The OmniFocus 3 for Mac TestFlight Preview

The OmniFocus 3 for Mac TestFlight Preview

(Wilson Ng) #1

OmniFocus 3 for Mac TestFlight


The moment has arrived to show some of the screenshots for OmniFocus 3 for Mac. OF3 for Mac started its TestFlight and invitations are slowly going out. A small group of brave TestFlight pilots are testing it right now and have been sending troubleshooting tickets to clear up some of the early bugs (or “undocumented features” as I like to call ‘em! :wink:).

This is an early build of OmniFocus 3 for Mac. The screenshots shown here are a work in progress and does not represent the final product coming in September 2018.

As with any TestFlight apps, please take take the precaution to back up your OmniFocus database (quitting your app should trigger an automatic backup). Use the Omni Sync Server to sync your database to OmniFocus 3 or start with a fresh new database.

The quote from the TestFlight untested build software

Not for the faint of heart! These unstable and untested builds are snapshots of our development, updated every few hours. This means that you might actually be the first person to try a particular build and discover that something is very wrong. (We hope that doesn’t happen, of course, but since we won’t have tested the app before giving you access we can’t make any guarantees.)

Waiting for the e-mail


The moment has arrived and you receive your user name, password, and the download link that will lead you to:

Download the disk image and open it. I suggest going to your Applications folder and rename your OmniFocus app to OmniFocus 2 before drag-and-dropping the new OmniFocus TestFlght app into the Applications folder.


Starting up OmniFocus 3

OF2 and OF3 can be opened side by side if you have the need to work with OF2 while testing OF3.

The first screen introduces us to OF3 and asks whether we want to use the free Omni Sync Server or keep your database on your Mac.


We can choose to sync to the Omni Sync Server or to your personal WebDAV server. If you choose the Omni Sync Server, you’ll be asked for your username account and password.


The next screen gives you links to more resources to help you with OmniFocus.


The Main Screen

If you’re familiar with OF3 for iOS, you’ll feel right at home with OF3 for Mac.

The default layout is the custom columns setting. The Fluid layout settings is still available to use.

One thing that is missing right now in the early TestFlights is the ability to add custom perspectives to the top tool bar. I’ll be waiting to see this hopefully added back in.

OmniFocus 3 Preferences

The OF3 preferences have a few changes that will hint at upcoming changes. These are not the final settings and may change in the final release version. The Preference window on the left is from OmniFocus 2. The Preference window on the right is from OmniFocus 3.

General Preferences

General settings remain the same.

Organization Preferences

Organization settings remain the same. The only change visible is the substitution of the word Context with Tag.

Layout Preferences

The Layout screen is mostly the same. The only omission is the last checkbox. We do not have the ability to omit Context column in perspectives grouped by context.

Style Preferences

The Style screen omits the ability to use custom themes. Custom themes wasn’t present in OF version 2.0 but was added later. Perhaps this may be added later. There are new choices for color palettes. More on that later.

Dates & Times Preferences

The Dates & Times screen remains the same.

Badges Preferences

The Notifications screen has been renamed Badges.

Showing badges as notifications is omitted from OF3.

Synchronization Preferences

The Synchronization screen remains the same.

Update Preferences

The Update screen remains the same.

Dark mode and Light mode

We have four choices in the Preference setting for themes.

The first two color palettes, Light and Dark are supplemented by variations with colored text.

Here’s what it the light and dark themes look like with and without colored text. Currently available actions are colored purple or black. Unavailable tasks are colored gray. The color schemes are still a work in progress and may change in the final version.

Light theme


Light with colored text theme


Dark theme


Dark with colored text theme


New Header in OF3

When we go to a perspective, OF2 shows the perspective name at the top of the window.

OF3’s perspective title is more prominent and includes a count for actions, projects, and folders. You can also change the colors of the custom perspective using the Perspective Editor.

Perspective sidebar

Iconography for OF3 has changed with a new filled look in the perspective sidebar. OF3’s perspectives sidebar has adopted a dark theme in both dark and light theme. There is no Light version of the perspectives sidebar in the early TestFlight builds.

It will be interesting to see how OF3 will interact with MacOS Mojave’s dark theme.

Projects sidebar and Context sidebar in custom perspectives

OF2 has a Projects sidebar and a Contexts sidebar available in all custom perspectives. The Projects sidebar and Tags sidebar are not available for custom perspectives in OF3.

