OmniFocus vs Web Apps (IQTELL/Nozbe/Etc)

Hey everyone, after OmniFocus 2 was released I bought all the apps and am trying to decide whether to invest my time in OF or in one of the web apps. I hope these kinds of “vs” threads aren’t too frowned upon, I’m not trying to smack-talk anything I just want to better understand the pros and cons of each option (and help others do the same.)

I am gathering my research notes into a blog post if that helps anyone
(I list other apps like Zendone/FacileThings/etc here as well):

OmniFocus 2

Main Pros as far as I can tell:

  • Beautiful, fast, stable, slick GUI (especially compared to web apps)
  • Best integration into OS X environment available (OS X Services, hot-keys, etc.)
  • The best I’ve seen so far in handling perspectives and custom views to quickly and attractively show you just the filtered tasks you want.
  • Integration with Siri/iOS Geolocation

Main Cons as far as I can tell:

  • Less integration with other services (Evernote/Email/Dropbox/contacts/etc)
  • Limited options/features compared to web apps
  • No Energy Required or Priority options?
  • No tags?
  • No alarms/repeating notifications for reminders other than due date?
  • Doesn’t cover the entire GTD ecosystem very clearly (not simple&clear where to store reference lists, someday/maybe lists, action lists separate from a project, tickler file, waiting-for, etc…)
  • No web/Windows app, only accessible on your personal apple devices.
  • Takes away some usability of Siri Reminders. If I say “Remind me to change laundry in 30 minutes” and that goes straight into OF, I will no longer be getting an audible reminder just a task in OF!

(This is the main option I’m considering among web apps)

Main Pros as far as I can tell:

  • Gets very close to being a complete, consolidated system with two-way sync/search/tagging your emails, calendar, contacts, Evernotes, Dropbox/GDrive files, etc. Very cool to process an email inside the app, tag it with the project/actions/evernote-reference files needed/etc, archive it all in one step and then pull up your project later with all the related contacts, Evernote files, emails, tasks, etc all in one place ready to go.
  • Lots of options, you can custom create macros, custom-fields, workflows, “apps,” etc.
  • Various options for due date/defer date/remind date, text-message reminder, pop-up reminder, etc.
  • I like the way you can change priority/energy needed/etc. but also have a list of starred “Next Actions/Dashboard” that you can quickly add/remove from. You could do this with Flags in OF but then how do you do anykind of priority?
  • Powerful search function that searches EVERYTHING in one place, OF search does not impress me.
  • Being a web app, they roll out new features constantly. OF is restricted to point-release development cycle which doesn’t seem like it will be adding new functionality at a blazing pace…?

Main Cons as far as I can tell:

  • No desktop app, the web app is surprisingly powerful with shortcut keys and resizable windows it almost feels like an application, but it’s still a bit delicate/finiky using inside a browser especially compared to the gorgeous native OF GUI
  • Very limited offline options
  • No iCloud contacts 2-way sync currently (it’s planned), you have to export a vCard for now
  • Very limited “perspective” options, you can still sort and filter tasks by different criteria and view them in a list but it’s not nearly as fluid and nice as OF
  • Weekly Review mode consists of marking a task “last reviewed” date after you look at it. Again not like OF’s very nice weekly review mode.

I’ve bought both products and am trialing a few others. Any feedback, advice, corrections, and things to add to the lists would be very helpful. Anyone else experimenting with a web app vs omnifocus 2 or can share why they made a decision for OF?

You can have multiple lists in Reminders, you know? (eg. a separate Omnifocus list that would send your reminders to OF, so you can keep your default Reminders list)

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Have you checked the whitepaper “OmniFocus, GTD and You”, available in the support website? Hope you find it useful.

The app is not designed for reference files, just tasks. Personally, I like it just like that. I gave never tried IQTELL, but I don’t like ZenDone’s approach, for instance. I can see people liking it, though :D

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All I see in Omnifocus iPhone settings is an on/off switch for Reminders. Is there a way to make this suck reminders out of a special Omnifocus list so I can keep using the Apple Reminders for quick reminders like laundry/etc when I want to? How specifically would you set this up…?

