Creating OmniFocus 3 for Mac Perspective Groups with Keyboard Maestro

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Creating OmniFocus 3 for Mac Perspective Groups with Keyboard Maestro
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(Wilson Ng) #1

Custom perspectives is one of the main features that OmniFocus 3 offers that allows you to create a pre-saved view of your projects and tasks for quick referral. I have always longed for a way to create perspective groups because I have a long list of perspectives.

Disclaimer: The screenshots shown in this post reflect a beta test product. Features and appearances may change in the final version 3.0.

Problem: Too many perspectives creates a long Perspectives Menu

I wanted a way to have distinct groups of perspectives in OmniFocus 3. I demonstrated a perspective grouping in OmniFocus 2 using the top toolbar for my Planning perspectives and the Perspectives sidebar for my Doing perspectives.

My personal setup has four distinct perspective groups:

  1. Contexts - This perspective group contains a list and of common GTD contexts that I frequently find myself in. This is a shortened list of some of my frequently used contexts. This is most frequently used as my Doing perspectives.
    • Physical Location - @House, @Office, @Hardware Store
    • Tool - @Computer, @Phone, @Online
    • Situation - @Morning, @Afternoon, @Evening
  2. End-Of-Day Review - At the end of the day, I run through a series of perspectives to follow up on today’s activities and prepare for the next day. This is my daily review.
  3. Planning - I use this perspective group when I need to go into Planning mode. Perspectives include: Projects, Tags, Completed, Changed, and Review.
  4. Checklists - This perspectives group contains all of my checklists. This is a convenient way to access any lists that I refer to throughout the day.

Grouping my perspectives using fake custom perspectives

An effective way to group my perspectives is to create a custom perspective with the Pro edition of OmniFocus 3. Use the Perspective Editor (Perspectives > Show Perspectives) to add a title header.

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Here is a sample of my perspectives groups on my iPad:

Next is a screenshot of my Perspectives group on my Mac.

OmniFocus 3 for Mac has eliminated the ability to put custom perspectives in the top toolbar. I was able to overcome this by using [Keyboard Maestro]. It’s an invaluable app that just sneaks up on you. You don’t realize how much you can do with KM until you find use case scenarios for it.

Grouping my perspectives using Keyboard Maestro

Keyboard Maestro is a MacOS X automation app that expands the capabilities of your Mac. You can find KM here:

https://www.keyboardmaestro.com/main/

I created different palettes that hold a group of related perspectives. Watch the video of my Perspective Groups.

Creating my OmniFocus 3 Perspectives Group

I start up Keyboard Maestro and choose Launch Keyboard Maestro Editor

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Select File > New Macro Group. You’ll be creating a macro group which will contain the different tiles that will invoke the perspective chosen.

Change the macro group settings to show:

  • Available in these applications: OmniFocus
  • Available in all windows
  • Show a palette until: the hot key <hot key> is pressed

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If you want this palette to be visible in any app then choose Available in all applications.

Change your hotkey to a keyboard combination of your choice. You can also customize the icon by dragging an imagine to the top left to the KM Macro Editor.

Click on Palette style to see an example of your KM Macro Group.

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KM Macro groups will default to show the Macro Group as a standard palette window:

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If you turn on Shrink, your palette will shrink into an icon. Hover the cursor over the icon to expand the icon into a full palette. Shrinking the palette is helpful for Macs with smaller screens.

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Creating the the Perspectives inside the Macro Group

Select File > New Macro to create the first macro for this group.

Add an icon if you desire. Set the Menu Title to Perspectives. Next, set the Menu Item to the Perspective’s name. This KM macro simulates going up to the Perspectives menu and selecting the perspective.

KM has a habit of sorting the title alphabetically. I added a number before the perspective name to enforce my personal sort preferences.

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Download the KM Macro Group file linked below and change the perspective names to fit your OmniFocus setup. You can duplicate this macro group to have multiple perspective palettes.

As an added bonus, I was able to initiate the iOS Homescreen which features two columns. Change the palette style and enter ‘2’ into the Columns field. This will simulate the home screen that you get when using OmniFocus 3 for iOS.


Keyboard Maestro is a popular app that can add palettes to any app that you may have. Personally, I’m terrible at remembering hot key combinations. Sometimes I like having palettes on screen to remind me of a workflow that I should be performing. I also like having palettes to choose some of my most common actions in an app.

I hope you enjoyed this little demonstration. I’m just getting back into Keyboard Maestro myself. Thanks to @nostodnayr and @rosemary for giving me the idea to use KM to create customized palettes for OmniFocus 3 for Mac.


Resources

Keyboard Maestro - Download the OmniFocus 3 palette zip file.

