Nothing quite like Org for Emacs

I’ve been trying lots of different Web-based GTD task managers like Remember the Milk, Toodledo, and GTDAgenda. I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that there’s nothing quite like Org for Emacs.

Here’s what I like about the other services:

  • Both Remember the Milk and Toodledo have iPhone/iPod Touch interfaces, so I can review, check off, and create tasks anywhere.
  • All those services allow me to e-mail tasks to an address.
  • It’s easy to filter tasks by context.
  • I can share my tasks with my assistant so that he or she can remind me of the tasks I’ve scheduled for the day.

Here’s what I like about Org:

  • I can use templates and outlines to organize my tasks however I want.
  • I can set deadlines, scheduled tasks, and prior notice easily.
  • I can track time more finely than Toodledo can.
  • I can use Org as an activity log.
  • I can schedule tasks onto specific timeslots.

Of all the options I’ve tried, Toodledo is closest to where I am with Org, although it still doesn’t do everything.

Some options are:

  • Use worg or develop a web-based interface for displaying tasks based on my Org file
  • Write code for synchronizing Org with Toodledo or RememberTheMilk, making lots of geeks happy in the process =)

2 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

  • There is something half-baken: org-rtm, but you’ll sure make me happy if you create something usable.

  • I have settled onto a combination of Tasks for my task management, Evernote for my inbox, and a custom M-x remember hook for quickly chunking thoughts from Emacs into Evernote. Then, when I process my inbox at the end of the day, I can enter tasks into Tasks using templates, deadlines, etc. It supports emailing you your agenda each day, tagging tasks, time tracking (although I have not explored that bit yet).

  • Seth

    +1 on the sync to RTM. I’d love it.

  • I probably shouldn’t even say this out loud but i’m in the planning stages of a iphone app that I hope will get us started with org on the iphone. Baby steps! I hope to have the preliminary plans to the list later this week.

  • Jost

    I think using the “Worg” idea, enhances by web-based/wiki entry method as it could be provided by ikiwiki, would be the most interesting approach, as it keeps centered around the original org-files and gives all the “offline” benefits of version control.

  • Cornellian

    Greg, if you produce an iPhone app that can access and manipulate an emacs org-mode file I will bear your children. And I’m a guy, so producing kids is a non-trivial engineering challenge for me.

    I already have Things and Omnifocus for the iPhone but I’d snap up a good org-mode iPhone app in a heartbeart.

    Sacha, how’s that “Wicked Cool Emacs” book coming along?

  • In terms of parsimony and all that the worg solution has a lot of merit at least for me. I think I’m likely to evolve in that direction myself.

    Might the tracks program written by bsag ( be a place to look for a web based gtd program that might be easier than building from scratch?

    Having said that, in terms of a cost-benefit analysis, something like a nokia n800 or similar device (which could have emacs and git to pull your org repo) be even more simple.

  • Giovanni Ridolfi

    for the iPhone -> Org-Mode

    combination, please have a look, in the Org-Mode ML, at the thread:

    there’s a solution exploiting reQcall.

    or its alternatives, for non US/Canada/UK people ;-) i.e.:

  • I have to admit – while i’ve finally given up on komodo and gone back to emacs for day-to-day coding (and writing a fair bit of markdown these days) – I’ve never really used org-mode.

    I have been using RTM for a while now with moderate success – my biggest issue with it, is that while it’s very easy to get tasks in, I rarely have a nice, in context overview of my ‘next actions’. but org-rtm might just be the answer.

    time to tinker!

  • James: Welcome back to the fold!

    I found Toodledo handled my contexts better than RememberTheMilk did. =) You may want to give it a try.

  • Cornellian: I’ve passed the Wicked Cool Emacs over to Ian Eure (who’s another cool Emacs blogger!), as I got distracted by writing about Drupal’s shiny bits. =) There’s a whole new crop of Emacs bloggers on Planet Emacsen, too, which makes me very happy. =)

  • I’ve used RTM, org-mode, and now evernote. Now I read your post and I have to look at toodledo and reconsider org-mode. Plus James has me reconsidering going from emacs to komodo. You guys are killing me!

  • Frank D.

