How to integrate with OmniOutliner

There is a thread here that discusses copy/paste into omnioutliner. As noted in that thread, everything you bring over is in a flat list… I am hoping for something more robust such as exporting part of an OmniFocus document into OmniOutliner and keeping the date information, context, etc. Am I correct in thinking this used to be possible with the old OF and OO3? Perhaps it was done with a Rob Trew script.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to integrate the two? Are there any plans to get these two great apps working together? It seems like a natural fit.


I was very excited to see this morning that you can import a Omnioutliner document. I hadn’t seen this in the past, I don’t know when it was added. It might have been there the entire time. This enables me to have some templates as an outline, and then import them as needed. If you set up your outline properly, you can have the context, start date, and end date import.

if you could use the natural language in the date columns, it would be perfect. If you try to today or tomorrow in the date column, that information will appear in the notes. I will submit a feature request.


Maybe I’m thick, but I don’t quite see the purpose of importing an OmniOutliner file. I can imagine why I’d want to export an OF file to OO, but not the other way around.

What would you use it for?

Well, there are a few reasons that would like tighter integration. Here are a few. Let me know if you have any thoughts in which I’m think and should be doing things differently.

  1. I rely on many templates—many of my projects have recurring pieces that I can bring in from other projects. There are some template scripts, but these are 3rd party and rely on the generosity of someone to keep up to date.

  2. I have been dumping stuff in the app since 2005 (Kinkless GTD). Recently, I was tired of having so many things coming up for review and the psychological weight of hundreds of On Hold projects. I decided to get real a few months ago and pull out On Hold projects that I had no intention of starting within the next year. I didn’t want to lose the ideas, but I review the omnioutliner document far less frequently than OF. It would be nice to be able to pull one of these projects back in

  3. There are some projects that I send to others. In OmniOutliner, I can customize the look and feel of these projects. When I am ready to start working on the project, I can pull them into OmniFocus.

Does that make sense? Am I missing something?



I would also love tighter integration. I work in both programs. I tend to sketch out a project plan and the “big picture” in OmniOutliner and then, when it’s time, transfer concrete actions into OmniFocus. Once there, I still tend to work back and forth, especially for more fuzzy steps or ideas, or simply to keep long-term projects uncluttered by tasks that won’t come up for 6 months, are still undefined or unknown, and will likely change anyway. OmniOutliner provides the framework to still keep an organizational eye on the whole thing. This post from Aleh Cherp sums it up well.

I haven’t tried importing the first (OmniOutliner) document into the second (OmniFocus) setup, but will certainly be doing so now that it’s available!

Especially because sometimes it simply comes down to a personal, or maybe personally intuitive, preference, in that I find OmniOutliner’s structure allows me to quickly bang out the tasks, in outline form, on a big blank page, without worrying about the secondary details that OmniFocus needs, such as start and due dates (or rather, jumping through the steps to enter said details).

I can also see the need for exporting, especially for formatting for others (a challenge I am facing more and more) or for creating templates for the next, similar project.


I don’t know anything about the internals of the format of OmniOutliner versus OmniFocus but it would be great to be able to copy hierarchically from OmniFocus to OmniOutliner. I use OmniOutliner as a work journaller and being able to copy and paste completed tasks to OmniOutliner would be seriously useful and make the products act in a much more integrated way.


The key thing for me would be to copy from an OF perspective and paste it into OO with actions indented under Projects or Contexts.

Currently - no matter what level items are, or what’s nested under what - all items show up in OO at the same indentation level.


+1 for better integration. I have both OO and OF on the Mac and OF on the iPad and iPhone. I was reading Koroush Dini’s article describing his tempting system, and noticed that it seems like he’s using OO for his external templates. So, of course, what I’m wondering is if there’s anyway to create an OO file, link to it in a OF task, and then be able to open the OO template from the task on both the iPhone/iPad and desktop. Any ideas?

