Ideal place to keep project templates

I’d like to see if any of you have thoughts where is the ideal place to store and access OmniFocus project templates. I’ve had an OF templates folder. I’ve used Drafts. I have migrated them mostly to Shortcuts now. OmniOutliner could work. OmniAutomation is also a serious option now. Curious whether any of you have settled on one home for your templates and what made you decide that was the best place.

I really like the idea of having mine in Shortcuts, but I find if ever change tag names or spellings (or other project details), I have to copy-and-paste in a new taskpaper formatted listing into the shortcut. I’m not a huge fan of writing and editing taskpaper, so I find editing templates for use in Shortcuts to be tedious. (Copying as taskpaper format from OF is certainly easy enough, though.)

I just have Templates folder for them.

For me, Keep It Simple, Stupid works.

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I populate my templates form shortcuts, from a “templates” folder in iCloud drive -> Shortcuts

I edit all my templates in Drafts.

From the files app -> share file to drafts -> edit -> save -> done.

I used to do all of the template processing in Drafts, changed it a bit when I started to use shortcuts more, and that works ok for me.
If Drafts goes the way I hope it will for iOS14 with widget support I think I’m going to jump back to Drafts for all of it.

I basically need just 2 actions:

@rosemaryjayne’s “replace holders” action:

@rosemaryjayne’s “Taskpaper to OF” action from her OF taskpaper keyboard:

There is much elegance to this, and I’m leaning heavily on keeping everything in OF because of the problem I describe below about changing tag names. Since you can put projects on hold, none of these templates have to clutter any of your active perspectives and tags. Also, any tag name changes that I make in OF, changes the tags in the templates, too. You don’t get that benefit outside of OF.

I really like this way of organizing things, but the system falls down for me if ever I change up my tags. I changed the name of one tag, and the maintenance on editing all the templates was a pain. (My tags are quite stable, so this is not much risk of this frequently occurring.) Is there any easy way to address this issue?

Depends a bit on what you want to do.

If you want to keep using Shortcuts it would actually be quite simple, but requires a bit of organisation;

Instead of the tags you want to add being in the template, have shortcuts find the tags, present them as a list and you choose from the list which ones you want to add.

simplest example for selection:

This way the only place you change tags is in OmniFocus, nowhere else.

If you want to use Drafts @rosemaryjayne has put together a package for you that solves this in drafts.

from the page (and the corresponding actions):

Tags (suggest) offers a list of tags for you to choose from, allows you to choose more than one of them, and inserts them inside @tag() . You will need to edit this script to make it work for you – the "one", "two", "three" is the part that needs changing. Bear in mind that a long list of tags will be annoying to look through most likely. If you want any tags to be pre-selected for you (e.g. you usually add the evening tag to tasks created via Drafts), you can put that into the [] after the tag list.

This means you will have to make the tag changes in 2 places; OmniFocus and Drafts, but it saves you a lot of trouble.

As I said earlier; this is probably the way I’m going to do it from the iOS14 Drafts update release. I find Drafts makes it a lot easier to handle text and text actions, Shortcuts still is a bit too fiddly for my taste.

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I use Drafts to manage my templates, along with Rosemary’s actions. But what I don’t understand more generally is why this entire process remains so ‘hacky’.

OmniAutomation has been a work in progress for ages, and is now a released product. It seems like that would be the ‘proper’ way to create and manage templates.

The fact that OmniGroup has not built a structured approach to template management blows my mind. Surely a template builder and manager would be an obvious feature addition to OmniFocus and provide a reason to have all this automation stuff built in?

For now, templates and automation are still nowhere near ready for a ‘normal user’.


I do not have the Pro version of OF so I think Shortcuts is not an option for me.

I am not familiar at all with the Drafts but I will look into it. It sounds interesting.

I’m not sure the Shortcuts route does not work without the Pro version.
Shortcuts is an operating system function, and should be available for non pro versions as well? (have not used the non-pro version, so don’t know for sure)

My mistake. I should have written “The Shortcuts Recorder” seems to be limited to the Pro version. Shows in Help under “The Perspectives Window (Pro)”.

I just keep a template folder, all templates in a waiting state, so they don’t appear in my perspectives, and when I need one, I just look for it and do a duplicate, put in Active status and work from there.
Not automated, but quite simple and less than 5 ‘clicks’. I don’t think automation is worth it, unless you enjoy it.


I use contextual template folders.

Most larger areas of concern have their own folders. Within that folder I will have a subfolder called something like “Checklists.” That subfolder contains a number of projects On Hold.

I have a KM macro that will duplicate selected projects and change their status to Active

Can I ask someone to back up a step and explain templates?
I searched for it in Help and couldn’t find any references to templates.

There is no official thing known as a template in the app. What we are referring to is creating a project you might re-use — a packing checklist; an app design process; a quarterly report — and setting it up so you easily generate it for the new situation. Some of us create a dummy project in OF as our template and just copy it and update it for the new project when we are ready to use it. Some of us store those templates in automation tools like Shortcuts or Drafts or an AppleScript on our Macs.

I understand.

I have a very complicated project with sequential and parallel subtasks that I ended up writing an AppleScript macro to prompt me for parameters and then write the project for me. I didn’t think of just making a template. Though the prompts determine the titles and the order can change depending on some of the parameters. So maybe I would have ended up writing a macro anyway.

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