How do I add tags to a task in Omnifocus 2?

Loving what I’m seeing so far, but can’t figure out where Omni have hidden tagging. Contexts seems to be the closest, but you can’t apply more than one context to a task.

Hoping someone can point me to whatever I’m missing :(


There isn’t any tagging. It’s been a matter of debate for years now.

My understanding is that Omni are open to inducing tagging at some point, but this version of OF2 is specifically designed to be database-compatible with OF1. Since OF1 didn’t have tags, they can’t introduce tagging in OF2 without breaking that compatibility.

So you have Context and flags to work with

As Nick points out, there has been lots of debate on this as well as suggestions for workarounds, such as using “#David” or “#ProjectX” in the notes as tags. The philosophy seems to be that there are already quite a few attributes for tasks (contexts & containing-project & availability & flagged/unflagged & due date & defer-until date), so that adding tags as well would muddy the waters. Opinions clearly differ on this. But as someone who relies on tags in other contexts, this isn’t a deal-breaker for me.

The core problem with the hash tag work around is consistency. I want to ensure my tags are the same using autocomplete. For anyone working in a large, distributed group it’s often useful to have a tag for people and communication tools.

I may have a phone call with you that I need to make, but if you suddenly show up in my cube on a visit to HQ it would be ideal to pull up your name. Today I have to have your name or phone as a context and try to search within that, which is sub-optimal especially if I fat finger the tag.

I think the only real reason for the debate is that Omni and the people they tap as thought leaders for project management all work in small offices or as consultants. This doesn’t provide them the perspective of users working in a global company.


Surely the entire debate is a false dilemma though? The presence of tagging doesn’t mandate its use; those who depend on tags would use the feature, those who would prefer not to won’t.

Dealbreaker for me—too hard for me to keep track of which box I had put a task in when it logically could have been in several:

  • This job is a revision for Client John Smith that I can only
    complete when I have access to a 3D Printer and will be tax

Without tagging, how do I generate smart lists of my clients, my revisions, those jobs that need access to a 3d printer and those that are tax exempt? , and have this task show up in each?

Not trying to restart the debate. Just amazed at the omission. I do appreciate the time people have taken to reply so far.

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In earlier debates, two issues have been raised very frequently:

  1. Tags are not part of GTD, on which OF was based. There are people who believe that OF should retain a canonical approach to GTD, and that therefore tags should not be allowed. Let me call those (without any intended insult) the “believers”
  2. A different group (I’ll call them the “engineers”) object to the introduction of more options on the grounds that they introduce added complexity to the user interface and to product support/maintenance. They fear the kind of bloat that has ruined many elegant and usable applications in the past (I name no names).

Now we have the additional issue of maintaing database compatibility. I’ve seen posts from Omni folks that seem to suggest that tags may come in the future (presumably when the bulk of the user base has moved on from OF1, and they feel able to start making changes to the database - so not imminent).

So - you can’t have what you want/need in OF as it is today if you have to use tags. In the example you gave, I would probably have John Smith as a project (maybe in a folder called Clients, the revision as an action within the folder, and the 3D printer as a context. Tax exemption would be the flag.

But that doesn’t really solve your problem, because you’ll doubtless have actions with more than one dependency ( a 3D printer and a video conferencing service).


Nicely summarized @Nick, and another good use case @PhilipJohnston.

Number 1 you could debate, nothing in GTD stops you from having the same task on multiple lists in the way I’d like to use them (person + context). I could have a list for Fred and a list for phone with the same task on both, it would just be more work to clean up in a paper world during my weekly review. But as David Allen has said he spends part of his weekly review checking off things he’s already done that he didn’t have time to check off I wonder if this is what he’s doing. This functionality exists in Things, I just don’t like the flow as much.

It’s funny how much number 2 gets people bent out of shape about this, but they don’t think twice about having to open an inspector to perform pretty basic actions on tasks. It seems to me, along with much of the rest of the customization that’s gone missing from OF1 to OF2, that this could easily be a user option. Strict GTD contexts, or multicontext / tagging. Default it to off and let us that need it turn it on.

@PhilipJohnston maybe this post by @mygeekdaddy is what you’re looking for?

@ediventurin thanks, that’s how we’ve been doing it in OF1 as well, the problem is that you have to be consistent because there is no autocomplete. So then you have to spend money on something like TextExpander to keep your tags the same.

TextExpander… or just text substitution on more recent versions of iOS/OS X :D

TextExpander is $39, that’s an expensive tagging system equal to the OF2 upgrade. Even with text substitution now I have another place to manage tags so that I can work in OF when they could have just added tags in the rebuild.

