Omit "on hold" projects from the projects list?

Hi all

I’ve got over 100 projects on hold - all sub projects of one major project I’m starting later in the year. Whenever I go to assign a project to a task I see all of these projects greyed out - it’s really clogging up my views, making it hard to navigate…

I was hoping there would be a preference I could turn off ‘show on-hold projects in projects lists’ but no such luck. Anyone know a way to stop them showing up?

Thanks - JC

I can repeat your issue.

I can think of two ways to clear the clutter. The first is the easiest. Set all your On-Hold projects to Dropped. Dropped projects do not appear in the list. This approach keeps the projects in your database so that they can be reactivated, either on-hold or active, as you need. This approach has the disadvantage when you are syncing macOS with iOS that all the 100’s of dropped projects are carried over during the sync.

Alternatively, work to remove the set of On-Hold projects from your master database until you are ready to activate them. Save them to a separate database. Or copy them as Taskpaper format and paste them somewhere. Either way, before you remove any “real” project, test that you can remove and re-import a “dummy” project. This approach takes a bit more focused effort but streamlines your database for sync between macOS and iOS versions.


Great ideas, thank you. Is there any danger of Omnifocus deleting the ‘dropped’ projects when it asks if you want to optimise the database by zapping old stuff? Or does that simply use the age, not the status?

Also: is there any easy way of saving a folder of projects to a new database and/or remerging-in a separate database into the main one later?

Thanks - J

I’ll rant here. I have never trusted the optimize database option. Never. Ever. At all. At this point, I consider the option an archaic carry over from the days when we were all on cellular 1G or limited to 10 MBs WiFi/ethernet connections. I cannot speak to what OF does with deleted or indeed with partially completed projects with this option. It is about the same if not the same if not worse than using the Archive option for OF on macOS. I always do my deletions and archiving manually (and OF is a PITA for archiving manually).

As always, for the above, RTFM, YMMV, and ohers may chime in to offer a distinct counter point.

I think the subject of how to create and manage a separate database was oft discussed in threads perhaps from two or three years ago (or more). Admittedly, since I do not track here as often, I can only say tangentially that the recommendation in the meantime may actually be to off-load the projects as TaskPaper files that you re-import when ready.

Hope this gives you helpful insights without too much blunt discouragement.


I think you are referring to the ‘Archive’ command in the macOS app. This indeed moves to the archive database all projects and actions which had the completed or dropped status (explicitly or inherited from a parent) applied before a cut-off date. It has always worked reliably for me; using it is a matter of whether you want to keep entire projects intact and whether you create many (tens of thousands) of actions or use large attachments.

I suggest to keep all your on-hold projects in your main database, ready for when you need to activate or edit them. A few hundred more actions is not going to have any perceptible effect, assuming they don’t contain many large attachments.

To make the project list in the drop-down controls easier to use:

  • If you use them by scrolling the contents, you could move all the on-hold projects to a folder placed at the very end of your project hierarchy.
  • If you use them by typing a few letters of a project name or path, move all the on-hold projects to a sub-folder of ‘Poseidon’ in the last position (eg ‘Future Poseidon’). This should be enough to make the suggestions algorithm place the active projects first.
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Thanks both, and no worries about the rant JJW.

Inspired by your comments, I’ve ended up experimenting today with exporting clones of the entire OF file, zapping everything but the projects-to-come, then naming the OF files after that project. I’ve then zapped projects from my main Database.

I tested and you can open two OF databases side by side, and simply drag and drop between them, so when the projects come live I’ll simply drag and drop folders over to the main ‘sync’ database and I’m off to the races.

Tonight I’m loving having a lean, mean main database and these sitting on Dropbox waiting for me. Excellent outcome.

Thanks again - JC


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Maybe my approach would be a possibility for you to set a character as the 1st character in the name of the projects depending on the active mode (e.g. “[” = active, “(” = wait). If I want to assign a task to a project, I type the first character of the desired project type in the corresponding Inspector field with the keyboard and then I only see the corresponding selection of projects.
The “Dropped” option would be too dangerous for me.

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Nice idea. thank you!

Sounds like you’ve found a solution.

But in case someone else stumbles across this thread later, I’ll also suggest a ‘dropping’ solution that works around the already-discussed issue of dropped projects being archived: if you have a dropped FOLDER with active projects inside it, that folder and its contents will not be archived.

So that’s another option!


Haven’t noticed that as an issue, yet.

E.g. there’s a project „Booking assets cleared“ with its folders above:
Sirius : Support : Booking assets cleared

In projects field I just type:
„sir boo“

That‘s sufficient to narrow down the search results to a few possible projects. Maybe I haven’t fully understood your issue.

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