OmniFocus 3 Reference Manual for macOS



An item that’s part of a project, or part of a group within a project.

Action Group

Also referred to as a sub-project, an action group is a set of actions nested hierarchically within a parent action (which itself can be part of a project).


The status for an item that’s planned for completion, or a tag that’s currently in use. Active status can be set on projects and tags using the inspector.


An item state and View option that includes items that aren’t blocked, deferred, or on hold. Availablilty is derived from an item’s defer date, project type, and project or tag status.


The state of an action in a sequential project that comes after the first available action. The blocked state is derived from an action’s position in its project; to unblock an action, either change the project to another type or move the action to the top of the project list.


The status assigned to an item when you’ve finished it, or finished all the actions that comprise it (in the case of a project or group). Click an item’s status circle to mark it complete.


The file that OmniFocus uses to hold all of the information that you add to the app. OmniFocus and its various perspectives act as windows onto your database, interpreting the data there in ways that help you get stuff done. Typically, you’ll only interact with your primary default OmniFocus database; you can open multiple windows onto it at once to maintain different view states simultaneously. More rarely, you can open multiple database files at once to restore from a backup or archive, or view the contents of an OmniFocus database other than your own.

Defer Date

A date and time assigned to an item that you don’t want to (or can’t) consider for completion until later. When the defer date is reached, the item becomes available for work. Also referred to as the Defer Until date.


The status for a project, folder, action, or tag that is no longer being considered for completion. Use the inspector to set one of these as dropped.

Due Date

A date and time assigned to an item by which the item must be completed.

Due Soon

A designation for items whose due dates are approaching. Items that are due soon are styled in amber for greater visibility. The exact meaning of Due Soon is configurable in Dates and Times preferences.

First Available

An item state and View option that represents a project’s first action as the only one available. First Available status is derived from an action’s position within a project and the project’s type: for sequential and parallel projects, the first available action is the first action in the project list. For single action lists, all actions are equally available.


A mark of privileged, eye-catching status bestowed on an item. What this special designation means is completely up to you, but it’s a great way to keep important things from falling through the cracks. Items that are flagged are styled in orange for greater visibility.


A collection of items nested hierarchically within another item. Groups created from inbox items are item groups, while groups created within projects are action groups (also sometimes called sub-projects).


An item that exists in your database but isn’t exposed by the View options of your current perspective. Relevant when the app gives notice that you might be deleting something by mistake.


The built-in perspective designed to hold tasks and to-dos that you’ve entered into OmniFocus as items, prior to processing them into projects, actions, and groups.


A pane on the right side of the OmniFocus window that holds the suite of tools for adding and changing the details of an action, project, or tag. With something selected in the outline or sidebar, the inspector automatically shows fields relevant to the details of the selection. Click the Inspector button in the toolbar, or choose Show/Hide Inspector from the View menu to show or hide it.


Items are representations of tasks and to-dos in an OmniFocus database. Types of items include: inbox items, actions, projects, and groups.

On Hold

A status for projects and tags that aren’t relevant to your plans right now, but may be in the foreseeable future. Use the inspector to set projects and tags on hold.


The place where you see and interact with your items in OmniFocus, usually through a hierarchical view of your database. Specific perspectives (such as Tags and Forecast) have specialized ways of showing your data that eschew or modify the typical project hierarchy.


A state for items whose due dates are past. Items that are overdue are styled in red for greater visibility.


A project or group that doesn’t place particular emphasis on the order in which its actions are completed. All actions are considered available, though the topmost action is still considered the first available action for the purposes of View options.


A view on your OmniFocus database that appears in the perspective list and is detailed in the outline. OmniFocus comes with six built-in perspectives and two transient reference perspectives (Completed and Changed). Custom perspectives can be created in OmniFocus Pro.

Perspective Editor An icon indicating that this feature is part of OmniFocus Pro.

With OmniFocus Pro, the editor used to create new perspectives or edit existing custom perspectives. To open the Perspective Editor, choose Show Perspectives from the Perspectives menu.
Plug-In An icon indicating that this feature is part of OmniFocus Pro.
With OmniFocus Pro, Omni Automation Plug-Ins are JavaScript tools for automating various tasks in OmniFocus. See Omni Automation for more information.


A to-do item that’s larger in scope or permanence than a simple action, potentially containing several actions and groups within it that must be completed before the project can be marked complete.


An item state and View option that represents all items that haven’t been completed or dropped. Remaining is derived from an item’s attributes and not set directly.


An item state that includes all items that have either been completed or dropped.


A project or group whose actions must be completed in a specific order. The first action in the list is the only one available for completion; all later actions are considered blocked.
A pane that holds the vertical column of perspective tabs, and displays additional levels of hierarchy for perspectives that support them. The sidebar appears to the left of the outline; click the Sidebar button in the toolbar or choose Show/Hide Sidebar from the View menu to show or hide it.

Single Action List

A project whose actions are equally available regardless of sequence. Unlike other project types where completion is the goal, single action lists persist regardless of whether they contain available actions.

Status Circle

A graphical depiction of an item’s status (due soon, overdue, flagged, or repeating), as well as a target to click to mark an item completed.


A term synonymous with action group; a group of actions nested hierarchically within a project.


Storing your database on a cloud server to keep it in sync on all of your devices with OmniFocus. Or, the act of synchronizing with such a remotely stored database.


A person, place, thing, state of mind, or other factor relevant to the completion of a given action or project. These exist outside the project hierarchy and represent another axis from which to view the items you’ve accumulated in your database. An item can have as many tags as you find to be useful.


In the context of this manual, a task is something you’d like to accomplish in the real world that you’d capture with OmniFocus (where it would then become an item). To-do is another word with the same meaning.


A region along the top or bottom of the OmniFocus window that contains controls for modifying the contents of that window.