Use GeekTool to Display TaskPaper Lists on Your Desktop

For all my good intentions, I need my todo list staring me in the face or I won’t get a thing done. After a recent update to 2.0, I’ve gone back to TaskPaper for my simple list management. Here’s how I use GeekTool with TaskPaper to keep my todos where I need them most.

The Two Apps I Use

TaskPaper is a simple, plain text based list making app. Just beneath the surface, however, TaskPaper hides away considerable GTD power. Done or other tags make it easy to quickly wade through lists with hundreds of entries, and a ubiquitous hot-key triggered capture window make sure your sudden ideas don’t slip through the cracks. It’s 29.95 and, for me, well worth it.

GeekTool is a brilliant little app. GeekTool can display detailed system info – from application events, top processes, uptime and a lot more – embedded right in your desktop. I use GeekTool in a very simple way: to make sure my todos are always visible while I’m at my Mac. GeekTool is freeware.

Pretty and Practical – Your Todos on Your Desktop

Before I go into the details of how to do it, have a look at the screenshot on the right (you can click to enlarge if you want to have a read). In my opinion, not only is it practical to have your todos embedded in the desktop, it can also be very pretty. And why shouldn’t one have both?

As I mentioned above, TaskPaper creates lists in plain text. In other words, TextPaper task lists are formatting free and can thus be viewed in virtually any text editing application on any platform. Within TaskPaper, your lists certainly appear to be formatted – I don’t purport to know how this works – but outside TaskPaper, a straight forward separation of projects and tasks makes your lists readable.

In order to view your TaskPaper todo list in an app other than TaskPaper, you’ll need to change the extension. TaskPaper docs have a proprietary .taskpaper extension which other apps won’t understand. Rename it to .txt and you’re good to go. Even with the extension changed, the document will still open with TaskPaper by default, so you don’t need to worry.

Setting Up Your Todo.txt to Work with GeekTook

After you’ve renamed your todo doc, download GeekTool and install the preference pane. Here’s how to set it up:

What if I Don’t Use TaskPaper?

As you might have guessed, GeekTool can display any plain text file. If you don’t use TaskPaper but do keep yourself organized via plain text, GeekTool can throw it up on the desktop for you. I like TaskPaper for the power it extends to simple text files, and I like plain text because of its versatility. For me, it’s the right match.

Download TaskPaper. It’s $29.95 after a 30 day trial.

Download GeekTool. It’s freeware.