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August 27th, 2009

Things 1.2: Fasten Your Keyboards!

If you are the kind of person who enjoys increasing productivity by optimizing your daily workflow — and you’re not afraid of learning one or two new keyboard shortcuts — then Things 1.2 is for you! Here is a quick overview of the new features:

We’ve added a powerful new way of adding tasks to Things from other applications – Quick Entry Autofill – along with many new shortcuts for editing and managing all of your tasks inside Things.

Things now also integrates with Spotlight and is fully localized into 6 languages: English, German, Japanese, French, Spanish, and Russian. Plus, with the upcoming release of Snow Leopard, we have also made sure that Things runs smoothly on the new OS.

Finally, we have added plug-ins for the most popular application launchers such as LaunchBar, Quicksilver, and Google Quick Search Box. Please refer to this wiki page for more details on how you can download and install them.

As always, you can read the full release notes in our wiki.

Things 1.2

Quick Entry Autofill

Imagine the following scenario: You receive an email from a friend asking you to buy some items for his party. Previously, if you wanted to add that information to Things, you would invoke the Quick Entry dialog by pressing the system-wide keyboard shortcut. You would enter a task title and then copy over the items you need to buy for the party into the notes section. You might also want a link to the original email so you can reply to your friend once you’ve completed your errands. In this case you would have to drag and drop the email into the notes section as well. As you can see, this process is quite involved and cumbersome.

Wouldn’t it be great if Things just recognized the application you’re in and tried to extract the most useful information for you? This is exactly what Quick Entry Autofill does! Originally, Bartek invented this feature for iGTD and called it the “F-Key trick”. With his help, we have now implemented an even better version of it for Things.

If you go to the Things application preferences, you can see that there is now a second system-wide keyboard shortcut you can specify:

Of course, you can fully customize this shortcut.

Now, let’s return to our example. If you select the text that contains your friend’s errands inside his email and invoke the Quick Entry Autofill keyboard shortcut, Things will automatically extract the selected text and pre-populate the Quick Entry window with both the text and a link to the original email!

The Quick Entry Autofill feature behaves similarly in many other applications: it copies the currently selected text into the notes of the to-do and adds a link that is useful in the current context. Here are some examples: In Safari, it will automatically add the URL of the current page. In Finder, it will create links to currently selected files. And in Pages, it will create a link to the currently edited document.

Please note: After you launch Things 1.2 for the first time, you have to quit and restart all running applications for Autofill to work properly (you can also log out and then log back in to your account again to achieve the same effect). The reason is that Things uses Mac OS X Services to get the currently selected text and Mac OS X only updates Services for a given application at launch time. Also, note that for applications which do not support AppleScript (for example, Firefox), Autofill will not be able to detect the current URL or opened document.

UPDATE: Firefox actually does support AppleScript. Jesse Ruderman from Mozilla kindly helped us add autofill support for Firefox 3.x to Things 1.2.1, which is now available.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Let’s look at three examples. For a full list of shortcuts check out our keyboard shortcut overview (PDF).

  1. If you select a task and then press Command-Up or Command-Down, it will move the task up or down in the current list. If you also hold down the Option key, it will move the selected task to the first or last position.
  2. Filtering by tags is now also accessible from the keyboard. Let’s say you have a tag “home”, and you have specified “h” as the shortcut for this tag. In this case, pressing Control-h in a given list will filter it by that tag. Pressing Control-h a second time will remove the filter and show all tasks again.
  3. If you want to modify either the due date or the start date (Scheduled list), you can now do that via the keyboard, too. In the Scheduled list, postponing a scheduled item for one more day can be achieved by pressing Control-] on a US keyboard, whereas Control-[ subtracts one day from the scheduled date. If you also hold down the Shift modifier key, 1 week will be added or subtracted. The shortcuts for due dates behave similarly.

If you look at the position of those shortcuts on a US keyboard, you will see that we have chosen them to be in close proximity to one another:

If you have a non-US keyboard layout, then the [ and ] keys might be replaced by other keys, like umlauts for example in the case of a German keyboard:

The general idea is to keep the position of the keys the same no matter how those keys are labeled. This ensures that the keyboard shortcuts are easily accessible, regardless of the actual language/keyboard layout.


The first time you launch Things 1.2, it will prepare your existing database for Spotlight search. After this is completed, you will be able to find all your to-dos and projects via Spotlight. If you’re looking at the Spotlight search results in the Finder, you can even press the spacebar (which invokes QuickLook) and get a preview of the to-do. If you double-click the to-do, Things will become the active application and show the actual to-do.