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I am too a little unsatisfied about the current OF-OO-integration:

  • OO–>OF: I don’t get how to map between OO columns and OF fields and how prevent “Metadata: XXX:” to be added to the notes field (see also It is wonderful using OmniOutliner with OmniFocus 2)
  • OF–>OO: Is there a proper way to do the export while preserving all fields/information? It seems that Rob Trew’s AppleScript (see could do this in previous versions, but at least for me, the script is broken with OO4 and OF2 (gives the error “Expected „,“ but found Identifier.” for the line set blnContext to ((selected view mode identifier) is not equal to pPROJECT))

BTW, I get the feeling that the new forum does not seem to be as effective as the old one—I see many unanswered questions and not much participation of OmniGroup employees, or am I mistaken?

Julia. You can select a row within an opened OmniOutliner, select “edit”, " copy as link". Then paste in (usually) a note within Omnifocus. Anytime you click the link, it will open OmniOutliner, open the link file, and jump to that row. This method will not work it you are syncing documents and OmniFocus between two systems. If you’re trying to accomplish this on the iPad, It won’t work either. Otherwise, I use it all the time. You can also create a keyboard shortcut for the item.

Not happy with the integration either. I’d like to be able to get task lists back and forth between OmniOutliner and Omnifocus. Most detail is lost, even hierarchy and notes.

I have a lot of technical checklists and packing lists. Business trips, business action item lists, photography checklists, etc. Much of this I don’t use all the time, but it’s essential when I do need it, and would be great to be able to move back and forth. I’d only like to keep my emergency action lists within Omnifocus permanently, since Omni has not produce OmniOutliner for the iPhone.

Given the new forecasting features in OmniFocus, the more lists you have, the more essential tasks get burried.

Based on the repeated reccomendations of MacSparky on the MPU podcast (and my near religious affection for OmniFocus) I recently downloaded OmniOutliner. As it seemed a natural connection, I searched high and low for instructions on how to integrate OmniFocus and OmniOutliner, particularly in moving items back and forth between them. My intention was to declutter OmniFocus by moving all the non-actionable, reference, and someday/maybe type elements to OmniOutliner, which I also intend to use for project planning. Like the author of this article these elements have been building up over time and despite my classification into folders like “backburner” and “someday maybe” they were dragging my system down. There wasn’t too much I found helpful on the interwebs, so I devised a less than perfect solution that worked for me to at least get things started.

Since there is no good way to copy and paste from OF to OO, I tried doing an export from OmniFocus. I created a folder in OmniFocus entitled “Export to OmniOutliner” and then moved everything in there that I wanted to get out. Then I selected those items and exported them as a text file, which I then opened in OmniOutliner. The results were pretty messy, but it wasn’t too hard to tab in and rearrange things to get them back in some semblance of order. For complicated notes (which exported as a whole pile of bullet points), I went back to OmniFocus to cut and paste the data back in. When it was all said and done I double checked my work, and then selected those items again in OmniFocus and set their status to “dropped.”

The plan now is to use OmniFocus purely for my actionable items (and a few someday/soon things) and OmniOutliner for project planning, as well as for storing those things that are unlikely to be acted on soon–which I will review infrequently anyhow. Making items actionable is easy, though, since cut and paste into OmniFocus works great. I think this will be a good system for me, I just wish it were a bit easier to go both directions.


eriksamuelson hits the nail on the head. Although I used OO before OF, I have also been along the MPU-macademic-Dini track and could not have stated my workflow better than he has done.

Hoping for seamless integration between these two wonderful products in the future.

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I am interested in the same topic, especially if I can preserve the live links to the original emails

The basic linking was solved with this post

Curt Clifton at Omni Group has written a script to copy OmniFocus hierarchy and notes to OmniOutliner:

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I appreciate applescripts, but I would like to be able to export OmniFocus to OmniOutliner. It should be baked in. I will fill out a feature request.