Jonathan Wylie is a digital learning consultant who has a passion for helping others get the best out of their technology.
Getting Things Done on Windows
I'm very fond of my Apple devices. I use an iPhone, an Apple Watch, and an iPad on a daily basis. However, I also have a Windows laptop. It's a great laptop, but it doesn't integrate with Apple's services in the same way that my iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch do. For the most part, I make do, but I organize my life with Apple Reminders, and there is no Apple Reminders app for Windows. Here's how I make that work.
Apple Reminders on iCloud.com
Apple's solution to Reminders on Windows is iCloud.com. It's an online portal where you can access productivity apps like Pages, Keynote, and Numbers. You can see your iCloud Photos here, as well as your calendar and contacts. However, most importantly for me, you can also access Reminders. Here's how it works.
- Navigate to iCloud.com.
- Log in with your Apple ID.
- Select Reminders from the list of apps.
From here, you will be able to see a web view of the reminders that you have on your Apple devices and any lists that you have created to organize them.
The Problem With iCloud.com
Unfortunately, Apple Reminders is not a great experience when you use it on the web. Apple just doesn't devote the same resources to online apps that companies like Google or Microsoft do. For instance, my Inbox list is never synced when I first log in to iCloud. It does sync after a few minutes, but I always have to wait. I never have to wait when I use the Reminders app.
The problems don't stop there. The functionality of the web version is very basic. You can't move reminders to a new list, you can't share lists with others, you can't add due dates or priority tags, and you can't create or delete lists. However, if all you need to do is see what is on your list, or add a reminder that is not time-sensitive, then the iCloud version of Reminders does work on Windows, and it will sync with your other Apple devices.
Sync Apple Reminders With Microsoft
A better solution for using Reminders on Windows is to use your Microsoft account to sync your reminders instead of your iCloud account. Doing this will allow you to sync the tasks on your Apple devices with the free Microsoft To Do app on Windows (and vice versa). You can still use the Reminders app on your iPhone or Mac, you can still use the Reminders home screen widget on iOS, and you can still use Siri to add tasks for you. All you need to do is make some quick adjustments.
How to Sync iPhone or iPad Reminders With a Microsoft Account
- Open the Settings app.
- Tap Reminders and then tap Accounts.
- Make sure your Microsoft account is listed here. If it isn't, tap Add Account, and log in with your username and password.
- Next, tap on your Microsoft account, and enable the toggle next to Reminders.
How to Sync Mac Reminders With a Microsoft Account
- Open System Preferences.
- Click on Internet Accounts.
- Make sure your Microsoft account is listed here. If it isn't, click Microsoft Exchange, and log in with your username and password.
- Next, click on your Microsoft account, and check the box next to Reminders.
Once enabled, you will see a new group of lists in the Reminders app. They appear under your existing iCloud lists. Only these lists will sync with your Microsoft account so feel free to create some new lists under the Outlook or Exchange header and move any (or all) of your existing iCloud tasks to those new lists.
Change Your Default Reminders Account
Once all your tasks are moved to your Microsoft account, it's a good idea to set your Microsoft account as the default account for Reminders. With this enabled, you can ask Siri to add something to a list, and it will use your Microsoft account instead of your iCloud account.
To do that, open the Settings app and tap on Reminders. Next, tap on Default List and choose a list from your Microsoft account that you would like to make your default list. For instance, if you want everything to drop into your Home list, tap on that to make it your default list. See how I organize my lists here.
Sync Reminders With Microsoft To Do
The last step of this process is to set up Microsoft To Do on your Windows device. Thankfully, this is as easy as downloading the app and logging in with your Microsoft account. This will sync all your Apple Reminders to your Windows device. You can find the app in the Microsoft Store, or by navigating to todo.microsoft.com where you can download the desktop app or log in to view all your tasks on the web.
Microsoft To Do is not 100% compatible with Apple Reminders, but it does work with most of the features most of the time. Lists, dates, and times will all sync seamlessly between the two, but if you start to do things like group lists in Microsoft To Do, you will soon find that they are not grouped in Apple's Reminders app.
For the best compatibility across all your devices, you may want to consider using the Microsoft To Do app on your iPhone or Mac. It is free and has almost all the features you would expect on a modern task manager. It's not for everyone, but it is one of the best free options if you find you spend a lot of time on a Windows PC.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Jonathan Wylie