I Paid For Things 3 & TickTick To See How They Compare


A comprehensive comparison between Things 3 and TickTick is what I want to flesh out in this article. Having experimented with TickTick through a previous article and adding it as one of my go-to apps, I became curious about Things 3.

Things 3 is a paid app that’s intuitive to use and almost fully focused on task management. TickTick is a freemium app that has a balance between its task management and calendar viewing functions.

If you’re looking for a task management app that you can use for free, TickTick wins hands down. If you’re looking at functionality as it fits the way you organise your life, then we will need to take a closer look at how both apps compare.

Things 3 – Intuitive. TickTick – Freemium, But So What?

While I’ve found Things 3 to be incredibly intuitive, with it being a premium app, things can get expensive.

Being available on Mac, iPhone/Apple Watch and iPad, each of the app on the different platforms are sold separately.

Things 3 on the Mac is 49.99 USD. On the iPhone/Apple Watch it is 9.99 USD. On the iPad, it costs 19.99 USD.

You can use TickTick for free in most cases but if you ever wanted to go premium, you can do that for 2.79 USD per month or 27.99 USD per year regardless of whether you want to use it on Mac, Andriod, iPhone and/or iPad.

Besides pricing, I mentioned that Things 3 is very intuitive to use. Here’s some of what I mean through using the app to automate my daily routine:

“Homepage” on Things 3

Once you get into Things 3, you will immediately find a clear view of what you can do.

Functions are clearly labelled, with not much guesswork involved.

For me, this meant that I could quickly get my tasks in view.

“Today” view on Things 3

Clear and precise – what the Things 3 Today view offers.

It gives you a summary of your day’s calendar and the tasks that need to be completed today.

Tasks can also be repeated and recreated every day making my daily routines easy.

While you can see that Things 3 is pretty task management focused, TickTick on the other hand has more of a balance between task management and calendar views.

Here’s what I mean:

Unlike the “homepage” of Things 3 where you get a crisp overview of almost all you can do, on TickTick, you enter into the Today view once you enter into TickTick.

There is a calendar tab and tasks tab at the bottom of the screen where you can choose your focus to be either on your calendar events/tasks.

There are also multiple calendar views on TickTick.

On Things 3, I’ve found that you can only view your calendar events 1 day at a time.

So to conclude this section, Things 3 is a premium-only app that has a heavy focus on task management while TickTick is a freemium app with a balanced focused between task management and calendar events viewing.

In the next section, we will look into a detailed comparison of the features between both apps.

Detailed Comparison Between Things 3/TickTick

This detailed comparison will cover most of the features offered on both apps.

Here is an overview of the comparison:

S/NFeatureAvailability On Things 3Availability On TickTick
1TemplatesNot availableAvailable free
2Platform availabilityiPhone
Apple Watch
iPad
Mac
iPhone
Android
AppleWatch
iPad
Mac
Windows
Outlook Add-in
Firefox Extension
Chrome Extension
Gmail Add-on
3TagsAvailableLimited availability free
4Areas categorisationAvailableNot available
5Projects categorisationAvailableNot available
6TasksAvailableAvailable free
7SubtasksAvailableAvailable free
8Natural languageNot availableAvailable free
9Treat calendar events like tasksNot availableAvailable free
10Calendar views featureLimited views availableLimited availability free
11Recurring tasksAvailableAvailable free
12Location remindersNot availableAvailable free
13Summary viewNot availableAvailable free
14Multiple remindersNot availableAvailable free

Ignoring platform availability, out of the 14 features listed, Things 3 has 7 out of 13 features available while TickTick has 11 out of 13 features available.

Although it seems like TickTick is taking the lead just based on the table above, I must say that I enjoyed using Things 3.

I enjoyed using it not because it’s feature-rich, but because each of its features works so well.

In fact, after trying it out over this past week, I enjoyed using Things 3 more than TickTick.

But putting my personal preference aside, what I really want to do for you is to help you to decide on which app is best for you.

The next thing we will talk about (how I felt using both apps, broken down, feature by feature) will help you with that.

1) Templates

Templates is a feature available free on TickTick and is not available on Things 3.

