How can the data density be improved? [OmniFocus 2.3 added custom columns layout]

Continuing the discussion from How can the data density be improved?:

Fantastic idea. As seen, I rely on quite a lot on nested tasks – sometimes up to four layers. Data density definitely is of crucial important in my workflow.

And… uh, never mind about all the red.

Agreed. But even if I have notes, I don’t want such a strong visual distractor there. My initial impression is that the visual hierarchy is a little confusing. Font sizes, weights, and colors don’t offer enough distinction for me. This is part of the “data density” issue we are seeing.

What if we were able to hide the notes / deferred row? I rarely need it when I’m just getting stuff done.


Its going back to the old ‘which columns do I show’ - do you need a context column when in context view?

If you are viewing tasks, especially from a perspective, then why do you need to display the info that makes up that perspectives criteria? (generalising, I know, but the basic idea is right)

Yep, low density (and btw. default fonts) makes it close to unusable for me. What works on a small and narrow screen (iPhone) is unacceptable for me on 22". It’s not only density but the organization of elements. Let me show that on the screenshot, how I’d like to interact with it, and in comparison how I have to do it now.

The most important for me is going through tasks one by one and have them visually in “one line”. For example in the current design I spend unnecessary time in each task to skip its project or context, which I don’t need to read in 90% of cases. And also completion circle is far too far from the task itself when the window is wider than the narrowest possible. Don’t to mention full-screen.


Continuing the discussion from How can the data density be improved?:

I’ve had a look and I’d like to disagree. In my opinion, there isn’t really an issue with the ‘+ Note + Context’ as it’s a placeholder for actual notes and contexts. If you add in a context then it’ll be there.

It’s just the gap between the text of the task and the placeholder (and ‘defer date + due date’) that should decrease, in a higher data dense option.

Continuing the discussion from How can the data density be improved?:

I understand where you’re coming from. The checkboxes in the current OmniFocus (1) is on the left, as was the old pre-Mavericks/2013 build.

I presume that they’ve moved it to the right purely to follow how OmniFocus 2 on iOS works (on the right, as most people use the iPhone with their right hand, in which case the thumb is best suited to tap on the right (while not obscuring the text of the task).).

I have to say that for a desktop app though, it definitely is quite strange, as most other productivity apps (as does OmniFocus (1)) have the checkboxes on the left.

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Continuing the discussion from Overall, how are you liking OmniFocus 2 relative to OmniFocus 1?:

Abackstrom’s post is also quite interesting as well.


So here’s an example of my OF1/OF2 data density…


Just so much wasted space in the second image. I know all those tasks are in my office. I really don’t need 50% of my screen space thrown away on extraneous information. That’s no clarity to me, that’s making it much harder for me to see the information. the unnecessary gaps are making a disjointed view scanning down the page.

Don’t get me wrong, overall I like the new look. Personally I’d still prefer a floating inspector, but I realise that’s not likely to happen.

In normal use I wouldn’t have the windows that large, they’d only be about half that height as on my desktop I rarely have OF maximised. I do run FS on my laptop for reviewing occasionally, but in this current form I’m torn as this wasted space is really grating.


Definitely feeling this pain too. Seems like at a bare minimum, a way to toggle the notes/context visibility on and off would be a help.

But I also think moving that information back alongside the tasks, to avoid the “sea of whitespace” could be great. None of this is a deal-breaker, I’m sure Omni will find some elegant solution.

I moved 3 posts to an existing topic: Checkbox on the right feels too disconnected

Totally agree! I chose OF1 as it is the only to do app that allows me to manage long and complex projects. Current data density of OF2 would not allow me to do it anymore.
Love all the other features introduced in v2, but data density for me is a must

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@Philster, rather than making a plus-one post, please use the “like” button on a post you want to lend support to. Discourse uses that information to ensure that the threads/posts that matter most to the community get the most attention. Plus one posts don’t have the same effect. Thanks!

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I agree that data density is by far the biggest problem with the current design (which is beautiful). Building on what others have said about the second line (notes, context/project, defer/due), I find that it not only wastes space but also makes the lists much less readable. Instead of just being able to skim the text on the left to see my action titles, that text is interspersed with other text (context/project) of a completely different sort. It makes it very hard to skim — I have to try to filter out the contexts/projects as I try to focus on the important content.

