OmniFocus Alternatives

I’m not gonna lie, I’m a broke teenager. I really want to get into omnifocus, but I don’t have any money. Does anyone know of any OmniFocus alternatives that someone without much money can start with, but also not losing any features?

Have a look at TickTick. There’s a free version to get familiar and the premium version is only about $28 a year. It’s pretty powerful. I’m aware that seriously broke might mean that even $28 is out if the question (I’ve been there), so also have a look at Notion - there’s a very powerful free version, but you have to build your task management process yourself. And there are irritating limitations, like no recurring reminders.

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Another alternative might be Notion. The downside is that you would have to build your own system. They do have a bunch of templates to get you started.

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ToDoist has a nicely-featured free tier (subscription is $3/month). zv_797


I also second @pmconaway suggestion of Notion.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can look at org-mode for EMACS.
Learning EMACS would help you in many ways, as it is more than an editor.

Here’s a comparison with Omnifocus.


But de facto no ios at all.

Nonetheless it’s a great rabbit hole to fall in :smiley:

There’s nothing as feature-complete as OmniFocus but for a lower price, otherwise Omni would go out of business. :wink:
You would need to ascertain what features really matter to you in order to decide on a solution.


Plus if you’re “a broke teenager” OF seems like it could be an extravagance and a bit of an indulgence - you need to figure out specifically why ‘getting into’ OF is needed over a free or cheaper alternative. $10/month for web-only access is a lot of money if you want to splash in the Omni pool without a real need.

That said Omni does offer educational licenses of $30 for OF and $60 for OF Pro for Mac. (There is no edu pricing on iOS, from what I can tell.)

If $30 is too pricey then save up or look elsewhere.


I believe it’s worth saving up and paying upfront, or paying the OF subscription if you cannot do that. Other tools are also expensive. It is an awesome tool that has saved my bacon on so many occasions that it pays for itself.

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If someone is a developer like you then paying $100/yr for the subscription is not only worth it but may be tax-deductible (I’m not in Europe, I don’t know if that’s true for you). But if you’re a ‘broke teenager’ student (presumably out of school because of the worldwide health crisis) it seems hard to see a use-case that pays for itself.

There are plenty of free options and free tiers of pay products which offer excellent options. Yes, some other tools are expensive - but most aren’t. Unless there’s a solid justification for getting into OF, I don’t see why a poor student should be prioritizing it… and the question by the OP is about alternatives.

Thanks, I’ll definitely try todoist.

Have a look at Noteplan, which is on both macOS and iOS. It’s a one off purchase and uses Markdown in standard text files for tasks, which it syncs with the system calendar and reminders. I’ve found it more approachable than either OF (which plain scared me with its compexity) or Things 3 (which I bought as an alternative to OF, then fell out of love with). Really, though, if your are looking for a truly portable, very cheap solution I suggest a decent note book and a pen(cil) for bullet journalling.


The notebook thing might not be a bad idea, especially when I don’t have my iPad or MacBook with me.

You can do great things with pen and paper. Just remember it’s a journey. You can start with a list, and based on how that works for you, add other pages that do different things - apps, so to speak. Like, maybe a habit tracker, and index to notes you’ve made, notes about your notes, journal about how well you executed things, etc. This will let you build mastery of a system that works for you. If you need to add digital in the future, you’ll know where that fits in and what you need. Eg. reminders.
(Feel like I’m channeling @DrJJWMac here. )


Ryder Carroll’s Bullet Journal method can be learned for free and done using any pen you have and a $1 notebook from the office store -

You may find that a notebook is all you need.

I may be being a tad presumptuous here, but as a teenager I’m guessing that you probably don’t need to be able to schedule recurring projects with customizable start/end dates and geofencing parameters with sequential / parallel options on a regular basis - you need more of a task list to remind you of what’s going on in your day, possibly with some timely reminders.

A notepad + Apple Calendar will probably do that beautifully. :slight_smile:

I’m also seconding some of the general advice above to try something, and then identify points of friction.

