How do we feel about the checkboxes on the right?

I’m a check box on the left kind of guy when using paper. Alternatively, I might scratch a line through the task itself. But never on the right.

Using the OF2 beta, I also feel checkboxes on the left are preferred. Not only for my only personal convention, but also so there is a closer link between the action and its status, without the white space.

I also like the checkmark providing the nesting context, indenting as tasks sit within one another.

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So, just to add a couple of thoughts (though it’s late in this thread)…

My initial thinking is that I’m not fond of the checkboxes on the right, either.

Part of this is related to the whole scheme of density. I’m less unhappy today with the recent improvements in the data density of the beta.

I would say, however, that I always had difficulty with OF1 when sometimes trying to move actions and inadvertently checking them off as done. No similar problem occurs with OF2, given the checkboxes (should that be “checkcircles”?) on the right.

I’ve also now been able to start to re-train my muscle memory by clicking where those boxes used to be and hitting the spacebar to mark the item completed. Almost as good.

Hope this perspective is of some use.


For the past week, I noticed I’ve been clicking on the left of the action and using the spacebar to complete the action. Since that is the case, I feel like the circle should be there.


+1 on moving the checkbox to the left.

In general I’m finding that the layout of the actions isn’t quite there yet. Apart from the checkbox position, I’m wanting to see better wrapping of long task names. It’s odd, because I want to keep the windo narrow so the checkbox will be closer to the task name, but at the same time I want to widen the window to reduce ugly wrapping of long task names.

One solution might be to have an optional maximum width for task names so that I can keep readability high. This might even be in addition to moving the checkbox.


With most all lists (written, computerized, whatever) having check boxes on the left, it is quite jarring to scan to the right for the status and check box. I feel a bit lost – where is it? there it is! It’s not tight or easy.


Unless I have missed a response from Omni, this is one of the few issues that is causing a lot of attention that hasn’t had a clear response. From a post in the data density post, it is clear that the UI freeze deadline is soon, and that checkboxes position changes don’t appear to be a part of this.

There is roughly equal support for both left and right aligned checkboxes in this topic with presumably a bias towards complaining meaning that maybe less people dislike the current right aligned checkboxes than we think.

However, I would like to hear a slightly more definite response, is an option for checkbox position actively being considered, could it make it for 2.0? Or would it be afterwards for 2.1 or not at all?

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Continuing the discussion from How do we feel about the checkboxes on the right?:

Sadly at this rate I’m probably going to stick with OmniFocus 1, despite my recently purchased license entitling me to a free upgrade to OmniFocus 2. There are a few issues that are major in terms of usability and workflow that just prevents me from using OmniFocus 2 as my daily driver (data density, one row vs two rows, checkboxes on the left/to provide visual hierarchy, editing tasks with keyboard (GIF of usage enclosed), …).

It’s quite telling when you have (some) customers preferring your old app as opposed to the new one, as it’s usually implied that new software is better than old one (otherwise, what’s the point?).

Yes, perhaps it’s just us in the passionate minority who really care about this sort of issue, but then again it’s the passionate minority who stick with OmniGroup (or any other software provider like DEVONtechnologies, …) in the long-run when things go bad, or the latest fad comes out (Clear, Things, …), and it’s us who evangelise about the software and build workflows around it, and write blog posts and tweet constantly and incessantly about it. It is us who constantly bother non-users about how bad their current implementation/app is, and how they should switch to OmniFocus, and then afterwards have praise lavished on us. It is us who eagerly waited (and asked) about the reintroduction of the OmniFocus 2 beta after its withdrawal in December of 2013, and then afterwards, eagerly used it to our delight (and sometimes, disappointment, due to UX problems).

Yes, it’s fine to ignore us – perhaps our contribution to the overall revenue pool is negligible, but in terms of long-run though it’s not an ideal situation.

The issues that we bring out is not just random or pointless, or for the sake of giving OmniGroup more work or trying to attack the company.

These are genuine issues that we, in the passionate minority, are concerned about. In terms of usability. Ease of use. Functionality. Data density.

Things that ‘normal’ people don’t really think or talk about, or notice or take into consideration.

Yes, it’s possible to ask, in terms of the overall experience, whether OmniFocus 2 is better than OmniFocus 1. But as mr_rique has said in the thread, that’s setting the bar too low.

