Search? - doesn't find anything

Is there a search that will search OmniFocus?

The menubar search returns no items, and the edit->find->find menu returns the same results, nothing.

It looks like it may find an item on the current page, but what use is that?

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@quadgrande - make sure either that you have no Contexts or Projects selected; or that - if you do - the item for which you’re searching is in one of those Contexts or Projects… Search does work - perfectly! Good luck :-)

Thanks for your reply, I think I understand how it works after playing around with it.

In my opinion it doesn’t work at all. It’s like google saying “make sure you have no other websites open, and go ahead and navigate to the page you want. Then our search will find it.”

Thanks though

The Search term used in the toolbar allows you to find specific item(s) in a long list in the context of whatever view you are currently in which is useful in many workflows. While global search is a common feature request for OmniFocus, it doesn’t currently exist. Please feel free to email a request for Global Search to our support humans at to be sure your request is properly recorded for the team. :) I get what you are saying. I also am used to global search and I want it to work in that way where I can specify the scope too.

Still, we might be able to help you find a workaround to accomplish what you are trying to do for now using current views, or custom perspectives if you have the Pro version.

If you wish to elaborate some on what you are trying to accomplish, I might be able to make a more specific suggestion that would be more helpful. To see what most use as a workaround–check out the support article at

Thanks for your response, I do appreciate it.

As far as elaborating what I would like, I would like to find tasks in OF using a search feature. Right now it’s a very limited search for a particular use case. It’s not search. Change it to “Search this page” and it would be more accurate. “Setup your view and perspective first, then be sure you only have it selected, and I’ll search that page” is what it seems to be. Fine if that’s a long standing feature request. What amazes me more is it was released as a feature in the first place, with such confusing behavior.

OF has turned into a database into which you dump your information, and a set of queries to access that information (what I’d call seeing a task list), you have to understand the entire layout and classification system of the application. You have to read user forums to determine the difference between “next action” and “available”. You have to understand the various views and how all of the attributes for a task go into constructing that view.

You can enter tasks all day long and watch them disappear into the app. Then you get to research how to pull them out again.

It’s a struggle, and I do not have faith that the app will “show” me what I need to see at a particular time (which seems to be its goal, hide everything from you until you need to see it).

It’s a second job. That’s one of the reasons i’d like to search for things. But I have to be on the right page, which means having the filters set up to display the info, then search will work. Find what you want, then search for it is the current method.

Instead I choose to use OmniOutliner to detail my daily tasks, because I can’t get them easily out of OF. I go on an OF walkabout every morning for tasks to add to my “real” task list in OO.

Just my 2 cents, I realize your products are written for others as well who may value this complexity.

I used OmniGraffle because it was an easy to use alternative to Visio. Now it is Visio.

All of it highlights my frustration with OF and OmniGroup as a whole. I’ve been a user since OmniWeb was the best browser on OS X.

It could be just me, but in the end I miss the simple approaches that attracted me to OmniGroup. There’s not an app left really other than OO that retains its original simplicity.

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@quadgrande, may I respectfully suggest that - if you give OF a little more of a chance - its design and workflows (which have been thought out and refined amazingly carefully… over the years) will prove to meet most of your needs very well.

If I want to find an item, I simply search for it in the search bar at the top of the page, having first made sure that no Contexts and no Projects are selected (takes about 3 seconds). I always find it.

Unless, that is, I want to filter my search by a specific Project or Context. Works just as well there.

Additionally/alternatively, you could create a Perspective like this:

It will ensure that your search has no filters at all.

BTW, when you refer to tasks ‘disappearing’ into the app, you’re actually describing what’s meant by a ‘Trusted System’: leave it to the software to do the work. Strongly suggest you give it a real try!



We added global search to our OmniFocus iOS capabilities in the last version. While I don’t know anything specific, I hope to see it on the Mac as well. It has been requested enough that there is a support article about it, so you are not alone in missing that feature.

Some serious thought is being given to ways to simplify the experience for those newer to OmniFocus while still preserving the deeper features that some of our most advanced users rely on. It continues to be a tricky balancing act to include all needed options, but remain approachable. Thank you for sharing more details about your experience, and you are not alone in these thoughts. The staff here does care and I hope that you will continue to let us know what we can do to improve usability.

I have been using OF 2.X for over a year now, and I’ve been using it off and on since it was a set of AppleScripts on top of OO.

I’m just getting tired of struggling with it. I just brought OF up, I’m showing Inbox, I clicked in several random areas that aren’t a button or a selection to try and free up “selecting” something - another difficult thing to do in the UI with all of its columns.