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I do like the tagging idea linked above by @ediventurin. I use [] to implement tags. I have [t] on every action that has a tag. This way I can list everything that is tagged as well only specific tags. Yes it’s more work, but until Omni implement tags, this seems the best solution. So I would have [t][revision][John Smith][3D Printer]

I’m not sure the argument holds that tags aren’t strict GTD. There are now a proliferation of GTD methodologies that I think it wise for the developers to let us choose how we want to do it and give us the options we need to accomplish it.

Limiting innovation because of backwards compatibility is rather short sighted in my opinion and stifles development. Interestingly Omni had no problem making OF2 10.9+ only, which to me is worse than not making the database compatible with previous versions. Let’s face it keeping the database compatible was a must for omni as not all devices have an OF2. Once they do there is no reason to keep backward compatibility to OF1.

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Limiting innovation because of backwards compatibility is rather short sighted in my opinion and stifles development.

I don’t think this is the case. Changing paradigm, and data model as a consequence, is much more complicated than it might seem. Also, how much of the user base needs this? Even though I’d love to have more flexibility, I trust Omni has done its research. I’m sure @kcase has his reasons — which I would love to listen to.


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@ediventurin I agree it shouldn’t be done lightly, but it seems like over the last few years it would have been easy enough to take care of. Even if the goal was to only allow it in version 2 of the tools, you could have version 1 ignore the added data. We do that with my company’s products on licensed parts of the config, at boot time if you don’t have the license we skip those parts of the config. I could be wrong as well, but when I’ve poked through the DB it seems to just be XML, which should be easy enough to parse. I would love to hear @kcase explain the ongoing lack of tags as well.

@awlogan While you may be right about the relative technical straightforwardness of implementing tags, remember 2 things:

  • Per my earlier post, for a long time there was an unresolved debate about whether tags would ever be implemented at all. As far as I can see, the first indication we had from Omni that they had more or less decide to offer the feature was recent - a few months ago.
  • Omni have always said very clearly (right back to the first iteration of the OF2 betas, in early 2013) that the initial release of OF2 would add no new features. Their argument, as I recall, had two parts: first, guaranteeing compatibility with OF1; second, given that OF is critical to many people, guaranteeing a robust, reliable first delivery.

For my part, paring down the feature set to ensure these is a sensible approach; also, second-guessing what Omni coulda/shoulda/mighta done ends in tears of frustration, because they only did what they did, not what they coulda/shoulda/mighta.

I have to say, as a jobbing project manager, I’m always suspicious of the proposition that adding so-and-so extra feature is simple or easy (note: I’m always suspicious, but I’m not always right :) ).

Be that as it may, we do’t have tags; it seems we’ll get them in the future, but we don’t know when

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@Nick I don’t disagree with point 1, they commit, they uncommit.

I also spend a lot of time in the product management field, I understand there are always trade-offs, especially when it’s one person asking for a thing. I don’t believe that’s the case here, and this is in fact something they have hopefully been planning for. It’s the lack of a clear direction that bothers me.

We could argue either way about the reduction in the feature set, but given how long they’ve been working on OF2 it seems odd that things like having to hit ctrl (!?!?!?!)+enter to get a second item in quick entry when it used to just be a toggle in preferences or removing the keyboard shortcut for date entry just makes no sense.

My guess is we’ll see an updated iPad app before we see anything for the Mac. Maybe they’ve silently built in tag support and will enable it in an update. Or maybe I’ll start writing a task manager with multi-context/tag support.

I need tagging, so I can organize/search on multiple criteria, which becomes too complicated and cumbersome with contexts… agree with those who way we can have both contexts and tags and let the user leverage whichever, or both.


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only official way? email: ;-)

I fully use tags in OF 2 this way:

The tag is preceded by a slash, and can go in either the item itself or in the Notes field.

Then I search for any combination of tags I want in the search field, or save it as a custom perspective.

Example: if I assign a tag to each member of a team (/Alan, /Betty, /Charlie, and /David) I simply go into the Search window and type “/Alan /David” and any item tagged for both Alan and David show up. Or, I can search for the tag /Alan and the untagged string “inventory” and up comes any item that contains the tag /Alan and the word inventory.

Again, these can be saved as custom perspectives - to which filters can be added, such as Status, Availability, or even Project (via “Focus”).

It’s pretty powerful and - for **me **- does everything that baked-in tagging would do. YMMV.


Interesting idea… I will give this a try. Thanks for sharing!