What kind of text format I can use to Import my list of projects and their actions to Omnifocus


I am new to Omnifocus, I have a list of projects with their related tasks in a text file (csv format). I was wondering if I can import that text file to create my projects with their task in OmniFocus 2.


Unfortunately, though we have an open request to directly import CSV into OmniFocus, it’s not yet possible. There is a work-around, and I apologize in advance for the extra work.

If you convert your CSV text file into a tab-delimited text file (using your favorite spreadsheet, perhaps), you can import that into OmniOutliner (the free trial works for this), available for free Download from:


OmniOutliner will build a structured outline of your tasks and projects, and once you save that as an OmniOutliner document, you can open it in OmniFocus by selecting File ▸ Import OmniOutliner Document…

The importer also allows mapping of your OmniOutliner import columns to:

  • Title
  • Context
  • Due Date
  • Defer Until
  • Duration

…and then everything else (mapped to Metadata) is entered into the Notes field. If you have a lot of extra columns of metadata that you don’t need, you can trim those columns in either OmniOutliner or a spreadsheet, before importing.

One of our customers also wrote this ↓ blog post about this process, which you might find of use (yea for screenshots!):


Hopefully we’ll be able to have a direct CSV import someday. It would certainly make testing out OmniFocus much easier! It is worth noting that if you need to move back out of OmniFocus again, we do support exporting to CSV.

I hope this helps!


How sad. Still no way to import using CSV. It’s been on the roadmap since at least 2012. Why not provide a due date. Surely you have one in your OmniPlan or OmniFocus file.

So…any update?

It’s disappointing that in 2017 the only import format accepted is OmniGroup’s proprietary OmniOutline.

Unfortunately after working for an hour, I can report that the “copy/paste” directions are hit or miss


Best you can do is dump everything into INBOX and move it to projects…trying to paste directly into a project made every pasted item a project.

Hasn’t CSV been on the feature list for 5 years?

Glad I checked this post before I paid for Omnifocus. I want to import my Todoist tasks, but there seems to be no easy way to accomplish that. If this is the kind of response for what should be a relatively simple enhancement, maybe best to stay away.

I understand why you think that. I just wanted to say there are a lot of other great things to like about OF2 once you get past the import process.


I think what’s more frustrating is the almost complete lack of responsiveness of Omni support. Omni Staff responded to the initial post in Apr ’15 saying, “though we have an open request to directly import CSV into OmniFocus, it’s not yet possible.” There were follow-up posts by users in Jun ’16 and Jan ’17, with no response from Omni. As I said, this seems to be a rather elementary task and Omnioutliner can do it. I would at least expect a response to each post with an honest status

That said, I did try the trial and, generally, I like it. I brought my tasks over from Todoist manually and the positive was that I cleaned out a lot of unnecessary stuff that would have come over on an import.

I did buy the standard version. Luckily I was able to get the educational pricing since I work at a university in Thailand. I need that break since the pay is very low by US standards and the university will not cover the costs. My complaint now is the price of the iOS app. I have an iPhone and iPad that I’d like to add it to, but I can’t afford another $40 for the iOS. I think I can survive with my old MacBook Air and my older Mac Mini running the MacOS version. I’ll see how it works out. I have Todoist Premium until October, so I can always go back.

[quote=“raindog308, post:4, topic:14275”]
It’s disappointing that in 2017 the only import format accepted is OmniGroup’s proprietary OmniOutline. […] the “copy/paste” directions are hit or miss.

Best you can do is dump everything into INBOX and move it to projects…trying to paste directly into a project made every pasted item a project.[/quote]

OmniFocus has always had support for pasting plain text (since 1.0 in 2007), and I’m sorry you were having trouble figuring out how to do that. In general, paste adds items as peers of what you have selected, so if you have a task in a project selected it will paste into peer tasks, while if you have a project itself selected it will end up creating a bunch of projects (as you’ve found).

Last year, we extended our plain text import to support the TaskPaper format, which means you can now paste an entire hierarchical tree of tasks with preassigned attributes like context assignments, due dates, flagged items, and so on. You can learn more about our support for TaskPaper format over in this thread:

Sorry this isn’t more clear: our support humans are incredibly responsive, with most questions answered within a single business day—but our discussion forums aren’t where you go to contact us! These forums are primarily intended as a place where customers can talk with each other; if you want to reach out to our support team, you can use Help > Contact Omni within the app, email omnifocus@omnigroup.com, reach out to us on Twitter at @omnifocus—or you can even pick up a phone and call 1-800-315-OMNI to have an immediate conversation with a live human (10am-5pm Pacific time, M-F).

