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Migrating to a newer OmniFocus database format

When updating OmniFocus from an earlier version of the app, you may be prompted to migrate your database to a format capable of supporting the features of the latest version of the app. This article covers migrating to the new format after installing the latest update.


OmniFocus 2 observes which other copies of the app you are using to sync your database. Shortly after all of your Macs with OmniFocus have updated to a version compatible with the new database format, the Migration window gives the green light to make the transition to the new, improved database format. Here’s an example of the type of Migration prompt you may see, from our first database format change in OmniFocus 2.6 for Mac and OmniFocus 2.15 for iOS, which added support for end-to-end encryption:

The OmniFocus for Migration Prompts

Choose Migrate Database, and voilà! OmniFocus syncs your database in the new format to all of your devices. If you choose Later on the Mac, or dismiss the prompt with Done on iOS, you’ll be prompted to migrate again in one day. Alternatively, if you dismissed the prompt but later change your mind, or if you don’t want to wait to be prompted to migrate, you can use Migrate Database… from the OmniFocus for Mac File menu item or OmniFocus for iOS Settings to migrate sooner.

If you have some older versions of OmniFocus that need to be updated or disconnected from sync before you can migrate, OmniFocus will let you know about that as well. If you aren’t able to update some older devices, that’s okay—learn more here.

OmniFocus showing clients that don't support the new format

If you’d like to see which devices OmniFocus thinks are ready and which need to be updated or disconnected, choose Migrate Database from the OmniFocus File menu item (OS X) or from OmniFocus Settings (iOS). If this goes straight to the Migration prompt, that means you’re ready to Migrate and can proceed without updating any other devices.

Disconnecting Older Versions

OmniFocus will let you know if you have old versions of OmniFocus that need to be removed from syncing before you can migrate. This might include older copies of OmniFocus that were installed on a device that you’ve since updated. If you’ve verified that OmniFocus has been updated but an old entry is still showing up for that device during migration, it’s safe to manually remove the entry. All versions of OmniFocus include a list of clients, where these stale entries may appear as duplicates:

  • On Mac, there’s a Show Clients button at the bottom of the Migration window–this button opens the Sync Devices sheet, where you can select duplicate entries and remove them using the Unregister button. The entry for the current device (the one you shouldn’t remove) appears in bold.
  • On iOS, go to OmniFocus Settings > Registered Devices, and use the Edit button or swipe duplicate entries to unregister them. The entry for the current device (again, the one you shouldn’t remove) appears in purple.


If you want to stop using the new format for some reason, you’ll need to restore a backup from before you migrated.

What happens if I decline the prompt, and don’t migrate to a newer database format?

If you’re still syncing with an older version of OmniFocus on any of your devices, and can’t install the latest OS to update to the latest version, don’t worry! You can decline the migration prompt to continue syncing the latest versions with older clients. Doing so means you won’t be able to take advantage of features that rely on the new database format (such as database encryption, or optimized attachment storage), but the rest of OmniFocus’s features that you’re already used to will still be available to you.

The reason why OmniFocus asks if you want to migrate—instead of doing so automatically—is because we don’t want to create a situation where you have to stop using an older client on any older devices that can’t run the latest versions of macOS or iOS. We’ve designed our OmniFocus updates so that users with different OS requirements can decline migration prompts to a new database format, and maintain compatibility with older devices.

Installing subsequent updates of OmniFocus on some devices but not others won’t affect the database format, or otherwise break sync with your older clients, for as long as you continue using the older sync clients. If you go an extended period of time without syncing an older client, OmniFocus might interpret that as a sign that you’re no longer using that device, and may offer to migrate again. As long as you plan to continue using older clients, you can decline that offer. This process is designed to never let the migration happen on an existing database, unless you choose to allow it.

Last Modified: Oct 2, 2017

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