Omnifocus 2 and templates

Like many other people, I often have projects where I have to go through a predefined sets of tasks that are always the same.

To handle this, I have created a folder called “Lists” in Omnifocus where I put all my project templates such as:

  • Project start
  • Project end
  • Project type A
  • Project type B

Those projects are set to “On hold” so the templates don’t appear in my projects list. Whenever I have a new client’s project, I change the perspective to see all “On hold” projects. Then I create a new project in a folder called “Client’s project” and then duplicate the needed templates for that particular project and move the copies into the client’s project as sub-projects.

I also do the same for my personal projects such as cooking. I duplicate a recipe, change the status flag to “Active” and automatically have the ingredients in my “Errands” context for the next time I go to the supply store.

This has worked pretty well for me since I started using Omnifocus back in 2009. I am pretty sure many people are using Omnifocus the same way. It would be nice to have it built-in Omnifocus when creating a new project. For example “Create a new project from templates” and then have a list of templates.

Also there is a small bug with Omnifocus 2. I can’t remove the un-hold status flag on sub-projects. The workaround is pretty simple is to move the sub-projects outside the project. Change the status flag to “Active” and move them back into the client’s project. It works but it is a bit annoying.

Even though there is no built-in functionality to make a project from a template, there are two very smart guys who came with AppleScript based solutions:

  1. @curt Clifton and his Populate Template Placeholders — I’ve used it for ages and it is still brilliant
  2. Chris Sauvé built upon @curt’s script, enhancing and extending its functionality to release his Templates script.

Worth taking a look, both very elegant solutions ;-)
My suggestion: take a look at Curt’s 1st.

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I came looking for a fix for Curt’s script no longer marking new projects as active… and found this reference to Chris Sauvé’s script (now at

Chris’ script is very flexible, (and is much smarter about how it works with dates) but I would give people a couple of warnings:

The flexibility leads to slowness for templates with large numbers of tasks (my packing-for-a-trip template has 110 items, Chris’ script takes almost 3 minutes to populate it).

There is a serious bug where populating a template first deletes the template being populated, and then deletes the entire Templates folder. I populated a few templates a few times, and the catastrophic deletion of all Templates happened every time.

I don’t know if the serious bug is due to something odd about my OMF file, or if there have been changes to the OMF applescripting dictionary, but be careful.