Populating many projects with the same task?

This summer, I’d like to experiment with OF as my (personal) class management software. I’ve used Trello and Tinderbox successfully in the past, making cards for students (or teams of students, depending on the class) and noting their progress across the course, almost like a CRM if you think about it, or maybe doctors notes are a better metaphor…

In any case, I want to experiment with OF and am currently wondering what’s possible. I think I’d like to have a project for every student. I can put tasks or notes under any given student as the quarter unfolds.

For example, a project for student, “Suzy” might have the following items:

  • Grade Weekly Reflection (repeating project)
  • Working on mocking up prototype of slow notifications (just a note that stays evergreen)
  • Send link to The Disconnect (single task w/a due date and note w/link)
  • Waiting to hear back about methodology (tagged with waiting)

And a project for “Roy” would be mostly different, except for the grading tasks.

My question is: If I had, say, 30 students, so 30 projects, each the name of a student (Suzy, Roy, etc.), is there a known way to populate each of those projects with the same task (e.g. “Grade Project Proposal”) and preferable for that task to have info like due dates and tags, etc. included?

I have already concocted some good ways to manage grading, so I may throw all this in the trash bin once I think it out more fully, but I wanted to float it by the experts here to get some ideas/feedback.


Somewhere there is an AppleScript to work with templates. Could you handle modifying it if it was posted?

Otherwise, in my long hours of grading assignments, I prefer to keep one Project for each assignment rather than one Project per student.

Project XYZ

  • Set Up
    – draft project assignment
    – finalize project assignment
    – post project assignment
  • Review
    – review assignment in class
    – finalize any questions
    – set assignment due date
  • Key
    – generate key
    – finalize key
  • Exchange
    – assemble student submissions
    – post key
  • Grade
    – annotate comments on submissions
    – finalize comments to submissions
    – assign scores to comments
    – finalize scores to comments
  • Return (parallel)
    – post any final changes to key
    – post grades
    – return submission copies to students
    – post general comments about submissions


Do you use iOS? You can use the shortcuts app to quickly populate OF projects with a taskpaper template. Just fill in the differentiating data (f.e. the name of the student / grade y-n and other forks for the project)



for reference.

Or you can setup a taskpaper list on your mac and just copy/paste it into omnifocus. (using a KM or Textexpander macro can create a fill-in structure for easy access)

Both on iOS and macOS all tools are available.
On iOS I always use the shortcut app to quickly create new projects from templates.

some reference for more options:



The low-tech solution here (which I use for a lot of things) is having a template project for stuff like that. And when I need to reuse it somewhere I duplicate the project, un-pauses it (all my template projects are on-hold to keep them out of my review cycles) and drag-n-drop it to the folder or onto the project I want it in (you can drop it ON a project to convert it to a task with subtasks).

If you build a project template, you can use it to populate many projects. But once the projects are created, I don’t know of a way other than cut and paste.

There are automation possibilities using other apps but I’m not proficient on these

I also use OmniFocus for managing student groups. I use one of three methods to create tasks and projects depending on circumstances -

  • If I just want identical tasks for each student I copy and paste from templates that I keep in a separate templates folder within OmniFocus

  • If I want tasks or projects that refer to the student by name (e.g. w/f Jane Smith’s assignment, mark Jane Smith’s assignment etc) then I use Curt Clifton’s template

  • If I want a number of tasks that are identical apart from the student’s name (e.g. w/f Jane Smith’s assignment, w/f John Doe’s assignment etc) then I have an Excel spreadsheet called ‘Task generator’ set up for each batch of students where I type the task in once and it creates a list of tasks, one for each student, which I copy and paste into OmniFocus

With the first two options you would be able to populate the template with due dates and tags before use. I don’t know if you could do the same with Excel as I’m not sure how OmniFocus would deal with pasting an array rather than a list from Excel.

Like JJW, I have a project for each batch of assignments. Each project completes within about 3 weeks. But I also have a support project for each student and those projects run for six months for most students.

I hope this helps.
with best wishes

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