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


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).


I don’t think I have ever seen Omnifocus on iOS background sync, at least in the past year. Every time I open the app it is way out of date and I often receive frequent push notifications that are no longer applicable since I had checked them on another device.


Has anyone contact Apple regarding this issue? It would seem that the App Store description is inaccurate given that sync is not automatic. The App Store copy says, “Syncs can even happen when you’re not actively using OmniFocus, so that your information is ready when you are.” That is simply not true.


I’d love if someone from OF could chime in here. Lots of instances of syncs not being ready when we are…


For what it is worth, the 2.4.1 iPhone release supposedly has a fix for syncing when the app closes. I asked on Twitter and they said it is in this release, even though the release notes doesn’t mention it.


They do now - - last point.


One other bit to keep in mind is that background fetch will not happen if OmniFocus is forced closed via the app switcher. Many folks were misled into believing that doing this with any apps saves battery life and do it out of habit. That may explain some of the cases here! Hope that helps :-)


Hi Steve it didnt help me.
I had my omnifocus 2.4.1 running on my iPhone 4S.
Then I made a entry on my iPad who was due 2,5 hours later - next I sync the omnifocuon iPad.
But nothing happened on my iPhone 2,5 hours later!

So I agree with @omnicustomer that the descripton in the Apple App store is inaccorate.
So please, Omnifocus fix the problem !


Hello Steve!

I can confirm ThomasK findings. Background snyc in the new V 2.41 is not working. The App is open in the Background and I even trained iOS 8 to recognize OF by using it heavily. But it never syncs in the Background.

I now went back to an older Version of OF and hope to get background syncing working again.

Please fix this!


Thanks, Gibson and ThomasK, for the additional details! I’ve made note of your reports in our development database and we’ll dig into it as soon as we’re back in the office on Monday. In the meantime, if you have further questions, any other details to share, or would like additional assistance troubleshooting, you can contact our support folks at Sorry I couldn’t be of more help here!


Add me to the list. Ipad & iPhone 6 on ios8 have no luck with background sync. Recurring tasks doubling up because sync gets out of whack. Reminders not chiming on my phone because I added them on my Mac or iPad and didn’t re-open the iPhone app to let it sync again.

Very disappointing when apps like todoist can update badges etc across multiple devices instantly.

I know there’s been an explanation of allowing people to use their own sync solutions as a cause, but if this is preventing the apps from performing as advertised to the people who have paid good money for this software maybe this needs to be scrapped or users given the ability to “opt out” of the ability to use these third party sync servers in return for functional sync.


I, unfortunately, “am out of sync”, too…

I only started using Omnifocus on my iPhone and iPad a couple of days ago after having used it on my Macbook for some time. Syncing, however, is pretty non-existent. I use two offices during the day and thought it’d be nice to add, review and update my projects on the way between them. Instead I now have each device alert me at completely different times whenever I postpone actions because none of the three knows whatever the other two did before if don’t put them on my desk next to each-other with OF opened.

It’s a complete mess and though I really, really love the UI on both iOS-devices I’m pretty unsatisfied concerning the good amount of money I paid for them. Why don’t they use iCloud-Sync anyway? I recently checked out Things during the Apple- promotion and despite its mediocre feature-set it really puts Omnifocus’ “sync”-solution to shame :(


After restoring OF V 2.3.3 to my iPhone 6 (iOS 8.1.2) Background sync is working again as it should.

So if anyone of you really needs the Background sync functionality and has access to an older version of OF (Time Machine Backup for example), than this is the way to go at the moment.

But I really hope, that the Omnigroup gets this fixed soon.


Actually this is just as misleading as the other side of the story. If you leave apps open they’re able to use the GPS, wifi/3g/4g and do many other things. All these things will have an impact on battery life. It is not beneficial to close your apps due to having information up to date like with OmniFocus. If you can have it sync in the background it can do small syncs and when you open the app the information is up to date. If you close the app and need to reopen it, it will have to sync all those changes in 1 go which means it will take more time before you see updates. In some cases it might save you some power since the smaller updates are quicker to do (it requires less computation). We are talking seconds and maybe even a few minutes here, definitely not as significant as say an hour. In case of a runaway app it is way better to close it since it consumes too much resources and thus draws too much power. Some apps are known to have these kind of power issues (WhatsApp for example). These will have a significant (negative) effect on battery life.

If you open up a gazillion of apps on the iPad 2 with iOS 8.1.x you’ll notice that this will do no good to the performance of the device. In that case it helps tremendously to close down apps. The same can be said if you are trying to locate that one app between the 30 that are still left open. Having a good overview of applications in the application switcher (the application switcher consists of recently used apps either running, in background or not running at all) is rather nice to have.

The real story is that the OS is able to handle all these things in nearly all cases so there is little need for the user to close apps. However, as we all know, theory and reality are two different things. In reality there are still some cases where you do need to close apps. In the end one shouldn’t need to worry and only close an app if they think it causes problems.

More ontopic: with 2.4.1 I saw some background syncing in the beginning (as in the day I installed it) but now it seems to be behaving the same as the 2.4 version. In my case this might also be caused by me not using it that much at the moment so I’m going to give it a bit longer to see if it might be iOS not understanding when it needs to start syncing in background.


Good point, dompelpomp—you’re exactly right. The intent of my statement was to try to remind folks why they may be killing apps this way out of habit. I should have chosen more accurate phrasing and left out the part about being “misled”. Thanks for your clarification!


I never kill apps, for the exact reason that stuff like background sync would likely stop working. I trust iOS and the app to handle this stuff. The fact that Omnifocus doesn’t is really bothering me.


Rightfully so, crg11! Please know that we’re working hard to get to the root of the issue. One bit of trouble is that it doesn’t seem to be affecting everyone in the same way. We hope to have news on this front soon—keep an eye on the release notes!