There's a lot to love about Gmail (especially its spiffy new interface), but its built-in task manager is pretty weak. In fact, it's little more than a glorified checklist.
If you've been hoping for a better way to manage your tasks while under the Google/Gmail umbrella, here's good news: Free browser add-on Taskforce converts Gmail messages into tasks, then gives you the tools to organize, share, and manage those tasks.
Taskforce, which is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer, adds a small floating toolbar and some new buttons to your Gmail page. When you open an e-mail message, for example, you'll see two self-explanatory new buttons under the subject line: Convert to New Task and Add to Existing Task. You can also create a new task--independent of a specific e-mail message--by clicking the Plus sign on the toolbar.
Each task can have a due date, collaborators, and comments. Taskforce also lets you create "lists," which are basically groups for related kinds of tasks ("Personal" or "Work," for example). Individual tasks can be assigned to multiple lists if necessary.
If you add a collaborator to a task, Taskforce sends an e-mail to that person. Of course, you can involve multiple people if you want, but these folks don't need to be Taskforce users themselves; they can view a task's status just by clicking an embedded link. Collaboration is definitely a big part of what makes Taskforce a better option than Google's own task manager.
Just one complaint: the service lacks reminders and alerts. Indeed, you can't even set a time that a task needs to be completed, only a date. Even so, Taskforce shows a lot of promise, and if you're a Gmail user, I highly recommend giving it a try.
Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at firstname.lastname@example.org, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums.