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Reverting to an OmniFocus for Mac database backup

Finding OmniFocus backups

OmniFocus for Mac regularly and automatically makes backups of your database. The default location of the backup files depends on where you purchased the application, and whether you’re running OmniFocus 1 or OmniFocus 2. In OmniFocus 2, there’s a handy File > Show Backups option that will take you directly to the location of your backups, but here’s the full file path for those curious:

OmniFocus 1 (Omni Store)

~/Documents/OmniFocus Backups

OmniFocus 1 (Mac App Store)

~/Library/Application Support/OmniFocus/Backups

OmniFocus 2 (Omni Store, Sandboxed)

~/Library/Containers/com.omnigroup.OmniFocus2/Data/Library/Application Support/OmniFocus/Backups

OmniFocus 2 (Mac App Store, Sandboxed)

~/Library/Containers/com.omnigroup.OmniFocus2.MacAppStore/Data/Library/Application Support/OmniFocus/Backups

The user library folders are hidden, so to access this location, switch to the Finder and choose Go to Folder… from the Go menu. Paste the above line following your version into the window that opens, then click Go.

OmniFocus backup files that each include a date in its filename, formatted like OmniFocus yyyy-mm-dd hhmmss.ofocus-backup. In some cases, the filenames of these backups also illustrate special circumstances under which that backup was made, like OmniFocus Prior To Resynchronizing on 2013-07-19 153603.ofocus-backup.

Getting specific actions from a backup

Double-clicking a backup file opens it in a new OmniFocus window that is separate from your main OmniFocus database. Cherry-pick the items you’d like to move back to your primary syncing database by dragging and dropping items from the backup window into the window that’s displaying your main database.

Reverting to a backup

Another option is to revert the entire OmniFocus database. OmniFocus 1 has a File > Revert to Database Backup option, and in the window that opens, navigate to your OmniFocus Backups folder and select the file you’d like to revert to. In OmniFocus 2, after opening a backup there’s a yellow Revert to this backup bar at the top of your window.

In either case, OmniFocus warns you that everything you’ve entered since that backup will be lost; click Restore/Revert when you’re ready to proceed.

Using a Time Machine backup

If you use Time Machine to back up your Mac, you can revert your OmniFocus database with the following steps:

  1. Quit OmniFocus and open a new Finder window.
  2. Choose Go to Folder... from the Go menu and paste one of the following lines into the window that opens, then click Go:
    • Omni Store:
      ~/Library/Containers/com.omnigroup.OmniFocus2/Data/Library/Application Support/OmniFocus/
    • Mac App Store:
      ~/Library/Containers/com.omnigroup.OmniFocus2.MacAppStore/Data/Library/Application Support/OmniFocus/
  3. In the Finder window that opens you'll see a file named OmniFocus.ofocus; this is your database. Click the Time Machine icon in the menu bar and choose Enter Time Machine from the menu.
  4. Use the Time Machine interface to navigate back and restore the OmniFocus.ofocus file to a date in the past (there's more information on restoring using Time Machine in this Apple support article).
  5. When prompted, choose Keep Both to create a file named OmniFocus (original).omnifocus alongside your current database.
    Time Machine dialog showing 'keep both'
  6. Drag the newly-created file to your Desktop and rename it to OmniFocus (original).ofocus-backup, then double-click it to open OmniFocus.
  7. In the window that displays the contents of the backup, click the yellow Revert to This Backup button and confirm the action.

Syncing your restored database

Starting in OmniFocus 2.15 for iOS and 2.6 for Mac, restoring your database from a backup also pushes it up to your sync location, and sets a flag that tells all of your other clients to download this database the next time they sync.

But if you’re using OmniFocus versions prior to 2.6 for Mac and 2.15 for iOS and revert the entire database (either from the OmniFocus backups folder or using Time Machine), you’ll need to take an extra step at the end of this process to make sure your newly reverted database gets written to your sync location. After reverting the database, if you’re prompted to “Replace your database and start syncing?”, make sure to click Cancel. Instead, choose Replace Server Database… from the File menu. This step pushes your new, reverted database to the server, replacing what was there previously.

The next time you sync OmniFocus on your other devices, you’ll be alerted that the database on the server no longer matches the database on the device. In OmniFocus for Mac, click Sync when prompted to “Replace your database and start syncing?”. On iOS devices, choose Keep Sync Database.

Last Modified: Oct 2, 2017

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