OmniFocus 3 Overview

May 30

OmniFocus 3 OmniFocus 3 for iOS is here, and there's more than a few changes! If you want to see a video of my setup you can do so over on Learn OmniFocus, there's also an article on how I've been using OF3 over on Inside OmniFocus. Finally you might want to check on my OmniFocus Sneak Peak - though that was back in March and more than a few things have changed since then!

Multi-Pane Mode

OmniFocus 3 Pane View, Sidebar, Outline (Forecast View) and Inspector

My favourite feature has to be the multi pane view, being able to see 3 columns at once makes me happy, and it works exceptionally well on the 12.9" iPad Pro. You can choose to pin the sidebar and the inspector independently of one another or together, so you can have a 2 pane view if that's what you need. The outline view is always shown on the iPad.

Tags

Tags, glorious tags. What used to be contexts has been renamed, and that opens up all sorts of possibilities. I've seen people experimenting with energy levels, I'm personally experimenting with "time of day" tags, and you can go as crazy as you like. Where tags are really paying off for me is being able to add both "waiting on" and "Person A" to a task - so whenever I check my agenda for "Person A" I see that I'm waiting on that task, as well as seeing it in my waiting on list.

Perspectives

Perspectives are where everything is different. All your perspectives have been migrated over from OmniFocus 2, and you can upgrade those to OmniFocus 3 perspectives which gives you the following options:

  • Status
    • Due Soon
    • Flagged
  • Availability
    • First Available
    • Available
    • Remaining
    • Completed
  • Has a due date
  • Has a defer date
  • Has an estimated duration
  • Has an estimated duration less than
    • 5 minutes
    • 15 minutes
    • 30 minutes
    • 60 minutes
  • Is untagged
  • Has a tag which
    • Is active
    • Is on hold
    • Is dropped
    • Is active and has available actions
    • Is active and has no available actions
    • Is tagged with any of
    • Is tagged with all of
  • Is not a project or group
  • Is in the inbox
  • Has a project which
    • Is active or on hold
    • Is on hold
    • Has been completed
    • Has been dropped
    • Is active and has available actions
    • Is active and has no available actions
    • Is active and has a future defer date
  • Is contained within a project or folder
  • Matches search terms
  • All of the following
  • Any of the following
  • None of the following

The best part of perspectives is being able to add as many rules as you like. The top level is always "All of the following", and then you start adding rules within that. You can also add "Any of the following", "None of the following" and "All of the following" and add rules inside of those - useful for requiring a group of rules (e.g. flagged and has Tag X), or setting optional groups. I have a "Now" perspective which changes all the time, and I tap the rule above my Work folder to change it to "All of the following" to "None of the following" depending on if I'm at work or not.

My now perspective

Batch Editing

Being able to edit more than one task at once is not a feature I need frequently, but it is one I really appreciate when I use it. You can enable it by tapping the "Edit" button in the top right, and then selecting multiple tasks. You can access the task inspector in the batch edit mode, and it will show you all of the properties which are the same, and a greyed out option where they're different. If I selected two tasks, one had a due date of today and one with tomorrow, I could still set a new due date for both items at the same time though. You can also use CMD+A to select all the tasks in the current view if you have an external keyboard attached - very useful if your inbox was empty, you added a lot of tasks and then realised they should have been in a project instead! Batch editing, 3 tasks selected in the outline with the inspector open

Custom Repeats

I love repeating tasks, my problem is my repeating tasks aren't all that regular (at least most of them), thankfully I can handle this in OmniFocus 3. You can set repeats with an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly interval, but you can also say "every Tuesday and Saturday", or "the first Wednesday of every month", or "the last day of every month". This has made submitting my work timesheets much easier to remember. Hourly, daily, weekly and monthly repeat options

Notifications

Some tasks are very important, so important you want flashing lights, sirens, and people in hazmat suits running around if the deadline gets too close. In the main settings you can specify notifications for due dates and defer dates globally, and these can also be enabled or removed on each task. You are also able to set two extra kinds of notifications - ones relative to the due date, and ones at a specific date and time. These reminders are a great help with those crucial tasks - if you need someone with a hazmat suit though you're on your own. Adding extra notifications relative to the due date and at specific times

Customisable Inspector

Some people love defer dates, some people hate them. Some people don't want notifications or repeats, for others those are on every task. In OmniFocus 3 you can choose which properties you want to see by default in the inspector - just open up a task, tag or project and tap "Customize Inspector" at the bottom to move the items you want to where you want them to bo. Customizing the inspector for tasks, tags and projects

Forecast

The forecast has changed a lot in OmniFocus 3, there are two major changes which I'll look at here. Options you can set in the Forecast

Interleaved Events & Due Items

Interleaved events and due tasks in the forecast, with deferred items below and the forecast tag below those

Calendar events are interleaved with due items in your day. Instead of the gantt chart style event display in in OF2 (which at least for me wasn't very helpful), they are nice big blocks which show which calendar they're on, when they start and when they end. If you have a meeting 9am-10am, and then a due date at 10:30 that's the order you'll see your tasks in.

Forecast Tag

You can now choose a task to display in the forecast view, this is ideal for things like routine tasks, a sprint at work (a series of tasks or projects to be completed within a specific time period), or errands. You can choose different forecast tags per device, so on your iPhone you might choose calls or errands, but on your iPad it could be "secret nerdy tasks".

There are a lot of big changes in OmniFocus 3, and based on the roadmap there will be a lot more to come, but first of all we have WWDC and the Mac app to look forward to!

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