If you’re fortunate enough to be in a household where everyone is armed with iOS devices, they can be extremely useful for organization and keeping track of things. One of the best ways to do this is through Reminders.

The app, built into every iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac (and also sort-of available for Windows users through a browser at icloud.com), enables you to create quick lists that can then be shared.

You can create checklists, packing lists, shopping lists and the like that multiple people can track and add to. This means, in theory at least, you then shouldn’t need to mess about with incomplete shopping lists on scraps of paper, and won’t forget the eggs or buy a loaf of bread you already have — assuming at least one person keeps the list up to date!

Before you get started, open the Settings app and select iCloud. Ensure this is on and that Reminders is set to sync to the service.

Reminders - iCloud

Create a new Reminders list

Creating a new list is simple: launch Reminders and tap the + button. Give your list a name and then tap one of the colored circles to define the list’s tab color in the main Reminders screen. Tap Done when happy with your choices.

New Reminders list

The list will automatically open, so tap in the empty space to create your first item. To add another item, tap return and continue typing. Once you’re finished with your list, tap Done.

Adding new items to Reminders list

Note that Reminders enables you to add extra detail to any specific item — when adding items, select one and then tap its info button to access the Details screen. Here, you can set an alarm for the reminder, or a location-based alert. You can also set a priority for the item, and add some additional notes.

In this article, though, we’re keeping things simple, and for shared lists we’d recommend having information in plain sight, whenever possible. (So if you want a specific brand of coffee, for example, make that the name of the list item — don’t bury that in the item’s notes, which someone might miss.)

Share your Reminders lists

Tap Edit and you can adjust certain aspects of your list. Individual items can be moved by using the drag handles, and you can delete one entirely by tapping the red button and then Delete. (However, we’ve more thoughts later on better ways of managing lists.) You can also delete the entire list by tapping Delete List and confirming your choice. Doing so is permanent.

Editing your Reminders list

The Sharing option is what we are most interested in, though. Tap it and then ‘Add person…’. Select a contact and choose their email address, and they will be listed as ‘pending’ in the ‘Share with…’ window until the point they respond to your request. Note that the recipient needs iCloud activated to join the list, and will be able to mark items as complete, along with adding and deleting items.

At any point, the owner of the list can remove permissions from someone by swiping across their name in ‘Share with…’ and tapping Delete. Back in the list itself, you’ll see who it’s shared with under the list’s name; alternatively, if a list is shared with you, it will state ‘shared by’ and the list owner’s name.

Reminders sharing

Edit your Reminders lists

As already noted, anyone with access to a shared list can edit it, but it pays to agree among those using it how updates should be done. You can, for example, simply delete completed items by swiping across them and tapping Delete.

However, shopping lists may have items you regularly buy, and so there’s no point in adding them time and again. And with checklists (for example, when packing for holidays), it’s useful if you can go through everything a couple of times, to make sure you’ve not missed anything.

Under such circumstances, avoid deleting items unless you want to permanently remove them. For anything else, mark any item as completed by tapping the checkmark circle to the left of its name. At the bottom of the list card, you’ll see a button that enables you to show or hide completed items. When they’re hidden, you won’t be able to see them; when they’re shown, they appear with solid checkmarks and greyed text.

Edit Reminders list

You can make use of this feature in handy ways. For checklists, set completed items to be hidden and go through each item, marking them complete until your list is empty. You can then show the hidden items and run through everything again. For shopping lists, mark items as complete as you purchase them, and then ‘uncompleted’ as you run out, thereby adding them back to the list.

Given how quick Reminders are to set up, share and use, you could find such a list saves you and your household plenty of time and even some wasted journeys to the shops!