Attachments List isn’t Useful To Me

I’ve struggled a lot with the annoying sync issues with OF across my devices. Mostly attachments is the problaby (or that they have so sync the entire database when they sync, lovely when you have one or two things taking 10MB each) the reason, so I have to prune them a bit.

The thing is, deleting attachments is really difficult and makes me sad. The attachment lists only provides the name, when it was added and the size. How about the project so I can find where it is? Or that I can view or listen what it is? Or if the project is complete so I can delete it without being scared that I am losing something? Double clicking anywhere only opens up OF2.

I have already given up on syncing OF2 (I write stuff on paper instead) because of this since looking through all my attachments is such a pain. Am I missing out on something here? Are there any ways to do what I want to do? Anyone?

I attach nothing in OF. One reason is the pain that you are experiencing, but in other ways. Another is the confusion it causes me to consider OF as more than a tool to organize just the actions for projects. To organize resources for those projects, I have the Finder and my resource tool de jour (Curio … others here swear by DevonThink). The final reason is, I just do not want to spend time to maintain yet another place to float documents for referencing. I would invest more than I would ever gain.

As for your two key questions, they suggest to me that you need to do some critical thinking and research on your own.

Am I missing out on something …

  • Why MUST you use OF to store attachments? What problems does this approach solve for you?

Are there any ways to do what I want …

  • Can any other software tool do as well or better to solve the problems?

Thank you for writing and asking the questions. It was interesting to get your perspective.

I also have the confusion about having OF as more than a tool for organizing actions. I paid money for it, it has a lot of features, but none of them seem to be stitched together correctly. I’ve been missing a way to have project resources integrated, and I have been thinking lately about migrating to something else entirely.

So, the questions:

Why MUST you use OF to store attachments? What problems does this approach solve for you?

I do not need to use OF to store attachments. However, I use record audio often as when sending anything to the inbox, and those big attachments usually come with an unfortunate email. Problem is that the system then grinds to a halt. Basically, it is really unstable that way, hence I can’t trust the system.

Can any other software tool do as well or better to solve the problems?

Yes. I have had many issues recently with OmniFocus (bugs, workflow) that has driven me crazy. Honestly, this post was me venting, and I apologize for that. It is just that I have invested so much time and effort (and money), and it is really not working out at all. If OF is just a tool to organize actions for projects, well, it is just a glorified list maker.

OmniFocus lacks so much for me (I should have taken the hint a long time ago) in project resources. I have always been a power user with software, so the limitations (that I neglected first) have caught up to me. Not only is it really fragile in my eyes (due to the sync issues), but it isn’t sufficient for anything big in my eyes. They do market it as a task manager, and that is okay, I’m just fed up.

Sorry about the rant, it’s just really sad because of all the time and energy I’ve used.

No problem. I ranted elsewhere on the forum about serious issues I have had with OF. Join the club.

In defense of OF, I will say that I use it well beyond the level of a “glorified list maker”. It does very nicely with features beyond such that keep my workflow on a productive routine. OTOH, I can say categorically that OF is absolutely not the tool I use to keep my bigger picture of life together.

It sounds as though you will have to find a different way around the limits of OF+email to handle large data attachments. I can’t say what I’d recommend here. Perhaps a path through a more robust client-> server-> client network service to post and retrieve your audio files, such as Dropbox or equivalent.

Best of luck!

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Sorry for the trouble here! When you double-click one of the rows in the attachment list, a new OmniFocus window should appear that jumps you to the action that the item you clicked is attached to, so you can take the kind of actions or gather the information you mentioned.

Our thinking was that to make the kinds of decisions you mention, you’d want to see that item alongside all the other items in the same project. That window is currently designed to be a jumping-off point, in other words, rather than a one-stop-shop for everything related to attachments.

If there’s anything we can do to help with these or the syncing trouble, send an email to and we’re happy to do so.

Can I ask you to describe that workflow? It would be interesting to get a take on your process.

