Since the Omni Group released OmniFocus many years ago, it’s been the most powerful task manager available on the macOS platform. It also used to be fairly complicated. After having read the OmniFocus 3 web page, I decided to give OmniFocus 3 for macOS a try and see how a photographer or video creator could benefit from it.
OmniFocus always has been powerful in that it gives you multiple, different views of your tasks. In previous versions, that made the app somewhat complicated to use for some people. In the new version, this complexity has gone. You still view your tasks and reminders in many different ways, but those ways have become more clearly defined. Whereas previous OmniFocus versions insisted on the use of “Contexts” as one way of looking at your task list, the new version has replaced this concept with the one we’ve all become masters at: tags and tagging. Only Martians won’t know about tags and what they represent. They add context – yes, Context – to tasks.
And yes, the change of terminology does make it clearer what context is: it can be anything you like, from priorities to any sort of categorisation system you might prefer. For example, Tags could include your clients’ names, rental equipment items, photo/film locations, actors, etc.
The other management functionality of OmniFocus has remained the way it was before, i.e. you have Inbox, Projects and Forecast perspectives to look at your tasks. You can add email messages to your Inbox by forwarding the email to a special address you can get on Omni Group’s Sync server so that you don’t need to type it in yourself, which is a very simple and quick way to add tasks to your lists. Of course, you have a global shortcut key that allows you to enter tasks at the spur of the moment.
Now, in OmniFocus Pro, you can also create custom Perspectives, customise the Sidebar and zoom in to specific aspects of your list using the Focus feature. The Pro version offers AppleScript as well, but I’ll focus on custom Perspectives instead.
With tags added to tasks and actions, and the Tags sidebar tab, you can already zoom in on tasks categorised under each individual tag, but what if you’d like to see tasks that are categorised under two or more tags, and what if you don’t want to include tasks that are part of a project?
In that case, you can create a custom Perspective. In version 3, creating a custom Perspective comes with a whole slew of customisation capabilities, including icon, icon colour, the ability to turn it on in the Sidebar, to view it in columns, fluid or standard display mode, to group and sort them. However, the real power of custom Perspectives is in the Filter section. Filters allow you to set up a view so that you, for example, only list tasks that are part of one of two projects which are due tomorrow, estimated to take only 30 minutes and have tags for priority set to urgent and equipment all arrived and ready to use.
And really, it’s here that OmniFocus 3 (Pro) sets itself apart from all other task management apps I’ve tried. It can be used as a project management app without the progress and cost-estimation tools. It can be used as a simple task manager as well. But with the ability to create highly flexible custom Perspectives, set due and deferred dates, and have customisable Notifications, it’s the first such tool that really lets you manage your busy schedule and act as a personal assistant. And if you also have OmniFocus 3 on iOS (which I didn’t test), you can also enjoy Siri’s company with Capture and Shortcuts support.
OmniFocus Pro retails for $79.99.
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