OmniFocus' lack of useful keyboard shortcuts is mildly infuriating?

Longtime Things 3 user here, looking to adopt OmniFocus as my work task manager, while keeping Things 3 as my personal task manager.

But one thing is immediately struck me about OmniFocus: it’s severely lacking keyboard shortcuts! How can it be that I don’t see this glaring problem discussed more often and everywhere when we talk about OF? I see three options:

  1. I missed something (but I doubt it)
  2. Long time OF users have adopted complicated Automator / Keyboard Maestro scripts to overcome this deficiency and they execute fast enough that it’s not a problem in practice - except for a new user who have to adopt them to make OF feel natural.
  3. The keyboard shortcuts are not there, and nobody really cares and are happily clicking-clicking-clicking all over the interface all the time to do basic tasks (but I doubt it).

Specifically I’m talking about:

  1. Jump to “project” field to quickly assign project to currently selected item(s).
  2. Jump to “due” field to quickly assign project to currently selected item(s).
  3. Jump to “defer” field to quickly assign project to currently selected item(s).
  4. Change view options (show First available, Available, Remaining, All)
  5. Apply tag.
  6. Complete item.

In Things 3, everything not only have a keyboard shortcut, but super useful auto-completion and fuzzy search when receiving input. E.g.:

  1. ⇧⌘M - “Move project to…” with fuzzy search
    2.1 ⇧⌘S - “Schedule” (i.e. equivalent to defer date) with fuzzy search and natural language input
    2.2 ⌘T / ⌘E / ⌘O - Schedule Today / Evening / Later - even more direct ways to set the equivalent to the “Defer” field.
  2. ⇧⌘D - “Deadline” (i.e. equivalent to Due date)
  3. Granted in Things 3, you also have to click with the mouse to see/hide “Someday” items. However OF has many more modes of viewings AND you have to interact TWICE to make a change, so feels a lot more clunky and slow.
  4. Ctrl+[X] - Apply tag, where [X] is actually completely customizable! This is even faster than typing in a tag field with autocompletion and fuzzy search!
  5. In Things, ⌘. works everywhere. In OmniFocus, spacebar works for a selection, but only if you’re not currently in one of it’s text fields.

How are these things (especially #1-3) not a massive productivity problem for OF users? How do you quickly sort an inbox with 20 assorted items in it that all have to go into various projects and tags. This would take me tens of seconds in Things 3. In OF, it’s an infuriating task out-of-the-box.

Help please :grin: I really want to like this app.

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For myself I’ve gone down the #2 route.

I have KM shortcuts for almost all those scenarios if you’d like them? :blush:

Sounds like Things is your jam. Why switch?


#1, partly. There are threads on this forum about it, the OF forum about it, it’s come up in their Slack, I make a support request every time I feel like a shortcut is missing and I can’t be alone. They’re missed, more often on iOS than Mac, but still. Similarly to Perspective options, I can’t see much downside to adding more. :slight_smile:

I would love these KM shortcuts, if you don’t mind sharing them, please.

Sure lemme package them up and I’ll post a little walkthrough of all of them.


Boom! Here you go. :slight_smile:

How I Navigate OmniFocus with Keyboard Maestro


Because OmniFocus allows sync over WebDAV so you have control over the data sync. Things 3 only have their own syncing service, which makes it non-permissible for use for work in many work places. Also I quite like the idea of keeping personal and work things separate in two apps.

But I’m genuinely curious what OmniFocus power users do about this, because if you’re a heavy user, and it takes 7 clicks to properly screen / organize each items in Inbox, that just add up to a whole lot of clicks and/or drag n’ drop.

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Thanks a lot, I’ll check it as soon as I get time.

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This is one of my main issues with OmniFocus. On the Mac I can create all kinds of workflows to help me in triaging tasks but on iOS I’m limited to what’s available. While Omni did add bulk actions. They aren’t perfect and it’s a pain to categorize lots of tasks on iOS vs macOS.

Well for most things I fall into your number 3. I much prefer mousing to things and because I don’t type well (as my numerous typos here show) keyboard shortcuts can really cause me grief. I need a robust undo when I try to use them.

However, I do the specific tasks you want shortcut for all the time and don’t see the same issues. Maybe it’s how I use OF?

If I have an item in the inbox selected I can just I tab over to project and assign it, no big deal. Start type in the first few letters of the project and it will find projects that match and when you’ve got the right one just tab and it autocompletes.
I almost never use the due field at all but again if I want to add one I can just tab to it.
Defer I do use and again it’s just tab, in fact it’s before due so even faster for me to add.
I have custom perspectives set for the view options I want in my 2 main windows. One has projects and one has actions by tag. No shortcuts set but it’s a quick click and they are changed. Keeping 2 windows up on my mac makes it simple to flip between project and action views.
Apply tags is the tab after project so again, really fast. All I have to do is type the first letter or two and then tab and it autocompletes. I typically only have one tag but you can add more if you desire.
Complete item is almost always done via iOS and I prefer to use my finger as the keyboard is a PITA. So I rarely use that on my Mac unless it’s during a review where I am catching up on all the stuff I got done.

So for me the requested shortcuts are irrelevant and I don’t really need or miss them.

So why even try? Use the tool that’s best for the job.

That’s part of how I treat all my devices and apps. I only do tasks on specific machines that work well there. I don’t do email on my iOS devices, I don’t mark activities done on my Mac (usually) I don’t try to input data into OF in iOS because when I do I don’t do a proper job of really evaluating the item. It’s also why I don’t process stuff unless I am at my desk and ready to use all my tools, from both paper and electronic filing, to scanning to email to my someday/maybe or not now lists. I’m more efficient that way. It also keeps me from being sucked into the work all the time, no time to disconnect from machines trap that so many people fall into.

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Thank you, @kennonb!


Just because macOS is currently better for OF doesn’t mean I should wipe my hands and never be able to use a different device**. I understand your desire to disconnect. I think that is super profitable, and it’s something I do. But I also realize that iOS is nice to work on (and people DO work on those devices) when the app is well built (cough Things cough :wink:).

**Omni is working on iOS this year (according to their roadmap), so this is likely to improve this year.

I have it on good authority that Omni is planning on dramatically improved keyboard shortcuts across all platforms for this year. That authority? Ken Case himself, in person, at the first Automators meetup late last year. They know people want better keyboard shortcuts and I believe they will deliver…and soon!


Omni has their apps on mobile in order to be used. It’s ok to criticize them I think. It’s something they have even acknowledged that they need to work on.

I (like many people) prefer to work on my iPad over my MacBook these days.

IMHO, Things 3 shows how fluid an iOS app can be.

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I concur. I absolutely love OmniFocus, Omni Group and all that they do, but Things in fact does have parity on keyboard shortcuts and so it feels a bit lacking on the iPad for OmniFocus in the keyboard shortcut department.

I bet that the gang at OmniGroup will have improvements made this year. They were heavily focused on OF for the web (can’t blame them, it’s really nice to have).

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