How to Use Smart Lists on iPhone

Apple is soon going to release the next iteration of its mobile operating system – iOS 15 that’s bringing refinements to NotificationsWeather, Safari, Find My, Spotlight, Photos, and FaceTime. One of the native apps that are getting some new features is the stock Reminders app as it now gets the ability to create “Smart Lists” so that you can group reminders inside different categories. In this post, we’ll explain what Smart Lists inside Reminders are all about and how you may use them on iOS 15.

What are Smart Lists?

The Reminders app on iOS already lets you divide your actions like work, bills, chores, and more into different lists or groups. With Smart Lists, users can customize these lists to show up based on a specific condition that you’ve set for your reminders. You can choose to add conditions based on location, date, time, priority, and flag so that you’re only shown those reminders that you need to fulfill when you are required to.

Prior to this, Apple allows users to categorize their reminders into pre-defined lists – Today, Scheduled, All, Flagged, and Assigned to me.

Smart Lists thus lets you prioritize your reminders based on your present conditions and you can customize it to show reminders for when you’re at home, for when the weekend comes, for a particular period of a day, or for when you’ve selected a priority or flag filter. Each of these filters will offer even more customizability and you can assign multiple conditions to group your reminders into.

To give you an example, you can create smart lists to add reminders and tasks that are:

  • Due on a certain date/time like next month, tomorrow
  • Completed on a certain date/time like last week, two months ago
  • Shared with others you know
  • Postponed several times in the past
  • Contain specific words and tags
  • Set the highest in terms of priority
  • Estimated to be complete within an hour, day, or so on

You can customize your lists by combining two or more of the aforementioned conditions for greater control over how to view them.

How are Smart Lists related to Tags in Reminders?

The new Smart Lists feature is basically an extension of Tags that are new on iOS 15. Although Tags have existed inside task-management apps over the years, this is the first time Apple has incorporated them in one of their apps. Tags allow you to manage your reminders and tasks with user-defined tags across all Apple devices.

When you create tags, they’ll appear inside the ‘All Tags’ tab under ‘Tags’ along with all the other tags you’ve created in the app. You can also view the newly created tags under the ‘My Lists’ section inside Reminders. This is where Smart Lists comes in as the Tags you create can be directly turned into a Smart List. Users can create a Smart List that has been customized with conditions based on tags, location, date, time, priority, and flag. 

How to Get Smart Lists on iOS

Smart Lists is an option available on iOS 15, which is currently in beta. If you’ve enrolled in the iOS beta program, you can use the new feature inside Reminders directly or you can wait till Apple releases the stable build of iOS 15 for everyone worldwide. 

Even if you’re running iOS 15, the Smart Lists option won’t be enabled inside your iPhone by default. Instead, you’d need to enable it inside iOS by first opening the Reminders app and then tapping on the ‘Upgrade’ button adjacent to the ‘My Lists’ section. 

On the next screen, tap on the ‘Upgrade Now’ button to enable Smart Lists for your Reminders app. 

How to Create Smart Lists in the Reminders app

Creating Smart Lists on Reminders isn’t as hard as you think it may be. To do that, open the Reminders app on your iPhone and tap on the ‘Add List’ option from the bottom right corner of the screen. 

A ‘New List’ screen would pop up from the bottom. On this screen, enter the name of the list you want to create and select the color you want to assign to this particular list. 

Once that’s done, tap on the ‘Make into Smart List’ option under the list’s name. 

You’ll now see the ‘Filters’ screen pop up.

Here, select the filters and tags you wish to add to your list and customize it however you want. A detailed guide on which filters to select and how to customize them is provided in the section below this. 

Once you’ve customized filters for your Smart List, tap on the ‘Done’ option at the top right corner.

Next, you can complete creating the Smart List by tapping on the ‘Done’ option again on the next screen. 

Once you do that, your new Smart List will be created and will appear at the bottom of your existing Reminders list. 

What are the Filters you can Apply inside Smart Lists

When you select the ‘Make into Smart List’ option during the creation of a Smart List, you’ll be presented with 5 different options to manually curate your list based on different scenarios. These include:


You can set date-based filters for your Smart Lists by choosing the ‘Date’ option when the ‘Filters’ screen appears.

When you select ‘Date’, you’ll get to choose any of these options – Off, Any, Specified Range, and Relative Range. Choosing ‘Any’ will show a list of reminders you’ve set with an assigned date.

When you select ‘Specified Range’, you get to choose the Start Date and End Date for the reminders to show up in this list. 

Selecting ‘Relative Range’ will let you set a roundabout period for the tasks to show up. You can configure it to show upcoming or previous tasks that are set to happen or have happened in a few hours, days, weeks, months, or years. 


When you select the ‘Time’ parameter, you can choose from among the following options – Any, Morning, Afternoon, Evening, and Night.

This way, Apple will find tasks that were set to be accomplished during a general period of time of a day. Assigning lists based on a part of the day provides you with tasks at hand that you can break down across different periods. 


You can categorize tasks based on the location you’re at so that you can see only those tasks that have been assigned to your specific location. You can set different locations for tasks like when at home, work, in your car, or someplace else. 


Selecting this option, let you filter your tasks based on whether or not they’ve been flagged by you. Flags can be used to set items at the highest of priorities so that they’re not lost under other tasks. 


