OmniFocus 2 on iPhone 5 will not sync automatically ever [solved with the introduction of push-triggered background syncing]


Another +1


Glad to know I’m not alone here (iPhone 5c, which I sync with iPad and two Mac computers).

I’m new to the forums so don’t know how often support staff frequent them. I’m going to email support, but would love to hear any update from anyone on whether this is improved.


Just a thought - check Settings, General, Background App Refresh and make sure OF is ON

Also, check Settings, Cellular and check that Use Cellular Data For is ON for OF


On in both cases for me. Good thoughts, though.

Oddly, I picked up my phone today, opened OF, swiped down, and the sync icon started going on its own, without my having to tap it. But every other time after that, I had to do it manually.


Yes, I’ve emailed support, and what @Nick said is basically what they shared.

I find it odd, though, that sync is as cumbersome as it is, compared to how simple and fast it is, by comparison, in apps like Things and Wunderlist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure OF’s database is far more complex than either of those, but still, from an end user perspective, I found their sync solutions to be much more elegant.



We’re looking into how we can improve this. The current limitations are not due to the complexity of our database, but due to allowing customers the flexibility to sync with their own sync servers without requiring a sync back end provided by Omni.

If we were to require our own custom back end server for syncing (as those other apps do), it would be much easier for us to push notifications out to all registered devices whenever any change is made.

P.S. — I should note that we also think there are improvements we can make to the timing of our current automatic syncs. For example, in v2 making a change on one device and syncing it will automatically trigger syncs in other open copies of OmniFocus on the same network—which is a significant improvement over v1. But there are two limitations in that statement—“open” and “on the same network”—which we could transcend if OmniFocus had a custom back end server.


@kcase Yes, that makes sense.

Is there a lot of demand for custom/own sync servers vs. a managed/forced Omni solution? I have to imagine that that would be a minority of the userbase. An important minority, to be sure, but maybe it’s a question of understanding their requirements that would drive them to make their own sync solution as opposed to specifically enabling it. I’d love to see a more capable Omni solution to augment the sync experience.

My two cents - thanks for the reply!



Thanks for the explanation. I’d love it if sync were fully automatic, not requiring OF to be open (a la iCal, etc.).


+1 on this one. It’s a horrible problem for me, especially when it comes to reoccurring tasks that I checked on one device but for some reason that change of state hasn’t made it over to other devices. So cleaning up those tasks on a different device and suddenly when everything finally is in sync, I now I have two or three copies of the same reoccurring event the next time it comes up.


same for me, the sync is slow and I keep on manually hitting that sync button because I’ve found out that it didn’t sync too late a few times now. This is just not up-to-date, I expect a $100 ios/osX task manager to sync any item I change ASAP, I shouldn’t even be aware that it’s happening…time to implement an option for iCloud sync for example…


My sentiments exactly. I think this has been the biggest surprise to me as I’ve started using OF across multiple devices, especially given its price, and that the less sophisticated (but free) Reminders syncs automatically, whether the app is open on various devices or not.


Yup…well I’ll try to setup a WebDAV server now and see if that helps. If it doesn’t I think I’ll ask for a refund and switch to 2DO…


Well, since starting this thread my syncing situation has continued to be pretty unreliable. Any time I open one of my devices I never know what state it’s going to be in. I have plenty of other applications that sync, and every single one of them is far more reliable than this product. This is a real pity, because I like the feature set of this program better than the other options, and I’ve paid a fair amount of money as well. At this point I don’t do anything with the application on any device without manually synchronizing. And then when I’m done, I need to manually synchronize again. This is a waste of my time.

Currently exploring other products…:-(


We did have a regression to syncing as you leave the app in OmniFocus for iPhone 2.4. Sorry. If that’s the version you’re using, I hope you’ll give us a chance to fix this before giving up entirely.


Can you provide a timetable for this issue to be addressed? I’ve been a Omnifocus 1 user on the Mac for many years but have been holding off on purchasing 2 until the syncing issues on iPhone are resolved.

I picked up Things for iPhone recently while it was offered for free and tried the Desktop app as well. While, they are not as good as OF, the syncing seems reliable and they are significantly less expensive. I’m happy to pay a premium for great software but it has to work reliably.


This explanation makes no sense to me. Why not make push notifications to all registered devices functionality that your back end server provides, as those other apps do, and then only customers of yours who wish to use their own server would need to worry about manual sync when they open and close the app. Wouldn’t the app itself be unaffected either way? The app would need to accommodate customers who disable the push notifications, so what difference does it make to the app whether a push notification was sent, would have been sent (had push notifications not been turned off), or not sent at at all (personal servers).


I wonder if the Omni Staff could clarify the scope of the issue. How do the limitations mentioned by @kcase relate to the expected behavior per the documentation

At a bare minimum, OmniFocus checks in with sync server every hour if nothing has changed on the device. This helps ensure that your data from OmniFocus is always safe, secure, and most importantly—up to date.

OmniFocus for iPhone uses Apple’s built-in background fetch to keep your database up to date even while not using the app.

Are the referenced limitations reflected in the expected behavior or are they responsible for breaking this behavior? I personally would be happy if it worked as documented but my experience is that background fetch never works (going back prior to the 2.4 release) and this seems to be the case for others as well.

Is background fetch currently broken for everyone using the Omni Sync Server method?
If not, are there known contributing factors such as device type, iOS version, database size or content?


Ditto me on this. In my case it has never worked on my 5, ever. Should work seamlessly. It’s frustrating when I add something via Siri but OF doesn’t grab it from Siri until I access OF on my phone, even if it’s been open; and then my item doesn’t show up on my Mac until I manually sync OF.


This is precisely where it comes to a (frustrating) head for me, too–the whole point of using Siri is to quickly enter something and move on, but I find myself opening OF as soon as I have Siri create the reminder just to make sure I don’t somehow miss it later, when I need it.


I did some testing today on multiple devices and thought I’d share my results for anyone interested.

MacBook Pro, Yosemite with OF 2.0.3 (v87.15 r219260)
iPhone 5S, iOS 8.1.1 with OF 2.4
iPhone 4S, iOS 7.1.1 with OF 2.3.3

All OF set to sync with OmniSync server (same account)
Both iOS devices have background app refresh enabled for OF
The 5S has Background App Refresh and Use Cellular Data enabled in the OmniFocus settings.
All devices are on the same wifi network

Prior to adding any tasks I did the following on both iPhones
Launched OF and did a manual sync
In Settings, ensured the projects, actions and zip file counts were the same
Pressed the home button on and locked the screen

On my Mac I added two new tasks in the inbox. The first had a due time of 60 minutes. The second had a due time of 75 minutes
Clicked File->Synchronize with server

The iPhone 4S popped a notification for both tasks.
The 5S did not notify on either.

I then upgraded to iOS 8.1.1 on the 4S and repeated the test with the same results. The 4S background synced worked.

I then upgraded OF to 2.4 on the 4S and repeated the test again. This time I did not get the notification on the 4S. Background sync did not work.

Long story short. OF 2.4 seems to be the culprit (in my case anyway).