OmniFocus 3 icons courtesy of Josh Hughes


Creating a Daily Review Checklist in Keyboard Maestro
Creating a Daily Review Checklist in Keyboard Maestro
Sneak peek at my Keyboard Maestro macro group - The Daily Review
(Wilson Ng) #2

After some new testing, I think I like the two column palette setting. I found the one column setting made the popup palette too tall. i would have to move my cursor out of the palette boundaries to shrink it and go to the next palette.

Using 2 column palette shrunk the popup palette’s height and made it easier to navigate between the different perspective groups.

Here’s another video:

After some thought, I can see anybody with a different task manager who can benefit from this. Keyboard Maestro allows you to create a checklist of the different perspectives (or saved search views) to follow up on. You’ll never miss a step by going through each tile in the palette.


(Rosemary Orchard) #3

I’m really impressed with this, great work Wilson! I’ll be playing with it to see what I can dream up. Before you came along I had never thought of going through my perspectives in a specific order like a checklist so I’ve got a lot of shiny new things to try out now!


(Wilson Ng) #4

Thanks. I’ve found that creating routines simplifies life. I can create a routine and go through the motions. I have found that I may skip a step or two which can lead to disastrous results. I make assumptions and things fall out of the radar. My End-Of-The-Day review does this for me. I go through each of the different perspectives that I need to check up to prepare for the next day.

I’m already thinking of another palette for my Weekly Review and Monthly Review. I’m not sure where that fits in yet. I wanted to get the Daily Review workflow out of the way first before I start working on the Weekly Review.

I think I got the idea of the checklist after listening to one of @joebuhlig’s podcasts…

Create a checklist to make sure nothing falls through the cracks…

Hope to hear about some of your checklists.

Thanks for reminding me about KM. I had it installed and never bothered to upgrade it. This idea sparked me into upgrading and take my KM game up one notch.


#5

I hadn’t ever thought about having these palettes triggered via mouseover like this. That’s an interesting approach.


A “related” trick with KM palettes that I really enjoy is when you assign multiple items to the same key trigger. Right now you have a palette set to show when using a single keyboard shortcut and then auto-expand with your mouseover. However if you change it to: “Always activated”. Then assign the same keyboard shortcut to each item, the palette will show and you can use your keyboard to pick the item and the palette will auto-hide afterward. So no mouse! :grinning:

Example Video:

What I’m doing in the video:

  • Pressing "CMD+OPT+ALT+SHIFT (HYPER) + A
  • This activates my top applications palette
  • Then I can press the first letter of the item to select it from the palette
  • I have set them all to be specific single letters to differentiate similar items
  • After initiating the palette, I press the “S” key to switch to Sublime
  • I can then initiate the palette again, press “S” to hide Sublime.

So if you assigned all of your initial perspectives to “CTRL+OPT+G”, then you could press that key combo, and immediately hit “2” to jump to your Projects.

As always @wilsonng thanks for the detailed write-up of your workflows. Always a beneficial read. :+1:t3:


(Ryan Dotson) #6

I hadn’t thought of this previously but as you know, Wilson, I have a complicated relationship with the sidebar in OmniFocus 3. I think I’m going to use the palette idea to keep the sidebar hidden most of the time. I may get a little adventurous and switch it on and off automatically as I enter and leave Projects or Tags. Fun! :smile:

For the benefit of others, note that you can put a numerical marker on macros to affect the sorting in a palette. The format is a two-digit number followed by a ) so you could sort the perspectives in the example macro group like this:

49

…which produces:

13

Excellent work, @wilsonng! It’s bound to be quite valuable for all the perspective power users out there.


(Wilson Ng) #7

Thx @kennonb for that tip with the keyboard hot key. I’m gonna have to play with KM a little more.

Thx @nostodnayr. I was wondering how to sort the palette and hide the numbers. RTFM for me! I guess I’ll have to find a way to print the KM manual and take it with me during jury duty!


#8

After playing with it some more, it looks like KM has an option I’ve never noticed before, or wasn’t there before. But you can “Activate a palette for one action” with a keystroke. So that works well for single palettes of grouped actions. I actually still like the “conflict” method above when I’m grouping multiple actions into a single group and I want them to have different shortcuts. Anyway…


(Jonathan Davis) #9

I agree regarding routines and checklists. Currently as I’m away from home I’m realizing some of my routines/checklists might be a bit too excessive and put too much pressure on me to get all of them done. Maybe I might have a simplified checklist for when I’m busy and a more complicated one when not. Also debating printing out reoccurring checklists to then laminate and check off with a dry erase marker. Ideas and decisions…


(Justin DiRose) #10

Wilson, this is fantastic! I’ll definitely dig into this deeper later. Nice work!


(Wilson Ng) #11

This idea isn’t exclusive to OF3. We can use KM palettes in any app when we want commands and macros visible to us. Sometimes a command gets lost in the menu bar or in another palette.

Creating our own palettes customizes the user experience to our personal needs.