hiding information via the detail sidebar
- The Tasks menu is probably the most interesting one -- you should check it out for practical shortcuts regarding task list inline editing (e.g., quick-adding notes and actions to new or existing tasks)
- The Window menu provides the usual window-based menu items such as the ability to zoom the window
- The Help menu contains links to this manual as well as to our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) web page
Many menu items -- especially those that you might need more often -- also provide keyboard shortcuts. You can look these up by directly browsing the menus, or in our Reference section in this manual.
The Detail Sidebar
On the Mac all task, project, category etc. details are shown in the detail sidebar that appears on the very right of the Firetask window. You can toggle the detail sidebar using the "i" toolbar item, via the "Show Information" context menu item, by double-clicking into not-inline-editable space of a navigation or task list item, via the CMD+I keyboard shortcut, or by using the "i" Touch Bar item.
For tasks the detail sidebar is divided into four tabs:
- General shows all general information for a task
- Notes provides access to task notes
- Attachments shows the current list of link attachments for the task
- Actions allows to view, add, edit, move, and delete actions for the task (the last sidebar tab)
Simply double-click into the Attachments or Actions tab in order to create the first link attachment or action.
Firetask for Mac provides context menus for most navigation and overview items including projects, portfolios, categories, tasks, and actions. The context menu for tasks is the most comprehensive context menu ranging from functionality such as adding a due date, or marking tasks as starred to converting tasks to projects.
You can open a context menu by right-clicking on a navigation or overview item, or alternatively via left-clicking while holding the CONTROL key.
You can quickly change a number of properties for multiple tasks at once such as starred, priority, category, or assignee by selecting multiple tasks and choosing the respective menu item.
Work like a Pro: Keyboard Shortcuts
Firetask provides many keyboard shortcuts with the intention that you should be able to use the app efficiently without taking your hands from the keyboard. Some of the most important shortcuts are as follows:
- CMD+N inline-creates a new task with the title field focused, so you can instantly start typing
- CMD+ENTER lets you inline-add or edit the notes of a task (requires that "Always show task details" is enabled)
- SHIFT+CMD+ENTER lets you inline-add a new action for a task (also requires that "Always show task details" is enabled)
- CMD+D allows you to add a date date via the date chooser
- CMD+I toggles the detail information sidebar
- TAB and SHIFT-TAB allow you to switch between the source list (left sidebar), the navigation, and the current task list
- CMD+1...9 lets you quickly switch to the nine first views in the source list (from Inbox, Someday, over Today and Next, all the way down to Categories)
You can get a full list of available keyboard shortcuts in the Keyboard Shortcuts section under References.
Touch Bar Support
Firetask for Mac supports the Touch Bar present on the latest generations of the higher-end MacBook Pros with a focus on quick access to often-needed functionality in task lists:
- Add a new task using the "+" symbol
- Adjust the status of one or more tasks using the status indicator icon
- Adjust the category using the category symbol
- Toggle starred for one or more tasks
- Adjust the priority using the priority icon
- Share one or more tasks
- Toggle the detail sidebar using the "i" symbol
- Search for tasks using the magnifying glass symbol
Currently Touch Bar support is limited to task lists, though we might add basic support also for project and category navigation in the future.
Firetask on Apple Watch
Firetask also supports Apple Watch with a clean, intentionally simplified user interface. When you start the app you have instant access to Inbox, Today, Next, and Waiting For views with badge numbers indicating how many tasks are currently available in each view.
Each view features a scrollable task list with the same sections and order you get on your iPhone. By tapping on a task you get a summary of its details with the most important information. By deep-pressing on the task detail view you can also quickly complete the task.
Firetask for Apple Watch also supports complications showing you if there are tasks on the Today view (using the star symbol) and on some complication types also the title of the first starred or due task.
