Redesign UI/UX for OmniFocus [Things 3]


Just wanted to chime in and say that I love this developer but hate the UI. I’ve moved into things 3, but I decided to try omnifocus 2 again because it’s so feature packed and has a dark theme. It’s impossible for me to go back now, because it feels like too much work to use omnifocus 2 and I know many others feel the same way. The whole reason why I used to hate phones and love the iPhone is because it’s easy and effortless to use, unlike my old blackberry pearl phone.

Omnifocus 2 is what omnifocus one should’ve been, and now that things 3 is out, it seems like a lot of people moved on, and of 2 dropped on the charts. I’m actually not a fan of cultured code though because they stay silent on updates and take so long to release up to date features, but things 3 is so good to the point where I don’t feel it’s missing out on a needed feature for me. I’m sure die hard GTD users won’t like things 3, but I’m not one of them, and it’s honestly one of the best designed apps I’ve used since the launch of the App Store in 2009.


I’m pleased to see people choosing to move to Things 3 where it work for them - that’s how these things ought to work. But I’m always puzzled by the need to dump on Omni as they go. Cultured Code took years to provide a new version of Things and simply changed the UI without dealing with any of the amy outstanding feature requests. Their support is via Twitter (really?). Their user forum was killed off years ago because they could handle the criticism, and the nearest they have now is a user-only subreddit. Meanwhile, omni provide updates and new features several times a year and support this very active user forum, as well providing direct access to a responsive support team.

If you prefer Things, fine, but don’t try and hide it behind “OF is only for die-hard GTD users” and “a lot of people have moved on”. There’s room in this world for both.

As a final point - I’m resolutely not die-hard GTD and I’ve tried Things serval times. I think the supposed marvellous UI is awful - it looks very pretty, but it works very badly indeed - for me.


Having switched to Things 3, I really don’t think the two pieces of software are comparable products. I moved not because OmniFocus is broken in any specific way, or that Things is inherently a “better” piece of software. I moved because Things is a better tool for what I’m doing right now. A lot of the things that make OmniFocus powerful and useful get in my way at the moment.

If my situation changes and I need more complexity and power, I’ll put down the tool I’m currently using and pick up a more suitable tool. I don’t break down my cardboard boxes for recycling with my chain saw – the box cutter is much better :).

I have the exact opposite reaction with the UI in Things. Sooo much easier for me on my iPad right now.


While I would never give up Omnifocus and its perspectives, reviews and true hierarchies, I was curious about Things 3 and tried it on the Iphone. After the initial joy, I found that the finish in the details wasn’t always what I would have expected. One example: as Things packs most of the information about a task in one line in the task list, the task names easily become so shortened that they are incomprehensible.

Still, there are certainly things The Omni Group could learn from Things 3 for Iphone:

  1. The swipe left gesture elegantly combines activation of multi-selection mode with selecting the first task and showing a bottom bar for scheduling, moving and deleting tasks. To me, this is better use of the gesture than Omnifocus has.

  2. After selecting multiple tasks, it’s possible to drag them directly as a group. This would be a great model when multiselecting becomes possible in Omnifocus, rather than having to choose ”Move” from a menu as in Omnioutliner (that menu allows more choices, though).

  3. While I like the Omnifocus way to show a separate screen for editing tasks (and there allowing the user to go directly to the next task by tapping the down arrow), I wish that Omnifocus in some way would indicate where in the task list I was while I return to the list. As Things opens the tasks for editing directly in the task list, you never get lost in the lists.

  4. While scrolling downwards in a project with a long task list, the project name always stays on top of the screen as a reminder (as it in fact does on the Ipad version of Omnifocus, but not on the Iphone).

  5. If one sets a start date (defer date in Omnifocus) in the future for a task, the task automatically jumps to the bottom of the otherwise only manually sorted task list. When the date has come, the task automatically jumps back to its original place in the list.

  6. The Upcoming view shows more than one date at a time. I prefer the look of the Forecast view in Omnifocus, but I still don’t understand why it only shows one date at a time – to me it would be so natural to tap on the word ”Forecast” to see all dates, and to tap on a day, as it works now, if I only would like to see tasks for a single day.


I agree with your take on the Things 3 and would love to see some of the features make its way to Omnifocus. I gave Things 3 a month and while I did love some of the features I never got a sense of trust that I was seeing all the tasks that I needed and the lack of a review turned to be the deal breaker. As for the Upcoming perspective I loved the scrolling thru dates. I could quickly look at my upcoming week and plan and reorganize accordingly.


+1 for a kanban view! (But I’ve said that before — fingers crossed!)


