Having 2 separate OmniFocus 2 apps (2nd one for the reference)?


Upon looking and testing multiple apps, I am not satisfied with anything I found.

OmniFocus would be an amazing app for the reference, especially because it would be extremely easy transfer it from OF for tasks.

How should I set it up to have 2 different data bases and 2 different OF2’s: OF2man (manager) and OF2ref (reference)?

OF2ref is not necessary to sync.
I tried using OmniOutliner for that purpose but it doesn’t work as well for me, especially that OF has many more scripts etc. (I can’t code), like export of all tabs from Chrome to OF2.


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OmniFocus isn’t really built to do this, so anything you’d do would be a workaround.

It does support an archive database, however. But this is intended to be used for old, completed tasks, rather than “reference” tasks. Still, it would work, with the following caveats:

  1. It’s only available on ONE machine, unless you manually copy it to other Macs
  2. It’s not available at all on iOS devices

But if you want to look into it, look up the “Archive” functionality in the OmniFocus help.

Honestly, I think it would be easier to just have a folder in OF that held your “reference” tasks and which wasn’t included in any of your actionable perspectives.

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Really appreciate your response.

Your workflow and database storage as the reference probably differ a lot from mine.
For me, OmniFocus is a perfect reference app. Blasting fast, has contexts, projects, , due, and just all necessary stuff.

I have
Folder Books
in which I have projects like Marketing, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Self-Improvement etc.
Next, I have a folder To purchase in which I have projects:
Books, Electronics, Photography etc.
In To purchase ▸ Books I have a task, Book Title 1 = $19, which has 2 links in the notes: the link to Amazon, and the link to Books ▸ Self-Improvement ▸ Book Title 1

There is no app, which can do it better. I know OF2 is not the tool for database, reference, etc. etc. etc., BUT, I had been keeping all the reference material there for 2 years. It just got too many, syncing became too long, etc. So I have switched to Evernote (“Pthu!”), again… If there is one app I would want to disappear from the face of the Earth, it is Ever(“Pthu!”)note. I even put MS Windows after that app… I have tried every, single, possible, accessible, app, on the market and I was NOT happy with any of them.

  1. I would want to have 2 separate apps ▸ OF2man and OF2ref (manager and reference);
  2. OF2ref is intended to be used only on MacBook Pro, without syncing;
  3. Archive is not what I’m looking for really;

My question is how do I make it, so I won’t mess up anything?
Just copy the app and name it “OmniFocus Reference” and make sure it’s not syncing?
What about the backup files? I don’t want them to be mixed with the regular OF.
1 million $ question: How to do this?


take a look at devonthink - it’s a really powerful research database and notekeeper. it uses AI algorithms to automatically associate documents and keywords, supports tagging, and just about every file format. it has a robust fuzzy logic search engine, and can include archival or live html files from the web. the other app. i would consider is scrivener - which, although it has been developed for writers, could just as easily be used as a management tool for documents and research.

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I did try it. I wrote above I have tried every single app available on the market. Literally.

With all respect, I really appreciate your input, and please don’t take it personally, but it’s not what I asked about in the first place. I have tried everything, and I don’t like it. It’s either too time consuming, or the software is buggy, or something else. I’m using so many apps now, that thinking of adding another one, and thinking of learning curve to move quickly, gives me a headache. I already tried everything, I swear on whatever you want. Over 2 months of testing different apps. Some of them more than twice. DevonThink is too much for my needs and it does not suit my workflow.

Interesting approach! Even though I happily use Devonthink for non-task needs, I agree with you about the quality of Omnifocus for more things than tasks and found it tempting to extend the use of an application I know well and like. And it may actually be done! If you make a copy of your existing Omnifocus database, rename it to Refererence (or what you prefer), and place it somewhere else you could then open it by double-clicking on it. The database opens in a separate window with a blue field indicating that it’s not your ordinary database. From what I can see, this second database is perfectly editable (I use this technique to copy tasks from Omnifocus on my Ipad, as I prefer not to sync Omnifocus). Just remember to take separate backups of the reference database.


Thank you @Jan_H

Ok, so there is a plan and everything starts looking promising. Now, how do I clip reference to OFref, or quick entry it?

Just different shortcuts should work?

OFman ▸ QuickEntry ▸ ⌃⌥␣
OFref ▸ QuickEntry ▸ ⌥⌘␣

Oh, you probably can’t do that. Omnifocus is built to interact with the ordinary database. The other database is just an open file, possible to edit manually. My suggestion is that make quickentries in the ordinary database and when it suits you move them to the reference database. If you want to categorize your quickentries directly, you could create some projects in the ordinary database for temporary storage of the entries.


If You wanna having 2 separate omnifocus 2 apps Wait for while Admin Will Help you. i Am new to this forum too

I don’t know if this will be enough, but you can easily have two separate OF documents/databases open in one instance of OF. If you command-click on the document icon in the center of the title bar, a pop-up menu will show you the path to your database document. Select the enclosing folder just one level above your doc, and you will see where the OF file is stored.

Quit OF, duplicate the .omnifocus file, rename it something like OmniFocusReference, and double click it. It will open with a blue bar at the top that says “OMNIFOCUS DOCUMENT” – that’s to let you know that the QuickEntry does not pipe into this document.

