Keyboard shortcuts for nesting tasks quickly

Hi, i’m starting to build more organized tasks/projects in omnifocus more often. I used to write long bulky paragraph style tasks sometimes, but am trying to write single lines and using “nested” subtasks to organize it better. Am looking for the quickest way to do this and have some questions. Could anybody please help?

  1. Is there any keyboard shortcuts to switch a new task to being nested or not nested underneath another? As i understand, i can create a new task with command N or I can use the enter key to create a new task that is nested underneath the main task. Is there any keyboard shortcuts to:

a) create a new task and nest it underneath the current task selected, even if its already a subtask? ie to make a new sub-sub-task?

b) create a sub-task or main task, when i have a sub-sub-task selected already?

c) modify whether an already created task should be a main task, sub-task, sub-sub task (or a project for that matter)?

  1. if there are no keyboard shortcuts for these kinds of functions, is there any way to make this work (with Keyboard Maestro or anything like that)?

  2. I also understand that i can use command+ enter to select/deselect text edit and row selection modes. This is helpful sometimes, but it doesnt work in quick entry window. Is there any way to do this in the quick entry window? Or are these more fine controls not possible from the quick entry window?

I hope this made sense! Lol gets a bit confusing, please let me know if i should explain it better

Thanks, Dan

Hey @danklim! Yes, OmniFocus has built-in commands for many of these behaviors. In Project view, you can think of your task structure as a sort of outline: you can “indent” certain tasks under others, creating “sub-tasks,” or you can “outdent” them to make them top-level tasks (or even projects).

For most of these actions, take a look at the Organize menu. There, you’ll find things like:

  • Indent and Outdent, which move existing tasks in or out by one level of nesting
  • Add Inside, which makes a new child task under the current selection – even if that selection is already indented under another task
  • Add Outside, which makes a new sibling of the current selection’s parent

For your specific cases, I think (1), (a), and (b) can all be accomplished with Add Inside and Add Outside, and © can be done with Indent and Outdent.

As for the quick entry window: I believe command-Enter will end editing and select the entered task, but to edit it again, you’ll probably need to use the e key.

Hope that helps. Thanks for using OmniFocus!

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Thank you! So helpful!!

2 follow ups:

  1. Is there any difference between move left/right and indent/outdent?

  2. The e key works in quick entry as you described, but i find that the other functions either don’t work or work seemingly randomly. One thing i’ve noticed is that the add inside/outside keyboard shortcuts only work in the quick entry window if the omnifocus application is open behind it. Its strange bc some keyboard shortcuts (like cmd+D for duplicate) work totally fine no matter what app is open behind it. Is this a limitation of the quick entry window or there a way to make all of the keyboard shortcuts work right in the quick entry window?

  1. There can be slight differences, but they’re rare – in the majority of simple cases, “move left” and “indent” are equivalent, as are “move right” and “outdent.” See the manual for more.
  2. That’s curious! If you haven’t before, would you mind emailing our support team to describe the behavior you’re seeing? Most, if not all, keyboard shortcuts should work equally well in the main app and in Quick Entry – and support will be able to tell you about exceptions, and report bugs for our internal tracking purposes if needed.
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Thanks and sure i just did.

One last question-
Is there any keyboard shortcut to start a new parent task in omnifocus immediately (when i’m already working in indented tasks)?

For example, when i am three indents in working on a descendent task- if i hit cmd N, it will create a new task that is also three indents in. Is there any keyboard shortcut that will create a new task that is 0 indents in? Or do i need to manually move it back a few indents?

Hmm, I don’t think there’s a shortcut that will jump multiple indentation levels in one command – sorry! Support takes feature requests too, so you could add that on to your next email 😉


There is a lot you could do to automate things like this with Keyboard Maestro. It could set a template you could then fill in…etc, but may not be worth the trouble to set up if it’s only a few de-indents.