5.1 Basic TODO Functionality

Any headline becomes a TODO item when it starts with the word ‘TODO’, for example:

*** TODO Write letter to Sam Fortune

The most important commands to work with TODO entries are:

C-c C-t (org-todo)

Rotate the TODO state of the current item among

,-> (unmarked) -> TODO -> DONE --.

If TODO keywords have fast access keys (see Fast access to TODO states), prompt for a TODO keyword through the fast selection interface; this is the default behavior when org-use-fast-todo-selection is non-nil.

The same state changing can also be done “remotely” from the agenda buffer with the t command key (see Commands in the Agenda Buffer).


Select the following/preceding TODO state, similar to cycling. Useful mostly if more than two TODO states are possible (see Extended Use of TODO Keywords). See also Packages that conflict with Org mode, for a discussion of the interaction with shift-selection. See also the variable org-treat-S-cursor-todo-selection-as-state-change.

C-c / t (org-show-todo-tree)

View TODO items in a sparse tree (see Sparse Trees). Folds the entire buffer, but shows all TODO items—with not-DONE state—and the headings hierarchy above them. With a prefix argument, or by using C-c / T, search for a specific TODO. You are prompted for the keyword, and you can also give a list of keywords like ‘KWD1|KWD2|...’ to list entries that match any one of these keywords. With a numeric prefix argument N, show the tree for the Nth keyword in the variable org-todo-keywords. With two prefix arguments, find all TODO states, both un-done and done.

M-x org-agenda t (org-todo-list)

Show the global TODO list. Collects the TODO items (with not-DONE states) from all agenda files (see Agenda Views) into a single buffer. The new buffer is in Org Agenda mode, which provides commands to examine and manipulate the TODO entries from the new buffer (see Commands in the Agenda Buffer). See The global TODO list, for more information.

S-M-RET (org-insert-todo-heading)

Insert a new TODO entry below the current one.

Changing a TODO state can also trigger tag changes. See the docstring of the option org-todo-state-tags-triggers for details.