Best Practices - Working With Firetask
Firetask is designed to be a very dynamic task management tool that does not force you to work in a certain way (although of course heavily inspired by David Allen's Getting Things done approach to task management as outlined in the next chapter). However, we wanted to take the opportunity and summarize a few tips and best practices around how we use Firetask internally:
- Put new tasks and ideas into the Inbox if you do not yet know what do with them -- use the global hotkey and the quick-entry function for this on macOS
- On the Mac use inline editing and drag & drop to effectively maintain your task lists; also use the keyboard shortcuts to create new tasks (CMD+N), add notes (CMD+ENTER) and actions (SHIFT+CMD+ENTER). Use command tagging for making a new task due today (#today), marking the task as starred (#!), or quickly assigning it to someone else (@
; automatically adding it to your Waiting For list)
- Mark tasks as Starred if you want or need to do them ASAP, do not set their due date to today: this way they stay on top of your task list if they slip to tomorrow and you do not need to move them forward every single day :-)
- Put all day-to-day stuff that does not qualify into the General task list
- Create projects for areas of work; use portfolios to group them logically. Arrange the tasks in each project really in the way you want or need to complete them
- Set the whole project to Not Started if you cannot or do not want to work on it yet, or to On Hold if you need to wait for something in order to continue; this will make sure that tasks of this project will not show up on the Today view, thus keeping you focused on the projects that are currently relevant
- Create categories for providing context or for easily identifying types of tasks (e.g., we heavily use categories such as Email, Phone, Home, Office, Computer and have indicator icons with different colors configured). Use the same indicator color to visually "group" categories
- On the Mac hide all views from the sidebar that you do not really use -- this reduces clutter and makes Firetask feel more "lightweight"
Also check out all the preferences Firetask provides -- they can really help you to adjust Firetask to the way you work. Note that you have to adjust preferences individually on each device -- we intentionally do not sync them, as we know from our own experience that you sometimes want different user interface settings for your iPhone and your iPad.
Firetask and GTD
The main Firetask user interface is basically built around David Allen's GTD process grouping all major views into the areas Collect, Focus, Manage, and Review. The idea behind this is that you can easily focus on the views that you will need most often depending on the GTD process step you are currently in.
[IDEALLY: GTD process arrows -- should be easy for WB :-]
- Collect views are designed to make it easy for you to collect your thoughts and ideas in your Inbox. In addition, we put the Someday list also into Collect with the idea that sometimes you already know when writing down an idea that this is something you will not do in the near future
- Focus provides quick access to the lists that you need when focusing on the tasks you need to do Today, or if you have additional time, what you need to do Next (upcoming tasks that are due in the next days and the next task for each project that is not starred or not yet explicitly scheduled for a given date). Additionally, the Focus area also hosts the Waiting For list, in our opinion one of the best concepts of GTD: a single list that shows you all tasks that you have delegated to other people, i.e., tasks that you are "waiting for"
- Manage is the place where you manage your General task list and where you create and manage Projects and Categories (providing GTD context for your tasks, e.g., "Computer" when you need a computer to complete a task, or "Phone" if you need to make a call)
- Review views are optimized to help your with your weekly GTD review. The Kanban board allows you to get a 360° overview of your Inbox and all other tasks that are currently actionable or in-progress: it is the perfect companion for easily making Inbox tasks starred or actionable, or rearranging your Starred list within the "bug picture". The Dates view can help you to quickly reschedule overdue tasks. The Priorities view is no real GTD view, but can be handy if you combine GTD with classical task management based on priorities
Note that also the status of each task closely resembles a kind of "mini-GTD" process (from Inbox or Someday, over Actionable to Completed). This allows us to easily move tasks between different GTD views, as many views in Firetask are just smart "filters" based on task statuses.
We have put a lot of thought into our implementation of the GTD process and also continue to constantly think, refine and improve our interpretation of the Getting Things Done approach. We hope that Firetask helps you with your personal take on GTD and are happy about any feedback you can provide us -- of course including suggestions for improvements!
The Preferences area allows you to adjust Firetask to your personal needs in order to better support you in the way you work most naturally. All settings can be adjusted per device, since you might have different needs depending on whether you are at your desk, or on the go.
On the Mac the Preferences area can be accessed from the menu bar via the Firetask menu.
