GTD Quick Capture: How do you do it?

Quickly capturing an idea or a task is basic to GTD (Getting Things Done) and CODE (Capture Organize Distill Express).

I hit my F2 function key and up pops an Untitled Note in the BBEdit app. I don’t have to name the note or decide where to store it on disk. (F2 is a global hot key I’ve assigned to a Keyboard Maestro macro that brings BBEdit to the foreground and simulates the ⌃⌥⌘N keystroke.) BBEdit Notes

If I’m just adding a task, I press ⌃⌘J which is NotePlan’s global hotkey to bring up its command bar. I type something like “buy milk tomorrow” and the text appears as a new task at the top of my daily note. The Command Bar - NotePlan Knowledge Base

So, what’s the latest method you use to quickly capture something and then get on with your day?

Quick Entry in OmniFocus. I’ve had F3 assigned to it for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried a few other options over the years (Drafts, DevonThink, etc.), but none has stuck.

I like it because, if I want to, I can use it to assign all the necessary attributes of a task that I can drop, fully formed, into my system, but I can also always just use it to jot down a simple, rough note or idea and know that it will be waiting for me in an inbox that never goes unprocessed for more than a few days.


On the Desktop the Shortcut for the QuickCapturing into OF3.
Away from the Desktop Braintoss, with Mail-Capturing into OF3.

I spend very little time in front of my Mac so I use Siri to add tasks, etc. to Due or Reminders. If I’m reading and want to capture an entire article I use the Share Sheet on my iPhone/iPad to clip to Instapaper, if I just want a paragraph or two I copy & paste into Google Keep that will include the URL automatically.

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I’ve been a Todoist user for many years. It has a user-configurable global hot key to capture ideas. Plus, of all to do apps I’ve tried it has the most powerful natural language processing. So you can type “buy milk in two days p1 #home” and it will add the task with priority 1 to project home.

Either opt+ctrl+space for OF, the OF quick add iOS widget, “hey Siri, remind me to ____” with reminders capture, or the share sheet to OF.

In a panic, I’m not above a piece of paper stuffed into my pocket or a text message to myself.


⌥⌘M to add a new task using Remember The Milk’s Smart Add syntax.

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I tend to use drafts as sometimes I’m not sure if what I’m capturing is just a task. Later on, I’ll process the drafts inbox into a task, note or whatever suitsbthe nature of what I’ve captured.


My preferred approach, too. But I use ^+⌥+␣. On iPad and iPhone, I just use Siri to get the task into OF.


Actually, I just created a shortcut to access Quick Entry from anywhere on iPad and iPhone. It only works in OF 4. Interestingly, it will also work on desktop with OF3. I can invoke it with Siri by calling “quick enter.” The shortcut is simple: Just have a safari action that opens omnifocus:///add. Thanks to Ken Case who gave me the URL over the slack channel.

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Things3 has a wonderful quick add that you can reach from anywhere (I use option + space)


Mine may be a little more cumbersome.
For e-mails, I redirect them to Evernote. I have three notebooks set up there for capture: “File”, “Reading List” and “Actions”. File and Reading List are self-explanatory. For anything in the “Actions” folder, I copy the link and past it into a new task in Omnifocus.

For non-electronic input I just go straight to Omnifocus.

I do the same. This is about as easy as it gets for me to enter a reminder.

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off topic from GTD Tasks and reminders (but related I hope)…

Often during the day I need to have a way to temporarily store bits of text - such as programming code or other such things.

So, rather than opening many text files every day and then figuring out whether I am going to save them or toss them I came up with a different system.

I created one master text document called ‘temp stuff.txt’. With one keyboard maestro key, it will:

  • open the document

  • scroll to the top

  • add a timestamp and a few returns

  • and leave the cursor waiting for me to type something

  • at any time I can save and close this document with no effort.

The benefit for this is this document just keeps growing and I have full history of all the bits and pieces which I mostly do not need, however they are they are just in case I do.

  • then every few months, I can store this page and create a brand new empty page and start again.

This system is working well for my needs.


Pull out my 3x5 top spiral bound notepad and pen from my wallet, write the note or idea on the paper, tear it off and stuff into my pocket. Next time I am in the house all the papers in my pocket go into my inbox to be processed. The delay means sometimes by the time I review/process the paper sometimes the idea ends up in the trash. I like the delay.

Very rarely I use Siri to “remind me” which is set up to dumps the te t into my Omnifocus Inbox. I can edit and process it there.


I moved from OF to Things3 a few months ago. I use Siri to dictate to Things3.
Things3 is a buy it once model, unlike OF’s subscription model. And, I found OF overkill for my GTD needs. Things3 is fast, elegant and gets the job done, for me anyway.

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I believe Omnifocus offers a non-subscription option too.


To clarify, while the Omni Group does offer a cross-platform subscription, OmniFocus can also be purchased as a standalone product (just like Things). The exception is OmniFocus for the Web which is only available on a subscription basis.

You’ll find more information on the OmniFocus pricing page.


I use reminders.

I’ve got a keyboard shortcut on MacOS to activate a quick add shortcut (where I can add multiple separated by lines if needed).

On my iPhone / iPad I use AssistiveTouch feature, double tap triggers the same shortcut as above.

From mail or safari I just use sharesheet.

If I’m driving I use Siri!

Double tap on the back of my phone yields Drafts and I can enter a thought (which might turn into a task later on). triple tap takes me straight to OmniFocus.

Alternatively, dictation on Watch into Drafts.

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It is a “buy it once on Version3 for Mac”, “buy it once on Version3 for iPhone” and “buy it once on Version3 for iPad” model. :wink:
And Things 4 seems to be overdue, so it is likely, that you have to buy it once again than for that version. :cry:

While I understand, that often the subscription seems to be overpriced against One-Time Purchases, it is often not the case, at least not in the dimension, people often thought. :thinking: