The OmniGroup has announced the public beta of OmniFocus, its much talked-about “Getting Things Done” (GTD) app.
In short, it looks good. The press release promises that OmniFocus will help “you work smarter by giving you powerful tools for staying on track of all the things you need to do.” And it lives up to its promise, even in beta form.
GTD Old-timers will immediately recognise OmniFocus’s roots in KinklessGTD , Ethan Schoonover’s collection of applescripts for Getting Things Done with OmniGroup’s OmniOutliner. (Ethan has been a key colloborator on the project and is now OmniGroup’s Head of Marketing.)
For a while, it was the market-leader for its comprehensiveness, its Quicksilver integration and ability to sync smoothly with iCal.
These strengths are carried over into OmniFocus.
The interface has that reassuring Kinkless look:
Depending on whether it is running in Planning or Contexts mode, it lists your projects or your contexts in the lefthand-side column, and the matching content on the righthand-side.
It aims to provide “a big bucket” or comprehensive features for gathering actions or tasks that you need to get done. There’s no point having a GTD app if it can’t easily capture the totality of your tasks, however they come in or occur to you.
To this end, while Quicksilver provided much of the gathering grunt in Kinkless, OminFocus has its own, built-in, system-wide Quick entry tool, with a keyboard shortcut that can be customised in the app’s Preferences:
It also offers a clipping service, that is the ability to clip information from apps like Safari, NetNewsWire and Mail.app when creating a task:
It will even copy across the MailTags project for a clipping if a matching one exists in OmniFocus.
Tabbing across the name of the task, the project, the context and the due date is quick and easy. It even knows that tomorrow is Monday, 19 November. (UPDATE: In order to see the Due Date field in the Quick Entry pane, you will need first to Check the View > Columns > Due Date option in OmniFocus.)
It is also possible to email tasks to yourself, using the Mail rule that OmniFocus installs for you, which automatically shunts any email with a subject line starting with “– ” (or whatever you set in the preferences) into its Inbox for processing later, then archiving the email into the folder you choose.
The collecting process has been carefully thought through, and it shows. Nice.
Processing tasks, sorting them into projects and the contexts in which they can be done, is done in the app’s Inbox. It’s all tab-friendly and it’s smart — auto-matching of existing projects and contexts and smart parsing of dates makes the processing quick and consistent.
Syncing with iCal is even smarter than I remember it in Kinkless. OmniFocus now allows you to decide which iCal calendar to use for which contexts, reducing the clutter in iCal and making for better “synergy” between my Omnifocus office context and iCal work calendar:
And of course it makes use of the new Leopard Mail.app-iCal to-do syncing, which brings OmniFocus to-dos through into Mail.app’s to-do list, each one optionally prefixed with its Omnifocus context:
Thanks to the magic of iPhone, I then have my to-dos with me wherever I go (although not the clipped information which is unhelpfully wrapped up in a mime attachment).
(UPDATE: There is a trick here though. By default, to-dos piped into Mail.app are stored in the “On My Mac” to-do folder. It’s a pain, but you can drag them into the to-do mailbox of an account that your iPhone checks. Obviously, it would be better if this was automated but I don’t think that you can apply rules to to-dos.)
Still, if you take care in writing the names of your to-dos, the iPhone will even highlight the phone number of the person you need to call:
Unfortunately, my iPhone can’t take a photo of itself. Apologies for the quality.
I am liking this app very much, much better than other GTD solutions for Mac users. I took advantage of the special pre-release offer about fifteen minutes after installing the beta.
OmniFocus is available for a limited time at the pre-release price of USD 39.95 (and 25% cheaper than that for people who have a OmniOutliner 3.0 licence. So, it only cost me USD 29.95).
When released on 8 January it will sell for USD 79.95. Expensive, you say? You’re right. Good value, you ask? It depends what your time is worth.
You can also watch Ethan showing off OmniFocus at length in a new fifteen minute video tour or download the “At-a-glance” Quick Reference Chart. Links on OmniGroup’s OmniFocus web page .
- OmniFocus’ new tricks: Notifications, iPhone syncing
- EasyTask Manager 2.0 “syncs” with iPhone
- kGTD 0.83.0 released
- Printing to-do lists from Mail.app
- EasyTask Manager for getting things done
Tags: Apple Mail, getting things done, gtd, iCal, iphone, kinkless, mail.app, omnifocus, Productivity, sweet as a nut