The General view contains all general settings, most of them for the user interface:
- Show Due. Allows you to select how many days you want to look into the future in the "Next" view (the default is "Due Tomorrow")
- Show project and category notes. By default, Firetask shows also the first few lines of project and category notes on top of the respective project and category task lists. You can disable this behavior via this setting
- Always show task details. Define whether you always want to see inline notes and actions in your task lists
- Display area colors. Firetask normally uses colors in task list headers to indicate in what area you are in. If you do not like this behavior you can switch it off here
- Reverse order of priority columns. By default, Firetask shows the order of priority columns in the Priorities view in reversed priority order ("Critical" first). By disabling this setting you can switch to the natural priority order instead
- New Tasks Are By Default. Decide whether new tasks should be created as "Starred" or "Due Today" when created in general overviews such as Today or Kanban (default is "Starred").
- Toggle tasks 'In-Progress'. We think that our In-Progress status is a really nice feature, but not everyone agrees. By disabling this setting single-tapping/clicking an actionable task status icon will directly complete the task.
- Enable daily reminder. Firetask can send you a daily reminder telling you whether any tasks are due on this day -- you can also set the hour of day for this notification
- Default Email Category. When creating a new task by dropping an email into a task list this category will be applied automatically (macOS only)
- Default Link Category. When creating a new task by dropping a link into a task list this category will be set (macOS only)
- Quick-Entry Hotkey. Configure the system-wide quick-entry keyboard shortcut (by default, CMD+CTRL+.; macOS only)
The Syncing tab provide settings for iCloud syncing and integration with Apple's built-in apps:
- Enable iCloud Syncing. Switch this on if you are signed into your iCloud account and want to sync your data across devices
- Auto-import "Firetask" reminders. If checked, automatically imports all reminders created in the Reminders list "Firetask" (needs to be created manually)
- Show calendar utilization. If you allow it Firetask will be default should you the calendar event utilization using colored triangles in the Dates view; you can switch this off using this setting and also configure the "Productive Hours Per Day" that are used to calculate the utilization color
Sidebar (macOS only)
The Sidebar tab allows you to configure which views you want to see in the left sidebar of the Mac app. Switch off all views you do not use in order to keep the user interface as clutter-free as possible.
The Repository tab shows how many tasks, projects, categories etc. you have in your task database. It also provides you with buttons allowing you to load demo data, deduplicate all data (a troubleshooting option if you get task duplicates; contact us if something like this happens), and to clear your repository (be careful: deletes all data also across devices if iCloud is switched on!).
The Project Archive contains your completed and canceled projects and can be used to "Unarchive" a project, i.e., settings its status back to Active, thus, moving it back into the "Projects" area.
The Backups tab allows you to create logical backups of your data in the form of XML backup files using the "Backup" button. By using the "Restore" button you can then restore a backup. We provide backups mainly for diagnostic reasons.
Please note that restoring a backup will delete all current data and restore the contents of the respective backup file.
The Log Files tab allows you to access the daily log files Firetask writes in order to help us locate and fix bugs. You can then use the "Share" button to email a log file to us if we ask you for one.
Keyboard shortcuts (macOS only)
CMD+N. New Task
SHIFT+CMD+N. New Project
CTRL+CMD+N. New Portfolio
OPTION+CMD+N. New Category
CMD+6. Waiting For
CMD+UP. Move Up
CMD+DOWN. Move Down
CMD+A. Select All
SHIFT+CMD+F. Find in All Tasks
CMD+I. Show/Hide Information (Detail Sidebar)
CMD+. Always Show Task Details
CTRL+CMD+F. Enter/Exit Fullscreen
CMD+D. Add Due (Date)
CMD+ENTER. Add Notes
SHIFT+CMD+ENTER. Add Action
SHIFT+CMD+L. Mark as Starred
CTRL+CMD+L. Unmark as Starred
SHIFT+CMD++. Increase Priority
SHIFT+CMD+-. Decrease Priority
SHIFT+CMD+P. Show Project Chooser
SHIFT+CMD+C. Show Category Chooser