I typed “emc” and it returned zero items. I probably have well over 1,000 tasks over this year with that string in them.

I also entered a new task today, and set a due date. I then wanted to make it a project, so I used the @ sign before typing a new project name.

It disappeared. Which translated means I don’t know which buttons to press to show it again. I don’t know where it is.

And I’ve had enough. If we have to have this conversation and back and forth to discuss the merits of search, and the procedure involved in generating a search for this product, the battle is already lost.

It will ensure that your search has no filters at all.

This is the opposite of search

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Not really: how else would you restrict the criteria for a search; that’s what filters are for, as I’m sure you know and agree. Removing filters means, “Please search on everything” :-)

I see, a perspective on which to perform the search?

Maybe it’s (your) use of the preposition, ‘on’, which is causing difficulties. Perspectives are filters are Views into the independently-existing data.

My ‘Everything’ Perspective could be used specifically to include All states of availability - including completed and otherwise unavailable tasks.

What I do to perform the kind of search that I think you want is make sure that no Projects or Contexts are selected in the Sidebar.

That way my search is global in every respect except that it does exclude completed tasks and those otherwise unavailable because they’re excluded anyway from those Perspectives by choice.

I am talking about the DeskTop version of OF 2 Pro, BTW!

Thanks for your suggestion and time @MarkSealey. I am using the desktop pro version as well, and I’ll set up what you suggested.

Search has brought to the fore my frustration with the struggle of using OF exclusively for time management.

I’m trying to get away from using OO. I don’t want to use two applications.

But I enjoy the freedom of looking at what I have chosen to do today (not what OF has a due date for today, or an item that just came off deferred ), and what I’ve done in days past, in a straight up fashion. I know I typed a task, it’s there, I see it where I put it, and checked as complete, and i did it on Thursday.

For example, what did I do last week? Common question, I can get that very quickly from OO. I couldn’t tell you how to get that out of OF. I don’t see any date filters for perspectives.

I’ve read GTD, researched GTD, followed Omni, watched their videos, I read lifehacker. Today I posted on the boards.

I’m asking a somewhat existential and perhaps rhetorical question…why do we do all of this? So you can write down what you have to do, and reference it later.

Seems a bit much to me at this point.

Please stick with it: I moved back to OF after trying all the other comparable s/w.

It’s flexible: you can add a new Task without ever setting a date, Deferred or Due. Or assigning it a Context. Or even a Single Action Items Project.

Its strength for me is precisely that you can dump everything you have to do (my memory isn’t what it was) and assign how, when, where or even whether you want/must/need/can do it at the same time.

I have a Waiting Perspective where every item is on hold.

That’s where perspectives will help: let them do the work, not you! Good luck :-)

Here’s a breakdown of where I have an issue.

There are two types of data
Not Inbox

Once an item is in the Inbox, the only filter is deferred or blocked. It will stay there, not too much to remember.
Once an item is out of the Inbox, you can only look for it with the following criteria:

Is it flagged?
Duration? Does anyone use this? Assumed it’s calculated on Estimated Time. See what’s happening here?
Project Status - not task status - what if it’s not a project?
Task Availability - an OF term that I must interpret

That’s it, and search doesn’t really help.

So I would conclude that you better know ahead of time what attributes to assign to a task in the Inbox before you change it, have a pretty good idea of where it will go once you do, and how to configure OF to display that “view” or you won’t know how to find it.

I presumed the goal was to simplify and remove the effort of worrying about tasks.

OF is making that goal a second career in task management.

I don’t trust a system that makes it difficult to find the information I’ve entered into it.

Have you considered using contexts? It is a powerful way to sort your items, and you can apply a context to items in the Inbox as well.

Most people use Contexts to solve the issue you mention here. It might not solve every thing, because keep in mind, you have to pick one context and only one, but they are heirarchical and you can select them discontinuously in the sidebar to get exactly the selection you want on the fly. Check out this video at if it sounds like it might help.

Give that a try and see what you think. Good luck!

Thanks Mark, that perspective was really helpful.


Thanks for posting about this. It’s been a struggle for me also and I completely agree that the ‘search’ field at the top of the window should simply be a global search. I see tasks disappear after I edit them and then really struggle to find them too.

However I have found the search perspective that @MarkSealey posted in this thread to be a decent workaround. And the iOS search works nicely.

Very welcome, Peter!

Whenever I try to find a task that I just edited, I visit the “Changed” perspective. That will show me what I just changed. Then I can verify the changes I made or correct it.

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