Posted by Werner


  1. Way cool. I’m excited to get used to these new shortcuts. Keep up the good work!

  2. Holy mother of god this is awesomely!

  3. Awesomeness!! Will put up review after the shortcuts are well used.. so far very convinced! Thanks for this update.. Keep it real!

  4. Still no proper mac->mac->iphone over the air sync? I’m getting a bit tired of this…

  5. This is so great! I’m a keyboard addict and this makes the app even better than it has always been. Keep it up guys.

  6. I love you. Seriously. Especially plugin for Quicksilver. And shortcuts. Love you.

  7. Will it take less than 15 minutes every morning to complete the sync operation with my iPhone?

    These new features sound good, but nothing much is going to impress me until I can stop planning my morning around having to wait for Things to sync up.

  8. in the words of the infamous duo, bill & ted- “EXCELLENT!”
    great job on more hotkeys & simple tag filtering. the new quick entry feature sounds pretty groundbreaking, well done guys!
    keep up the good work team.

  9. Best productivity app gets better!

  10. The Quick Entry Autofill is fantastic and I love the keyboard shorts. Great job guys.

  11. Excellent features, great job!

  12. Bang, Bang!

    Second shot of the week–great work guys.

  13. Awesome update. Great job guys keep up the good work.

  14. I really like the new date shortcuts; Would be nice if there are corresponding menu items as well. Thanks a lot for this great app. Cheers, Moritz

  15. What specific AppleScript feature do you need in Firefox for Quick Entry to work? Things is quite popular at the Mozilla office, so if we knew what you needed, I don’t think there’d be much trouble getting it added to Firefox.

    Firefox already supports curl/pTit, which is how Adium fills in “current Firefox URL and page title”. Have you tried using that? The selection part already works correctly for me.

  16. OMG! I can’t go on without the Quick Entry Autofill after the first time I used it!

  17. Wonderful guys! Great! Thanks a lot… :)

    But really, still no Page Up and Page Down for the scroll bar of the main window? Am I missing something? Or maybe it’s not working via VNC…

    And how do you go to the bottom of the list without moving something to the bottom of the list?

  18. Thanks guys! Things is a key part of my GTD/life. You just made it better.

  19. The new keyboard shortcuts are beautiful, thanks a lot.

  20. Yay!
    And yeah, Firefox user here too!
    Please, please, work with Jesse & other nice Mozilla guys!

    If only devs from gmail chimed in, I’d be in heaven ;)))

  21. @Jesse: Thanks for contacting us about Firefox. I’ll send you an email so we can discuss possible integration methods with the autofill feature.

  22. Awsome!

    Quick entry will save me a lot of time.

    Thank you!!

  23. @ Ken You can use Option-Down arrow to get to the bottom of the list. It’s not in the list published in the wiki.

  24. The quick entry autofill is gold, no more manually dragging that email into the notes section. Love your work!

  25. This sounds cool. Need to try, I just updated my Things.
    Kind of getting sloppy with using Things though since I can’t sync it with workmates mac.
    We were using first ical but it was duplicating lots of to do’s there and we had to quit that. Now we have been “making sync” for few months by replacing the Things database on the other mac but then workmate can’t really use Things.
    And thus we haven’t used it so much… and thus we made only few times this copying Things database too.
    This should be more fluent from mac to mac.

    I hope Bartek can help you to get these sync things faster too!

  26. Quick Entry Autofill – I LOVE this addition to Things!

  27. This Quick entry sounds nice, but you could always use the Services menu before which did the same, and that was great as well.

  28. Nice, thanks. I really hope that you did more in the last couple of weeks than just adding some Shortkeys.. Need a realiable syncing urgently!

  29. Hmm…I do love this app, but I’m pretty underwhelmed with this update.

    No improved UI support for lots of projects/areas? David Allen suggests we each probably have 30 to 100 projects; I avoid adding new ones in Things because it’s so unwieldy, and that’s a shame. And still no repeating actions for projects?

    Why step on QS’s ^Space hotkey?

    But the new stuff does work well.

  30. super! great work, great app!

  31. +1 for the Quicksilver plug-in!

  32. Cool, but it seems I am not alone in wanting some sort of proper syncing. None of these features really matter if most users want data synced in an easier way.

    Prime reason I was a trial user and not a customer. $50 (+ $10 for the iPhone) and my data is still local and kinda hard to work with. Interesting… Maybe in 1.3? 1.5? 2.0? Is it even in the works?