What I enjoy about this feature is that it allows me to keep checklists/notes that may not be used daily but is still used from time to time.

I use this feature to assist me in my thinking as and when is needed.

Beyond assisting you in your thinking, you can imagine just how versatile this template feature can be for grocery shopping, project organisation, etc.

Although Things 3 does not have the template feature, I’ve found that you can make up your own template feature by creating a new Area categorisation (another feature we will get into soon) for any template checklists/notes you may have.

Once you have the Area set up, you can just go into it and create tasks within it that you can easily duplicate and recategorise into the various categories as needed.

2) Platform availability

I think that platform availability is a major plus point for TickTick because it is available on 10 different platforms as apps/extensions.

Things 3 on the other hand, is only available on the 4 major Apple platforms.

Besides, TickTick works on a subscription model. This means that you only need to pay 1 price every year/month to get access to all of what TickTick has to offer.

Heck, you don’t even have to pay to get access to TickTick on the various platforms although that are certain limitations with the free version of the app.

TickTick on the Mac

Things 3 on the other hand, work on a pay-once model. This means that you have to pay every time you want to unlock a platform.

You paid for Things 3 on the iPhone but now you want it unlocked on your Mac and/or iPad? You’ll have to pay for the software again.

If you want Things 3 to be available on your Mac, iPad and iPhone, you can expect to pay about 80 USD.

80 USD is about 2.8 years and 2.3 years worth of subscription on TickTick if you paid yearly and monthly respectively.

3) Tags

Tags are another way of categorising your tasks on both Things 3 and TickTick.

It makes it easier for you to be able to search and find tasks that may be buried in the barrage of things you’ve to accomplish.

While this feature is available on both apps, it has limited availability on TickTick in its free version which only allows you to use 1 tag.

So far, although I do not heavily use this feature in my experience with using both apps, I’ve found them to work in identical ways.

Tags display at the bottom of the to-do on Things 3
Tags also display at the bottom of the task on TickTick

4/5) Areas & Project Categorisation

This feature is something that I feel Things 3 has gotten right. They’ve identified that all tasks or to-dos, as they call it, fit into 2 broad categories: areas and project.

Areas can mean an area of responsibility that can include Family, Finances, Marriage, etc.

Projects can mean any goal that has a definite end to it. This can include housing renovations, getting A for your exams, mastering a certain song on the guitar, etc.

Right on the homepage of Things 3, you can easily create a new project/area as it fits your life.

For me, I just love how it helps me with organising my tasks without being overbearing.

Create a new project/area by tapping on the plus icon on the homepage
How areas/projects look like once you’ve created them. A neat feature is that the app creates a checkbox on any project you’ve created so that you can check them off once you’ve accomplished your goals

Although this is not a feature that’s available on TickTick, you can mimic the feature through its lists.

While you can almost mimic the feature exactly, TickTick can’t create the checkbox beside a project as Things 3 can.

An interesting thing about TickTick’s lists is that you can change the icon accompanying a list to one that suits whatever you are creating it for.

You can’t change the icon accompanying your areas/projects on Things 3.

Other than these differences, the lists feature on TickTick is similar to the areas/projects categorisation on Things 3.

6) Tasks

This is a staple feature that is available on Things 3 and available free on TickTick.

Task creation on Things 3
Task creation on TickTick

At first glance, they may seem identical, but if you look closely, you will find that Things 3 allow the creation of subtasks while you’re creating a new task while TickTick doesn’t.

On TickTick, you have to create the task first before going back to the task to edit it and add subtasks.

While we may perceive this as an inconvenience, TickTick makes up for it by allowing you to create tasks by speaking through its voice recognition feature. Things 3 doesn’t have this feature.

7) Subtasks

Another staple feature and available free on TickTick, both apps allow for the creating of subtasks.

As far as I can tell, both apps work similarly as far as subtasks are concerned.

Subtasks on Things 3
Subtasks on TickTick

8) Natural language

Only available on TickTick, I would categorise this as an advanced feature – not a necessity, but a good to have.

In my using of TickTick, I’ve found that its natural language feature can detect date and time.

I think this feature can be helpful for some, but I haven’t found it particularly useful.

