Redesign UI/UX for OmniFocus [Things 3]


At least the Omnigroup 2017 road map has #2 - Batch editing.

I’m OK with tasks residing in a miscellaneous Single Action List as referred to in #6. I don’t think I want single actions getting lost in between all of my projects. It gets too messy for me. I need those floating tasks crammed into a misc list in each folder.

Item #7 - stronger repeating tasks was mentioned in one of Ken Case’s tweets.


I agree with you in most of the Things you stated here, but mostly with the swipes and batch editing.

I think the devs should find a way to make the forecast more useful, or intuitive.

And i know this is not important but as i have an iPhone 5s i find the interface to be huge. (i made jailbreak a while ago, used the iPhone 6/6s/7 resolution in iPhone my device and it was just the perfect size, sometimes it takes too much space and it bothers me.


Personally, I prefer to have all the functions of a GTD app, rather than having a beautiful graphically but impractical app.
I think Things 3 has been thought of as “software checklist” (there aren’t GTD method in Things 3), OmniFocus instead was created with the method GTD on OmniGroup developers’s head.
I think this is the fundamental difference. For me, not so bad the graphics of OmniFocus 2.
I tend to the substance, not the appearance.


I think you may be giving Things 3 short shrift. It is definitely meant to be a GTD app, and it succeeds in many ways. It does not have all the power of OmniFocus, but it certainly ly allows for the basic GTD model.

And, looks aside, it has some interface refinements that OmniFocus would do well to adopt.


Also would like automatic slide in sidebar & Inspection panels the same as Omnioutliner has. They are brilliant on OO! Imagine having those on OF2!


Perhaps I follow with great severity the GTD method. So Things 3 seems like a toy for the method created by David Allen.


@valeminer, are you still on the fence between Things 3 and OmniFocus?

If your life demands are simpler then Things 3 is great. When you need something more, OmnIFocus will handle it.

There are many people who don’t need the bells and whistles of contexts, sequential vs parallel projects, and custom perspectives. Things 3 is perfect if you don’t want or need these features.

I’ve downloaded the Things 3 demo and played with it. Things 3 is a great entry point into the world of task management. But it didn’t offer anything else to make me want to switch. But I can see some users who are finding OmniFocus difficult and just need to Get to some of the more common task mangement features.


I’m curious: What part of GTD do you think can’t be done in Things?

David Allen emphasizes that his method can be done in any number of ways, and has said that if you can’t figure out how to do it with mere paper and folders, you might be over thinking it.


Just adding my thoughts here, and I’m not strictly referring to GTD.

  • Sequential tasks. In bigger projects, this is a must. I find that the default parallel tasks view in Things clutters up the view. I don’t want nor need to see a task I cannot start without finishing the previous one. There’s not really a workaround in Things.

  • Reviewing. You could do this in Things, but it wouldn’t be a formal process. You’d just go over the tasks, whereas OmniFocus allows you to create intervals for reviewing and presents you with a dedicated process. I find it more structured. And I believe reviewing really sets OmniFocus apart from the rest.

  • Structure & organisation. I’ve said it before: Things only has a limited hierarchy, while OmniFocus allows you to structure things better. Mind you, nothing is more than 3 levels deep in my setup (Folder / Project/List > Task > Subtasks but I find it flexible to organise how I want to.

  • Flexibility. In fact, Things forces a default methodology upon you: Today/Upcoming/Anytime/etc. While it might be nice to some, I don’t really work this way. I could, if I wanted to, replicate this in OmniFocus. But I don’t really structure my stuff like that. I guess it may be a foothold for some people, but I prefer the versatility to build my system however I see fit. OmniFocus allows for this.

I guess it always boils down to personal preference. After working with OmniFocus for years, I feel I have a very trusted and flexible system at my disposal. It does what I want. For some people who might not need or want a versatile and comprehensive feature set, Things might be a perfect fit.


Missing primarily the weekly review: is a serious oversight. Also, I think sequential projects and subtasks are an important part of GTD’s managing activities. Personally, I think it’s essential to give order and priority to some activities over others. In addition, it also lacks the ability to waiting contexts and projects. In Things 3 is a bit confusing managing projects and contexts (Moreover David Allen calls them contexts, no tags).


Personally, and again this is just my way of working, I have never understood the need for “unlimited” tags. I remember some early setups where people would tag away in Things: “home”, “urgent”, “important”, etc. All attached to one to do. I think restricting it to a single context is actually liberating: it forces you to clarify how you will approach the task.

That said, it seems there is a clear demand for multiple tags/contexts, and I see Omni is planning to add the functionality to OmniFocus in 2017.

I noticed when playing around with Things 3 that you can filter with combined tags, but only on macOS, not on iOS, if I’m not mistaken.


Yes, I also like the idea of strict contexts, but look forward to using tags as clarifiers.