    I’m an Emacs fanatic, so it’s org-mode, LaTeX, … everything in Emacs. I’ve tried some on-line todo utilities, but I didn’t really like any of them. Emailing myself requires a computer, so it’s already too much overhead, I just want to edit. An iPhone app would be awesome.

    In the mean time, I bought a Nokia N810 last week. I just flashed it to upgrade the OS and later tonight I’m going to install Emacs and Unison on it. I use Unison to keep my home computer, work, laptop and soon Nokia all synced with a server that is backed up etc.
    So, I’ll keep you posted how Emacs + Org-mode works on the N810. The various M-, C- commands may be a bit tricky :)
    — Frank D.

  • Friedel

    Hm, seems I found this post a bit late.

    I’ve been thinking about how to integrate org-mode with my Android phone for a while now and I think the best option for me is to code org-mode integration with RTM, since there’s a todo manager for android called Astrid which already offers RTM integration.

    Interestingly there’s already a common-lisp API for RTM:

    And it looks like just one function (ok, the central one) would have to be ported/rewritten to elisp.

    Not promising anything in the near future, though!

  • Marc S

    Perhaps a different way of looking at the problem would make it simpler, I have used monkyGTD to manage tasks. I can access my taskes from different computers, but they do not handel it dynamicly. What I do is download a file with all my information and upload it when done to the server. This has the added advantage that it works when I am internet challenged. This could be accomplished as simply as setting up an account at github and a bit of glue.



  • How about using one of these services that lets you share files over the web and use them just as if they are on your local disk? That is what I do for my writing. (I am using org-mode often there, but just do not ask me for GTD – I don’t have time for GTD…)

  • That’s a good idea. I’ve been meaning to set up…

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  • Shashank

    Absolutely.. I’m hooked onto org now :)

    btw, I found Dropbox to be a neat & easy way to sync my .org files
    (across all 3 types of OS’s)


  • Ben

    In days of yore, we used to run one instance of Emacs somewhere and use either ssh and screen or X to interact with it remotely, avoiding the problem of having to sync files, but also having to interact with emacs over a network connection… there is always some compromise.

  • I now use git and shell scripts to manage my files. =) It’s fairly painless and quite handy. Good for managing merges, too.

  • Hunter

    If you’re happy using git and org-mode, does this mean you’ve found/made a solution for your iPhone to integrate these as well?

  • There’s MobileOrg, but I haven’t set it up yet. Looks interesting, though!

  • Hey Sacha!

    I think it is about flexbility and simplicity. Org provides simple systems that work very well together.

    Anyway, MobileOrg works well, and I’ve been using it in my Ipod Touch, give it a try!


  • Yes, I’ve got MobileOrg set up on my iPod now. Love it! =)

  • My two cents…

    I use org-mode with dropbox. They work quite well and I always get my files synced at home or work.

    What I like about dropbox is:

    the software is always running on the background and I dont need to worry or take any actions to sync files, so it is very simple.

    That’s great that so many people is using org-mode. I am big fan of org-mode too! :)

    Cheers ! Everbody!

  • masei

    Somethig more difficult to setup but in the end easy to use is this one for android: I use a debian image on the sdcard to chroot in. there I can use emacs on my phone . No – I’m not completly mad :-)
    Sure, the C-X C-C M-S-a stuff would be a pain on a mini touch screen keyboard – but – we have a solution: The Org-speed commands. I tried it this week and it seams to work very well.
    This way I can use single key strokes like in vim for my org-mode files.

  • Glad to hear that works for you! =) That’s quite hardcore.

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  • Truong

    If I have a PROJECT in org-mode and several TODO sub-tasks under that project, in agenda views (global todo), the project and its sub-tasks are displayed but there are no way to tell (visually) which ones belong to the project, e.g.
    PROJECT The project
    TODO Sub-task 1
    TODO Sub-task 2
    TODO Not a sub-task

    Do you know how to configure org-mode to show some kind of visual indication? Something like this
    PROJECT The project
    TODO _Sub-task 1
    TODO _Sub-task 2
    TODO Not a sub-task

    (note the _ characters)

  • If you move your text cursor to the different tasks, you can see the hierarchy in the message area. Hope that helps!

  • Hi sacha, I’d like to see more posts on how you are using org-mode and how you are organizing your tasks, if you have time, please, share with us.