If anything, it can be a hindrance in some instances. For example, when your event name or venue name itself is “7 am” or “Next Week”.

9) Treat calendar events like tasks

I guess the reason why TickTick is named the way it is is that it can tick off almost everything, including calendar events.

Example of how TickTick can treat calendar events like tasks

All the “tasks” where you see a square box beside are calendar events.

Swiping right on a calendar event allows you to check the event just as you would a task.

I’ve found this feature to be useful to help me track where I am during the day according to what I’ve accomplished rather than what time it is.

Treating calendars like tasks is not something that Things 3 can do.

But what it can do is “tick off” expired calendar events automatically.

Treating calendar events like tasks, automatically

Notice the greyed out calendar events, this is how Things 3 automatically “ticks off” completed calendar events.

I’ve found this automation to be more useful as this means that I can focus on the management of my tasks on Things 3 and allow my calendar app to focus on calendar events.

10) Calendar views feature

The calendar views feature is available on both apps but has a wider range of possibilities especially with the paid version of TickTick.

On Things 3, you can view the calendar 2 ways, either in the “Upcoming” view or in the “Today” view.

“Upcoming” view on Things 3
“Today” view on Things 3

On the free version of TickTick, you can view your calendar events only through the list view.

List view on TickTick

Although it is only through the list view that you can view your calendar events on the free version of TickTick, you can easily navigate around dates to view what events you have on any particular day.

It is on the premium version of TickTick that it really outperforms Things 3 in how it allows you to view your calendar events because it offers the Month, Day, 3 Days and Week view.

Month view on TickTick
Day view on TickTick
3 Days view on TickTick
Week view on TickTick

As a matter of personal preference, I do prefer how Things 3 is focused on task management and not so much on its calendar viewing function.

This lets me use my task management app for task management and my calendar app for calendar events management without confusion.

That said, I do see the value of TickTick for a user who might want to stick to 1 app for task management/calendar events viewing after they have done their calendar planning for the week.

11) Recurring tasks

Both Things 3 and TickTick offers the recurring tasks function with 1 major difference.

Things 3 duplicates its recurring tasks with a more separate feel to it; TickTick duplicates its recurring tasks with a more continuous feel to it.

A recurring task on Things 3

Once you check off all the tasks within a recurring task on Things 3, the task will disappear from your view and will appear only at your next stipulated time.

A recurring task on TickTick

Once you check off all the checkboxes within a recurring task on TickTick, the app will automatically move your navigation to the next stipulated recurring time.

I know I’m biased but as a matter of staying true to myself, I’ve got to let you know that I like how Things 3 keeps my focus on today only.

Again, I do see the value in how TickTick tries to help you move things forward with your recurring tasks, but some tasks can only be done 1 day at a time and it does make me feel a bit overwhelmed at times.

12) Location reminders

Location reminders is a feature that is available free on TickTick and isn’t available on Things 3.

This allows you to create a task that is tagged to a location.

You can choose when (either when you’re leaving the location, or arriving at the location) the app will remind you.

Although I haven’t found much chance to use this feature extensively on TickTick, I think it can be useful for tasks that can only be performed at a particular location.

13) Summary view

The summary view is a feature that is available free on TickTick and isn’t available on Things 3.

This feature allows you to immediately focus on tasks that are either overdue or due today.

Options at the bottom of the screen allows you to scroll through the outstanding tasks.

You can also check them as done, set a timing to get it done today, on another date, or to delete the task entirely.

Overall I thought that this is a neat feature on TickTick.

Although the same feature could be good to have on Things 3, I’m of the opinion that because of how simple the app function and how easy it is to view my outstanding tasks, there’s no need for this function on Things 3.

14) Multiple reminders

Multiple reminders is a feature that’s only available on TickTick.

TickTick allows you to set up to 5 reminders leading up to the deadline of a task.

I’ve found this feature to be useful, especially for tasks that are not yet ingrained as a habit for me.

Although it’s a pity that this feature is not available on Things 3, I’ve found that 1 reminder is adequate for majority of my use cases.


This comparison article should have given you a good idea of whether Things 3 or TickTick is more suitable for you.

If you’re still on the fence, you may want to look at a comparison between Any.do and TickTick as well.

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