I actually came to Mac / iOS / etc/ partially due to apps like Omnifocus and all their customizability - and then I began to realize that some of them did way, way more than what I need. And some of them did way, way less.

Ultimately, the thing you need to do is positively identify the things that will add direct value to your life (“I absolutely need something that pesters me to take my evening pills until I do it” was one of my recent ones), note it somewhere, and figure out a way to solve that problem. Then move on to the next item, keeping the first list in mind.

If the thing you need after that process actually is Omnifocus, ask for cash or iTunes gift cards for your next birthday / Christmas / etc., put aside a buck a week from a job, skip lunch one day a week at school, or something else that lets you sock away a tiny amount of money over time - and throw your money at Omnifocus for one platform. iOS is like $40, and should do what you need.

Wishing you the best of luck finding the best organizational method for you!


Here is my advice for an “underfunded” teenager. Find a methodology for managing your projects and tasks–I’m a big proponent of GTD. Develop the skills to master that methodology using whatever tools are available to you. For example, with GTD you can set up a complete system using just iOS stock apps (GTD has a set-up guide on how to do it). Once you master the skills of your chosen methodology, then you can apply them to whatever tool you choose. You can also better evaluate your need/desire to invest in that tool. OmniFocus is costly–in terms of raw dollars–but the value I’ve derived from it far outpaces the price I paid for it. (The day I downloaded it, I stayed up until three in the morning scouring the manual and migrating all my projects and tasks over. I’ve never looked back) That is not me encouraging you to spend money you don’t have. Don’t spend money on any tool until you can use it to the max. And don’t buy a substitute if you already know what you want/need, that’s probably a wasted investment. If it’s OmniFocus, set a few bucks aside per month until you can justify it–but only after you satisfy yourself that you can get the most out of it.

Sorry for the completely unsolicited “dad” advice, but I offer it from the heart and hope it helps you decide how to proceed down your productivity path within your underfunded-teenager budget.

*** and stay away from EMACS. Vim is the way to go. [Just fooling around @JohnAtl and everyone, not trying to start a text editor flame war.]


Funnily enough, I also wanted an alternative to OmniFocus.

For now, I’m using the stock Reminders app. I have several hacks to replace “missing features” from OmniFocus:

  1. Tags
    Simple. I type tags in the Notes section. I have a bunch of text-expanding snippets using system functions that make this really easy to do. Using Shortcuts you can filter out tasks with certain “tags”. For location-trigger tags, use some more automation stuff like Pushcut (not going to go into that here, but check out the Automators forum for info on that)

  2. Perspectives
    As mentioned above, use Shortcuts to filter tasks. Not nearly as pretty, but gets the job done for a whole lot less.

  3. Review
    Haven’t tried this yet, but I’m fairly certain you can replicate this in Shortcuts as well using the Find Reminders action,

  4. Awesome project hierarchy
    Unfortunately this is pretty un-replicable. Your best bet is to use as many layers of the Reminders structure you can, from groups to lists to tasks to sub tasks. You’ll have to get really creative for this one.

All in all, there’s nothing like OmniFocus. Other stuff is either missing features or subscription. But you can get around 80% of the way there if you’re willing to get your hands dirty for a less-pretty solution.


@Mr.MacMyLifeUp I second the Bullet Journal. I have tried Omnifocus and spent many hours customizing it. At the end of the day, it wasn’t for me. I built up tons of todos and it made me more anxious and less proactive. Bullet journaling took me away from notifications and more toward a mindful practice of productivity.


For bad as well as for good. Nothing duplicates it for sure, but some apps are better at some things, many are different, sometimes very different. All in all most people don’t need its power and most don’t need its complexity, and for those who do Omni prices accordingly.

Yup. These things are really subjective. But from the perspective of someone that wants/needs OmniFocus without being rich, nothing quite lives up. You’ll need to use workarounds/compromise on features.