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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Quick Tip: Purge completed items from Reminders

Update: The always-great Dr. Drang wrote an AppleScript to automatically purge completed reminders every 30 days. Also, as a few people have pointed out, on the Mac you can select a bunch of reminders (or all of them) and batch delete them.

Last week on Clockwise, we discussed how we use Apple’s Reminders app, and I lamented that there was no option to have old, checked-off reminders automatically discarded. If I look at my Shopping List, for example, there are more than 1100 completed reminders that I really don’t need to keep around.1 But there’s no easy way to get rid of them, except to go through and delete them one-by-one. Which I’m not going to do.

Listener Stephen pointed out, however, that there is an option to remove all your old completed reminders—it’s just not in an obvious place, because it’s not available in the macOS or iOS Reminders app.

That’s right, it’s on iCloud.

Log in to iCloud.com and open the Reminders web app, then hit the disclosure triangle next to the number of completed tasks. In addition to all your bygone to-do items, you’ll see a button for Clear Completed; click it and you’ll be warned that all the completed tasks on that list will be permanently deleted. Confirm and voilà: you now have a nice clean reminders list.

Clear Completed

Now, of course, this doesn’t completely solve the problem, since those completed items will just begin to stack up again. It would be great if, as I suggested on the show, Apple provided an option to have those completed tasks automatically deleted after a certain amount of time—30 days would work great for me—and even better if it allowed you to choose the interval.

Reminders, in general, is not a particularly featureful app. In general, that’s okay, because I like how light and streamlined it is. But this is definitely one place where Apple could stand to add a couple extra capabilities for the sake of keeping the app simple and uncluttered.


  1. Though I’m sure historians of the future will be delighted at this veritable treasure trove. “He bought cereal in the fall of 2015! Do you know what this means?”  ↩

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[Dan Moren is a tech writer, novelist, podcaster, and the Official Dan of Six Colors. You can email him at dan@sixcolors.com or find him on Twitter at @dmoren.]