Collecting my attempts to improve at tech, art, and life

Taskwarrior Editing Refinements

Tags: taskwarrior tools

Series: Taskwarrior Babysteps



edit and append give additional ways to update your Taskwarrior tasks. undo is there for the errors you catch quickly.

I mentioned modify early on, and it works. But it’s real easy to make silly mistakes. Time to talk about a couple extra commands that reduce the impact of little daily blunders.


So let’s say I got a book for work-related learning. I create a task.

$ task add 'Read "Two Scoops of Django"'
Created task 201

Oh wait, this a learning task, so I should add the +learn tag. I’ll use modify to add the forgotten tag.

$ task 201 modify +learn
$ task 201 ls

ID  Tags  Description
201 learn Read "Two Scoops of Django"

task ls shows a condensed report with the most important details of filtered tasks. Very useful for quick summaries and blog posts.

So far so good, right? As long as there’s no confusion about what you’re changing, modify does the right thing. But a typo? A typo can rewrite your description.

Maybe I’ll add that task to my “WorkSkills” project. What if my fingers forget that the syntax is project:WorkSkills?

It happens. Frequently. Judge me all you want.

$ task 201 modify project WorkSkills
$ task 201 ls

ID  Tags  Description
201 learn project WorkSkills


Fortunately I caught it quick, so I can fix my mistake with undo.


task undo reverts the last change you made, and can keep going back through your history one change at a time.

$ task undo

The last modification was made 9/3/2019

             Prior Values                          Current Values
description  Read "Two Scoops of Django"           project WorkSkills
entry        2019-09-03                            2019-09-03
modified     2019-09-03                            2019-09-03
status       pending                               pending
tags         learn                                 learn
uuid         2b9a18c6-e5cd-47e1-a5b1-b1ea9e076369  2b9a18c6-e5cd-47e1-a5b1-b1ea9e076369

The undo command is not reversible.  Are you sure you want to revert to the previous state? (yes/no) yes
Modified task reverted.

Taskwarrior tells me what values will be affected by an undo, which I find helpful. Yes, I want to restore previous state.

$ task 201 ls

ID  Tags  Description
201 learn Read "Two Scoops of Django"

Whew. All better.

History is a JSON stream in ~/.task/ if you’re curious. I don’t really know how far back it goes. I often miss my mistakes until after I made other changes that I’d rather not undo.


My typos tend to happen when I’m on a roll. As a result, I don’t notice them until it’s far too late to undo. I use append for quick changes to reduce the risk of a typo making the description unrecognizable. It behaves like modify for adding and changing properties. However, anything interpreted as a description change gets tacked on the end of the current description by append.

Here’s the same project story as before, but with append instead of modify.

$ task 201 append project WorkSkills
$ task 201 ls

ID  Tags  Description
201 learn Read "Two Scoops of Django" project WorkSkills

I still made my mistake, but at least I can find the task by its original description.


prepend also exists, and is useful much the same way append is. Which you use is a matter of preference.

But what about bigger changes? Or what about when I change the description and don’t notice until a couple weeks later?


The edit command loads the task details into a template, which it sends off to your $EDITOR. Once written, Taskwarrior updates the task to reflect changes.

Taskwarrior edit view

Those characters are just how I show trailing whitespace in Vim with listchars. Anyways, I added “WorkSkills” to the “Project” line and fixed the description. There is even a line where I can add an annotation if I want, but not today. As soon as I save the file and quit my editor, Taskwarrior applies my changes.


$ task 201 ls

ID  Project    Tags  Description
201 WorkSkills learn Read "Two Scoops of Django"

I feel better now. I’ve been wanting to mention these commands in the series for a while now. Since February 2018, according to my task list.

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Added to vault 2024-01-15. Updated on 2024-02-01