    Fix this and I’ll buy for sure. Many others too I bet.

  33. Quick Entry autofill works in Safari, but not in WebKit.

  34. That is, it will transfer any selected text, but it doesn’t include the link to the page you’re on.

  35. I am not seeming to get the spotlight search to work. I have tried searching on several different tasks but nothing comes up.

  36. Brilliant, I want more improvements, come on guys! You can do it!

  37. Nice features! The new hire is great news too! GJ CC!

  38. Very Coo!, I like those keyboard shortcuts!

  39. @kip: You can try restarting Things and holding down the Command and Shift keys. This will lead to a rebuild of the Things Spotlight files.

    If that doesn’t help, please contact Support — they will be glad to help you resolve this issue.

  40. Still NO PUSH SYNC with my iphone app over the cloud.
    For me, not worth $50- until we get this feature.
    Will buy if I get a discount with a cupon code.

  41. The GTD software out there is still in a state of growth. I’m torn between extreme simplicity and ease of some competing products, and the more full-featured applications. Both Things and iGTD seemed to be in the middle. I have bought about 10 GTD applications in Windows as well as Mac, but now I’m a Mac person. It will be interesting to see how this new partnership works out for the middle of the road application Things.

  42. @Werner: That got spotlight working again, thanks

  43. What a great way to start the day with such awesome news. Good work guys!

    When is over the air Sync coming out ? There’s alot of us holding our breath out here!

  44. Great release guys, can’t wait for some more!

  45. Keyboard shortcuts: Thanks. I might use the up and down shorts.
    Spotlight integration: Who needs that? (well, maybe the guy above who thinks having 30-100 projects is normal)
    Sync: Still missing.

    Focus, guys!

  46. I would echo comments made here by others….and even by myself in feedback since the very beginning of things….

    this is a great update, keep improving Things….it’s one of the best….

    but we absolutely need wireless syncing (not proximate) and syncing between macs….desktop / laptop / iphone

    this is killing me

  47. This makes me so happy — I have sorely missed this iGTD feature since moving to Things. Have had only partial success in Mail with Apple Script and Rules. This is awesome!

  48. hey

    it is rather a stupid question but in the default things settings: which key exactly do I have to press together with space for ‘show empty’ and together with ‘alt and space’ for the show and autofil? Can’t find it on the keyboard :(

  49. Thanks for the update. Could anyone tell me what the keyboard shortcuts are for changing/navigating the Due Date in the Quick entry window?

    I would loved to have seen CTRL/ALT/SHIFT SPACE to also add the email Subject into the To Do name!

    Thanks for a great product.

  50. Thank you very much for this update. I like the new keyboard shortcuts and autofill too.

  51. Hi Daniel – the pointy hat symbol means the ctrl key. God knows why apple won’t print that on the keyboard or why instruction manuals call don’t describe it as “ctrl”.

    To the Things crew – I didn’t realise I could drag an email into a to do item before. But now I can ctrl-space to set up a to do item from within Mail – well I’m totally jazzed. I’ve 9 days left of my trial and will definitely be making a full purchase ! Thanks!

  52. RE: “I would loved to have seen CTRL/ALT/SHIFT SPACE to also add the email Subject into the To Do name!”

    Found what works for me – The Services menu Things item ‘New To-do containing selection as title’ (which I have added as a shortcut) now adds the the email link to the notes section. Perfect! Thanks.

  53. This is good news on v1.2, but the asking price ratio between desktop and the iPhone app version is silly. Please bring the price down for the Mac desktop version!

  54. French ! Thanks !

  55. Another vote for FIREFOX integration with Quick Entry autofill…the majority of my tasks get to me first thru gmail


  56. Nice update.

    Must haves:
    1) True wireless syncing
    2) Improved project management
    3) Task sharing/delegation

  57. My Keyboard-fu has greatly increased now, and a Quicksilver plugin increases your kudos too. Speechless. Keep up the good work, and I’m glad I bought Things.

  58. This is a great update. You have my money.

    If you get “over-the-air”/”cloud” syncing going so that my phone and computer are always up-to-date with each other, you’ll have my heart.

    Then, if you can implement an effective and relatively automated delegation/collaboration model across multiple users/accounts, you’ll triple my productivity, eliminate extra steps in our group work flow, and eliminate our use of a different platform for collaboration.

