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Ian, the sync change takes affect immediately, even if you switch back to the old sync type before doing another sync. Sorry. (Although, in my experience, in that case the next sync is fast, picking right back up where it was before the sync type change. Perhaps that's not the case if a different client synced to the server in the interim?)

As for where to start the sync, I think there's some confusion as to how this works. When you say "keep the sync database on this Mac", a sync database is created, which is separate from the "client" database used by that same desktop. That desktop copy of OmniFocus knows to sync to the local sync database, and that is what happens when you click the sync button on the desktop - it does _not_ push changes to your phone. You need to initiate a sync on the phone (or wait for an automatic one) before the phone will get any changes that have been made on the desktop.

If you think about this, you will also see that if you make a change on the desktop, then immediately sync from the phone, the phone will not see the change you just made, because the desktop has not had a chance to sync its changes to the sync database. (Either manually do a sync on the desktop first, or wait a minute for the desktop to initiate its automatic sync.) Similarly, if you make changes on the phone and then sync it to the desktop, you won't see those changes on the desktop client until it performs a sync as well.