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[Please note: This is an archived post from 2008! You might want to check the current OmniFocus FAQ instead. — Ken]

The First Post is links to useful threads.

The Second Post is Questions and Answers.

This thread is intended to keep track of the best discussions on the OmniFocus forums, help new users get some common questions answered, and help *ahem* focus the conversation on topics that the community cares about.

Please feel free to reply to this thread with items you think should be included, items that should be omitted, or any topic changes.

Finally, many of these threads are not exactly organized as they grew organically. If you have the desire to summarize any of these subjects into a new thread, I'll be happy to give it first billing in its topic of choice.

Thanks for using OmniFocus!


OmniFocus manual in PDF format
License Questions
GTD Best Practices Discussisons
Project and Context Mode Questions and Usage
Installing & Running an OF applescript
Useful AppleScripts and other Cool Stuff
Priorities and OmniFocus
OmniFocus and iCal/Calendars
OmniFocus, actions with multiple contexts, and tagging/metadata
Repeating Tasks
Other Feature Requests
OmniFocus syncing on multiple computers
Clipping Service
Notifications (Growl)
Styles: Color, Font, Size
The file 'OmniFocusMetadataImporter' is in use.
OmniOutliner Differences

OmniFocus manual in PDF format
License Questions
Transitioning from other task management apps

GTD Best Practices Discussisons
Project and Context Mode Questions and Usage
Useful AppleScripts and other Cool Stuff
First, read this forum: OmniFocus Extras
OmniFocus and Priorities
OmniFocus and iCal/Calendars
OmniFocus, actions with multiple contexts, and tagging/metadata
Repeating Tasks
Other Feature Requests
OmniFocus syncing on multiple computers
Clipping Service
note: for clippings to work you must have something selected in the app you are trying to clip from.
Notifications (Growl)
Styles: Color, Font, Size
Sending tasks via email
The file 'OmniFocusMetadataImporter' is in use
OmniOutliner Differences

Last edited by Ken Case; 2012-10-05 at 03:51 PM.. Reason: Added a link to the current OmniFocus FAQ
Q. Why don't we sort the tasks within a Project?
A. We preserve the order you put them into, even for parallel projects. Since the basic priority methodology in getting things done is to put the important tasks at the top of whatever project they're in, we want to preserve that. (You can get a sorted task list in context view, and you can focus context view on particular projects.)

Q.What do I do if my actions seem to have gone missing?
A.If you check the toolbar in your window, is there any text entered into the toolbar search control? If so, that's going to filter any items that don't match your search out of the view.

If that doesn't appear to be the problem, what happens if you select Perspectives -> All items, and then search for the item using the toolbar search?
We've found that the ability to filter the view in various ways can sometime cause folks to think that their actions have been deleted when really they're just being filtered out of the current view.

Q. Why are my URLs and links not detected?
A.Our URL detection code makes some fairly conservative assumptions about where a URL starts/ends. You'd run into the same problem pasting the URL into TextEdit, for example. If the code didn't make those conservative assumptions, pasting a sentence like this one, which includes, would fail - the comma would be included in the URL.

If you use Format-> Text -> Link... to add the URL, it's a lot more forgiving. You can also put your URL in angle brackets to help separate it from the rest of the text, e.g. <>.

Q. How do I change the color, font, size and other styles of the text in the Sidebar or Action View of OmniFocus?
A. Select one of the rows whose style you'd like to change. (For example, to change the way next actions look, select one of the next action rows.)
Hit the escape key once, so the row is selected, but the text cursor isn't active.
Select Format -> Fonts -> Show Fonts
(and/or Format -> Fonts -> Show Colors)

With the row from the previous step still selected, adjust the font to look the way you'd like.

As you do this, you'll see that all the next action rows in your database are changing; this happens because all rows of a given type share the same style. By editing that style, you change them all.

Q. What is the difference between OmniOutliner and OmniFocus?
A.OmniOutliner is more general-purpose than OmniFocus, with a feature set that lets you arrange information into a tree-like structure, including columns that you add and define.

Some folks use it as a writing tool, some folks use it to track their book/CD/what have you collection, some folks use it to prepare presentations. OmniFocus is much better at the particular task it's designed to do (for example, you can open multiple windows and save different views of your task list, and you can hide tasks you've already completed), but OmniOutliner is applicable to a greater number of tasks.

Q. What is the difference between OmniPlan and OmniFocus?
A.OmniFocus is an application meant to help one person be more productive in accomplishing the tasks/projects they are individually working on. By contrast, OmniPlan is designed to help a person plan out a project that a team of folks will then work on. It helps to make sure that everyone has something to work on, and that no one is overloaded. (One example of this type of person/project would be a foreman at a construction site.)

The two do have somewhat overlapping functionality, but they approach the problem from very different angles. We have some plans to add some integration down the line - one example would be letting OmniPlan send actions to the copies of OmniFocus that the folks on the team were using - but for the time being there isn't a direct tie between the two.

