How do you sort tags?

I’d like to sort them alphabetically.


From Home, click on Tags, then Edit. You can drag them to sort in any order you like.

The app won’t sort them for you?

Not that I can see. I have no desire to sort mine entirely alphabetically but I’ve had a look and can’t see that option.

It’s the same for Projects by the way.

I really like this set-up. My projects are worded as objectives so the first word is normally a verb rather than the ‘keyword’ relating to the project, hence sorting them alphabetically would be pointless.

With both Tags and Projects I prefer to have the ones I use most frequently at the top of the list. With Tags my next criteria is grouping them into ‘types’. For both Projects and Tags I often start typing to narrow the list and then pick.

Having used tags extensively for years in Evernote, I’d clearly want to have the option, at least, to sort alphabetically.

I get that, in an abstract kind of way, but not how it would be of much practical use. In the sense that if you knew where to look on an alphabetical list then you’d know which few letters to type in to make the tag appear.

I suppose if you had a very long and frequently changing list of tags that you were intent on keeping alphabetical then it would save you some time on initial set up and maintenance. Because you do have the option to store them that way, it’s just not automated. Which on the plus side means one less bit of visual clutter and one less thing to go wrong.

Do you have a really long list? I can see why you would in Evernote because they act like metadata for all the stuff you can store in there. In OmniFocus my Tags are effectively Contexts (with the welcome freedom of being able to apply more than one simultaneously) plus a Today tag to pull that day’s priorities into the Forecast view. So I don’t have a huge number.

Yes, I have hundreds of tags. Had moved from storing items in folders to using tags years ago. Now have only the following folders: inbox/personal/work/parents (keep their stuff separate)/temp

Types of tags:
-timeframe: now/this week/asap/soon/someday/maybe/waiting for
-priority: 1/2/3/4/5
-context-location: @home/@work
-context-person: @spouse/@childA/@childB
-context-delegated to: byspouse/bychildA/bycoworker
-resource: @phone/@computer
-category: hundreds of these

Evernote (EN) allows you to “save searches”. For example find only the items tagged 2,3 or 4 specific tags: @spouse AND this week AND 1. Not sure the best way to do this in OF.

FYI, I am brand new to OF. Have only iOS3. Do not own a mac. Have used EN extensively for many years on Windows desktop/Windows web/iOS. Have been looking for better project management that hopefully OF offers.

OF offers some bells and whistles EN does not:
-project views
-calendar view
-start date/-defer date and
-location based reminders
…are the first that come to mind

EN appears (after 4 days) to have a few benefits over OF3 iOS:
-avail cross platform: Win/Mac/iOS
-sort notes
-sort tags
-syncs faster across devices than OF (in my experience so far)

I still have a lot to learn about OF. Read GTD years ago multiple times. Listen to Asian Efficiency podcast now.

Just need to decide if the benefits of OF over EN are worth keeping two systems vs keeping projects in EN alone.

Also, if it’s worth getting a Mac if OF desktop is that much more robust than iOS3.

Sorry so long winded. Just looking for help.


1 Like

With the Pro version, it is really “must have” to be able to have tags or projects sorted by name in a custom perspective. I had abandoned OmniFocus and OmniPlan due to annoying missing features like this.

I am giving OmniFocus 3 another chance, but the inability to control grouping and sorting in perspectives beyond the most limited/humble capabilities will be a show-stopper for me, if not added soon.

For now, I see I can manualy sort tags and projects. Trying to “make do” for now…

I have 2 days to decide whether to pay for OF beyond the 2 week trial…hmmm

Late reply, you may have made your mind up already!

Would you want to use all your “category” tags if you’re using it as a task management system?

For what it’s worth, my set up is as follows:

Projects - pretty much as per GTD definition of anything that needs doing that has more than one step. I don’t currently organise the projects into folders, although I started out thinking I would want to. Despite having a lot of them it just hasn’t seemed necessary. If it’s more a someday/maybe thing or something I haven’t got the time to work on right now then I mark it as ‘on hold’ using the OF functionality to do that. I also have a project called single actions where all of those go and a project called agendas which is where agenda items which wouldn’t fit better in specific projects go.

Tags - used as contexts. A few location ones, some which indicate the type of focus needed, a few names for agendas, a waiting, and a ‘today’ tag which is set so those tags display in the ‘Today’ view of the Forecast. I don’t have priority tags - I go through and build my list for the day by tagging with ‘today’ and then use the drag and drop reordering feature in the forecast view to get them in he order I want.

I think the closest thing I have to your categories is Projects, (in OmniFocus) as described above, and then folders (outside of OmniFocus) for reference material. Any time I have physical and digital material in the same category I make the physical and digital folder titles match. I prefer folders to tags for this because I find it cumbersome to manage a long list of tags and it just kind of works for me - I don’t generally find myself wanting to simultaneously put things in more than one folder. I use a flat structure, generally only one folder deep. But the red material is all outside of OmniFocus so folder names, topics etc don’t end up on my OF tags list.

