Every once in a while, an application/utility comes along that hits a sweet spot. Something for which I’ve been looking, but haven’t been able to find. I’m a list-maker. Especially to-do lists. For more than a year, I’ve been wanting a simple to-do list manager that I can call up from the Mac OS X menu bar. Something simple, light-weight, nicely designed, and above all else, reads and writes to pre-existing data in iCal.
Earlier this month, clever designer/developer, Aram Kudurshian, released High Priority, causing the end of my search. High Priority is exactly what I’ve been looking for. No more. No less. It even incorporates flexibility I didn’t know I wanted, but I appreciate now. From Kudurshian’s description:
Leveraging the power and simplicity of iCal, Apple’s calendar software bundled with Mac OS X, High Priority allows you to create, edit, and remove your To Do items directly from the menu bar, without having to have iCal open.
I found High Priority (HP) at the 1.01 release on MacUpdate. I read HP’s description, and without hesitation, had it downloaded and installed in seconds. Brilliant. It’s unobtrusive, elegantly designed, and I loved that I didn’t need iCal running to check (or check off) items on my to-do list.
From my perspective, only one small feature was missing in version 1.01: the ability to invoke the HP menu with a (user-definable) global keyboard shortcut. I contacted Kudurshian, complimented and thanked him for creating HP, and suggested the keyboard shortcut. With such simple software, I’m very hesitant to suggest anything be added in for fear of treading down Bloat Road. But one little keyboard shortcut, and HP would be perfect… Within a week, I see HP 1.1 released, with a nice little set of bug fixes and feature additions. One of them: “New: Ability to assign a global modifier key to open the menu.” All is right with the world.
I’ll mention that I’ve tried, for good lengths of time, other various task managers. Burnout Menu, iDo, iTasks. I also tried using 37signals’ Backpack and its interfacing Backpack Dashboard widget. I even thought I could get by with the read-only task view in MenuCalendarClock (which I still recommend as a highly useful utility for its configurable menu bar clock and quick access to calendar dates). Some of these task-list managers integrate with iCal, some of them had a portion of what I wanted. But none of them did everything as simply and as beautifully as HP.
Why is iCal integration important? Because other apps and peripherals also read and sync with iCal. I sync my data with a Palm device. I use PHP iCalendar to publish my calendar and to-dos on the web. Using iCal as a base ensures I can maintain and sync my data in multiple locations, and they all work together.
Technically, High Priority runs as a Preference Pane in System Preferences, using very little overhead. Even down to the four tabs of the pane, HP nails a very Mac-like and friendly design. Sort tasks by Calendar, Due Date, Priority, Status, or Title. Display of status or priority icons, hiding tasks n days after completion, and modifier keys to toggle status of, or delete to-do items. It even lets you choose from several blue or grayscale icons to appear in the menu bar. High Priority is what I’d expect to come from Apple if they offered menu bar integration for iCal’s To Do list.
I’ll stop here, and let you try High Priority for yourself, if you’re so inclined. I have no association with Aram Kudurshian, other than the thank-you/suggestion email I sent him after I found HP. Kudurshian’s personal license fee is a steal at US$6. Make sure you contribute if HP fits your bill like it did mine. Support software designers and developers that create useful software, no matter how small or large. Thanks for HP, Aram.