Three things I would like to see in OmniFocus 2

I have recently started trying OmniFocus 2, the new version of my favorite task management software from OmniGroup, scheduled to be released in June. While all in all I like the changes in the new version, I think three important features of OmniFocus 1 have been lost: smooth clipping from Mail,  quickly adding duration of actions, and the ability to manage project focus in Review (which is actually possible).

1. Smooth clipping from Mail

Every workday I clip up to a dozen of actionable email messages to OmniFocus. It means a smooth clipping workflow is really important. In OF 1 it was sufficient to press the clipping shortcut followed by ↩ to send the action to the OF Inbox. If I wanted to change the name of the action from the subject of the clipped email I could directly type the new name after pressing the clipping shortcut because the editing focus after clipping was on the title of the action. If I needed to change the project, context, dates or duration of the item, I would navigate to these fields by pressing Tab. No mouse action was required.

OF2 places the editing focus after the clipping in the note to the action (the body of the clipped email). So when I press ↩, instead of sending the action to my OF Inbox, it erases the note from the action. Useful, right?  One would think that the Tab key would move the focus, but no, it also erases the note! Thus I have to reach for my mouse and click on the Save button.Moreover, if I want to change the title I had to first double-click (single click does not help) to select it. This slows and distracts the workflow considerably.

Inbox__57_messages__25_unread_

The results of clipping a message from Apple Mail to OmniFocus 2

P.S. Since this entry was written several people have informed me that it is a bug that will be fixed.

 2. More use of duration of actions

In OmniFocus 1 it was possible to enter duration of actions in Quick Entry (while adding them) or in any other view. In OmniFocus 2 it is only possible through Inspector. This means that one would likely forget or miss adding duration and will gradually lose trust in the accuracy of duration information. Thus, using task duration for organizing will become more and more difficult. Eventually the duration field may become obsolete. This is a pity. When planning a day it is important to know whether you have eight 1-hour actions or fifteen 10-minute actions available. Moreover, I was really hoping that OmniFocus would make more of its duration field, not less. How cool would that be to know that “there are 2.5h of open actions left in XXX context”! That should not be very difficult: much simpler task management software (e.g. The Hit List) can do this.

3. Managing focus in Review – possible!

OmniFocus 2 has significantly reworked the Review View. It looks much cleaner and more focused, as on iPad. At first, I thought it lost the ability to focus on a particular area of actions when reviewing. This would make the review process a bit overwhelming because it would not allow to review one piece at a time. Sometime I really want to review only Research or Teaching or Personal groups of actions. It was more obvious in OF1 where you could define the focus right in the Review perspective. At first, I thought it is not possible in OF2, but after this entry was written I learnt you should first focus on a project (or a folder) in the Projects view and then go to the Review view which would retain the focus.

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About Aleh Cherp

Aleh Cherp is a professor at Central European University and Lund University. He also coordinates MESPOM, a Masters course operated by six Universities.
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8 Responses to Three things I would like to see in OmniFocus 2

  1. James Suleiman says:

    I’m using 2.0 test (v87 r208402) and in the View options (clicking on eyeball next to search box while in Review), I see a checkbox at the bottom of the dialog “Show folders in the outline” that does appear to replicate your OF1 folder hierarchy that you mention in item 3.

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  2. Daniel says:

    File a bug (or feature request) on #1. I did and got the impression that OmniGroup view it as a bug too. But that was some weeks ago and there has been no change. Maybe another report will turn their attention to it once more.

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  3. Daniel says:

    Even worse is that clipping in OF2 is so slow. If I clip a long conversation it lags for what feels like a Windows 95 era PC boot time.

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  4. Pingback: An update on a previous entry: three things I would like to see in OmniFocus2 | Academic workflows on a Mac

  5. I can’t see why they focused almost all new feature on design (and looks quite a bad for me).
    There are few new features and new ideas.
    What I would expect to see:
    - Markdown support for actions and notes
    - sharing and collaboration possibilities
    - more styles and possibility to use column view
    - more email drop options, like Evernote that can choose notebook and tag from subject line
    - smart perspectives, that could use saved searches in a easier way or other metadata, like time, etc
    - better reminders, like sending emails or SMS or a better snooze
    - and outline option for notes or some integration with oo4
    - integration with ominplan
    - a better price ($80 for pro?)

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