I have seen the white-paper, and I realize that you can still setup the lists that way. However it’s not quite as nice as having it all ready and laid out for you when you first boot up the app.

Thanks for your comments, I will go and re-review that whitepaper (is it up to date for OF2?)

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In short: create a new list in Reminders, and choose it in OF for iPhone when you turn it on.


Take a look at this blog post.

Yes. It seems you haven’t clicked the link I added on the 1st post. Just do it :D

One major issue with webapps is that they could disappear any day.


[quote=“chrislawesmedia, post:1, topic:4953”]
Main Cons as far as I can tell:

Less integration with other services (Evernote/Email/Dropbox/contacts/etc)[/quote]

Email into Inbox works well but OF is not aware of your Contacts. Evernote and Dropbox would be about connecting to source material which OF does not try to do. See below.

Which features specifically? There is a lot of flexibility in OF which may do what you need.

OF1 had a task property for how long it would take to do something but I hear it’s not in OF2 (never used it myself). Energy level and other settings have been addressed by users by way of custom Perspectives.

No tags. Yes, no tags. Discussed for as long as there has been an OF. Theer have been hints that once the user base has transitioned to OF2 there may be additions to the database to allow tags, but don’t hold your breath. Alternate: populate the Notes field with your keywords and use Search alone or in custom Perspectives.

OF is not your calendar, or so they have been fond of saying while all the time adding a nice calendar interface. I use location based reminders a lot and also people/activity based Contexts. OF is not so much about telling you what to do and when but keeping tabs on what you have to do and showing you what you can do; it is a different approach than the full-desk-environment apps.

I see your concerns as having two major themes; OF is not a calendar and OF is not a file cabinet. If you want all that functionality in one place then OF is not for you. I would like to see better/easier linking to “file cabinets” and if there is going to be a calendar view it should act like one (with notifications) but you should make your decision on what is available now, not what might come.

One theme you did not mention is the ability to collaborate which is something online task managers do. Integration of OF with OP has been on the horizon and will only be possible after the user base is solidly using OF2 and all the apps can be updated, so don’t wait for it. Even so, it would still leave you in an Apple/Omni universe. You may find you can use OF as it is intended and get your calendar and file cabinets elsewhere but if you need collaboration then your are SOL and must look elsewhere.


This is a valid point @savantier, but I will say for IQTELL, that they have done a phenomenal job of taking a very measured and committed approach to building their app. I have used dozens of solutions and before IQTELL, I’ve never had to go through a live individual phone conversation and online demo in order to participate in a beta. That process gave me a high degree of confidence in this crew and more than two years later IQTELL is not only still going strong, but has advanced beyond my expectations. They only this month began charging for their service. This tells me that they have a significant commitment to the product and must have some solid operating capital/backing to make it two years in free beta with the most active development I’ve ever seen for a web app.

That said, as you point out, there is always a risk, though I don’t see it anymore of a risk than a desktop app that becomes deprecated.

@chrislawesmedia I like your style. Your post is super clear and I like the way you’ve laid out the pros and cons for the tools you are considering. I have only limited use with OF as I am only peripherally in the Apple user base. I have an iPad mini and used to have an iPhone, so that is the extent of my OF opportunities. I really like what I have seen from OF, especially the UI and speed. Like you I really am disappointed by the lack of integration options and it’s not great for traditional GTD. I mainly tried OF out to compare it to some of the other things I was using. I ended up ditching it and sticking with a hybrid version of The Secret Weapon method ( traditionally uses Evernote + Outlook), which I found to be a really solid foundation.

I have been using IQTELL since it launched a little over 2 years ago and I really love it. It immediately stood out, even in the early days for its integration options. I was able to adapt it to TSW method in minutes and I used it that way for about a year. As I continued to use IQTELL, I realized that TSW was only a small part of the puzzle and now I have shifted to a similar, but more involved process built entirely around IQTELL+Gmail+Evernote. I have been really pleased. One thing that I love about IQTELL is the ability to tailor the views. The app is so actively developed that I felt myself becoming overwhelmed by all of the fields, inputs and capabilities. It really looks complicated when everything is right there front and center. Once I learned to adapt the system to my style by hiding modules and arranging my views, I couldn’t have been more pleased with a GTD tool. This also allowed me to evolve my system on my terms and today I use about 80% of the IQTELL system with ease. I learned and adapted as I went along and I really appreciate that the tool has evolved with me.

