How to Use Smart Lists in Apple Reminders

Work smarter, not harder, with Smart Lists

Photo by Bagus Hernawan on Unsplash

Whether you’re looking to keep track of work tasks, household chores, or personal goals, Smart Lists in Apple Reminders offer a smart and convenient way to keep track of all your jobs.

Here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know to make Smart Lists work for you.

What Are Smart Lists?

To put it simply, Smart Lists are a way that you can filter your tasks across multiple lists. They are not really lists, per se, they are more like a filter view or a label in Gmail.

There are several Smart Lists built-in to Apple Reminders. For instance, the “Today” Smart List grabs all the tasks that have a due date for today. It doesn’t matter what individual lists these tasks are on, they all appear on the “Today” list because of the way it filters by date.

Other built-in Smart Lists include, Scheduled, All, Flagged, Completed, and Assigned to Me. You can choose whether to show or hide these lists by tapping the three dots at the top of the List screen and selecting Edit Lists. From here, you can toggle which ones show in the app.

How to show/hide Smart Lists — Image created by Jonathan Wylie

How to Create Custom Smart Lists

If Apple’s Smart Lists don’t quite meet your needs, you can create your own. You can filter by tags, dates, times, locations, flags, and priority.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Open the Reminders app
  2. Create a new List by tapping the Add List button
  3. Next, tap “Make into Smart List”
  4. Choose the filters you want to use in your list
  5. Tap “Done” to save your list
Create a Smart List — Image created by Jonathan Wylie

All vs. Any Filters

At the top of the Select Filters screen, there is a box that says, “Include reminders matching ALL filters.” This is the default setting, but it’s not the only option. You can decide to match ANY filter instead.

What’s the difference? “All” means that a task has to include all the selected filters you selected to appear on your Smart List. “Any” means that a task can have one or more of the selected filters. It’s a subtle difference, but it definitely gives you more options.

How to Convert a List to a Smart List

If you already have a List that you want to use as a Smart List, you can convert it in just a few taps. Here’s how that works:

  1. Open the Reminders app
  2. Tap on the List you would like to convert
  3. Tap the three dots in the top-right, and select “Show List Info”
  4. Scroll all the way down to the bottom and tap “Convert to Smart List”
Convert an existing list into a Smart List — Image created by Jonathan Wylie

Any items that were on your list before you converted it will automatically be tagged with the name of the list, e.g., #groceries. To further refine your filters, follow the steps below:

  1. Tap the three dots in the top-right corner of the list
  2. Select, “Show Smart List Info”
  3. Tap “Manage Smart List” to choose additional filters

Adding Items to a Smart List

The whole point of using Smart Lists is that you don’t have to add something to a specific list. All you need to do is tag it, or flag it, and it appears there automatically.

However, if you want to add things directly to a Smart List, you can. Items added to a Smart List will automatically inherit the same filters that you defined when you set up your Smart List.

But, nothing actually lives in a Smart List. So, items you add directly to a Smart List will also appear in your default Reminders list. You can see what that is in the Settings app by going to Settings > Reminders > Default List.

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