Custom perspective with projects sidebar (OF2)

Custom perspective without projects sidebar (OF3)

This new view is more aligned with OF3 for iOS’s view. There is no option to show a left sidebar with a list of projects or tags at this moment.

Upgrading OF2 custom perspectives to OF3 custom perspectives

Your OF2 custom perspectives will transfer seamlessly into OF3. Here is an OF2 custom perspective in OF2.

Here is the same OF2 custom perspective as viewed in OF3.

OF2 custom perspectives can be used in both OF2 and OF3. But if you want to take advantage of OF3’s new perspective settings, you will need to upgrade it to an OF3 perspective. Any OmniFocus custom perspectives upgraded to version 3 will not be viewable in OmniFocus 2. You can upgrade or downgrade your custom perspectives in the Perspectives Window editor.



Here is the same custom perspective upgraded to the new OF3 custom perspective settings.

OF3 offers many more options such as “If any of the following” or “If none of the following”. You will be able to create new custom perspectives in OF3 that were not possible to make in OF2.


The OF3 Inspector panel includes everything that you have from the OF2 Inspector. The Customize Inspector feature that is available for OmniFocus 3 for iOS app has not yet made it into the early TestFlights. But I suspect it will be coming soon.

Repeat settings

OmniFocus 3 for iOS’s repeat settings makes its way over to the Mac. If you’ve played with the repeat settings in the iOS app, you’ll know what to expect. You will have a wide range of repeat settings finally available on the Mac.

Repeat every Tuesday and Thursday


Repeat every 15th day of the month


Repeat on the last weekday of the month


Repeat scheduling settings

OF2’s repeat settings can get confusing sometimes. Here’s a sample of what we had in OF2.

OF3 will hopefully improve on the repeat settings.


Projects perspective

The Projects perspective remains the same as OF2.

Tags perspective

The Tags perspective remains the same as OF2.

Forecast perspective

Tasks interleaved with your schedule was introduced in OF3 for iOS. It finally arrives on the Mac.


Quick Entry Screen

The quick entry screen remains the same from OF2.

The Today Settings

The Badges preference screen’s Today Settings has remained the same as OF2.


At this moment, I wasn’t able to get the MacOS Notification screen to show anything. But it should be fixed in an upcoming TestFlight release.

Quick Open

Quick Open remains unchanged in OF3.


View Backups

When you screw up, it’s always nice to know that you have backups of your OmniFocus database.

Review perspective

The Review perspective remains unchanged in OF3. This perspective is the biggest feature that keeps me stuck in OmniFocusLand.

On the OmniFocus Roadmap

There’s still a laundry of list of things left to do. These features did not make the version 3.0 release and is still planned for a future release.

  1. Custom Notifications - The ability to have your Mac notify you when a task starts, when a task is due, and customized date/time notifications.
  2. Nagging Notifications - The ability to have repeating notifications until you dismiss or snooze it.
  3. OmniJS - Crossplatform automation is a feature that will help you create scripts that will work on both iOS and MacOS platforms.
  4. Collaboration - Send a task to another OmniFocus user. It will appear in the other person’s inbox. They can move the task into any part of their Project structure. They can turn it into a task inside one of their Single Actions List or convert it into a big project. Not much else is known about collaboration yet.

Summary Wrap-up

I’ve had a few crashes but it appears the Omni Ninjas are hard at work fixing them up before sending out the next set of invitations. I haven’t seen any data loss but it’s always good idea to remember to backup your data. Thankfully, OmniFocus 3 for Mac keeps the last 100 backups in its backup folder.

If you have OmniFocus 3 for iOS, you will feel easily at home with the Mac version.

I took a leap of faith and started using my Omni Sync Server database with this TestFlight. I also converted all of my OF2 custom perspectives to OF3 custom perspectives. I can’t use the OF3 custom perspectives in OF2. But I’ve been able to work with the new perspectives on my Mac, iPad, and iPhone.

It’s awesome to have multiple OmniFocus windows, multiple tabs, and the ability to use OmniFocus 3 on the Mac platform. I’ve found different use-case scenarios for all of my devices.

