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

I find this to be a problem too. I love the new look of OF2, but I wish I could strictly see a list of actions like OF1 with a view option or a keyboard shortcut.

I moved a post to an existing topic: Request to add custom styling in the outline view

I really agree with this topic.
I think that with the new “two line” design, the constantly present note “icon” and number of available actions displayed within the project’s row, the tasks themselves are not prominent enough. They just don’t stand out as much as they used to. In OF1, a quick look was enough to get an overview of the tasks within a project. Now, if you’re looking at many projects with just a few actions in each, you have to take your time to “filter” the actionpoints themselves from the other stuff. This is especially disturbing when tasks are deferred and you have a bolded “no available actions” then 1-2 grey tasks, all with the note icon and context.


Right. What’s the downside? One line when possible, two lines when necessary is strictly better than two lines always. Well, perhaps there is some advantage to e.g. having the project name left-justified (in context mode), but that seems a bit of a stretch, especially given its non-prominent light font.


I love the two lines, but I agree I want them optional. I need to see actions as a single list as well. Perhaps another CMD+ALT keyboard combo like collapsing and showing notes.

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Sometimes it takes a while for to get used to a new feature. But after a week of testing OF2 I’ve gone back to using OF1. I just find that it is just too hard to navigate larger projects this way. Otherwise OF2 is an excellent step forward.

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You all saw my earlier post that we’re already looking into this, right?



Thanks for this.

I hadn’t found this topic before writing to the preview support address yesterday. There’s also a somewhat larger discussion about theming, which would be nice as well, but as I said yesterday I understand you can’t do everything at once.

I appreciate that Omni basically did the same thing when OmniOutliner 4 came out, making available a template theme (“Compact”) to re-adjust interline spacing back to where the older versions were. This addressed the same complaint - that the look of the UI wasn’t really oriented toward larger displays.

Hopefully those of us in the test can help debug and provide further feedback…

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There are a few things scattered about this forum that omni staff or you have said are noted, heard or being worked on.

Would it be worth including big gripes that are being worked on in the not ready yet bit of the release notes?

I suspect that most of us testers/early adopters read the notes with each build we download so it might cut down on people shouting about things that Omni have heard and already decided to action.


I’m super psyched for this update! I love the OF2 two-row-per-task layout, but I definitely need the option to hide it at times for large projects.


I’m so with you on this. All that whitespace is really limiting how much information I can get on my screen. Maybe a collapse toggle or something, give the option for something more like the old Omnifocus where you can see so much more.

Liking everything else.


I’ve been trying to use OF2 for everything, but I’m more likely to plan on paper now for any large lists. I only see 13 items on the screen now! Even the iPad shows 4 more tasks in portrait view than on the desktop, which doesn’t seem right.

OF2 (v86 r206958): 906 pixels high for tasks

OF1: 353 pixels high for the same tasks


2 more data density opinions:

  1. Facilitating quick scans - I like, for example, seeing Estimated Time in my lists, a field which is now buried in the Inspector. In OF1 I could quickly scan a list of actions either to glean my Estimated Time information or to at least look for empty fields to fill, but now I have to click on every action to achieve this via the Inspector. This design seems to impede efficiency relative to OF1 in this case.

Maybe one option would be to let users select what fields show in the list window, so that people who, say, don’t care about Estimated Time don’t have to see it while people who do care about it can see it.

  1. Check box target - The circle seems to be larger than it needs to be. I understand wanting to achieve greater design uniformity between iOS and Mac versions. This cuts down the learning curve from platform to platform, and, as fast as our phones are catching up to desktop-like benchmarks, in 5 years time our phones probably will be our main desktop computer (AirPlayed to a monitor and physical keyboard), so in anticipation of this rapidly approaching future this is another reason for design “merging.” Yet, when design uniformity becomes an impediment (as with a click target that is the size of a touch target and thereby by its size needlessly hampers optimal data density) I think it should be reconsidered.

I wholeheartedly agree. I personally would prefer to have project, context, estimated time, etc. all hidden from the main view (for most perspectives), but I absolutely need to be able to see Defer/Due date. Some people have mentioned having an option to “hide” the second line, but that would get rid off all information except for the action title.

I hope that whatever solution Omni comes up with allows for a dense view that still gives users flexibility to decide what information is hidden/shown. In OF1, you could show/hide columns and then save the state of visible columns on a per-perspective basis. I would love it if the new one-row-per-task layout that Ken mentioned worked something like that.


The very first thing I noticed after installing version 2 is how there is too much unused space … especially in the task list main pane.

Each task has at minimum two rows – one for title, and another for note/deferred/due. And there is quite a bit unused space around them.

What’s the trouble you ask? This makes even a 3-item project list take up too much space (see below). It is not so much the consumption of space but the lack of compactness that is the issue here. When things are arranged compactly, it makes it easier and nice to scan them real quick.

Here’s a screenshot. Compare how little of text there is when compared to the unused space.

In today’s most recent build (r207056), we’ve significantly reduced the amount of vertical whitespace in the main outline for actions and projects. OmniFocus 2 can now displays 65 rows in the same amount of space as it would previously use to display 48 rows—an increase of over 35%.


Thanks, Ken, this is better. Nevertheless, the two-line display for each task, replicating a layout which was necessary on the iPhone but isn’t justified on a much wider screen, still seems a waste of vertical space.

The more I think about it, the more the layout seems to proceed from the check-circles. In order for them to be a decent size, each task needs to take up more vertical space than in OF1. How to justify that extra space? Why not split the info that previously fit onto one line across two lines? Which works until you hide the Inspector or widen the window and the check-circles migrate to the far side of the window, forming a separate column from the task text.

Omni seems to have very clear ideas as to how they want OF2 to look, and usability seems to be taking second place to appearance.

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Not at all! We’re planning a one-line layout, and it will (of course) have smaller status circles.

But before we start in on a whole separate layout, we wanted to make sure the default layout actually matched its intended design (which has always called for less whitespace than what we’ve had in the last few weeks of builds).

(What I’ve said I don’t know is whether the one-line layout will be ready in time to ship with 2.0 or not, but that doesn’t mean we consider it unimportant. It’s just not as important as finishing the first layout.)


That’s great to hear. I’m still not comfortable with the two-line layout, but it now feels like something I could use.

I’m loving the data density update! :D