Regarding bigger picture in life, well, I just found that my way of working with larger projects (anything that goes beyond stuff you plan in your head) isn’t really compatible with the way I use OF. It simply gets out of date too fast, and since I don’t use it to plan (hail OneNote!), I have to essentially update two systems all the time. I previously used mind maps for planning, but OneNote seems to suit me nicely. I am pondering about placing all my actions there too.

Essentially I want a system where I can see my project list, with actions and contexts, along with some answer from the NPM model (first two) and project resources. OmniFocus can do the first three. The fourth is possible via the Note field, but it is a pain to use and doesn’t offer any in-field formatting at all. The last one can only done via “hacking” the system, though it is really messy. I realise that I am describing a full project planning program, it’s just that OmniFocus is really close on some of them, and could be forgiven for the last one. If it hadn’t been for the constant issues I’ve had recently, I might have been content to continue, but it is just one issue after another. The annoyances are piling up.

Still, I’d love to hear about your workflow, maybe I am missing out on something.

A new OmniFocus window does come up, though it is not taking me to the action where the item is attached to. Another bug, of course, but I am really tired of all of the bugs lately.

I know I’m really picky here, but I really question that decision. Had that been an option, to simply show or hide the fields, I would have been fine. That would enable me to be efficient and delete items at a glance, but the workflow you described, if it worked, would be incredibly slow. The difference is really obvious (to me atleast), and the constant “we know better and thus no configuration is necessary” (along with what Apple is doing some places), just makes me sad. I apologise if you feel I am taking it out on you Brian, that is not my intention. Simplicity has in my book been taken a bit too far with software.

OmniFocus, to me, was about making task management easy and creating a nice workflow to get things in order. Screwing up workflows (i.e inbox cleanup, attachments list), feels to me like misplaced priorities. Yes, the software is really beautiful and nice in many ways, but certain things are more cumbersome than necessary in my eyes.

Again, it is not my intention to be bitchy to Brian and the OmniGroup staff, I’m just critical about the software I essentially have my life in.

Sure …

I use Curio to keep all of my big picture stuff. I tried Goalscape. It was too clumsy for me (Java + Adobe Air just did not cut it). Compared to OneNote, I can highly recommend Curio BTW.

To track Projects, I use a combination of Kanban boards in Curio …

I link back from Curio to OF Projects. I also link within Curio to Project folders. In those folders, I keep such things as Status pages and Resource pages and Action pages. Here for example is a log page from a recent programming revision that I had to undertake …

Although it could be done in OF, and although some folks are probably masters at doing this in OF, and although I once was able to do this in OF, I have since decided never again do this kind of project development in OF. The ability to manage the content cleanly is too cumbersome and cluttered … I just get frustrated at trying to set up what to do, let alone to do what I need to do. Instead, I have a one-line item on my Kanban board linked to a one-line statement in OF, and both say something like “finalize log for version 4.00”. The statement in my Curio Kanban links directly to the full Curio Project where I am doing the actual work (i.e. the above Idea Space in Curio). I pull the tasks along on the Kanban. I activate them in OF when they reach the Doing column (from the Next column).

[As yet another plug for Curio, the line items such as Idea Space Title, Sub-Title, revision date … are all automatic. This starts as a template file that I pull in and populate in each case.]

In summary, I use a Kanban board (developed in Curio) to control my work in progress, a project-management tool (Curio) to contain the resources and some levels of the task lists, and a GTD tool (OF) to manage the sequential/parallel nuts and bolts of tasks in projects. To decide what to do, I rely more now on checking my Kanban first, and then scheduling the tasks properly back to OF afterward.

There’s probably more than I can say in this limited space. I hope this at least gives a good start with enough meat to point in a successful direction forward.


Interesting, thank you for sharing! Curio is looking really good, I’ll check it out. I tried to do project development in OF many times, but it never felt right to me. Going through the NPM model there isn’t exactly versatile enough for my taste. Your workflow gives me a few thoughts on how to improve my workflow. Again, thanks!