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Reverting to an OmniFocus for Mac database backup

Accessing backups with OmniFocus 3 for Mac

OmniFocus 3 for Mac regularly and automatically makes backups of your database. To see all of your backups, select File > Show Backups in Finder in the OmniFocus menu bar. This will take you to the folder listing all of your OmniFocus database backups, which end with the file extension:

Each backup file will include a date in its filename, formatted like:
OmniFocus yyyy-mm-dd hhmmss

In some cases, the filenames of these backups also illustrate special circumstances under which that backup was made, like:
OmniFocus Prior To Resynchronizing on 2019-01-01 153603:

OmniFocus Backups Folder in Finder

Double-clicking a backup file opens it in a new OmniFocus window that is separate from your main OmniFocus database. The window for the backup will be identifiable by a yellow bar beneath the toolbar:

Yellow bar that labels a backup database window

For those that are curious, below is the full path to get to this folder:

  • Omni Store:
    ~/Library/Containers/com.omnigroup.OmniFocus3/Data/Library/Application Support/OmniFocus/Backups

  • Mac App Store:
    ~/Library/Containers/com.omnigroup.OmniFocus3.MacAppStore/Data/Library/Application Support/OmniFocus/Backups

Reverting to content from a backup

To fully revert to a backup, simply click Revert to This Backup in the yellow bar. OmniFocus will then warn you that everything you’ve entered since that backup will be lost; click Revert in the confirmation prompt when you’re ready to proceed.

If you are syncing, this process will also automatically replace the synced database on the server. When you next sync with your other copies of OmniFocus on other devices, they should automatically also revert to the backup.

If you only need to recover specific items from a backup, you can either drag & drop or copy & paste those select items from the backup window into the window for your active database.

Using a Time Machine backup

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

  1. Open OmniFocus.

  2. Hold down the Option key, then choose File > Show “OmniFocus.ofocus” in Finder in the menu bar. In the Finder window that opens you’ll see a file named OmniFocus.ofocus; this is your active database.

  3. Click 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. For more information on restoring files with Time Machine see this Apple support article.

  5. When prompted about replacing the current file, choose Keep Both to create a file named OmniFocus (original).omnifocus alongside your current database.

  6. Drag the newly-created file to your Desktop and rename it to OmniFocus (original).omnifocus-backup, then double-click on it.

  7. In the OmniFocus backup window that opens, click Revert to This Backup in the yellow bar below the toolbar, then click Revert in the confirmation prompt.

Using backups with previous versions

Accessing backups with OmniFocus 2 for Mac

Accessing backups in OmniFocus 2 works almost identically to OmniFocus 3. In OmniFocus 2, you can select File > Show Backups in the menu bar to reveal the folder with all of your backups. And for those that want to directly access this folder here is the path to it:

  • Omni Store:
    ~/Library/Containers/com.omnigroup.OmniFocus2/Data/Library/Application Support/OmniFocus/Backups

  • Mac App Store:
    ~/Library/Containers/com.omnigroup.OmniFocus2.MacAppStore/Data/Library/Application Support/OmniFocus/Backups

Accessing backups with OmniFocus 1 for Mac

With OmniFocus 1 for Mac, the location of your automatic backups varied depending on how your purchased the app, and it was something that could be changed. The default locations were:

  • Omni Store:
    ~/Documents/OmniFocus Backups

  • Mac App Store:
    ~/Library/Application Support/OmniFocus/Backups

If the default location doesn’t contain backups or doesn’t exist, then open OmniFocus 1 and select OmniFocus > Preferences… in the menu bar. Under the General tab, you should see the current location where backups are automatically saved.

Reverting to a backup in OmniFocus 1

To revert to a backup in OmniFocus 1 for Mac, choose File > Revert to Database Backup in the menu bar, then choose a backup file to use. Your entire database is replaced by the version in the file. If you’re not sure that the backup is what you want, you can double-click the backup file in Finder to open it in its own window first and make sure it’s right.

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, and instead, choose File > Replace Server Database… from the menu bar. 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: May 7, 2020

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