By way of example, I see having “Waiting”, “Call”, “Email”, and “In Person” contexts, with tags for names (Jim, Sally, Rodrick, etc.). In that way, I could easily see a list of all m calls, or I could easily see a list of all things relating to Jim (all as an example).

As others have said, GTD as a philosophy and framework can be accomplished with no more than pen and paper - these apps serve as enablers to facilitate that workflow. I don’t think any app is inherently GTD or not, but the amount of features (or lack) can certainly either encourage or discourage GTD-like thinking.



These are the Things features I’ve found really compelling, and hope Omni thinks about adding, UI aside. I know some it is on the roadmap, but:

  • True Start Dates - It’s great having the ability to separately say when I’m starting a task and when it’s due. Can’t really do it in OF; I end up putting it all on the Due Date and manually rescheduling multi-day tasks.
  • Alerts - You can set an alert time for a task. Could be more flexible (you’re out of luck if you want an alert the day before), but it beats only alerting you when tasks become overdue.
  • Sorting - Automatic sort by date + a degree of manual sorting in any view. This removes almost all the sorting work I’m doing constantly in OF. Plus my Today view can be ordered however I like, which can’t be done at all in OF.
  • iOS Parity - The iOS apps are as fully featured as the Mac version, plus they came up with a really easy way to add tasks exactly where you want. Doing the same on the OF iOS app is a multi-step process.


@deaghean What do you mean by “True start dates”? In what way is that different from Defer Dates in OmniFocus?

Just curious and intrigued. :)



When you set a start date in Things, it enters the Today list and stays there until you mark it complete or reschedule it for the future. It’s not overdue unless you set a separate Deadline for it. You’re affirmatively saying “work begins on this task on this date”.

OF’s defer date is more like “work could begin on this date”. The task is available, not necessarily taken up.

You could theoretically use the defer date as a work start date, but it’s kind of a second class citizen in Forecast, and would involve the same amount of rescheduling as using Due, so I don’t personally see the point.


Ah interesting, I do use defer dates as start dates, so I was curious. Everything I’m not working on is either on hold or deferred, so I guess my “available tasks list” is kind of like Things’ Today list?


Everything I’m not working on is either on hold or deferred, so I guess my “available tasks list” is kind of like Things’ Today list?

That’s exactly how I work, as well.

For me, one of the philosophical quirks of Things is that it enforces a temporal perspective. The flow is geared towards moving tasks to Today. However, for me, something that needs to be done Today simply has a due date of today. If not, I can do it any other time. And it does not need to be done today.

Instead of Today, I always work from a list of available tasks and I might flag tasks I am working on right now. Perhaps today, perhaps today, tomorrow, and the day after. But is not bound by the horizon of a strict Today.

The defer dates, too, I feel are more suited to my workflow in OmniFocus. Things wants to remind you, explicitly, as soon as something moves to Today. But again: does that need to be completed on that very same day? For me, a start date marks a date I can begin working on a task. And it could happen that a start date and due date are the very same day. And then, accordingly, I will get notified that something is Due.

As far as alerts are concerned, I would love for those to be more flexible in OmniFocus, too. Specifically if a Due app system could be integrated, I could easily abandon Due in favour of OmniFocus.


Sounds like it! I’m tempted to try a workflow similar to yours to see how it goes. I rely a lot of scheduling in Forecast, and have found dealing with defer dates there annoying, mostly because they’re not represented on the mini-calendar at all.

At any rate, I stand by the other three features I mentioned 😉

That sounds like a very peaceful methodology! Yeah, I can’t imagine Things working well for people who aren’t aggressive schedulers.


@deaghean Ah! There’s the big difference - I almost never use Forecast. For me, stuff is either available or not, and I infrequently monitor a calendar view.

I only really look at Forecast when I am picking defer dates (to try to avoid overloading a particular day) or to see the look of a specific day in the near term (what is changing tomorrow, next Thursday).

Otherwise, I really don’t use Forecast, though I do check a custom perspective called Radar, which groups actions by defer date so that I have an endless scroll view of incoming things. I can see, though, how using Forecast would create different requirements here. Thanks for sharing!



I had the same issue with defer dates, but than I created a custom perspective that have:

Groupe projects by: Defer Date
Sort projects by: Duration

Filter by status: Any Status
Filter by availability: Available
Filter by duration: Any Duration
Filter by projects: Active

The combination of filtering for Available and Active things shows you everything that has started.
If you don’t know the exact defer date for some tasks put them to a Context that is on hold and it will not show up in your perspective. I just started with this around a week ago and this works well for me so far.

And I totally agree that adding a proper task on iOS is quite inefficient as well as navigating through the UI. If you are in some specific project e.g. that is in a folder and want to go to forecast you need to go 3 times back and than enter forecast. This is highly inefficient…