Archive a folder?

I’ve got a folder of related projects that I’m probably never going to complete, but I may change my mind sometime in the future. I’d like to export or archive the folder as-is, so that it’s gone from my active database, but if I ever do change my mind I’d like to be able to re-import the folder of projects & tasks.

It seems like archiving the folder would do the trick, but I can only see a way to archive old tasks. Not a way to archive a whole folder.

Is there a way to do this?

You are touching on a subject that has been an horrible aggravation for me since version 1 of OmniFocus.

  • We cannot archive anything (folders, projects, or tasks) directly or easily by our own choice. We are restricted to what OmniGroup decides should be called the archive method.
  • When we try to archive manually (open archive to copy + paste content), the archive file gets mucked up royally.

I appreciate the long history behind what is called archiving in OmniFocus but …


From my past experience trying to get any attention to address exactly this issue, I tend sometimes to think that OmniGroup prefers to chase shiny bobbles with the highest votes from the masses rather than improve on core features for the power users.




In fairness, this probably means that there are a lot of people who think they will use the features.

But it still would be great to be able to archive or export, (in an importable format), folders.

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@DrJJWMac My impression is that the Archive feature was built around the use case of clearing out old completed items with minimum effort, with the assumption that you will rarely refer to them again. I think this is very reasonable for a large majority of OF users and this has always worked reliably. For the first time in ages I just took a peek at my archive and everything is as I would expect, with the projects inside the same folders they were in when they were completed. Even more delightful, I cannot find any duplicated projects even though I suspect I moved some of them between folders in between archiving runs, so there is probably something clever being done by the software.

I guess your problems start when you move projects manually to the archive. Maybe it would have been better to never have shipped this capability in the first place ;)

OG has always been receptive to input from their customers and power users, so maybe there are not a lot of people desiring (spontaneously or when asked) for fine manual control of the archive. A way I can see to address your use case is to add a ‘Include when archiving’ checkbox setting to each project. There are some improvement requests near to my heart which I have sent in to OG (including two which I consider bugs) and have not made it into the product so far; I have learned to work around them and make best use of the considerable capabilities in the product. In your position I would consider using templates, TaskPaper representations of the projects you want to keep in whole form, or a scripting solution with the upcoming OmniJS automation (eg. before running archiving, a script removes ‘completed’ status from actions in your selected projects and puts it back afterwards).

In terms of shiny baubles, in the past years OG has shipped improvements which include making use of all relevant new platform capabilities on Mac and iOS, multiple tags (while continuing to support tag hierarchies and tag-related behaviours), arbitrarily complex custom perspective rules, and soon extensive cross-platform scripting capabilities. Those and others strike me as a pretty good choice of priorities for both power users and more casual users. In particular the automation will enable solutions to be built for a whole class of edge case requests which it would not be possible or beneficial to add to the product.

@johnbeales In your situation, unless those projects are very large and degrading sync performance, I would put them in a ‘Abandoned’ folder at the very bottom of your hierarchy. Out of sight, out of mind…

You can do this with the built-in support for TaskPaper format: in Projects view select your folder, in the right pane Select All, Edit > Copy as TaskPaper. Later you can paste this text representation back into OF.

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Perhaps as a summary: I would wish to feel more confident that OG has a greater respect about fixing failures even in what might be considered as power-user cases and even at the expense of following the masses. As much as I appreciate and use OmniFocus daily, and as much as I would find nothing else comparable for what I need, my long history with OmniFocus has yet to give me the requisite confidence.

The idea of an “Abandoned” folder is a good suggestion (unless of course that the desire is also to remove the “cruft” from the main database).


The ‘masses’ are paying for the product too and helping to keep the product we use in active development ;)

I’ve just realised that I may have a very similar use case to yours around archiving.

I keep my grocery list in OF since I want to include those items in my tagging system and sometimes assign due dates to them. The history of my purchased items is unimportant; rather than keep adding new items by typing them, I prefer to search on part of their name and unmark them as done. When I run archiving, the items I haven’t bought recently are lost from this list.

I would make use of the feature I suggested above: an ‘Include when archiving’ option at the project level — I’d exclude my groceries project from archiving.

Would this also solve your requirement? If I understand correctly it is to keep certain projects whole, including completed actions, in your main database for reference, and you resort to moving other projects to the archive manually.

Yes. Anything presented in any of these discussions would go far to “solve the issue” (be it the imbalance of the voices from the masses or the need for reliable project-level archiving).

(I’ll stop here but the list goes back even earlier)


Excellent, I will send in my suggestion

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