  1. Mac - I use OF3 for Mac whenever I’m at my computer. I can do heavy duty project management and task curation here.
  2. iPhone - Used for quick capture, quick review, and checking off tasks.
  3. iPad - If I am away from my Mac, the iPad is a very portable solution that does 90% of what the Mac does. When the iPad is paired with a keyboard, it becomes a very convenient solution when my MacBook is not around.

OmniFocus 3 for Mac is scheduled for a September release. It comes with a free 14-day trial period. Afterwards, you can purchase it through the Mac App Store or at the Omni Group Store. If you buy OmniFocus 2 for Mac at the Omni Group Store, you will get a free upgrade to OmniFocus 3 for Mac. Upgrade prices will also be available for previous purchasers.

To be notified of future TestFlight invitations, check Ken Case’s twitter feed.

You can also sign up for the OmniFocus 3 for Mac TestFlight page to get into the TestFlight program.

See you soon on the OmniFocus 3 for Mac platform!

(Joe Buhlig) #2

Thanks for this awesome rundown, @wilsonng. Looks like a lot of little adjustments with some big jumps in Perspective filtering. Looking forward to that one. :wink:


Thanks @wilsonng. :blush:

Looks super promising. Can’t wait to finally get my hands on this. :hugs:

(Wilson Ng) #4

It’s often the little things that add up. It sneaks up on you and you doh’t realize it.

This is just the beginning of the road. There’s always version 3.1, 3.2, 3.3,…’

(Wilson Ng) #5

Oops. Forgot to add the perspectives settings screen. You’ll find this in the OF3 for iOS app as well.

You can use these in combination with:

  1. All of the following
  2. Any of the following
  3. None of the following

You can make nested conditions with any combination of these. For example:

Look for active projects that are not in particular folders and have estimated duration not less than 15 minutes. That’s a perspective that would have been harder to do in OF2.

(Kourosh) #6

Excellent overview @wilsonng!

(Wilson Ng) #7

Thank you @Kourosh. I’ll leave it to you to do the complete OmniFocus 3 guide. Looking forward to buying the new update when it comes!

(Wilson Ng) #8

An update comes today and it restores the projects sidebar and tags sidebar to custom perspectives!

Tags sidebar in a custom perspective


Projects sidebar in a custom perspective


Progress is bring made to bring OF3 up to Golden Master release in September!

(Kourosh) #9

I’m working on it. Cheers!

(Wilson Ng) #10

Coming soon!

(Justin DiRose) #11

Oh bummer - won’t be in this one for a while.

(Ed M) #12

Thank you for the detailed updates – especially the screen shots. It seems OF3 is mainly UI tweaks, many of which are useful, but not any significant functional tweaks. What do you think is the impelling reason to use OF3 vs. OF2?

(Rosemary Orchard) #13

Tags vs contexts is massive for me. As are the much more powerful perspectives - I’m literally able to filter for things I never could before now.

(Wilson Ng) #14

One of my favorites is the expanded custom repeats with more repeat features being considered.

Sometimes it’s the sum of small tweaks that adds to the overall experience. There is also forthcoming features such as OmniFocus for Web and nagging reminders that are very promising. I am also looking forward to OmniJS. This will give us the capability of writing scripts for both iOS and MacOS app.

There are times when we get caught up in drastic UI changes that may or may not drastically change anything. When Things 3 came out, it felt more cosmetic to me. Over time, Cultured Code started adding features slowly that helped it evolve to what it is today.

MacOS Mojave is also a maintenance update. It has a few additions that sounds small but adds to the overall experience.

I wouldn’t call OF3 a minor tweak. It was basically a rewrite of some of the underlying code. You don’t see the engine but the power that is hidden underneath the hood is what will set the stage for future features.

(Ed M) #15

Thanks for the insight. I hope that proves to be the case. It is very difficult to up-level an application that is a long way into the flatter part of the maturity curve.

(Alex T) #16

Edited: HI All, just writing to confirm that OF3 does in fact require 10.13. If you’re still running Sierra, you won’t be able to participate in the beta. Ken Case, via Tweet, suggested that this is/would be the case.

(andreystepanov) #17

OF3 is amazing, and new tags are so much better then contexts :relaxed:

(Justin DiRose) #18

I totally agree! What ways are you using tags that you couldn’t in contexts?

(Jesús Bédmar) #19

Impresionante el artículo. Enhorabuena.