How to Set Reminders on the iPhone

You can create reminders for your iPhone too!

Photo of a woman's hand with a string tied around her finger, representing a reminder for something

Katie Black Photography / Getty Images

The Reminders app comes preinstalled with iOS 11 on your iPhone (and iPad). Separate from the Calendar app (used for managing your schedule), Reminders is a powerful app that allows you to manage to-do lists, plus keep track of reminders and other important tidbits of information.

When it comes to creating new reminder entries, one of the easiest ways to use this app is to take advantage of its full integration with Siri, although you can just as easily create, manage, and display app-related content by launching the app as well.

What the Reminders App is Best Used to Manage

Create a detailed to-do list for each day using the Reminders app on your iPhone.

Think of the Reminders app as an interactive list manager. From your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, it is possible to create as many separate, custom named lists as you desire. Each list can then be populated with any number of individual items. Each item can have a date/time, location, and/or priority level associated with it, and freeform notes can also be associated with each item. As you finish items on a list, you can manually mark them as completed.

Thanks to the Reminders app's integration with Apple's iCloud service (which you can set up from within Settings on the iPhone or iPad via the iCloud Control Panel), as you create or manage content within the Reminders app, it can be set up to sync with all of your other compatible computers and mobile devices that are linked to your iCloud account. Thus, all of your lists and reminders are accessible to you, whenever and wherever you need them, on whatever compatible and Internet-connected equipment you're currently using.

Create Reminders Using Siri

Perhaps the easiest way to create a reminder using the Reminders app is to activate Siri, and using voice, begin the command by saying, "Remind me to..." or "Set a reminder to..." This informs Siri you want to create a reminder (via the Reminders app), as opposed to an appointment within the Calendar app, or a note within the Notes app. Next, speak the content of your reminder or list item.

Create Reminders and list items using Siri on your iPhone
Use Siri to create items within the Reminders app on an iPhone.

For example, to associate a time/date with a reminder item, say something like, "Remind me to get an oil change on Tuesday at 3pm," or "Remind me to get an oil change at 3pm on July 7th." If you want associate a location with a reminder, active Siri and say, "Remind me to feed the dog when I get home," or "Remind me to call John Doe to discuss the sales third quarter sales projections when I get to work." You can also set a reminder associated with an address. For example, say, "Remind me to drop pick up my package when I arrive at 123 Main Street, Anytown, New York."

For Siri to understand where you live and work, this information needs to be associated with your own contact entry within the Contacts app. Anytime to create a new item using Siri, it will be placed within a Default List that you assign from within Settings, unless you instruct Siri to add the new item to a different list by saying, "Remind me to buy Milk within the Grocery List."

To assign a Default List, launch Settings, scroll down, and then tap on the Reminders option. Tap on the Default List option, and tap on one of the pre-created lists to select it. To create new lists, active Siri and say, "Create a new Reminders list called [insert name]," or launch the Reminders app to create a new list manually.

Manually Create Items Using the Reminders App

To create, view, and manage lists using the Reminders app, first launch the app from the Home screen. Displayed along the top of the iPhone screen is a Search field. To quickly find any content stored within any list, enter a search word or phrase within this field.

Use the Reminders app's Search field to find content stored within the app
Use the Reminders app's Search field to find content stored within the app.

How to Create a New Reminder

To create a new Reminder, tap on the "+" icon located to the right of the Search field, select Reminder from the pop-up menu, and the follow these steps once the Create Reminder screen is displayed:

Create a new item within a list using the Reminders app
A new list item can have a time/date, location, or other information associated with it.
  1. Type a title for your reminder.
  2. To associate an optional time/date with the reminder, turn on the virtual switch associated with the Remind Me On A Day option, and then tap on the Alarm field to select a date and time. Next, tap on the Repeat field if you want to create a recurring reminder. For example, you can set a reminder for yourself to take your medication everyday at 3pm.
  3. To associate an optional location with a reminder, turn on the virtual switch associated with the Remind Me At A Location option. The Reminders app will then utilize the GPS (Location Services) feature of your phone, and inform you when you arrive or depart a specified location that's associated with a reminder. When choosing a location, select your Home or Work address, any address that's associated with a contact entry stored within the Contacts app, any address you've entered into the Maps app, or any address you manually enter into the Search or Enter Address field. Once you associate an address with a reminder, tap on the When I Arrive or When I Leave field, to instruct the app to generate an alert to you for the reminder you're creating when you arrive or depart the specified location.
  1. To associate an optional Priority to a newly created reminder, tap on the !, !!, or !!! icon associated with the Priority field. The default option is None. Keep in mind, the Reminders app does not re-sort items within a list based on Priority, but it does display the Priority associated with each item on a list.
  2. Tap on the List option to associate the reminder you're creating with a particular list. Otherwise, the item will be placed within the Default List.
  3. Within the Notes field, type freeform notes related to the item. You're also able to use iOS 11's Cut and Paste feature to insert content from other apps, such as a photo, into the Notes field associated with an item.
  4. Tap on the Done option, displayed in the top-right corner of the screen, to save your newly create item.

How to Create a List Using the Reminders App

To create an interactive list within the Reminder app, launch the app, tap on the "+" icon that's displayed in the top-right corner of the screen, select the List option, and follow these steps:

The Reminders app allows you to create color-coded lists
Create a new list within the Reminders app.
  1. Within the New List field, type the title for your list. For example, type "Grocery List," or "To-Do List."
  2. Tap on a colored dot to associate the list with a color.
  3. Tap the Done option to save the new (still empty) list.
  4. Once the list is created (or anytime you re-open a list), tap on the "+" icon to create a new item within the list.
  5. As soon as you begin typing a new item, the Info icon "(i)" appears to the right of each listing. Tap on it to access the Details menu associated with the item. From here, you can associate a time/date, location, priority, and/or notes to the item. (Follow the directions in the previous section to accomplish this.)
  6. Tap the Return key on the virtual keyboard to store the newly created list item.
  7. Enter additional list items, one at a time.
  8. Tap the Done option to save your list.

As soon as a list item is created, it's displayed within the list and will have a circle associated with it (displayed on the left). Tap on this circle once the item has been completed. To delete an individual list item, swipe from right to left across the listing, and then tap on the Delete button.

Manage Your Reminders Lists

When viewing or managing an individual list within the Reminders app, tap on the bottom of the screen to reveal the app's main List Menu. From here, you can view or manage all of the lists created within the app tap on the "+" icon (displayed in the top-right corner of the screen) to create a new list.

Each list is given a unique title, and can be color-coded for easy visual reference. Color options include: purple, green, blue, yellow, brown, red, and orange. At your discretion, work-related lists can be assigned a blue color, personal lists can be displayed in green, phone call lists can be displayed in yellow, and urgent lists can be displayed in red, for example.

To open a list, tap the listing for it. To delete a list, open it, tap on the Edit option, and then tap on the Delete List option. To reorganize the display order to lists, place and hold down your finger on one listing and drag it up or down.

Share Your Lists with Others

While your Reminders content can automatically be set up to sync across all of your own iOS mobile devices, Macs, and PCs (running iCloud for Windows), you can also share individual lists with specific other people. To do this, open the list, tap the Edit option, and then tap on the Sharing option. Follow the on-screen prompts, and enter the email addresses associated with the people you want to share a particular list with.