For those still on OmniFocus 1, what's holding you back from upgrading to OmniFocus 2?

Continuing the discussion from v1’s OS X Yosemite Compatibility:

For anyone still using OmniFocus 1, I’d love to hear what’s holding you back from upgrading to version 2. The most common requests I’m aware of are:

  • An easier way to customize the theme of a window (colors and fonts), similar to version 1’s style preferences
  • An easy way to see the estimated times at a glance in the main outline, not just in the sidebar
  • A single-window workflow for dragging items from the inbox to projects.

We’re working towards all of these now, but if there’s anything else holding folks back we’d love to hear about it!

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Glad you asked. I am on OF 2, but here is what I sorely miss over OF 1.

  • No ability to store window coordinates for perspectives
  • No ability to expand on a Project (add Tasks to it) while it is in a perspective view
  • While the icon views on the left are appreciated, the rest of the left-side pane takes annoying too much space most of the time
  • The View Settings Panel is annoyingly in the way most of the time
  • The density of information content per page (vertically) is lower than what I like
  • The checkboxes should be on the left of the action
  • The expand / collapse state of Folders in the Library view is sporadic at best and undefinable at worst

I enjoyed the use of OF 1. While I had complaints about it, the issues (with one major exception) did not limit my workflow significantly. Now, while I continue to use OF 2 significantly, I have otherwise grown to tolerate that, in comparison to OF 1, OF 2 has fewer core features, routinely causes me more annoyances in my general workflow, and likely will continue to stay as limited as it is (accounting the above list) for some time.

FWIW, I am not upgrading OF on my iOX devices for an overall reason that dovetails with the above statements. I just do not have the desire anymore to be routinely annoyed by finding missing features in the OF 2 versions of the iOX apps over their working and useful OF 1 versions. In hindsight, had I been a bit wiser and prudent, I probably might have just stayed with OF 1 on my Mac as well.

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Noted! This will probably be coming back for any perspectives which are configured to open in a new window. (In the meantime, I see some people making good use of AppleScript for this, but we do want it to be easier than that.)

I was very surprised to see this in your list! This isn’t working for you? It’s certainly working for me in the same circumstances where it worked in v1 (perspectives where items are organized by hierarchy), though it still has the same limitations it had in v1.

All of those changes can be made in the Perspectives window, if you’d rather not make them using a popover. If that’s not a good workaround for you, though, I’d love to hear more about how you’re using View Settings and how you would like to see this work.

I assume you know that you can address both of these issues right now?

Going back to your list…

A folder’s expansion state should be much more predictable than it ever was in version 1. It might help to understand that the expansion state for each perspective has both a current component (saved in the window state) and a persistent component (saved in the perspective itself and synced between devices).

  • The current expansion state for a perspective in a window is stored as part of the window state, so you can have two windows open with different items expanded. That state will be remembered as long as the window remains open (or as long as that window is restored at launch); closing the window will discard any changes to that state. (If you’ve configured Mac OS X to close windows when you leave an app, this will discard all your window state when you quit OmniFocus.)
  • The default expansion state for a perspective is stored as part of the perspective. You can save updates to that state by opening View Options and pressing the Save button at the top (or revert back to your saved default expansion state by pressing Revert).

Thanks for telling me what still needs improvement from your perspective, and I hope my comments above help with at least some of the issues you’ve mentioned.

  1. I look forward to when the word probably disappears from your statement, hopefully sooner rather than later. I would like a Perspective to remember the position of the window and the open/closed states of all panels or toolbars.

  2. Apologies. I admit that something here is not right in my statement. I will have to find out where it is that I keep running in to this limitation and report back.

  3. I would like to see the return of the View settings as a context bar rather than as a pane. Or perhaps make the View settings pane a “tear-off” panel. I need to be able to review through my workflow in a given perspective using different settings on Available, Remaining, … just as efficiently as I could in OF 1. In any of the ways that I try doing this with the current View settings pane, it is just always stuck in the way!

  4. Yes, I am aware this can be changed. AFAIK, the change is done via a kludge-in that may or may not work well in all cases. I tried it, and what I saw was … blah! Let’s get back a reliable, workable Preference setting to allow variability in data density (e.g. as was possible in OF 1 via font sizes) and a SEPARATE setting to choose whether to have left or right checkboxes.

  5. Thank you! This has fixed things very nicely.

Thank you for the quick reply!

