How to Use Google Tasks to Make Your Life Easier

Google Tasks on the iPhone is quite simple to use. Screenshot of Safari Browser

Google Tasks can take the procrastination out of getting your to-do list organized because it is built right into your Gmail account. That means there is no need to download specific task software to use it (although there are good to-do apps out there), so you can jump straight to making lists and checking items off. And while Google Tasks is a simplified version of a task manager, it has all of the features most of us need to get started creating to-do lists.

How to Use Google Tasks in Gmail

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Google Tasks exists alongside your Gmail's inbox, so before you can use it, you will need to open Gmail in your web browser. Google Tasks works in all major web browsers including Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge. 

  • First, click the Gmail drop down on the upper-left side of the inbox just above the Compose button. This drop-down list includes a Tasks option.
  • After you tap Tasks, the Google Tasks window will appear in the lower-right side of the screen.
  • Actually adding tasks is as simple as clicking the Plus (+) button at the bottom of the window. You can add multiple entries quickly by hitting the Enter key on your keyboard. 
  • You can also add subtasks by pressing the Tab key. When you are finished with the subtasks, press the Tab key while holding down the Shift key. This will take you back to adding main tasks.
  • Would you prefer to work in a separate window? If you click the diagonal arrow button on top of the Tasks window, the list will pop out into a new window. This will allow you to move the Tasks window to any part of the screen. 

View Your To-Do List in Google Calendar

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One of the features that makes Google Tasks so good is the integration into Google Calendar as well as Gmail. This means you can add a task from your inbox, assign it a date and then view it alongside your other events, meetings and notifications within Google's Calendar app.

By default, Google Calendar shows Reminders instead of Tasks. Here's how to turn on Tasks in the Calendar:

  • Click My Calendars on the left side of the screen.This screen allows you to turn on and color code your personal calendar, birthdays, reminders and tasks.
  • Hover the mouse cursor over Reminders to reveal a down arrow button. Clicking this button will bring up a pop-up window with settings.
  • In the pop-up window, click Switch to Tasks.

Want to add a task from Google Calendar? No problem.

  • If the calendar is in Week or 4 Days view, click the square just below the date. If you are viewing the entire month, you can click any part of the square designating the day.
  • Click Tasks at the top of the pop-up window that appears. 
  • You can type in both a title and notes for your task.  When you are done, this task will show up in both the Calendar and in Gmail.

How to Use Google Tasks as a Task Manager for Work

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If you mostly send and receive work correspondence through Gmail, Google Tasks can make getting and staying organized very easy. One of the most powerful features of Google Tasks is the ability to attach an email to a specific task.  You can do this any time you have an email message open:

  • Click the More button at the top of the Gmail screen.
  • Choose Add to Tasks
  • Want a due date for the task? Click the ">" button. You can also jot down some quick notes in this screen.

When you add an email message as a task, Google will use the email's subject line as the task title. It will also provide a "related email" link that will take you that specific email. 

The ability to go through your task list, mark off completed items and immediately pull up a related email message is what makes Google Tasks such a good work manager for those who use Gmail on a regular basis.

You Can Also Use Google Tasks to Organize Your Shopping List

Google Tasks on the iPhone is quite simple to use. Screenshot of Safari Browser

While it may have tasks in the name, Google Tasks is also a great list editor for many of the same reasons it is a good task manager: accessibility and integration into both Gmail and Google Calendar. This means your spouse can email you that the household is out of eggs and you can easily add it to the grocery list.

In order to be a good shopping list manager, you will want to get access to Google Tasks on your smartphone. It's easy enough to get to Google Tasks on your PC through your browser, and you can access it on your iPhone the same way. Surprisingly, it is not quite as easy on an Android smartphone or tablet.

  • On your iPhone, you can simply:
    Browse to the Gmail website
    Tap the More button in the upper-right corner of the screen and choose Tasks. You can even save this website as a bookmark to easily get back to it.
  • On your Android smartphone, you can:
    Browse to Google Tasks (for the record, the URL is: https://mail.google.com/tasks/canvas) in the Chrome web browser.
    You can also download To-List for Google Tasks from the Google Play store

You can also create an app out of either web page. If you find you use Google Tasks on a regular basis, this is a great way to get quick access to it.

  • On an iPhone:
    Navigate to the Google Tasks website as above and then tap the Share button. This is the button that looks like a box with an arrow sticking out of it.
    Scroll through the bottom set of icons until you find Add to Home Screen. Choosing this option will let you add the webpage to your Home Screen just as if it were an app.
  • On an Android device:
    Navigate to Google Tasks to bring up Google Tasks.
    Next, tap the Menu button in the upper-right corner of the Chrome web browser. This is the button with three dots in a vertical line. From this menu, choose Add to Home Screen.

Add Tasks to Your List From Any Website

Screenshot of Safari Browser

If you use the Chrome browser, there is a handy extension that will add a task button to the top of your browser window. This extension will let you bring up the tasks window from any website. 

Ready to download the extension? You can go directly to the search results for Google Tasks on the Chrome Store or follow these steps:

  • Click the Apps button on the left side of the toolbar at the top of the screen.
  • On the apps screen, click Web Store.
  • This will take you to Chrome's store. Search for "Google Tasks" to bring up the official extension.  
  • ​Google Tasks (by Google) should be the first extension listed. Click the Add to Chrome button to install it to your Chrome browser.

To use the extension after it is installed click the green checkmark in the upper right corner of the browser. Extensions you install will be listed in this section of the browser.  The Google Tasks button looks like a white checkbox with a green check mark. The extension lets you open Google Tasks no matter where you are on the web, which is handy enough, but the best part is a feature most people overlook: creating a task out of text on the web.

If you use your mouse to select a piece of text from a web page and then right click on it, you will see Create Task for... as an option. Clicking this menu item will create a task out of the text. It will also save the web address in the notes field to make it easier to get back to the original web page.

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