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Getting Reminders

Capable and generally feature-complete though the iPhone and iPod touch were before iOS 5, they were incapable of creating and syncing to-do items—those little nag notes you create that pop up every so often to let you know the many ways in which you’ve failed to accomplish your goals. Apple rectified this situation in iOS 5 with the Reminders app. Here’s how it works.

Creating a reminder

To create a reminder, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Reminders icon on the iPhone’s or iPod touch’s Home screen.

    You see an empty Reminders page.

  2. Tap the Lists button in the top-left corner, choose the calendar you want to associate your reminder with, and then tap Done.

    You may have just a single calendar or multiple calendars scattered across several email accounts.

  3. Tap the plus icon.

    The device’s onscreen keyboard appears.

  4. Enter a short reminder along the lines of “Finish the book” (Figure 4.19).
    Figure 4.19

    Figure 4.19. Adding a reminder.

  5. Tap the keyboard’s Return key if you want to create another reminder.
  6. Repeat steps 3–5 for all the reminders you want to create.
  7. When you’re finished, tap Done.
  8. Tap one of the reminders you’ve created to open the detail screen.
  9. Tap Remind Me.

    The Remind Me screen that you see next depends on whether you have an iPhone or an iPod touch:

    • If you have an iPod, you see a single On a Day entry. Flick the switch to On, and a date field appears, displaying the current date and time. Tap that field and use the scroll wheels to choose a different day and/or time. When that moment in time arrives, you receive an alert on your device.
    • If you have an iPhone, you see both On a Day and an additional entry: At a Location (Figure 4.20). Flick the latter entry’s switch to On, and you can choose to set a location by selecting one associated with a contact, such as your sister-in-law’s house or the local juke joint. Then you can choose to have an alert go off when you leave or when you arrive.
    Figure 4.20

    Figure 4.20. The Remind Me screen on an iPhone.

    The scenario works this way: You’ve created a reminder called Buy Rabbit Food and associated Judy’s Pet Supply with it as the location (because you’ve created a contact for Judy and her shop). You’ve chosen to have an alert go off when you arrive. Sure enough, the following Sunday, you’re at the mall to pick up a coffee, and because the café is next to Judy’s, the alert goes off, reminding you to get food for the bunnies.

  10. When you complete a task, simply tap the empty check box next to it.
  11. To delete a task, tap it, and in the resulting screen, tap the Delete button.

Viewing reminders

You can view reminders as a list of all reminders associated with a particular calendar, as well as by date. You do this via either the List or Date button. When you tap List, you can swipe through the various calendars you’ve associated with your reminders. The first calendar is always Completed (Figure 4.21). Swipe to the left to march through calendars.

Figure 4.21

Figure 4.21. The Completed reminders screen.

Tap the Date button, and the reminders associated with a particular date appear. Remember that reminders appear on the days when they were created, not on the days they’re due. To move through dates, you can swipe to the left to move forward or to the right to travel back, or tap the arrow keys at the bottom of the screen. To view today’s reminders, just tap Today.

To search for a reminder, you can tap the Calendars icon when viewing reminders in Date view or tap the Lists button when viewing them as lists. Each screen has a Search Reminders field at the top of the screen. Just tap that field and use the device’s keyboard to enter a search term. As you type, any matching results appear in the Search window.

Syncing and organizing reminders

What makes the Reminders app particularly useful is that it syncs with cloud-based services, including iCloud. This means that if you add a reminder to your iPhone or iPod touch and have configured Reminders to be synced, any tasks that you create on your device are also synced with iCal on your Mac or Outlook on your Windows PC. Likewise, create a reminder in one of these applications on your computer, and that reminder is synced to your iOS device.

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