OmniFocus 3 for macOS - tags make everything better

Replacing contexts with tags and allowing multiple tags to be assigned to tasks has transformed OmniFocus 3 for macOS. It allows for much greater flexibility and more finely-grained filtering. You, rather than the software designers, can now choose how you view your projects and tasks.

My organisational needs are quite modest these days but I’ve been using OmniFocus to satisfy those needs for quite a few years now. I reviewed OmniFocus back in August 2018 but I’ve just upgraded to OmniFocus 3 for macOS and I thought I’d write this article as an update to my previous review.

New features in OmniFocus 3 for macOS include:

  • a Forecast view that shows your tasks and calendar events in order,
  • easier-to-use repeating tasks,
  • updated design that looks very nice indeed,
  • the Inspector is now more customisable.

Users of the Pro version also benefit from:

  • more filtering rules in custom perspectives,
  • the Today Forecast can now be reordered in any way you choose.

That’s all very nice but the big feature change is with tags.

Tags kind of existed before as contexts but these were a bit limited because you could only assign a single context to a task or project. However, in OmniFocus 3 you can now assign multiple tags to tasks and projects.

This may sound like a relatively minor change but it has significantly improved OmniFocus in my opinion. It gives you much more scope for searching and filtering.

Tags can be nested (as could contexts), so you can create hierarchies for things like places, people, priorities, periods, contexts and such, and then you can filter them into Perspectives to give you the exact overview you require.

OmniFocus 3 tags screen.

Essentially, the multiple tags approach frees you from having to view things in just one way (the way the software designers prescribed).

I tend to use the tags I mentioned above — people, places, priorities, contexts — and implement priorities a bit like an Eisenhower Matrix, which is where things are grouped by Urgency and Importance (and there’s a good article about implementing an Eisenhower Matrix in OmniFocus 3 here).

I must admit I was looking at other Project/Task/ToDo/GTD apps ahead of this upgrade, despite having used OmniFocus since February 2014. I was only half-heartedly thinking of switching but it’s fair to say that the release of OmniFocus 3 has killed all the thoughts I had about jumping ship.

The macOS version 3 upgrade is a worthy one and I’d certainly recommend it.

I still have my criticisms of OmniFocus but they’re quite minor and non-specific. I think the macOS app is nigh on perfect but I find the iOS app a little clunky sometimes. I can’t put my finger on precisely why but sometimes I don’t find the iOS app as intuitive as the macOS app. And when I refer to the iOS app, I mean on the iPad — I don’t use my iPhone in any particularly productive computing way.

These are minor gripes, though, and I use OmniFocus on my iPad on a daily basis. The iPad version has been improved recently, most notably in its ability to take advantage of having a bigger screen than you do on an iPhone.

OmniFocus 3 perspective screen.

With the release of a Web App in April, OmniFocus now feels like a more complete solution. Personally, I won’t use the web app much as I prefer to use native macOS and iOS apps for this sort of thing, but I can see how it’ll be very useful to people who have to use a Windows or Linux machine from time-to-time.

The Omni Group have introduced a new pricing structure to go along with all these changes. Actually it’s more of an additional pricing structure; you can still get the macOS and iOS apps for a fixed, one-off fee, but you can also sign up on a subscription basis at $99.99 (approx £79) a year or $9.99 (approx £7.90) a month, for which you get access to OmniFocus on all the platforms the app supports, including the web.

In my previous review I gave OmniFocus (Version 2 for macOS and version 3 for iOS combined) four stars but the latest changes have raised the app up to 4.5 stars in my opinion.