Delete all items and you can start from scratch. Make an alias on your desktop or wherever, so you can open the doc whenever you need it.

If the Quick Entry thing is a deal breaker, make a project in the main database called “REFERENCE” and collect things there like a second inbox. Then copy/paste or drag items from that project into the Reference document.

Hope that helps.


ok. - not taken personally at all. good luck with your endeavours

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The method anamorph suggested would work, but there is also an easier way to do this. It is possible to create a separate non-syncing database. To set that up, you would need to create an OmniFocus Document, which behaves just like a regular OmniFocus database, only that it cannot sync and can therefore only be used on one device.

The process for initially creating an OmniFocus Document is a little tricky, but once created functions just like a regular database (aside from not being able to sync). Here’re the steps to set that up:

• Select Menu Bar ▸ File ▸ Export… and change the File Format to OmniFocus Document, choose a save location (such as your Desktop) and click Save.

• Now, in Finder, go find that file and open it. It should display with a blue banner identifying it as an OmniFocus Document (this is how you know it’s not your main/syncing database). At this point it is essentially a copy of your entire database. Probably the easiest way to achieve your goal would be to delete all of its contents and then copy/paste or drag/drop from your main database into this window to create a database with only the items you wish to keep separate.

• To delete the contents, select Menu Bar ▸ Perspectives ▸ Changed, then select one project in the sidebar of the Project perspective tab and use Select All (⌘A) to select everything, then press the delete key ⌫ on your keyboard. Repeat that process on the sidebar of each perspective (Inbox, Contexts, etc.), ensuring that the View is set to show All, until nothing remains.

• If you’d like to keep multiple separate OmniFocus Documents, you may want to duplicate this blank file now for future use.

• Once you have an empty OmniFocus Document, you should be able to copy/paste actions and projects from one window to the other. Copy/pasting a project will transfer all corresponding actions, contexts, folders, etc. along with the project, including completed actions (so you may want to clean that up as you go).

• Once the OmniFocus Document looks good to you, you can use it for anything that you don’t want/need to sync.

An OmniFocus Document can also be emailed to others. To do that, close the OmniFocus Document window, then compress the file in Finder before attaching it to an email (to do so, control-click on the document in Finder and select the ‘Compress {filename}’ option from the contextual menu). Your recipient should be able to then add the contents of the OmniFocus Document to their OmniFocus by copy/pasting into their database window.

Hope this helps!



Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I really think OmniGroup should advertise OF2 also as the reference tool (on steroids).

My life is going to be joyful from this moment.

For people who like this idea:

You can copy tasks as links from the OmniReference document, paste it in OmniFocus, and the link will get you directly to the task in the OmniReference file. Works both ways.

Ahhh I love this!

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This is very interesting to me. I, in fact, “mis-used” OF 1 in this way. Now that I am moving to OF 2 (did not want to move to OF 2 while working on a large project), I have begun looking for ways to more properly use it. This may be a solution for me.

Thank you @kamil for posting links to this elsewhere, and @anne for the directions.

To get around the “it doesn’t sync, so it can be used on only one device” limitation, what would happen if this non-synching OmniFocus Document were stored in iCloud Drive, or Dropbox?

Hi @rogbar, OmniFocus’s file format requires a WebDAV sync server, so storing it in iCloud or Dropbox (which are not WebDAV servers) is not recommended, however it should be possible to sync them via a WebDAV server (such as our Omni Sync Server) using an app like our OmniPresence…however this would only work to sync them between Macs because OmniFocus for iOS does not have the ability to interact with OmniFocus Documents.

Hi @anne

In OF 2.5 (v106.4 r257959), Copying and pasting from the main OF database to a secondary OmniFocus Document is broken.

When pasted, the items are disconnected from their projects. The projects and folders are pasted in, but in a flat hierarchy. For example, a project hierarchy that was in the main DB as:

->->->->->-> TASK:Buy Milk

Is pasted in as:


with the action not connected to the project.

I’m sending an email to support about this, too.

Not to immediately answer your original question, just to share my experience which seems relevant to a some degree:

  • I store all project-related reference items right in OF (actionable database), giving them a blocked context (which is not perfect but works for me better than alternatives I can think of)
  • I have several “reference-only” pseudo-projects, typically one for each of my “areas” of planning (eg each large segment of work; a child; a car; productivity & gadgets; health-and-fit etc)
  • I lived for a decade storing all kind of non-actionable reference data in outlines (dozens of them) operated by Natara Bonsai app (which OmniOutliner looks quite a promising replacement, but I haven’t invested effort into migration yet)

Would be grateful if others share their experience with catering a similar need–and oops, I didn’t meant to threadjack here :-)

How do you block the context?

FWIW, I’m just about to migrate to a second data container to hold reference and future projects. After some investigation, and running into that nasty pasting bug, I’m exploring other options.

I have a working build of Rob Trew’s OF2OPML Applescript, so I can export projects to OmniOutliner, and round trip them back to OF later when needed.

I’m currently trying to decide whether I want to start from scratch or simply prune my existing database.