If you could use keyboard shortcuts to switch your current availability filter between Available, Remaining, etc., would that meet this need? (You could do that now by creating an AppleScript and binding it to a keyboard shortcut, of course, but I’m thinking of something a little more built-in than installing a custom script.)

I am loath to keep switching my hands between convolutions of hand positions on a keyboard and my 4 button Kensington track ball. So no, keyboard shortcuts are not going to make me happier. I would prefer to have the entire View pane become a tear-off panel or an in-built panel. It has to be entirely accessible and get out of the way of blocking any part of the view of the main window.

As for the second issue, I think it has to do with the lack of support for context menus when I click on the panes or contents. You have to click on something to get a menu, and even then it is limited. So, I cannot create a new Folder in either pane at all using a context menu, and I cannot create anything at all by just context clicking on the empty background. Is the application not smart enough to know where I want to create a new Folder in the main pane when my current focus in the Library pane has been set at a specific folder?

Otherwise, while I could go on, I have said more than my fair share as it is.

Thanks for the space to vent.

I have to return to this after a recent hassle. What you say does not work correctly and does not work as I remember in OF 1. I tried this with Projects as the Perspective.

  • Changed the In Projects Show filter to Remaining as a starting point. The only way I can get the Save button to activate is to change what I filter. Nothing about the collapsed state of the Folders or Projects toggles the save button. That could have been my first clue that saving a Perspective pays no attention to the collapse/expand states of Folders or Projects.
  • Saved the Perspective
  • Changed the In Projects filter to All (which is what I want)
  • Collapsed all Folders
  • Collapsed all Projects
  • Reopened the View pane (why the heck does it close here??)
  • SAVED the Perspective Projects

–> What the ****!!! The topmost Project expands as if possessed by a devil. So does some other Project further down. Despite every effort I can muster, I cannot get the Projects perspective to save in a state where every Folder remains collapsed and every Project remains so as well. I get some ghost opening the Projects for me even when I try to save them as fixed collapsed with the Perspective. Then, later, the Folders are in a disarrayed state again for some unknown reason.

So, in summary, I assert that, in OF 2, we cannot save a Perspective view to have the specific layout that we want it to have with any where near the reliability, ease, and consistency that we could in OF 1. If anything, the method to save a Perspective view in OF2 is more inconsistent, more bug-ridden, and more unnerving to apply than in OF 1.

Sorry! Apparently I spend all my time in custom perspectives, since I’d forgotten that built-in perspectives save their expansion state differently: they save their state automatically whenever you switch perspectives or change view filters.

Except, of course, that that isn’t working properly under the conditions present in your bug report. I was able to reproduce your bug in Projects when I first tried it with a fresh install, but I’m no longer able to reproduce it after following these steps:

  • Go to Projects, and collapse all folders and projects.
  • Switch to Contexts.
  • Switch back to Projects. Your expansion state should have been preserved; everything should still be collapsed.

Once I’ve done that, I can do your other steps without encountering the bug:

  • Open the View pane, and switch the filter. Your current expansion should be preserved.
  • Expand some few folders or projects, then try switching view filters again. Again, your current expansion should be preserved.

Sorry for the frustration caused by this bug, and sorry we didn’t catch it sooner in our own testing! Now that we know how to reproduce the problem (in a fresh install, after changing expansion switch view states before switching perspectives), it should be easy to track down and fix.

I hope the one-time workaround above will make OmniFocus 2 a much less frustrating experience for you! (Once you’ve done this for a built-in perspective, you shouldn’t ever have to do it again unless you do a fresh install of the app without preserving any of the app’s preferences.)

Fix the bug when focusing in a context based perspective.

OK. Glad to hear this is a bug and not the SOP. I followed your suggestion. Let’s see.

As a closing note …

Please make the View panel as one of two options. Either embed it in the right pane as a tab or have it as a tear-off floating pane. The approach now is, the panel disappears every time it looses focus. I vehemently curse the developers at OmniGroup every time I try to do a an overall review of a Folder in my Library because of this, and I do such reviews quite often. In OF 1, I never had this problem. Any options (such as those with keystrokes) that propose to expand on the functionality of the View panel but still keep it with a “here now, gone in an instant, float in your face to block what is behind it” mode are DOA for the efficiency of my workflow (and remain a step backward in the ongoing development relative to OF 1).

Thank you.

