Add Multiple Topics

I’m a new Omnifocus user and I’m wanting to import/add multiple action items to my inbox (approx. 50 items) from a .txt file. Is that possible?

You bet! If each item is on a separate line, you can Select All, Copy, and Paste right into OF.

If your tasks contain a prefacing character or anything (like “- this is a task”, you can do a find and replace on "- " (replacing it with nothing) to remove.



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Thanks, Scott, for response. That’s a great feature for newbies who are migrating multiple lists!

A neat trick in the newest versions of OmniFocus (such as 2.8 on iOS): the app will automatically detect a leading dash and space, and will trim them off of the text before creating tasks. It’s not a huge change, but it might save you a second or two on the global search & replace!

@tekl Hey that’s pretty clever! What all can be detected/stripped? Of interest to me is the markdown task formatting of "- [ ] ".



I’m not 100% sure, but a quick skim makes it look like OmniFocus will trim:

  • Leading whitespace
  • The “bullet” characters -, *, or
  • The literal Markdown prefix strings - [ ] or - [x], with the latter denoting a completed task

If using the Markdown syntax, OmniFocus will expect a space between the close square bracket and the start of the task name: you’ll need e.g. - [ ] foo, not -[ ]foo. If the character between the brackets is an x instead of a space, OmniFocus will still create a task for that line of text, but immediately mark it complete. (Any character other than a space or x won’t be parsed by OmniFocus.)

Other than the Markdown requirements, the whitespace behavior is not immediately apparent to me – it looks like OmniFocus will trim surrounding whitespace along with the bullet characters, but you may need to experiment a bit with where the spaces go if OmniFocus doesn’t import your text as expected. Enjoy!

That’s insane. @tekl, thanks for this, I’m excited to play with it!

Is this documented, or secret knock stuff?

Thanks again!


It doesn’t look like this has made it into the documentation, but it’s not meant to be a secret – just a new feature of text pasting that hasn’t gotten much attention yet.

Happy to help!

How do you make trimming work? Definitely not my experience with 2.8 on iOS. All leading dashes and spaces make their way to a task name.
I have tried something as simple as ‘- task’. Copied from Drafts or the Notes app, pasted into Inbox, always gets stored as ‘- task’ rather than ‘task’…

Tim didn’t notice that he was looking at the code for an update that hasn’t shipped yet (The [x] stuff already did, but not the -*• stuff). Your simple test should work just fine in version 2.8.1, which we’re about to submit for App Store Review

Sorry about that!

@dave It isn’t working in the current TestFlight 2.8.1 - is there an update coming to it?

Thanks for the update - this is great stuff!


Yes, a TF build with this feature is coming soon.

Oops – really sorry about this, @deturbulence and @dave! This is the curse of early test builds. I’ll make sure to double-check that a feature has made it out the door next time.

Haha, don’t sweat it @tekl! BTW, it looks like the new test build is in TF now. It doesn’t strip markdown, though, it only strips the initial bullet and space.

Still, this is quite legit!


Would it be possible to achieve this copying of a task list into Omnifocus via a script?

I know on iOS one can achieve this by using Drafts and Workflow, but on a Mac?


@sam70 Wouldn’t it just be a matter of copy and paste? What format is your content in that you want to move?


@deturbulence I guess you are right. Will do just that. Thanks for the reply!

Just that I often find typing todos in a text document to be more convenient then typing in Omnifocus. Especially when I am trying to make lists.

I hear you, @sam70!

Some other ideas:

  1. Check out the TaskPaper format for ways to enhance your free form task-writing.

  2. In the past, I have used a custom perspective for quick list-making. Focus on the “Miscellaneous” Project, custom columns (not fluid), and only task name column showing. In this way, you can have a “distraction-free” list making environment.

Good luck!


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In the past, I have used a custom perspective for quick list-making. Focus on the “Miscellaneous” Project, custom columns (not fluid), and only task name column showing. In this way, you can have a “distraction-free” list making environment.

This is a great idea. I just tried to create a perspective where Focus was on Miscellaneous and only the item title shows. Will try to use that instead of the text editor in the future.

Thanks again!