WorkFlowy: Plain Text Productivity

I’m a To Do list junky. Throw in access anywhere and a beautiful interface, and you’ll probably have me hooked.

WorkFlowy is up there with the best of the them on these two fronts. It’s a plain text to-do list app with an elegant, clean design that’s simple to use. Read on to see if it lives up to the rest of my expectations.

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WorkFlowy is, at its heart, a To Do list. It runs in a browser. That’s it. No apps. This is good news as, if you’re using virtually any kind of computer or mobile phone, you’ll have access to a browser and hence your WorkFlowy tasks.

WorkFlowy is fast. It’s fast at rendering, fast at adding/moving/editing tasks, fast at synching. In fact, it has one of the fastest syncs I’ve seen for any kind of To Do application. Have the app running in two browsers and an update in one results in an almost instant update to the other.

The developers have put a lot of thought into making WorkFlowy quick and easy to use, with virtually every function having a keyboard short cut. This means you can drive the app almost entirely from the keyboard. This is important to me, especially when I’m brainstorming new stuff, where I’m constantly moving tasks around, reassigning them, adding notes etc.

Tags and Filtering

Everything you type into WorkFlowy can handily have tags, by adding the usual # and/or @ prefixes. Once you have one of these in any of your tasks, they’re auto suggested as soon as you type # or @. You can also click any previously entered tags to filter the view to only show other items with the same tag.

Filtering is handled well. Just type any text into the Search box and it’ll filter your tasks in real time to those that match the search pattern. This will be familiar to anyone who’s used Notational Velocity, TextDropApp etc.

Another aspect of WorkFlowy that speeds up your To Do processing is that it consists of only a single page. This, apparently, can be huge, with the developers quoting no slow down, even with a 2 year old, 20,000 item list. I’m guessing that should be more than enough capacity for most people.

You can use WorkFlowy on your iPhone/iPad/Android/Almost Anything With A Browser by simply visiting the usual WorkFlowy URL. It obviously behaves somewhat differently when you move to a touch interface but it’s not as good an experience as on a desktop browser.

For example, in Chrome on my Nexus 7, the +/- icons, which are usually (and intuitively) to the left of a collapsible list on the desktop browser, are oddly moved over to the right of the page, where it’s difficult to ensure you tap the correct one. I also noticed some rendering issues, where it would overwrite the bottom half of the text on the line above, for example.


You get a lot for free with WorkFlowy. Which is just as well, as it’s expensive if you want to upgrade to their Pro account. $49 per year is, in my opinion, way too expensive, especially when you consider what other services you can get for that kind of money. I don’t know how many takers they’ve had at that price, but I’d be surprised if it was a huge number.

The good thing is, you can export all of your data as plain text, if you ever decide you need to move to another service, and there’s also some basic import features if you need to bring in data from other apps.


I’m constantly on the lookout for that “perfect” To Do application. It has to be cross-platform and available everywhere. It has to be quick to use and intuitive. My data shouldn’t be tied in to a specific platform and, as a bonus, it doesn’t hurt for it to look good.

WorkFlowy covers all of these, so long as you always have access to a network connection. Unfortunately, I don’t. I travel constantly and a lot of the time I lose all data connectivity. In its current form, this means I lose my WorkFlowy list. Off-line access has been “coming soon” for some time. I’ve contacted the developers to try and get some time scales and they’ve advised “We’re hoping to have the feature within a month or two, however, it’s always hard to predict these things with certainty.”.

There’s also the rendering and usability issues noted above, which somewhat prevent me wanting to use WorkFlowy on a mobile device.

Of course, these may not be issues for you, specifically if you’re predominantly sat at your desk all day with a permanent network connection, in which case I’d be happy to recommend WorkFlowy. If, like me, you’re out and about a lot, you may want to consider some of the alternatives.

Go give it a try now. It has a free tier, so you’ve nothing to lose.


A plain text to-do list app that makes it easy to keep up with everything you need to do, online.