Todoist vs. Omnifocus 4

I know task manager comparisons are a perennial topic, but I think we’re approaching a moment when it might make sense to have a conversation about Todoist vs. Omnifocus. My understanding is that the Omnifocus 4 beta is moving towards a finalized set of features, UI, etc. Todoist has also been getting some interesting updates in the past two years, from the ability to move between list and kanban views to a very recent update to the task view. I’d love to hear experiences from people who are familiar with the direction of the Omnifocus 4 beta and/or with Todoist.

To share my own thoughts, I’ve been using Omnifocus for 6+ years since my responsibilities do require a fairly robust task manager, but I’ve always felt it was a bit clunky. The UI feels more and more dated. Also, while OF is great for staying on top of the weeds, it doesn’t give the best view of the forest. I think I have occasionally said “yes” to things that I might have said “no” to if I had a better view of the forest, if that makes sense. I could probably do more with tags and perspectives to help with that, but I just don’t feel like that is OF’s strong suit.

I’m really intrigued by Todoist’s kanban boards (which I feel like could help with “seeing the forest”), natural language entry, and more modern UI. But switching systems is a big undertaking and I worry that I might be overestimating some of the lures of Todoist (is the kanban view really that useful? is the UI and natural language entry really that sleek?), so I’m on the fence right now. Hence soliciting thoughts/experiences from others.

Yes, natural language processing capabilities in Todoist are great and really convenient on mobile. It hurts me to say that Todoist UI feels better than what the direction OF4 is going, but I would give Omni the benefit of doubt.

The biggest different is that Todoist does not have the concept of “Defer date”, so you need to adjust your workflow accordingly.

I was a heavy task manager addict but I think in 2017 Todoist got a solid year of usage from me, so there you go. Now I do not use it any more (Settled currently on Calendar + Reminders)

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When I switched from Things to Todoist, the biggest thing for me was the non-native feel. I know that is controversial verbiage and the statement gets overused, but the way to click into tasks, tab between things, use keyboard shortcuts to move around, etc., I felt like I was swimming in quicksand and it worked differently than most of what was on my Mac. I might just be absurdly sensitive to that sort of thing, and I told myself I’d get used to it, but after several months I never did and switched back. That’s just me and what I find important — I’m not knocking Todoist or the choice to use it, as in other ways it is superior to Things.You may want to consider how important the “feel” of Omnifocus is to you and balance it against the features of Todoist.

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This was my experience as well.

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As someone who quite the OF4 public beta twice… the last time permanently I just did not like the way OF4 was going, 2 inspectors, one inline the other as per the set up in OF3 navigation was a mess for me particularly on phone, the iPad was not to bad but the design was I am guessing worked out on the iPad and transferring it to the phone seemed to be not working out.

I had years invested in OF plus an irrational fondness for it. At one stage I ran OF4 Things3 and Todoist in tandem to give me a fair assessment. Todoist as people have said felt “wrong” on a mac and just too much white space on the phone. As much as I was dismissive of Things3 when it launched I was wrong. It requires a mindset change but the ability to set tags at “area” level, headings and checklists have streamlined the way I work. I run a few shortcuts and a KBMaestro palette to simulate the " OF perspective" views I need so a vote for Things3 from me!

I had the same issue with Todoist. A non-native app that does not integrate well. Everything has to be added via clicks and email. I loved it’s speed and natural language, but in the end went with Things3. I did use the OF beta, but it was like trying to manage your tasks with boeing cockpit controls, way too much overhead. The things I miss from OF are the review feature and perspectives. Perhaps the final v4 will pleasantly surprise, but definitely not the beta.

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Crazy to see people talking about how the non-native feel of Todoist bogs things down. The natural language support of Todoist makes it feel so much faster to me than something like Things 3. In Things 3 it took me a zillion clicks to do anything!

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At first, I did miss Todoist’s natural language support when I switched back to Things, but then realized it is the same number of clicks and nearly identical syntax, with just a different modifier key, with the exception of picking a date, which takes an extra keystroke in Things. For example, to move a task to a project in Todoist, the # key requires using the Shift key, so you have to type Shift+3 on the keyboard to enter a # symbol, followed by the project name. In Things, you type Command+Shift+M and then the project name. So entering a project in both apps requires typing a modifier plus the project. Same with tags.

In Things, date entry does support natural language, but you have to type Command+S first, so there is one more keystroke. I had actually turned off “smart date recognition” in Todoist, though, as it interfered with the way I use a task manager to record “last action” rather than “next action”. (I enter what I just did and the date, so I know at a glance where I left off with something. Todoist was trying to turn that “last action” into a due date.)

Again, this isn’t meant to imply Things is “better,” just that it works better for me. I just wanted to point out the similarities in this one regard, although it’s been several months now since I used Todoist, so I could be overlooking another benefit of its natural language entry, which is a great feature.

I wish Todoist would add defer dates.

Not real defer dates, but you can imitate it. Here is a post from earlier this year about a system I set up.

Todoist was the first task manager I actually ‘used’, it is a great application with many integration possibilities. I’m not using it anymore though… for me defer dates are one of the reasons to switch to Omnifocus. Besides that the non-native feel (feels like a web app, which in the end it is) and the fact it does not work with Hook unless you use the web-browser is the reason I stick with Omnifocus. I follow Todoist on Twitter and the amount of time it seems there are issues with connecting to the service do put me off a bit… probably not a giant issue for most people.

In the beginning I really like the natural language processing. But when I started reviewing my Inbox daily it became apparent form me that the natural language processing just is not that important for me.

The ways you can access Todoist and the wat it integrates with do many tools still is great, especially when working in a mixed Windows/ Apple (or android) environment.

I agree that this is not the biggest issue for ‘most’ people, but I feel the same way about it. It’s not a huge issue, but for apps I rely on daily I really like them to have a native feel.

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It’s not just about data entry, but connectivity. Non-native apps simply don’t integrate, from spellchecking to dragging and dropping links, shortcut keys, etc. Things 3 is a hub for me that is a hive of connectivity for other apps and files and folders in finder, emails,etc. This is something Todoist will never replicate. With Todoist you live in a web browser and it is greatly silo’d from your os.

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What gets me about OF is it’s $100 price tag.

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It’s not cheap, but it is a one-time purchase which will last for years. Todoist uses a subscription model, you can use the free version, but it’s limited.

Also if privacy (GDPR) is an issue Todoist might not be the best option, by which I mean that you should be careful what information you store in Todoist, it is the reason I cannot use it for work.

So is the standalone version a separate purchase on iOS?

I guess not much point forking out for OF3 on both is OF4 is around the corner.

Yes, unfortunately it is a separate purchase, You probably will get a discount or maybe even a free upgrade if a new release comes available soon, you could ask Omnigroup about this.

Omnifocus also has a subscription available which gives you access to the iOS, macOS and Web versions. It is also a way to try it for some time before purchasing a license. And is you want to use the web client the subscription probably is a better deal anyway.

That’s what I mean though. With a subscription at $99 it makes it very expensive! Life is money money money!!

OF4 will have a universal purchase that will grant you all 3 platforms as a one time purchase. Price points haven’t been announced but it may align with past history.

If you can get $100 worth of value from an app (subscription or license), price is not an obstacle. A graphic designer or photographer makes their living with adobe photoshop (or the entire adobe suite). The subscription is offset by the benefits received.

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Thanks all for your thoughts. The critiques and criticisms of Todoist are convincing me it might not be the best option – though I’d be curious to hear if the Kanban view feature has been a game-changer for anyone.

There is a surprising amount of enthusiasm for Things, so maybe I’ll revisit it.