I would love to have a “high-density option” with only a single line of text. I would also love the ability to go further and hide the context/project title entirely from the tasks view. I find contexts primarily useful for filtering, but once I am looking at a filtered list of tasks in a perspective, I don’t need to see the context for each task. Being able to turn off the context/project indicator would make the lists more readable and allow a single-line, high-density view without being overly cluttered.

It also might work well as a per-perspective option, so that, for example, I could set my “Phone calls” perspective to not display the context for each task since they all, by definition, have the context “Phone.”


I would like to add that this is the major problem with the current design.

Please add 2 things to make this application usable again:

  1. The ability to turn off the note/context/due date line
  2. A “compactness” data density preference

I know UI designers like to impose their view of how their app should look on people. One of the great things about OF has always been its flexibility in perspectives, etc.

All of this becomes meaningless if I have so much white space on the screen, and a bunch of distracting info (context, etc) on the screen at all times.

There are many long-time users here unhappy about the lack of choice here. While impossible on the iOS version, it is quite simple to add these options to the desktop. Please listen to your users on this one Ken.


Continuing the discussion from Overall, how are you liking OmniFocus 2 relative to OmniFocus 1?:

Fantastic post by UOF in the main ‘how are you liking OF2’ thread. Thought I’d attach it here just for reference, as his post is excellently written and spells out his thoughts on why he wants more data density in OF2.


We’re very definitely listening, and the designs we’re trying to implement for 2.0 call for more data density and more contrast even in its current two-row-per-task layout.

We’re also looking at providing a compact one-row-per-task layout option for those who want it. Whether that’s something we can fit into the June release or whether it has to wait for a later update, we’ve definitely heard the concern and we want to address it. (And if a compact layout option doesn’t make it into 2.0, please bear in mind that 2.0 is just where OmniFocus 2 begins, not where it ends! And that meanwhile, until we break sync compatibility—which we won’t be doing in 2.0—there’s nothing stopping folks from continuing to use OmniFocus 1 alongside OmniFocus 2 to get a more compact view of their tasks.)


Personally I don’t get the two line data view. Unless one has a very long task name, there’s inevitably wasted space. I’d put it into one line a la “Task Name / Project / Defer / Due” (for context view), and that will only spill over to two lines if the task name is long. I’d put the circle on the left, followed by the task name, and then right justify the project and dates.

that my main gripe with OF2 at the moment, majority of time I just want a simple list - personally would want dates in that single row but be happy to view context / project in some kind of progressive enhancement ux - rollover/click but - tricky ux/support balance for sure - looking forward to seeing what/if come up with.

Thanks for the personal response Ken, always good to know you are listening.

I think the key here is choice, not trying to get it perfect for everyone. People clearly process visual data in different ways, so having options like more or less white space is a great way to personalize the UI. It looks like the ability to change text colors, bold, etc. have gone away, so its going to be harder for people to find something that works for them now, and if you leave the data density at one level without those changes, you will probably lose some people who can’t adapt.

Very glad to hear you are thinking about the one-row option as well! Its really necessary for some perspectives.


That’s great news! It would be ideal, however, if user’s had some choice about what showed up in that single-line view. I personally couldn’t use a one-row-per-task layout unless it included Defer/Due information, but I would prefer to leave out Project/Context information to avoid clutter.

I’ve been using OF2 for almost a week, and I noticed the data density is the biggest weakness. I vote for a single row of data as well. I know I’m used to it, but I agree that seeing the Actions on the left while the Contexts/Projects/Due are on the right is a better layout for faster processing.

For instance, I could go to my Inbox with a list of actions without Contexts or Projects. Then I would go to the Context row, start typing contexts, arrow down, type another context, arrow down, etc. I could do this with Projects as well. CMD+K, and those with assign data would disappear. I liked seeing all of the data at a glance on one screen. In OF2, I don’t see a fast way of multitasking actions into Contexts / Projects without dragging or highlighting them in bulk unless I’m missing something.