Redesign UI/UX for OmniFocus [Things 3]


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…

Just wanted to let you know a quick tip - when you are deep inside a project (many UI pages deep), you can tap and hold the “Back” button. This will instantly jump you back to the home screen no matter where you are. Just thought I would share that with everyone.


Good thoughts here. Two of my favorite features in Things are the ability to swipe down and jump to any project. As well as, the Today simple view with the consolidated calendar (very easy to read and get an overview of my day). These are two features that OF could adopt and make a lot of users happy.

For the swipe - I agree. OF needs an overhaul in this area. Although, I would think Todoist swipe and popup gestures are a little more intuitive (with the today, tomorrow, weekend, next week selections, etc) than always having to select a date. I like the ability to be able to select a date. But, the quick tomorrow or in 2 days, next week, etc. is still something I would love to see with OF.


There is no doubt Things and OF offer different ways to GTD and each person probably prefers the workflow of one over the other.

But it is a really fair point that OF UI is really ugly and massively outdated. It is straight out of 2008. Now many will reply that they do not give a damn about UI if it helps them get stuff done. Awesome for them - I say that with no sarcasm. But many, including me, want to work on beautiful applications. It is one reason we use a Mac. OF is a premium priced product (which I have paid - I have also bought things 3) and it needs to be improved on a more regular basis.
Things 3 is stunningly pretty to me. But I like minimal and flat designs.

I fight same thing with text editors. UltraEdit for mac has 100% of the features I want. Its dreadfully ugly. Atom, sublime 3 and some others maybe offer 90% of what I want - but I find I am just generally happier using them as they are so lovely.


I agree completely. I think OF should/could have evolved much more from the inception of V2. I do appreciate the deep improvements that the OG have made but UI for me is a very high priority. I have been testing out Things 3 and have been quite impressed. I’m not 100% on the UI but OF by comparison may as well be Excel. For an application I interact with many times a day across multiple devices I don’t think it in any way misguided to place a really high priority on the interface and the workflow. One of the things I really like about Things is the way it seems to funnel. Ultimately its all about what do I need to do today/now. I see in previous posts that some people don’t like this but for me it’s been pretty great. I suppose that’s due to the the fact that Things forces you to it’s workflow. Lack of attachments is definitely not great. Someone in a previous post said they Tested Things 3 and said that they found the omission of calendar to be a big miss. Not sure I understand that. CC has delivered exactly what I have wanted and inexplicably rarely see in task managers. Show me my calendar commitments in line with my tasks for the day. Forecast for me was always a bit of a miss. Duplicate Deferred/Due items. Inability to display a custom perspective instead. And the bizarre way it looks on MacOS is just insane. There’s this vertical display on as horizontal timeline that ends up looking like alphabet soup to me. (It is better on IOS). I don’t necessarily need to manage my calendar but I need to be able to see it in a coherent way so I can adjust tasks accordingly and establish a realistic outlook for the day. Speaking of which, Things allows me to reschedule and move things around very easily. The addition of “This Evening” is fantastic to me. I can just bounce things around super quick until Today’s combination of Calendar Events and tasks is to my satisfaction and off I go. In OF I tend to experience a serious level of friction on that front. Again may just be my workflow. Ultimately Things is very close in my mind but just misses some key Things that OF has (Encryption, Perspectives, Mail to Task, Attachments)…but after experiencing a great feeling of “flow” using Things I’m left questioning what is more important to me in terms of actually getting things done. I go back to OF but I just cringe a lot of the time. It’s so not fluid at all for me. That’s the word I’ve been looking for: fluid.


Things is a lovely looking app but pack a big database in it and see what happens…chaos! My OF database was simply too much for Things.
I understand aesthetics are important but personally there is too much white space in Things which hurts the eyes. I was one of many who called for OF2 to have less white space and the OG provided a solution that fixed it a long time ago!
Whilst I think the thumb slide task animation is clever and flexible it adds another thing to do every day that I don’t need to do in OF2.
Lack of sequential lists makes Things useless to me.
Lack of file attachment/images/pdf’s etc make Things a pretty toy but like a toy the novelty wears off after a few hours.
I also said the lack of a calendar was a big disappointment for me. In OF2 I easily manipulate tasks using the calendar with simple drag and drop. In Things it becomes a convoluted group of actions to defer tasks, and woe betide, try finishing a repeating task early! No chance. Completely inflexible.
Still if you can manage with Things then you don’t need OF2 which is the point really. All I know is my recent trip to Italy would have been much less simple if I was stuck with Things. Having all tickets, hotel bookings & various other paraphernalia safely at my fingertips with OF2 made life simple.


There will be many users that like to have an app guide them and tell them how to do something. That’s what’s great about Things 3. It will hold your hand as you try to figure out your workflow.

OmniFocus never really had that “hold my hand and I’ll take you there” feeling. But it is much more flexible in letting people create a workflow that suits them better.

In the end, if Things 3 is all a user needs, good for them. But OmiFocus 2 is light years ahead. It just feels like both apps are set up for different types of users.