I think you nailed both the pros and cons for OF and IQTELL. What I can say about IQTELL is that I have never worked with a more responsive team of developers. I recommend that you take your cons to the forum and see what feedback you get. Nothing against OF, but IQTELL is light years ahead in actively developing their product and in responsiveness to their community. Still, I would place both OF and IQTELL at the top end of GTD tools, with OF being limited to Apple users, while IQTELL is more versatile.

As far as some of the other tools, I always advocate trying things out. I’ve tried over a hundred solutions and I always come back to IQTELL, so they get my vote.

And I could mimic what justs posted - I’ve never seen a team more committed to making a product just right than the people at IQTell. While I really loved using OmniFocus and completely agree with your initial pros/cons for it, I just can’t do without more than my Mac or iOS as an access point to my trusted system. Plus, I’ve been using Evernote for years for all my reference materials and my quick storage for any emails I might review later. A simple to set up macro lets me process my emails into EN. I can get all my emails processed to Inbox Zero while standing in lines. It is very effective and elegantly done in IQTell. I do want to see syncing of iCloud contacts but as you pointed out, it’s on the way. They just added calendar support to their mobile apps which was very well done, and they seek customer help to decide how to handle their next feature, which makes users feel really appreciated. Add to that a well thought out Chrome extension and a very flexible UI makes it my GTD app of choice for about 2 years now. Couldn’t live without it, and it is the first app good enough to break my “productivity porn” habit of trying a new kid on the block every week. Their frequent update improvements makes the software feel fresh and new. Since this is Omni’s forum however, I have to say that I do love their app, but I just needed more support and extensibility than it provides. (One peeve was my emails suggesting features were ignored, but that was many years ago, so it may be unjustified now.) cheers

@justs I’m honored that you like my style justs, although you may not find my full research document as clean and clear. I have many many notes on all these different apps that gets quite chaotic I was mainly just trying to make my post more useful for others who read it.

I agree with the comments you guys have made but just as a personal update I have decided on OF2 as my working system for now. I am still evaluating IQTELL and now the IBM Notes 9 w/ eProductivity plugin for GTD is my biggest “productivity porn” time-sink. It is pretty amazing, has its own evernote/dropbox kind of services built-in along with email/calendar/contacts/CRM/task manager, and to get their hosted cloud version it’s about the same price as a single-user Google Apps accounts ($5/month.)

But it’s a whole learning curve and I’ve got some stuff to do this month so I’m sticking with OF2 for a while, since it gets the job done, is beautiful/fun to use, works well with clip-o-tron/keyboardshortcuts/speed, and has a clear guide for GTD.

But I wish it had just a little more customization like IQTELL, in the sense of custom fields. I want to add priority and energy-required fields to my actions, and not have to deal with funky perspective views or fakey #tags in the task notes :/

I have been going back and forth between OF (now OF2) and Iqtell for awhile. Right now I’m back to OF2, since a new job has allowed me to use a Mac again as my main work machine.

The one feature, that keeps bringing back to apps like OF2 is the sequential options for projects and action groups. If you have have project in Iqtell that really should be a sequential project, you need to manually move a lot of items around. Keep inactive project actions in a separate folder (what I did), continuous star the next one for a Next Action in Iqtell, it’s a lot of maniuplation to deal with anything sequential. It drives me nuts, and always trumps every other cool feature (and there are a lot) of IQTell (email/evernote/calendar/contact integration on web and mobile, etc.).

I’ve said it on the Iqtell board, if they implement sequential projects/next actions, I likely would jump back, likely, not definitively. They have given no indication this feature is on their short-term roadmap.

Also, even though their email interface has improved, it’s still not Gmail or Outlook. They currently do not support threaded email conversations, and once you use that (as we all know) in any modern day email client, it’s hard to go back. They say they are working on this in the short term though, so this complaint could be null and void soon.