Rant: Why I still HATE the Archive option

In the real-world, I archive projects entirely. I don’t say …

“Well, today I will file away the three pieces of paper on Project XYZ that I completed at the end of May. Next month, I’ll file away the two remaining pieces of paper on Project XYZ that I completed at the end of June”.

So that, next month, when I go to write my progress report on Project XYZ, I see only two things that I did on it. And, if I look back in the file, I cannot remember how to fit the three other pieces of paper back in to Project XYZ; their historical importance is lost to me. And, even when I do figure out where they go, I can no longer get the three papers out of the archive file without significant convolutions.

But, OmniFocus works this way. And it does so always. And you have absolutely no other default option. And the other option to override this “illogical” automatic archiving approach in a manual way is consistently broken. And it has been this way for years and years.




I struggle with this as well. For the way I work, I need to be able to archive entire projects, and I need to be able to archive the project whether all steps were completed or not.

Since I can’t manually archive entire projects when I’m ready to, I know that I’m not using OmniFocus to its fullest. I don’t use any of the review features, because I’m always faced with projects that have uncompleted steps - projects I would have archived YEARS ago if I had a way to archive the ENTIRE project in its then-current state.

I agree that the current archiving process is illogical. I have colleagues who are still paper-based in their project management. Just as in your example, they don’t file individual pieces of paper as each step is completed. They need to see who the whole project fits together for their monthly reports. When the entire project is finished, they file the documents together.

I know that this has been discussed on the forums a number of times over the the years, but as far as I can tell there still isn’t a workable solution. On a thread I started almost two years ago, Kamil suggested a workaround: move all old projects to a folder and modify the review date. That mostly works for the purposes of review, but it’s still a WORKAROUND. I’d much prefer a SOLUTION.

Lest I sound too much like a mad dog, here is a constructive proposal for a much-needed change.

With this, the archive option can be set to stash away items only when their containing project is also dropped OR completed (or both). The next step would be to have a listbox to select only specific Projects to archive. I’d be hard pressed to press hard for having a listbox selection as much as I am pressing adamantly for at least some basic Project-level control on what can get archived.



I envision a slightly different approach. I’d like to just be able to right-click on any given project and choose Archive Now. OmniFocus would just archive the project as-is - complete, incomplete, dropped, whatever.

And as far as that goes, because I need to group projects into months (Folders), I’d like be to able to right-click an entire folder and archive everything in it.


Nice idea! I like this approach too. It would in fact not have to include any additional switches in dialog boxes. A user could just choose not to archive something until it was complete or dropped.

I’d then ask also for a way to turn off the automatic warnings that ask me to archive my database. Unless it includes the new dialog options, I would continue to be annoyed rather than helped by its continual “in your face” approach.



This is the way with OmniFocus.

OF2 still allows you to block an overdue item, and hide it in nearly all views. There is no use case where hiding an overdue item is useful, and many where it is harmful. Folks have complained about this for years, and Omni just ignores us.

I never use Sequential projects with deadlines because of this. It’s a big pain.

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I thought that archive is just a copy; Does AppleScript allow you to do this?

The intent of archiving in OF is to prune the active database. So, archiving removes tasks from the active database to the archive database; it does not just copy them over.

The Applescript dictionary does not include an easy path to archive by project. It would have to be “kludged together”. Even as modestly versed in Applescript that I am, I am not interested to weed through the rigor that would be needed to manage the moving of stuff on a project-level basis. I cannot for example begin to imagine how tedious it would be to duplicate a nested folder structure from the active database to the archive database in a reliable manner.


I thought that their AppleScript library allowed copying the entire tree below a project.

Possible workaround:

Make a blank .ofocus file to use as a Project archive. OF2 does not support drag/drop between databases, but it will do copy/paste. You can copy/paste the project you want to archive from your main database into the archive file. I just tried it, it will even paste completed items and notes. You can copy/paste projects back out of the archive if you ever need to.

You could also make a backlink to the archived project, and paste it into your main database. You have a list of archived projects that you can locate in the archive with a click.

Of course, you could automate a lot of this using KM or AppleScript.

Hope that helps.

Interesting, @anamorph. This is close to the desirable functionality that I would like to see built into OF.


I Archive stuff manually by copy+paste. I handle the mess that it causes manually. I do the Archives so infrequently (every 4 months), the RoI for me to develop a reliable Applescript is minimal to zero.

Exactly! The emphasis is … built into OF.


i like the mix of two options, a list option and a right click option to archive


currently it’s strange and impractical, e.g., currently, i am going back to an old project that was half complete and then dropped with the view to maybe going back and completing it depending if the situation changed.

Now i maybe back on the project, but half of it is missing, half is in my of and the other half is in my archive, it gets very weird like this.

I do see OF logic, using the time as the marker for archiving all tasks and projects but i think we should be able to restrict some projects from being archived and also select others to archive with a right click or a list as stated above as well as the current option.

it’s quite important to archive because OF on my iPhone seems to slow down after a while.

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I’d also like to see an Archive Now option added. I had a couple of finished projects I wanted to get out of my active database.I copied and pasted them into the archive but I was surprised there wasn’t an easier way.

+1 for including Archive Now in a future release

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[quote=“DrJJWMac, post:8, topic:27468, full:true”]
The intent of archiving in OF is to prune the active database. So, archiving removes tasks from the active database to the archive database; it does not just copy them over.[/quote]
From what I recall the intend is not to prune the active database but to downsize it so it won’t slow down OmniFocus (those with large databases will benefit the most). It does so by moving old stuff (the user defines what is old by setting a date) from the active database to the archive database.

It would indeed by nice if there were some more options for defining what is old and what is not but it remains to be seen if that will increase performance. I’d rather see an actual solution to the performance issue instead of the archiving workaround we have now.

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