OmniFocus 3 Reference Manual for macOS

Appendix B

Capture Methods

Beyond the New Action menu item and toolbar button, OmniFocus has plenty of other ways to help you get stuff out of your head and into the app. This appendix describes how you can get items into OmniFocus from anywhere on your Mac and beyond.

Copying from Plain Text

If you’ve written a list of tasks elsewhere that you’d like to copy into OmniFocus, OmniFocus can use line breaks to determine where one item ends and the next begins.

Select the text you’d like to add as items and copy it (Command-C). In OmniFocus, select an item without activating any of its text fields, then paste (Command-V) to add the copied text as a list of items below the one you have selected.

The items will be pasted as peers of the one initially selected, so if you’d like to paste text as a list of actions in a project, you’ll want to select an existing action in the project first (selecting the project results in a pasted list of projects rather than actions).

Quick Entry

With an easily configurable keyboard shortcut, you can use Quick Entry from anywhere on your Mac to add items to your database as long as OmniFocus is running. Make sure the shortcut in OmniFocus General preferences is what you want, and it’ll open the Quick Entry window no matter which app you’re viewing in the foreground.

When using Quick Entry, a couple of other keyboard interactions are affected by your Outlining choice in General preferences.

  • If you decide against posting an item with Quick Entry, in Modern mode press Esc to close the window. In Classic mode, use Cancel (Command-.) instead.

  • Press Return in Quick Entry to save the current item and close the window. To add another item before closing the Quick Entry window, hold down Shift and then press Return — twice if in Modern mode, once if in Classic mode.

An icon indicating that this feature is part of OmniFocus Pro. With OmniFocus Pro, the option to customize your outline layout extends to the Quick Entry window as well.

Open the View options with the button in the lower left of the window to choose whether to use the style set up in Layout preferences, or override it with another layout you want for adding items with Quick Entry.


You may come across an email message, a web page, a newsreader article, or some other piece of info that you’d like to turn into an OmniFocus action. In the olden days you might heft your mouse, highlight the text, copy it, summon up the OmniFocus quick entry window, and paste. But no, you’re living in the future. You use the OmniFocus Clippings service.

To clip content from another application:

  • Highlight some text in any application that supports macOS Services.

  • Press the Clippings keyboard shortcut, or open the application menu and then the Services submenu, then choose OmniFocus: Send to Inbox.

  • A new item, with the highlighted content (rich text and embedded images) as its note, lands in the quick entry window for you to revise and save.

Setting Up a Clippings Shortcut

At the bottom of General preferences in OmniFocus you’ll find a setting for the Clippings Shortcut. Click Set Shortcut to open these instructions as well as a window for the Keyboard section of macOS System Preferences.

Due to the macOS sandboxing security protocol, apps aren’t allowed to customize the keyboard shortcuts for their own services—such as the OmniFocus “Send to Inbox” service—which is why you need to do the rest of this on your own.

In that window, you’ll see two panes: on the left is a list of shortcut categories, and on the right is an outline of items within that category. In the left pane, click on Services, and on the right scroll down until you see the group of Text services. In there, you should see an item for the OmniFocus Send to Inbox* service. Click that service, and an add shortcut** button appears which you can use to assign a keyboard shortcut.


As an alternative to Clippings or Quick Entry, you can use the Share Menu in apps that support it (such as Safari) to share content with OmniFocus.

To add OmniFocus to the share menu of other apps that support the macOS share extension, visit Extensions in the macOS System Preferences app and select the checkbox next to OmniFocus in the Share Menu extension. To make OmniFocus more visible, drag to rearrange it above other apps in the menu.

OmniFocus supports sharing with other apps, too. With content selected in the outline, click Share in the toolbar to send the desired items to a destination app.

Email Capture (Mail Drop)

Mail Drop is a feature of the Omni Sync Server that lets you send emails directly to your OmniFocus Inbox. You can create multiple private send-to addresses to give access to third parties, and delete those addresses at any time. In order to use Mail Drop, you’ll need to have an Omni Sync Server account (they’re free), and OmniFocus must be configured to actively sync with that account on our server.

If you don’t have a Sync Server account yet, you can sign up here. The account creation process includes instructions for configuring OmniFocus to use your new account.

If you’re already using Omni Sync Server to sync OmniFocus, you can log in to the Sync Server web interface and create your first Mail Drop address. After logging in, click or tap Add An Address to automatically generate the email address (a combination of your account name and a random string of characters).

When you send an email message to a Mail Drop address, the subject line of that message becomes the name of the new Inbox item. The body of the message becomes the note, which can contain text and simple HTML; attachments to the email (such as images) are added as attachments to the OmniFocus item as well.

See OmniFocus Mail Drop on the Omni support website for more details on this feature.

Importing from OmniOutliner

OmniFocus integrates with OmniOutliner for Mac, so you can outline an agenda in OmniOutliner and then easily bring it into OmniFocus and take action. There are three ways to bring your OmniOutliner data into OmniFocus:

Import a Document

Using the File > Import OmniOutliner Document menu command, OmniFocus imports an OmniOutliner outline of your choice into your OmniFocus database. The outline’s rows become OmniFocus items, and its columns become fields for those items (you can choose what OmniFocus item field corresponds to each outline column as part of the import process).

Drag and Drop

Drag a selection of rows from an OmniOutliner document onto a project or group in OmniFocus, and they’ll become actions within that project or group with hierarchy preserved. As with the Import menu command, when you release the drag OmniFocus will ask how you’d like data in the outline’s columns to be interpreted.

Copy and Paste

Select any number of rows in an Outliner document and copy them (Command-C). Paste them (Command-V) into the Inbox or into another selected OmniFocus item, and the copied rows will appear in place with hierarchy preserved. As with the Import menu command, when you paste in a valid location OmniFocus asks how you’d like data in the outline’s columns to be interpreted.