If you don’t like to flag stuff but you’re instead into categorizing tasks into different levels of priority, then you can sort through your reminders into High, Medium, Low, or Any. 

How to Add Reminders to a Smart List

Once you’ve created a Smart List inside Reminders, you can add reminders to it. There are two ways to do that – one by creating a new reminder for a Smart List and the other by moving an existing reminder from one list to your new Smart List. 

Creating New Reminders for a List

To create a new Reminder for your Smart List, open the Reminders app on your iPhone and select the Smart List you have created. 

On the next screen, tap on the ‘New Reminder’ option at the bottom left corner of the screen. 

A new reminder will now appear as a pointer inside the Smart List. You can add details to it by tapping on the ‘i’ icon on the right side of the new reminder. 

Inside the Details screen, enter the required details for your reminder inside Title, Notes, URL (optional), Date, time, repeat, tags, location, flag, priority, and other info. 

To make sure the new reminder is added directly to your Smart List, tap on the ‘List’ option inside the Details screen. 

Next, select the Smart List you want to add the reminder to. 

To confirm the process, tap on the ‘Done’ option at the top right corner. 

Your new reminder will be created and will be visible inside your Smart List. 

Moving Existing Reminders to Smart List

If you have created a reminder previously but want to move it to your new Smart List, you can do that by opening the Reminders app and tapping on ‘All’ to see all of your reminders or selecting one from the pre-defined list or My Lists. 

On the next screen, tap on the 3-dots button at the top right corner. 

When a menu appears under this button, select the ‘Select Reminders’ option. 

Now, select the reminders you wish to move from your screen. Once you’ve selected the necessary reminders, tap on the Folder icon at the bottom. 

You should now see a ‘Select a List’ screen pop up from the bottom. On this screen, tap on the Smart List you want to move the reminders.

After you select your preferred Smart List, tap on the ‘Add’ button at the top right corner of the screen. 

The selected reminders will now be added to your Smart List and you can view it when you open the list inside Reminders. You can repeat these steps for when you need to add more reminders to your Smart List in the future. 

How to Re-arrange Smart Lists inside Reminders

Smart Lists are there to show you tasks based on different factors you have assigned for them. If you’ve got a bunch of Smart Lists inside Reminders, you may want to select which of these lists appear at the top when you open the Reminders app by rearranging it the way you prefer. 

To rearrange Smart Lists, open the Reminders app. Here, tap and hold on the list that you want to move to the top of the ‘My Lists’ section and drag it to the top.

You can repeat this for other reminders you want to rearrange and place them wherever you deem them right. 

How to Manage a Smart List

Once you have created a Smart List for your reminders, it’s easy to use and manage it within the Reminders app. 

Rename a list/ Change its icon

To rename a list or change its icon, open the Reminders app and tap and hold on the Smart List you want to modify. 

When an overflow menu appears, select the ‘Show Smart List Info’ option. 

Alternatively, you can also access this option by first opening the Smart List, tapping on the 3-dots button at the top right corner, and selecting the ‘Show Smart List Info’ option.

Here, tap on the current name of the Smart List inside the ‘Smart List Info’ screen and then type a new name that you want to set for the list. 

To change the List icon, scroll down on this ‘Smart List Info’ screen and select the icon you wish to apply for the Smart List, and select from one of the colors available at the top to finalize your List icon.

Once all changes have been made, tap on ‘Done’ at the top right corner.  

Sort through a Smart List

If you’re finding it hard to locate tasks from within your Smart List, the Reminders app lets you view them in different sorting options. To change the sorting order of a Smart List, open the reminders app and tap on the 3-dots button at the top right corner.

In the menu that appears, select ‘Sort By’.

You should now see the ‘Sort By’ option expand to another menu. From here, you can choose any of the following options – Manual, Deadline, Creation Date, Priority, and Title.

You can also choose whether you want the arrangement to be sorted in ascending or descending manner based on the sorting you select. 

Show completed tasks in a list

The Reminders app lets you mark tasks as completed in an easy way by simply tapping on the circle on the left-hand side of any reminder you create. By default, when you open a list inside the app, you shall only be able to see only those reminders that are yet to be completed. If you wish to see tasks that you have completed within a Smart List, first open the Reminders app and select the Smart List. 

When the list loads up, tap on the 3-dots button at the top right corner. 

In the menu that appears, tap on the ‘Show Completed’ option to see tasks that you have completed in this Smart List. 

Print a Smart List

Like any list on Reminders, you can print your Smart List by tapping on the 3-dots button inside a Smart List and then selecting the ‘Print’ option. 

On the next screen, you can modify your print options and then tap on the ‘Print’ button at the top right corner to print your Smart List. 

Delete a Smart List

If you no longer wish to access a Smart List or if you’ve accomplished all the tasks within a Smart list, you can choose to delete it at any time. For this, open the Reminders app and tap, and hold on the Smart List you want to remove. 

When an overflow menu appears, tap on the ‘Delete Smart List’ option. 

You may need to confirm the deletion process by tapping the ‘Delete’ button in the prompt that appears on the screen. 

Alternatively, you can also remove a Smart List after opening it, then going to the 3-dots button > Delete Smart List. 

Once a Smart list has been deleted, you will no longer see it appear inside the Reminders app. However, the tasks that you had created previously will continue to appear in their original lists or inside the ‘All’ section. 

That’s all you need to know about using Smart Lists inside Reminders on iOS. 


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