In iOS 5, Apple added the ability to flag a message, just as you’ve been able to do on the desktop forever. I created an AppleScript that looks for flagged messages. When it finds them, it adds them to OmniFocus and links them back to Mail.app, just like the Services action does. It then also unflags the message, resetting the state back to normal. This script runs every five minutes.
In iOS 6′s Mail.app, it’s now even easier to mark a message as flagged. I have tried the script, and it works as advertised. I would modify it to include only the latest message of a thread in the task note, but I see the appeal of having an entire conversation saved in OmniFocus for reference.
Obviously, the script is best enjoyed if executed on a Mac that’s running all the time. In this way, you can set a message as flagged on iOS, wait a few seconds, and find it in OmniFocus right away.
Personally, I run my own OmniFocus sync (every minute) so that I always have up-to-date sync that I can control. To implement this script in my workflow, I just had to create a new Keyboard Maestro macro (pictured above) that runs the AppleScript every minute if I’m logged in. In the way the script is designed, flagged messages are processed, then set back to “unflagged” so they won’t be added again in the future (unless you flag them manually).
A few weeks ago, Michael Schechter found a way to export an OmniFocus for Mac database to OPML to visualize it in mind-mapping apps like iThoughts and MindNode. In the post, he wrote that, however, he was reaching to the Mac community to see if anyone would be able to build a more powerful and reliable solution with filters, color options, and more control on the exported data. RobTrew picked up the task and, on the OmniGroup Forums, released an initial script to export from OmniFocus to OPML.
I tested Rob’s script with my OmniFocus database, and after several improvements he made to the script, I feel comfortable enough with linking to it here. Unlike other solutions, Rob’s script looks directly into the SQL OmniFocus database cache to get its data — quite a feat on its own. But there’s so much more the script can do if you start customizing it. (more…)
Ever since upgrading to Safari 6 and Mountain Lion, I’ve noticed the OmniFocus bookmarklet I had installed stopped working properly. The OmniFocus bookmarklet is a handy addition to my workflow, in that it allows me to quickly save webpages I need to act upon at a later date, while preserving their title, link, and text selection. I often do this for linked posts that end up here on MacStories, or pages that I need to check out but that I’m not ready to bookmark yet (for that, I use Pinboard).
In theory, the OmniFocus bookmarklet should be capable of grabbing a webpage’s URL and selection (if any) as a note. However, of the twobookmarklets provided by The OmniGroup, none of them manages to successfully grab text selection on my machine running Safari 6 and OS X 10.8.1. So I set out to find a better bookmarklet, and I found this version by Alex Popescu that, besides working correctly, has also some nice integration with Gmail.
For Gmail, the bookmarklet creates a new task with the email title as the task title and a note with the current selection (if any), plus a from line in the form: From: email subject:(email subject) email_thread_url. For normal web pages, the bookmarklet creates a new task with the document title as the task title and a note with the current selection (if any), plus a from line in the form: From: page_url.
I tested this on Safari 6, and it works as advertised. The bookmarklet also works on iOS devices, albeit the iPhone’s Mobile Safari can’t send the current text selection from a page to OmniFocus.
I decided to slightly revisit my workflow now that several “quick Dropbox note-taking apps” like Scratch and Drafts have come out. These apps are already integrated in my daily routine, but the following method works with any text editor, and, obviously, using Dropbox is recommended if you want to be able to create tasks from anywhere. (more…)
In my daily “social networking workflow”, I use the “favorite” feature of Twitter as a todo list of sorts. I couldn’t find a way to add favorites to OmniFocus without leveraging email as a bridge, so I built a solution myself.
Using IFTTT, a single line of bash, Hazel, and AppleScript, I created a simple way to turn a favorite tweet into an OmniFocus task in the application’s inbox, ready for future processing. As an extra, I have also created a more “advanced” version that adds Automator to the mix to only extract URLs from favorite tweets. (more…)
This is a nice tip to save the tabs of the frontmost Safari window as a list in OmniFocus (via Shawn Blanc). Through AppleScript, tabs are saved as webpage titles and URLs in a note in the OmniFocus inbox; the note is named with the ”URL List from Safari Tabs” + timestamp format.
Using OmniFocus’ AppleScript Dictionary, you could modify the script to assign a specific context to the task for easy retrieval of your tab lists with Perspectives or OmniFocus’ own URLs. For the latter option, you can use Launch Center on iOS to quickly jump to OmniFocus projects and contexts; also keep in mind that any OmniFocus item (a task, a project, a context) has a unique ID that you can get using the “Copy as Link” option from the app’s contextual menu.
Michael Schechter has created a series of Launch Center Pro templates to speed up the creation process of repetitive tasks in OmniFocus for iPhone, inspired by David Sparks’ snippets for TextExpander and OmniFocus for Mac. With actions to easily attach the contents of the clipboard to a new task or setting up a reminder to follow up on something with a colleague, Michael’s snippets can be huge timesavers if you’ve been looking for a way to automate certain aspects of OmniFocus on the iPhone.