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These features:


I don’t know (yet), but there’s also nothing in the release notes that I miss in v1. Why should I disrupt my workflow only to end up with the same set of functionality? Which is to say, my biggest issue with OF 2 is that if it really makes me any more productive, this is not being marketed very well :)


The biggest gripe about OF1 when you read the old forums was the user interface. Now it’s been updated and feels the same on all three platforms. It took some adjusting but I’m flowing now with OF2. Besides this is just the start. The first thing omni worked on was the UI. Next, they are working on adding features that have been discussed for a long time.

For obvious reasons, we who cling to OmniFocus 1 will have a strong self-selection bias to be happy with the old user interface. I do actually have a batch of iOS devices, but the use cases for my laptop and my phone are so different that I probably wouldn’t benefit from the consistency across devices. And in the places where I have noticed that OF 2 for iPhone and OF 1 for Mac are out of sync already, I tend to prefer the Mac version, so that’s more of an anti-incentive (new names for start & end dates, invisible notes).

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Oh yes, invisible notes! Though not a stopper for me, the ever-present “add note” icon and annoying “no defer date -> no due date” shown whenever I hover over an item are definitely distractors that are not very helpful in considering to switch to OF2.

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Now, the biggest gripes are that OF2 has been crippled when compared to some features that OF1 had.

The win something - loose something game that was played with the OF2 release is most frustrating. For some, the gains made also do not make up for severity of the losses. Add to all of this background the “we hear you” broken record replies that then seemingly go no where, and the entire recipe can be less than encouraging.

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Hi Ken!

I’m not sure if you’re still monitoring this topic for feedback, but I think the main thing holding me back from upgrading to OF2 for Mac is the bugs around adding new actions to context-based perspectives. I make a lot of use of a context-based Today perspective and would miss not being able to add new actions from that view. (the original support case where I included some more details was OG #1131364)

I’ve been keeping an eye on the release notes for the point updates to OF2 and haven’t spotted anything that looks like any fixes in this area yet.

I’ve recently started using the new iPad version of OF and am really liking the new design and features on there so would be keen to try OF2 for Mac again soon.



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I just hit the keystroke shortcut to invoke the quick entry screen and add an entry into there. If I wanted to show it in my Today perspective, I’ll flag it to get it to show in Today.

Just to make sure, my Today perspective show due or flagged tasks.

I’m not sure if this topic really applies to me because 1) I am currently trying to transition to OF2 and 2) I have bought it. Nonetheless, I’d like to express a few of the things that may keep me from fully embracing OF2. I doubt that I am the first to mention any of these, since I have seen them discussed at great length since the first reveal of OF2’s new paradigm. Still, onward I go.

First, the lack of visual clarity in the interface

  • In the outline pane with folders enabled (and even without), the hierarchy is not cued well visually. The folder icon is too far to the right (seems like it should line up over the arrows for the projects, not halfway between the arrow and the project icon). The title text of all items (except when there are action groups) is lined up at the same margin and all items are the same vertical distance apart. Furthermore, the order is changed from the sidebar order so that projects directly subordinate to a folder are listed at the top in the outline pane, regardless of the order in the sidebar. Furthermore, subfolders are not indented.
  • Project type and status are difficult to discern. The visual cues are much more subtle. While the project type icons are different, they are now all composed of blue dots. On a small screen, to a user with middle-aged eyes, this is hard to distinguish at a glance. Furthermore, project “on hold” status is now indicated by replacing the project type. A blue pause icon does not look all that different from the blue project dots of an active project icon. The difference between black and grey text, no doubt intended to help, is subtle and hard to discern to my eyes. Pending projects have no icon change. Furthermore, project status is indeterminable in the outline pane. The user has to have the inspector open to know.
  • Other bothersome-to-me interface problems are lack of columns, subtle difference between note and no-note, discontinuation of the use of color as a visual cue in almost all cases where it had been used to good effect previously.

Second, the confusing distinction between perspectives that use project hierarchy and perspectives that use context hierarchy and group by project. There is very little to distinguish between the two. Yet I get beeped at in the latter at when I hit return to enter a new task.

Third (and partly as a consequence of the above), I really miss the ability to open a task in project mode in a new window. Of course I can view in project mode, but then I have to remember what I was doing before in order to return to it and when I do so, I have potentially lost my place.

These are some of the things that occur to me now. I have come to terms with some of the other interface changes, including what various keystrokes do and the segregation of inbox view from projects view. I love the tabbed interface.