  59. Nice update. Can the next update have a feature that does actually does all my errands for me?

  60. I am a LONG time user of iGTD and am so excited about Bartek’s move to Things! I will now have to buy Things for the sole purpose that he is involved with it. His approach to iGTD has yet to be duplicated and I can only imagine how amazing the app will be in the future because of Bartek’s involvement.

    I just wish I had donated over the years. I wasn’t always able. He deserves this and users of Things are about to be given the best GTD app around!

  61. Great work fellas. I’m excited for Snow Leopard to finish installing so I can try this out. Anyone know if the quick entry feature works with Evernote? Hope so! I’d love to be able to link to my ‘external brain’. Keep up the fantastic progress. Apple should add you to their web page ‘Reasons Why You’ll Love a Mac’.

  62. Nice feature – saves me lots of time working with my eMails. Great you have Bargiel on board.

  63. It works with Gmail! No kidding. If I’m reading an email in my gmail account (using safari) and I do the quick entry, it autofills with a link to the email. This is great news for those of us that don’t use the desktop mail client. Good work CulturedCode! As a follow up on my other comment, this feature unfortunately does not work with Evernote…any plans for that?

  64. Hello,
    I have been looking at the development of Things for awhile and I am almost sold. What is keeping me away is the lack of ability to schedule an event in Things. Would be great if this app supports it! When I am in Things, sometimes I would like to quickly schedule an event, related to some tasks. Now I am using Today for that, but it’s pretty limited. Maybe you have something up to your sleeves and that’s gonna be changed in the future?

  65. Thanks for the improved usability through keyboard shortcuts. I also appreciate it that you take different keyboard layouts into consideration (even if it’s pretty natural for you, being a Germany-based company :).

    Unfortunate that Autofill doesn’t work with Firefox — that would be the most useful for me by far. But I’m glad to see you and Mozilla people are on it!

    @Geddesign, good find about Gmail; that’s a nice touch indeed.

  66. italian localization, please !

  67. OH MAN, it’s like two of my best friends just got married!!! I love things, and I have missed my magic F key and all it did in iGTD. Oh wow, oh wow, this is just too good.

  68. oh and spotlight and keyboard tags. oh flip, this is birthday presents. thank you Bartek, welcome back into my life. thank you team. I am SO impressed with you all.

  69. Another long time iGTD user (and apparently I must have liked it enough to donate to the cause because I got a code in the mail! Decided that I should at least buy the iPhone version because this was far too good a deal!)

    Anyhoo…along with the Firefox, I’d love to see Thunderbird supported. I don’t use the Apple mail app, but I just tried it out and it did EXACTLY what I needed. Lower on the list would be Entourage which I have to use in my work setting.

    But Thunderbird would ROCK…and it uses the core FF code if I remember correctly…

    (Thanks for the support for the iGTD folks…I’ve loved that software for years and have been trying to decide where to move on for a LONG time and guess this made the choice easier!)

  70. This is the most awesome addition to an already totally brilliant application. Well done Cultured Code, and welcome Bartek.


  71. Wow, great enhancements! I like the idea of keeping hands on keyboard.

    But I like to see a option for the new Quick Entry Autofill. It would be great to place the selected text as the title and not within the text. I use this all the time with the old shortcuts.

    keep on rocking!

  72. Excellent the addition of auto-fill. Thanks to Bartek and Cultured Code. Nevertheless, it would be even better if the new note title was filled with the grabed title (url, email object) rather than the note field which require to re-type something in the titlte

  73. Great addition. Can you get started on the iPhone enhancements, namely after I sync and am on the road, opening a task, clicking on the links so I can access my emails on the iPhone to respond like I do on the desktop.

  74. Is there a shortcut in the autofill quickentry box for it to save without having to manually click? Or am I just missing something. This would be wonderful.

    It would also be nice if the tabbing in the quick entry didn’t automatically fill in tomorrow/todays (I forget which at the moment) date for the due date. I think it should automatically stay blank and you need to hit one of the arrows to actually get into setting the calendar due date. It’s pretty annoying to try to do full keyboard shortcuts in quickentry and to tab through and it automatically filling this when all I want to do is get to the box for filing so I can put the task in its appropriate project. Please fix this!

  75. @jennifer Weinman: You can save your new to-do and dismiss the Quick Entry window by pressing the enter/return key.

    The other issue you are mentioning was actually fixed for 1.2! When you now tab to the due date field, it will still fill in today’s date, but tabbing again will leave the field and clear the date again. If you are tabbing in the due date filed by accident or if you just cycle through all controls, the due date suggestion will no longer stick.