Q.Can I import my OmniOutliner documents?
A.Yes, OmniFocus can import any OmniOutliner document. Note that OmniFocus can't directly display everything OmniOutliner can display (e.g., no extra columns with checkboxes or popups or calculations, and formatted text is only allowed in notes, not in other text columns). We try to preserve as much information as possible, copying that extra information into formatted notes.

If you want to Export to OmniOutliner there is a 3rd party Applescript written by one of our users available here:

Q.Can I have multiple "Next Actions"?
A.We want to make sure that our definition of 'next action' stays pretty close to what GTD recommends. Which means one next action per project. However, if you'd like, you can set your copy of OmniFocus up so that available actions are formatted the same as next actions.

Open your OmniFocus database and select one of the next action rows. Select Format -> Copy Style. Now select one of the Available tasks in one of your parallel projects and select Format -> Paste Style.

You'll want to leave your view filter settings on "Available", but the actions you're interested in will now all be easier to distinguish from the rest 'em.

Q.Can I synchronize my data between multiple computers?
A.We're working on synchronization now that we've finished the basic single-computer functionality for our 1.0 release.

For the time being, you can place your OmniFocus database on your iDisk and access it from your various machines. But I should note that you're definitely heading out towards the land of bleeding-edge beta testing. We want feedback from folks, but we don't want folks to set this up casually and then be upset if something they didn't expect happens. Proceed with our blessing, but also with caution. We recommend you set the backup preference to 'twice a day and on quit' on all your machines. ;-)

On one of your machines, open up OmniFocus' "General" preferences pane and use the "Move" button to get your database on your iDisk.

On your other machines, open up those same preferences and use the "Select a Different Database" button to select your database on your iDisk.

You should now be all set.

Q.How do I send in my preferences and database for Omni to look at if I have a problem?
A.The file is named "com.omnigroup.OmniFocus.plist" and it' stored in
<your home folder>/Library/Preferences/

It would also be helpful if you could send your OmniFocus database along, as well. That file is located in
<your home folder>/Library/Application Support/OmniFocus

Last edited by derekr; 2011-05-16 at 08:28 AM.. Reason: Removed old language.
Q.Where are my actions when I sync to iCal?
A.You actions will appear as To Dos in iCal. These can be shown via the menu View > Show To Do List.

Q.How do I see my currently selected action in the other view?
A.If you'd like, you can add a button to your toolbar that will do what you're looking for here. To add it, do the following:

Open OmniFocus.
Hold down the control key and click on OmniFocus's toolbar.
In the context menu that appears, select "Customize Toolbar".
A new sheet will slide out. The sheet contains various buttons you can add to your toolbar by dragging. (Similarly, you can remove buttons from your toolbar by dragging them off.) Drag the "Switch" button to your toolbar, then click the "Done" button.

Go ahead and select an action, then press the "Switch" button - you'll be taken to the opposite view, with the same action you had selected selected in the new view.

If you're in Planning (Project) View this will take you to Context View, and vice versa.

Q.What are Pending Projects?
A.Projects which haven't yet reached their start date have been moved from the "Active" project list to the "Pending" list. (That way you don't have to see things which haven't yet reached their start date.) So nothing should be missing, they've just moved.Sorry for the confusion this caused: before synching with iCal, you need to head over to the "Sync" preferences pane and tell OmniFocus which contexts you'd like to map over to which iCal calendar.

Q.How do I group and sort Project and Actions by due date?
A.Projects can be grouped and sorted in Planning Mode by showing the view bar and selecting "Group Projects by Due Date" and/or "Sort Projects by Due Date". The projects will be grouped and sorted by an implicit due date. The implicit date is equal to the earliest due date of any action in the project (or the project itself if it is the earliest).

Actions can be grouped and sorting in the same manner in Context Mode, where order is not as relevant. They will also use an implicit due date so that nothing in the overall project is lost or falls behind.

Last edited by kaebot; 2008-04-10 at 02:04 PM..
Made several edits to the above entries:

Updated the note about importing from OmniOutliner, since we now support imports from arbitrary OmniOutliner documents and not just from Kinkless.

Updated the note about our URL detection code: it's actually our code (not Apple's), and it's more liberal if you surround the URL in angle brackets.

Removed the note about not seeing the action you just created, since we now make newly inserted rows temporarily visible when they don't match the current filters.

Simplified the instructions for sharing an iDisk database between machines, since we now have a "Select" button to select an alternate database.

Removed the reference to the iCal timezone bug, since we've worked around it by not publishing times.
Would be great if this could be updated from Omni. Sometimes I just can't follow because so much more new information is being added every day. And in those cases (and also for new users) an updated FAQ is invaluable :)
How about having a Wiki section where everyone can create new FAQs or update the existing ones?

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