Please don’t hesitate to reach out through one of the above methods whenever you’d like to talk with us: we have hundreds of conversations with our customers through those channels every day. (All those conversations keep us busy enough that we generally don’t have time to keep up with the various conversations happening on our discussion forums—sorry we’ve missed this one for so long!)


Hi there,

I’ve followed the instructions carefully here… but it doesn’t seem to be working with OO5. Am I doing something wrong?

I’ve converted my CSV to an Excel file… then I’ve tried copying and pasting it into an OO file, but it doesn’t seem like the latest version has the Checklist template referenced in the link. When I dump the data into OO, it just all flows together (no tab delimited cells). When I try to import it into OmniFocus, the OO file is greyed out.

Any thoughts?



The first step is to get your data into Omni Outliner, but not by copy-and-paste. Try importing the CSV file to OmniOutliner.

Then save that OmniOutliner file and try to import that to OmniFocus.

Just got Omnifocus 3 trial. STILL no import CSV? Amazing. I posted here over a year ago regarding an April 2015 comment from Omni staff. Glad I didn’t buy it!

I post each year’s roadmap in January. CSV has never been on any year’s roadmap, because it’s never had nearly as many customer requests as other features which did make the roadmap.

This year, the features which made the roadmap were tags, manual sorting within a tag, bulk editing on iOS, improved repeat options, powerful automation, collaboration, and OmniFocus for the web. In previous years, we’ve improved the app in many other ways, such as adding drag and drop between apps on iOS and new text-based import options like TaskPaper (which is much more flexible than CSV, since it can express hierarchy and easily read multi-paragraph notes).

CSV support may make it to the top of the list at some point, and I’ll try to put it on our roadmap when it does. But right now there are plenty of other (and generally better) options for text-based import of tasks and projects.


I am trying to migrate to OmniFocus 3 and love the application functionality. I am migrating from ToodleDo as a heavy user with >1000 items, all with multiple Tags.

I have searched the Forum and manual, but am struggling to find a way to import the data reasonably. I have even tried via OnmiOutliner, but can’t find a way to get around the multiple Tags, for example. An export of OmniFocus with test data shows comma delineation, but the import amalgamates it to a single Tag. Tried multiple columns, but it overwrites.

Note I am not just “bashing” that you do not have a CSV import. Any viable option will do. The above mentions "new text-based import options like TaskPaper”, but I cannot find any option for this.

I think a lot of people that would be potential users of this wonderful application would have existing systems that need to be migrated. I am sure you are missing out on a lot of customers this way.

Any clues would be appreciated. I am eager to cutover and cancel my ToodleDo.

Try selecting a task in OmniFocus, then use Edit > Copy As TaskPaper. You’ll get something like this:

- Test @parallel(true) @autodone(false) @context(Home) @tags(Home, Test)

If you want to get more advanced, you can set it up with due dates and repeating options before copying to see what those look like in TaskPaper format:

- Test @parallel(true) @autodone(false) @context(Home) @tags(Home, Test) @defer(2018-10-19 00:00) @repeat-method(start-after-completion) @repeat-rule(FREQ=WEEKLY;BYDAY=MO,WE,FR)

Or even add notes and child tasks:

- Test @parallel(true) @autodone(false) @context(Home) @tags(Home, Test) @defer(2018-10-19 00:00) @repeat-method(start-after-completion) @repeat-rule(FREQ=WEEKLY;BYDAY=MO,WE,FR)
	Here is a text note associated with this top-level task

	- Here is part one, which has multiple steps @parallel(true) @autodone(false)
		- Step 1 @parallel(true) @autodone(false)
		- Step 2 @parallel(true) @autodone(false)
	- Here is part two @parallel(true) @autodone(false)

You can use this as a template to build your own plain text TaskPaper content.

Now, once you have your TaskPaper content set up, how do you get that back into OmniFocus? That’s actually the easy part! You can simply copy that TaskPaper text, and paste it back into OmniFocus wherever you want it to go.

You can also use automation to add TaskPaper content to OmniFocus, as described over in this forum thread. (It’s even easier now in iOS 12 than it was back then, because Apple’s Shortcuts app includes a built-in “Add TaskPaper to OmniFocus” action. You can set up a shortcut sequence which does this, and use Siri to invoke that shortcut with whatever custom trigger phrase you wish to use. Great for template projects, like “I’m going on a trip”: you can have your shortcut sequence prompt for the few details that vary, like the destination and date, then use those details to fill in your template and add the whole thing to OmniFocus.)

Hope this helps!

Thanks for the great information on TaskPaper. It does not solve my particular import problem, but does provoke thoughts on making use of this.

Appreciate the prompt help.