Y’know I’ve been skeptical about the whole idea of a “waiting for” list or context for a long time. A “waiting for” is really just another deferred task (i.e. ❏ Follow up with Jones about that report that was supposed to be on my desk yesterday). If the thing I’m waiting for does show up on time, it gets processed like any other inbox item, and it’s easy enough just to delete or check off the follow-up task when it comes up. I very rarely have any need to “review” the things I’m waiting for before the expected due date — and even if there’s a person or situation that I have to keep tabs on in the interim, that too is just one more, potentially recurring, deferred task. I’ve never seen any advantage to having all these check-in and follow-up tasks gathered together in their own list.


Bumping to keep this alive. I’m not advocating that OF make drastic changes to the interface to compete with others, but a fresher design that acknowledges the UI changes that have come since iOS 7 was released (which I think was the last time OF on iOS got a visual refresh, if I recall?) would be very, very welcome.

+1 to everything @Jan_H said above regarding what Things does well that gave me pause for a few weeks while I used it.


I understand your sketicism. But I find that having a “delegated” or “waiting for” list helpful when:

  • the tasks I’ve asked others to do do not have a hard due date
  • I have no control or influence over when a third party completes a task, but cannot begin my next step until that task is complete.

An example of the latter: I’m an attorney, and frequently I have to wait on a court to issue a decision before taking the next steps in a case. It’s helpful to know that I am “waiting for” a court to issue a decison (and thus cannot take the next step in a case) even though it would be unwise for me to “follow-up” with the court.

Generally though, I find it helpful to have a single place to see all the items on which I am waiting for others to do something, even if I also have separate tasks to “follow-up with X re Y.”


Agreed. OF is ready for a UI refresh. It helps to keep the product in front of new users and stay ahead (or at least keep up) with the competition.


I would love to see the “mail to things” feature in Omnifocus 2+. I know it has mail drop but the Things version actually clips the link from the email(Apple Mail, iOS Mail to the bottom of the todo so that you can click on it and go back to the email on any device. Very nice!


Doesn’t OmniFocus already do this with the Clip-o-Tron?


Thanks yes true for MacOSX. However what about iOS. Yes you can use drag and drop on the iPad but not on the iPhone. Not a consistent experience across platforms like Things.


Gotcha! I suppose there is Mail Drop but that doesn’t then give you a link back to the original email.


I get what you’re saying, but presumably there’s some action you would take if a certain amount of time passes (a month? a year?) and you still haven’t received that decision. I don’t know what that action might be (looking up records, contacting a court clerk or secretary of some kind to see if something was issued but somehow never got to you?), but until then, what’s the benefit of having your headspace cluttered by information that you have no intention of acting on?


Sure, I create actions to follow-up with people (or to check court websites for decisions), etc. an appropriate amount of time out.

But I also want to be able to see a list of everything I’m waiting on—everything I’ve assigned out. I use the notes field of such tasks to track when something was assigned, and whether there have been any intermediate follow-up actions taken.

And of course, the whole idea of keeping such tasks in a “Waiting for” perspective/tag/context is that they dont clutter up all the things I have to do.


I took another peek at Things 3 just to see what was there. It’s been a while since I’ve looked.

I guess the appeal of Things 3 is that it looks a lot more like a paper list that we draw up on paper. It has distinctive headers to group a bunch of tasks. It has a checklist for users. But this can be done with action groups inside a project in OmniFocus. The presentation in OmniFocus isn’t quite the same as Things 3. Sometimes, I’d like to have my grouping titles presented differently. For now, I’m just using some of the other custom themes that we’ve been blessed with from other users here in the forum.

At the moment, the OmniFocuscolors app feels rough and it takes a lot of patience to figure out which setting changes a particular element (grouping, task name, overdue, due, due soon, flagged, etc.).

I find it interesting to see a little battle going on between the two extremes of information density. Some users are more comfortable with higher data density but others like Things 3’s use of white space.

I’d like to be to get an app that is easier to use than OmniFocuscolors. Then hopefully get my custom themes cross over to my iOS app. Such wishful thinking that will probably set aside for another day because the OmniFolks are quite busy revving up OmniFocus 3 for iOS (and eventually the Mac version) for release.


I use a ‘Waiting On’ context/tag for tasks I am waiting on something for. I also flag and defer these until the point at which I would like to take action if I haven’t gotten whatever it is I need.
In the meantime I have a ‘Waiting On’ perspective which shows me all remaining ‘Waiting On’ tasks.

So, when the dates arrives they will jump to my attention in my usual perspectives due to the flag, but I can always see everything I am waiting on in the other perspective.



Things developers Make me nervous! I can’t use a Daily software with this people! Love omnifocus, and OmniPlan staff, hope just in some little things, in iOS app more,…