In the beginning of my journey with OmniFocus 1, I had some friction. But as I started slowly crafting OmniFocus 1 and OmniFocus 2 to my workflow, I gained traction and really started moving.


I took Things 3 for a spin, but didn’t stay with it long for a lot of the same reasons as others have listed. Like many of us, I am guilt of fiddling with the system too much probably, but it is always in an effort to be more productive (at least that’s what I tell myself :) ) I was hoping to simplify my system with the new Things 3. I realized I probably had too many contexts, and projects that were perhaps over complicated with nesting. I thought maybe Things 3 would force me to simplify and perhaps allow me to prioritize. I had reached a point with OF where the lack of the ability to prioritize was creating some overwhelming feelings. I have since started adding a priority snippet to the front of each task, and have made some custom perspectives with text searches to sort it all out while I patiently wait for multiple contexts.

I couldn’t adapt to the limited folder structure in Things 3. OF makes me feel much more organized with the nesting ability multiple levels deep. I did like the list feature in T3, but didn’t like the fact that anything in a list could not have additional data like a context applied to it.

Not being able to fold projects up in the left pane was another disappointment.

The OF2 import into Things 3 was very nice. It had to be tweaked a little bit, but it didn’t take long, and I have a large database. There is also no way to switch to a tag view. They open up in a separate window, but it wasn’t very useful. I like the context view to work out of and was hoping for that functionality with the tags.

I also missed OF’s review feature.

Although touted as a product feature for simplicity by Things 3, I prefer to see the details about my tasks displayed instead of having them hidden. In Things 3 you have to click on a task to see dates/times/attachments/etc. I agree with others on the white space being out of control. I remember how happy I was when OF released the compact view.

OF2 absolutely crushes Things 3 on the iphone. I didn’t realize just how easy it is to get around in OF2 and how closely it mimics the desktop version.

As I worked my way around the software seeing if I could make it fit, I found that what I missed most was this forum! So many helpful folks here that are willing to share their experiences, thoughts, and hacks on just about any OF subject no matter how trivial. Seems like there was a Things forum at some point in the past, but I couldn’t find it now.


Yeah, lack of multiple folder or project sublevels in Things is a big bummer.


I moved away from OmniFocus back when Things 3 came out. I do graphic design for a living so this decision was largely based on the UI of Things 3 vs OmniFocus. Within the first 5 minutes of gaining access to the Things 3 beta I said “This will win an Apple design award this year at WWDC”. Low and behold it did… The design is absolutely stunning. It’s simplicity combined with it’s beautiful animations make it, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful apps on the Apple platform (both iOS and MacOS). With that said, OmniFocus still reigns supreme as the GTD powerhouse. Nothing else comes close in my opinion. One of the big problems I have with OmniFocus is it’s design and UI. I’m really hoping they consider a complete redesign with OmniFocus 3 both on the Mac and on iOS. I think their icons are cheesy and remind me of the early 2000’s. Also, the bondi blue (or teal) color they use for perspectives is nasty. It’s like the Miami in the 80’s of the software world. I also think the sidebar on the Mac is very ugly. When compared with the Things 3 slide over it’s painful to look at. I hope Omni follows Apple’s lead (which they usually do) and starts designing the OmniFocus UI to fall more in line with where iOS 11 is going. The app store cards are beautiful and delightful. The Apple music app also does a good job in this regard. Even non Apple apps like AirBnB are beautiful in their simplicity. I don’t buy into this idea that a clean design means you have to sacrifice power and feature set. I think software should be delightful to use. It should make you happy. The more beautiful the design, the more likely you’re going to want to browse your action lists. It’s no different than getting into a beautiful Tesla makes you want to hit the open road vs getting into a 2003 Honda civic. For the people who say UI doesn’t matter much, would you rather have the look of iOS 6 vs iOS 11? Design and UI matter, in a huge way. When OmniFocus got redesigned for iOS 7 it was awesome. A striking contrast. I think it’s time to do that again with iOS 11.

The other big reason I moved away from OF to Things is how they treat your due/today tasks. In order for you to have your daily list show up it either has to have a due date or be flagged. I like making a short list for the day of what I’d like to get done without every being “due” or having to have a flag. This is where Things 3 excels.

To conclude I can’t wait to see so of the major changes coming to OmniFocus in Q4 but I really hope they go back to the drawing board for a complete UI overhaul.


How great would it be if Omnifocus took on a design similar to the card like designs in the new App Store on iOS 11?


Can’t see why. Redesign, yes, it’s time. But cards?


I find that appropriate use of contexts, weekly reviews, focusing and perspectives works for me to make a short list for the day without using “due” or flags.


It doesn’t have to be cards necessarily but a redesign that gives the UI a fresh look and feel. Similar to what Cultured Code has done with Things 3.


I like what they have done with Things 3, but would prefer OF to remain powerful and have a very different look, nothing like Things.