We obviously have better things to do than to sit around on our computers and discuss on an online forum about minor things (like they do in the UNIX community, apparently, with things like Git vs Subversion and vim vs emacs, for example). After all, we’re using a world-class productivity suite here, made by a world-class dev team, OmniGroup, that has been developing for Apple’s OSes since NeXT. We have better things to do.

To sum things up: Yes, we’re a minority, but yes, we’re passionate about productivity. What we point out is perhaps indiscernible to the common user (although some people do point this out, whether or not they have used OmniFocus 1 prior to testing out OmniFocus 2), perhaps, but that doesn’t mean our points of contention (regarding data density, checkbox location for hierarchy/usability, etc) is any less valid because we are in the minority.

And to put the alternative case, perhaps even more valid because of our status as the passionate minority.

Thanks for reading.

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I may not feel as strongly as you do about this, but I am quite disappointed in the lack of attention this was given especially now that the latest builds are reporting that the work on the UI is finalized. If I’m not mistaken, this is by far the most popular post on this forum right now. I find myself going back to OF1 when I want to do any heavy lifting primarily because I find the checkboxes on the left easier to work with. That’s fine for now (although not ideal) while we’re in the test phase because I can go to OF1, but when OF2 is actually released, I’m not sure what I’ll be doing.


I definitely agree with this statement. I have for the first time ever, since my initial download and purchase of OF1, begun looking to other software in how my workflow needs can be met for a reliable GTD system. If I may ask: are there any contingency plans you have for when the “OF1 is no longer supported” comment comes into fruition? Personally, I have been running OF1/OF2 and Things (added this weekend) concurrently on my main system, begun writing new applescripts for Things in replicating my most basic OF1 automations, and I am looking at how I can adapt my nested workflow into a flat workflow adopted by Things. It bothers me that I am facing switching from OF1 to another software, but functionality issues where I cannot determine the status of a task easily is difficult to ignore. I am even considering moving everything to OmniPlan, but there is not iPhone application or mobile interface I am aware of to make such a move plausible and more to the point — convenient.

I would like to hear any ideas or thoughts you might have.


No. I highly doubt OmniGroup will update OmniFocus 1 for the next version of OS X after Mavericks (OS X 11 or 10.11), as they have done so for OmniFocus 1 for iPhone (no update for iOS 7, basically).

In terms of contingency plans: None at all. To be honest I’d rather not use OmniFocus 1 as I feel the design’s dated, but on the other hand, issues like data density, checkbox (bringing hierarchy and structure to the layout), … are major factors that are increasingly frustrating as you use the OF2 more and more.

Most case scenario, I would not update to the newest OS just for OmniFocus 1 support (I updated to Mavericks when OmniOutliner 4 suddenly became Mavericks-only), which is quite sad, really.


As suggested, the ‘design freeze’ suggests that the abysmal data density (somewhat less so, with the recent update) will remain for the projected OmniFocus 2 launch in June.

I’m so completely torn on the left/right checkbox issue. I have OF1 iPad, OF2 iPhone, and OF1 on my Mac.

I have been using OF2 on my Mac solely for 3 weeks (other than checking some custom perspectives I had). I wanted to force the heavy lifting in OF2 and see if I stopped seeing my custom styles, etc how I felt about it with my workflow.

I honestly don’t know if I noticed the OF2 iPhone left->right checkbox swap, I just know I enjoy using OF2 on the iPhone. I am right handed, so maybe I felt like my thumb was more productive checking things off? Who knows. Personally, this was not an intuition issue. In fairness, the checkbox is not far from the text on the phone due to screen real-estate. Ironically, I used OF1 on the iPad and Mac, which has the checkbox on the left! So I was using a mixed mode of sorts.

On the Mac: I still have a hard time visually tracking across the screen when I want to check something off. The grey line that separates the action items could be a little darker for me (like +1 or +2 at the most, but it does NOT need to be thicker). For an experiment, I adjusted the brightness and contract on my monitor and my laptop to fake the darkness and sat a normal distance away that made a difference for me.