All I’ve done here is create a new group in Launch Center Pro called OF Actions. This allows me to have 11 rapid-fire actions for my most commonly created tasks. Rather than 11 unique actions, I’ve actually created duplicates for most that include whatever I have on the clipboard. This way I have a version that duplicates the Quick Entry field and another that emulates some aspects of the Clipper.
Based on OmniFocus’ new URL scheme and Launch Center Pro’s support for prompts (more details in our review of the app), these snippets won’t offer the same degree of customization found in desktop solutions like the aforementioned TextExpander or Keyboard Maestro, but they surely are the best way to automate OmniFocus on the iPhone for now. Because of the nature of iOS, you won’t be able to set up scripts that, for instance, let OmniFocus communicate with other apps automatically, but at least you’ll be saving some typing and navigation inside the app.
Inspired by Michael’s work, I have set up actions to access my most used perspectives and a new one called “Review Latest” that makes up for the lack of an Inbox perspective on iOS (as it’s project based rather than context based) and displays the latest tasks I may have added without a context or due date using Captio. Furthermore, I have assigned a scheduled reminder to the action, so that every day after dinner I’ll be reminded by Launch Center Pro to process my newest tasks created throughout the day.
The Omni Group’s Ken Case also chimed in on Twitter explaining how OmniFocus URLs work, and Justin Lancy collected the tweets in a Storify bundle. Nick Winja took a look at how it’s possible to access contexts via URL, as well.
You can see the full text for Michael’s Launch Center Pro snippets here.
I recently became tired with the fact that OmniFocus needs to be launched every once in a while in order to get the latest version of its synced database. For almost two years, I synced OmniFocus through The Omni Group’s excellent (and free) Omni Sync Server service, but I switched to a manual WebDAV location hosted on my Macminicolo machine because I like to be in control of the app’s sync sessions, and to fiddle around with ways to better automate the app’s syncing system.
Over the past few months, however, I have found myself increasingly missing notifications for due items because I am not always using the same device to manage OmniFocus, and I tend to forget to launch the app and hit the Sync button. I may go a full week without using OmniFocus for Mac, but I’d still like to be reminded of important items even if I don’t sync my iPhone and iPad all the time. Unfortunately, in the way OmniFocus is structured, the standard sync doesn’t allow items to be “pushed” in the background.
I came up with a way to have OmniFocus’ due reminders synced “in the cloud” and always up-to-date that enables me to keep using the app like I always have, yet staying assured I won’t miss items because I forgot to sync or open the app. It uses OmniFocus’ built-in calendar export functionality, and a mix of automation, Macminicolo hosting, and third-party apps to get the job done reliably and consistently. It’s not perfect (mainly due to Apple’s fault) and it’s likely doable in some other way with some other hosting solution, but I found this method to work perfectly for me in my workflow. (more…)
The aim of this text then is not just in using the productivity and task management program OmniFocus, but also in getting to the creative space wherever that may be found. The hope is in getting to those things you want to do and enjoy while maintaining the responsibilities that inevitably accrue in life. Be it in work, play, or with family, we are aiming for a relaxed depth of focus and flow.
Originally released in November 2010, Creating Flow with OmniFocus by Kourosh Dini is one of the best resources available to learn more about The OmniGroup’s fantastic GTD software. Specifically aimed at Mac users of OmniFocus, the 555 pages of Dini’s book will take you through the basic concepts of the application, such as Projects and Contexts, to more advanced techniques and workflows that may involve prioritization of your tasks, context management and, overall, finding the right “flow” for your tasks and Getting Things Done system. As a reader of Creating Flow with OmniFocus myself, I’ve always been impressed with the way the author made this book about balancing your own creativity with goals and projects you have to complete in real-life, rather than simply writing a “how to” guide for OmniFocus. Sure, the book has its tutorial-oriented sections with screenshots and tips, but I found the overall “focus” on creating flow and making the system work for you quite liberating.
Creating Flow has been substantially improved since its original release. Kourosh Dini worked hard to bring the book up to speed with the latest refinements introduced in OmniFocus for Mac (now at version 1.9), and today he released an audiobook version that is available on his website. I have been able to listen to a pre-release copy of the audiobook, and it’s a good alternative for those times when you don’t want to sit down with a full copy of the eBook in your Mac or iPad PDF reading app of choice (personally, I like PDF Expert), but still would like to catch up on some great OmniFocus suggestions and discussion. In fact, I would say that the biggest advantage of the audiobook is that, once synced to your iOS device, you’ll be able to quickly navigate between chapters and instantly get to your desired section with just one tap. You’ll lose images and the overall visual style of the eBook (albeit the .zip file comes with a reference of over 300 screenshots), but you’ll gain an improved navigation that makes it easy to skip sections you don’t want to listen to again if you’ve already read the book. In this regard, existing owners of Creating Flow should consider supporting Kourosh again and get the audiobook just to have a refresh on some parts of the original book without having to go through it again.
The audiobook has been narrated by professional voice actor, Bruce Edwards, encompassing nearly 10 hours of listening material. As I wrote in 2010, Creating Flow with OmniFocus is the book every OmniFocus user should read. Now you can listen to it as well with the audiobook available here.