Things has nice animations, but after the 3rd time you see then… they become tiring.
If Omni would ever come with that, I’d love to see options to turn them off. But that’s maybe just me :)


Yeah I couldn’t disagree more. I don’t think beautiful design and delightful/thoughtful animations mean the software can’t be powerful. I think you can have the best of both worlds. iOS is full of beautiful animations that I never get sick of. It’s the most powerful mobile OS on the planet and they haven’t compromised on either.


Agree. It can surely be beautiful yet powerful.

What I don’t want/like is the “similar to Things” part: don’t want it to be similar, nor have those slow animations that can’t be turned off. :)


Fully agreed. I will flag occasionally as a marker of priority. But other than that, I will not struggle with a “Today” list.

By the way, I feel like too many apps force you into a due date game. In my opinion you should only ever mark things due if they are hard deadlines: “Pay bill x”, “Finish report y”, etc. And only ever on that day.

Arbitrary due dates are counterproductive and a sure sign of misaligned priorities. You’ll never be able to keep up and focus on what matters.


Whether you like it or not, due dates play an important role, especially for those that have to deal with contracts/agreements/etc. such as IT. In IT you always set a due date to any service request that comes in. The due date that is set is determined by the Service Level Agreement for that particular customer/component/application/etc. Not meeting the due date will can have serious repercussions. If you are lucky you only have an unhappy customer, if you are unlucky you have to pay a fine or you get sued for breach of contract. There are certifications where setting a due date to the issues is mandatory. Some of these certifications are required by law (when you deal with certain amounts of money, medical data, etc.) or by customers.

The reason for saying this is something like the following topic: Jira - Omnifocus Sync. Jira is a well known issue tracker from the Australian company Atlassian and used by many. It can be used for both developers, system engineers and the IT servicedesk. It can show a list of issues sorted by due date which gives a good overview of what needs to be done first. These issues can be quite specific but they can also be generic. The generic ones you may want to split up into multiple parts if needed. OmniFocus would be a great place for doing that and keeping track of all the various things you need to do but it will require due dates.

IT can be very chaotic at times since things can change at a moments notice. Applications can suddenly crash and some are more important than others so the priority and due dates shift a lot. If you work in IT you really need to be flexible and you really need to have good tools that give you a good overview of all the issues and due dates on them else you do indeed lose track of them. Keeping up though…in IT that is never possible; when you check off one issue you’ll be greeted with 2 new ones… Such is life. 🤷‍♂️


Using both Jira and OF daily (we’re in the testing phase of a major project), I would argue very strongly against the idea of attempting to use OF to manage Jira issues. IT ticket management is too reactive and (as you suggest) unpredictable to fit into the OF model of capture, plan execute.

Jira itself provides plenty of facilities to set due dates, get reminders, generate filtered lists of tasks and so on. There is, in my ind, no point in attempting to replicate that in OF. Where OF does provide added value is when you need to think about something beyond the tickets themselves - patterns of issues suggesting an underlying problem, management issues around maintaining the service level - in other words, a slightly higher level view.

Example: in my project we have maybe 50 tickets around user alerts. The tickets and the tracking status in Jira; OF has a set of actions about investigating the underlying cause of all these issues and the consequences of various fix strategies. OF also has the actions for producing the statistics I need for management and reporting to stakeholders.

In general, I agree with the proposition that you don’t allocate due dates unless they’re needed in OF - otherwise, you lose much of the control you’re looking for in how you plan your work. If you’re working in a due-date driven environment, then perhaps OF isn’t the right tool.

Hope that all makes sense


Yep, that’s actually what I meant. I’m looking at it like a git repository which you can simply clone and then go nuts because that repo is for you only. OmniFocus is your own personal task manager that allows you to deep dive into tasks/issues (more on that in the last paragraph, it may not mean what you think it means!) assigned to you.

And that is the entire issue with OmniFocus. You cannot use it in an environment that uses project management or any other system that holds the tasks and where due dates are set (changing those due dates or not having the correct due dates can be quite dangerous since it is false information or you change the entire planning of the project). In that scenario you end up juggling between various kinds of tools and that degrades the overview you have of your work. I see a lot of people ending up with pen and paper to do their planning because of it.

The other thing is that you really shouldn’t be using due dates to plan your work. Due dates are meant to be used for those cases where it is adamant to have something done at or before a specific time/date (which is the case when working with contracts, SLA, etc.). The other option OmniFocus offers is “defer” which is only meant to be used to denote that you cannot do something before that time/date. In other words, OmniFocus only allows you to set a time frame when you can do something and when it has to be finished. There is no option for planning, something that is also discussed in this topic: Feature request: Today list.

Be careful when you talk about Jira and IT ticket management! They aren’t only for incident management like you are mentioning (where you are fixing problems). They also have to allow for feature/service requests, requests for information (getting a quote is an example of that) and so on even though they are all called “issues” (iow you need to be careful with the terminology here). Jira comes with its own planning tool for projects as well so you can manage the project itself. In that scenario you’d use OmniFocus as your personal task manager. And yes, all those non-issue issues can have a due date as well.