I would enjoy a highlight for due soon, flagged, overdue as @savantier has mocked up. I had that as a custom style in OF1 and I loved it. It took me more time to get used to NOT seeing that when I switched over to OF2. Not a fair OF1 vs. OF2 comparison since that was custom and not everyone’s taste. (I still miss it sniffle).

I just don’t think the highlight would work for tasks that don’t fall into those three categories. For a regular task, I would still have trouble visually tracking to the right and checking the right box. That’s why I keep hovering around the idea of just making the line a little darker for now. That should not impact data density, just data clarity.I just don’t know if darkening the line solves the problem or it’s a bandaid.

There are two things I do right now that help me:

  • I click and select the item I want now and I know I am checking off the right task. It’s an extra step, but not terrible. The highlight makes it obvious for me.
  • With the newer (a couple builds ago) flag update in the upper right corner, I noticed if I hover the mouse over within the first few letters in the task title (right where the note icon is), the flag-click location highlights. It stays highlighted as you move your mouse to the right. So I can track the mouse all the way over.

So far the hover has worked really well for me, even if I run fullscreen.

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Like most design things, there is no single correct answer to this question for everyone. We have good reasons for keeping the status circles on the right for our default layout, but there is no reason for us not to offer a left-leaning option when we add support for multiple layouts (such as the single-line layout we have always known we wanted to do).

So, what are some of the reasons we have for keeping circles on the right in the default layout?

  • We get to associate the flag (upper right) with the orange part of the circle, and the due date (lower left) with the red or yellow part. This reinforces why the circle has turned the color it has.
  • We get to keep the super crisp left margin that Apple has encouraged in its recent design direction, with hierarchy coming from grid and typography instead of indentation, at least until you get into action groups. (This is why the thick rules above projects were so important to get in.) This lets you read down your list of items with less horizontal jumping around.
  • The click target for completing items gets to stay reliable (at least in one dimension), so that you don’t have to aim as carefully each time.
  • Visually, the layout is way more balanced when you have an important element anchoring the left (the title and icon) and an important element anchoring the right side (the circle). If we moved the circles right, we would have a super left-heavy layout and the dates would be all alone off on the right.
  • While it’s true that going full-screen can leave you with a big river of whitespace in the center of the outline and make it hard to associate stuff on the left with stuff on the right, that is a separate problem that we already know we want to solve with smarter margins. It’s worth noting that this problem was much worse in OmniFocus 1. When you go fullscreen there, you get multiple rivers of whitespace, with values floating in seemingly random locations all over the place, and very little association between fields in the same row. Basically, OmniFocus has never been good at laying out in a huge window, and we still hope to make it better, but moving everything to the same side of the outline is not a great way to do that.
  • And finally, yeah, there is a bit of keeping a consistent and recognizable OmniFocus personality in there. “Branding” if you like. It is by no means the most important thing; nor is it worthless!

So, yes, we do plan to provide options here, much as we do for data density. But what we have now is likely to be what will ship in the initial 2.0 release. (I should note that we’ve been tracking this in our feature request database, and to date that request has only received nine votes. If you think it deserves more votes, please make sure you’ve sent in yours!)


I don’t like the checkboxes on the right.

I read left to right. The very first thing I want to know about an item is, “Is it checked?” Having to look right, then left to read the item wastes time.

The right checkboxes work well on iThings, as a right-handed person would block the text while tapping the checkbox, if said box was on the left.

There are some major UI/UX differences between a computer and a hand-held device. OmniFu needs to note that. [I’m a web designer who has studied UI/UX.]


I am enjoying the click box to the right… with OF1, when trying to highlight and item (to maybe to drag a copy) I would often accidentally click the box as done

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I like the check boxes on the right side.

Continuing the discussion from How do we feel about the checkboxes on the right?:

A useful shortcut to highlight individual items is to double tap the trackpad (or double click on the mouse), and for highlighting anything (without dragging from the left is to triple tap or triple click.

I like that with the newest build the rings darken slightly. How about darkening the whole row a little bit, it would be easier to see to which action a ring belongs. I like the rings, but sometimes I have to follow the line twice to make sure I click the right one. Darkening the whole line slightly might make that easier.



I moved 2 posts to a new topic: Using text color to indicate task status

Also happy with right side check boxes.

I moved 4 posts to a new topic: Move to a different solution if interface concerns aren’t addressed?