I won’t try and make a case for OF vs EN as I just didn’t get on with EN - they changed something about it a few years ago and I wasn’t an established user before but I found it really hard to navigate afterwards (iPhone version at the time). I never tried to use it seriously as a task manager though, for me it was for documents and notes and it didn’t click and I found the handwriting recognition unusable. Odd because I have used tags in other systems contexts at work and been happy with them. But in the main my brain prefers to remember where to look for something rather than having an amorphous mass of docs and using tags. I think you need something that fits with how your head organises things!

Thank you for circling back here.

I think I’m going to continue learning how to use OF as a project manager.

Insightful question you ask about tagging. Having used OF on a trial basis for 2 weeks, I’m hoping to use fewer tags than for my reference system (EN).

Many years ago (e.g. 10y) before EN, I kept reference items in separate folders either on the hard drive, or in MS Outlook. Once embracing EN, switched to tags primarily because of the ability to assign multiple tags to one item. Searching systems have improved over the years also.

I like your idea of a project called single actions. I’m not sure exactly what you mean by agenda items.

That makes complete sense to name your physical and electronic folders (or tags in my case) the same.

In OF I currently have the following:

folders within projects: personal, work and parents.

-about: spouse, child1, child2, child3, child4, parents
-@person: @spouse, @child1, @child2, @child3, @child4, @officemgr,
-@location based (siri): home, work
-priority: 1,2,3,4,5 (not really sure how much I will use these. Maybe I’ll try to do without them and see if I miss them).

What to you do with projects once they are completed? Do you leave them in OF as completed, or transfer them to a reference system?

I have not used OF for Mac as I don’t have a Mac. I’m not sure that OF for iOS 3 is a fair comparison with EN on Windows desktop. I will say that the web version of EN pales in comparison to the desktop version. Who knows what OF web will look like. I’m willing to give the web version a try. I thought I recall reading that the web version will be out probably before OF 3 on Mac. I would even consider buying the cheapest Mac I could to run OF on it if it helped significantly with project management.

I have looked at some of your videos regarding Workflow and am trying to use those. I’m also following your blog.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me and the OF group here!

Oh, by the way, your blog and videos are quite impressive and so helpful!! Thanks again!


I think you’re giving me credit for someone else’s blog - which one are you looking at? It sounds useful! (I don’t have a blog!)

By agendas I just mean things I need to talk to someone about. Work related conversational tasks generally go into a project because all my work is project based, but for non-work stuff I have a project called agendas where I add items I need to talk to various people about and then tag them with the person’s name. It might be like your @person tags. On reflection I could just as easily stick these in the single actions project list since I tend to pull them out to view by using the name tag.

When I complete a project I set the status to Complete (in the same place as where you can put it on hold). I assume it then goes somewhere to be stored as history but I’ve never actually checked! (I’m still a relative newbie, a few months in). I guess because my OF system doesn’t contain reference material that I will need in the future I haven’t given much thought to referring to competed projects. For repeatable projects I’m intending to capture checklists as I go along so I can reuse them but not figured that out yet.

I’ve got the Mac version but I don’t use a Mac for work so I tend to interact with OF on my iPhone or iPad, especially at the moment whilst the Mac version is a release behind and the tagging doesn’t work the same. So I can’t give you a good comparison of the two. I think the main difference on either Mac or iOS is having the pro version so you can set up custom perspectives, although it’s not something I’ve made a lot of use of yet.

For your remaining tags, aside from priority, I also don’t have timeframe tags. Any project that is someday/maybe or not something I can do currently is on hold (I have at least as many projects on hold as active, I’m trying to get more realistic about what I can fit in!). For tasks in active projects they are either immediate priorities in which case they get assigned the Today tag so they show up in my forecast Today view. Or they are not immediate priorities in which case they sit on the list with no special status until I tag them as Today (or assign a due date if they genuinely have a deadline) or do them in a spare moment. This is where manually ordering projects is helpful for me, so rather than go all the way through my projects list when I have some time, during my reviews I’ll pull the priority projects, or projects containing priority actions, to the top of the list so I see them first.

I guess I’m working on the premise that I’m either going to do something today (tagged today), or I’m doing it after today, or I’m not planning on doing it any time soon (on hold) and any distinction beyond that adds stress rather than calmness. I think I’d end up with billions of top priority things with the illusion that I would somehow do them, whereas my surrent approach forces me to choose which ones I really am doing today. For most of my life my approach to task management has basically been to rely on magic, despite consistent evidence that I do not, in fact, possess any magical ability. So now I’m trying to retrain myself to ditch the illusions and enjoy reality!