Frequently Asked Questions about OmniFocus Sync

How can I tell when OmniFocus has been syncing?

As of OmniFocus 2.3 for Mac and OmniFocus 2.6 for iOS, the Sync Settings have been redesigned to provide a log of recent syncs. If you suspect OmniFocus may not be syncing normally, this is a great place to check to see when OmniFocus has been checking in with the server.

On iOS, drag down from near the top of the OmniFocus home screen to reveal the secret bar (on iPhone), or drag down on the home sidebar (iPad and iPhone 6 Plus) to reveal the secret bar. From here, tap Settings ▸ Last Synced to view the Sync Log. On Mac, from the Menu Bar go to **OmniFocus ▸ Preferences ▸ Synchronization ▸ Show Sync Details ▸ Log. This log records every sync OmniFocus has made, and what type of operation triggered that sync.

Why did I get a message asking to “Replace your database and start syncing”?

Sync errors like these usually appear when once device hasn’t synced with the server for a long period of time. When this happens, your two options are to either keep the database that’s currently on your device or replace it with the server’s database, depending on which database has the most recent information that you’d like to keep.

OmniFocus’ sync system is designed so that each device has a full copy of your database in the form of a list of changes to your actions. Before compacting those changes, OmniFocus waits to make sure that all other devices connected to the same sync account has seen them (this is why it’s important to sync all your devices regularly). When one client gets out of date, all the others have to hold onto all intermediate changes until the left-behind client syncs again.

If one client in your sync list doesn’t sync for an extended period of time (a few weeks or more), eventually it will become incompatible with the sync database - meaning, there’s too much of a difference between the device database (in this example, the device where you’re seeing the message) and the sync database for OmniFocus to automatically compare and consolidate the differences. To prevent this message from occurring in the future, you’ll want to ensure that each of your devices is syncing consistently. Once in a blue moon this message can appear even if you’ve been syncing regularly - often if something changes with your sync settings, or if you undergo a major OS upgrade.

Which option do I pick after getting the “Replace your database” prompt?

That depends on which device is more up-to-date in your particular case! We’ll discuss each option here.

On the Mac, your options are to press Sync to proceed with downloading the server data if the server is more up-to-date, or Cancel if you don’t wish to replace your database. If the current Mac database is the most up-to-date, you can move this to the server after canceling the prompt by choosing Replace Server Database from the File menu.

On iOS, you’re presented with two options. Choosing Keep Sync Database will delete what’s currently on your device and replace it with the latest information from the server. The Keep Device Database option will do the opposite - this device’s data will be uploaded and replace the contents of your sync database on the server, so each other syncing device will prompt you to download the new data the next time those devices sync. If you’d like to contact us for assistance with these options, tap the Report Error to send us an email with more information about your sync history.

If you’re uncomfortable choosing one copy of the database over the other, it’s also possible to copy your database to your Mac for manual reconciliation:

  1. Plug your iPhone/iPad into your computer, then select it in the iTunes menu bar near the top right side. Then click the “Apps” tab.
  2. Scroll to the File Sharing section at the bottom of this window. Select OmniFocus in the list on the left side.
  3. You should see OmniFocus.ofocus listed, so select this file and press the “Save to” button to save it to your desktop.
  4. Double-clicking the newly-saved file opens it in a new OmniFocus window. You can compare it with the copy of your database that OmniFocus for Mac is using, and copy-and-paste any actions you need across or make other changes manually.

Once you’ve updated the database Mac version with data from the iPhone/iPad, sync with the server so that the Sync Database is up-to-date as well. Then, on the iPhone/iPad choose “Keep Sync Database” to download the newly updated server data.

If you’re having any trouble with this process or want to talk through your options before proceeding, please get in touch using the contact information below—our Support Humans will be happy to lend a hand!

OmniFocus sync is getting slow. Why is it taking so long?

There are a number of factors that impact sync performance.

First of all, geographic location can play a role. Our servers are located in Seattle, WA, USA. The further away you are from us, the longer it takes for that round-trip traffic to make it from your device to us and back again. Using a WebDAV host that’s geographically closer to your location is certainly an option, not to mention you can set up your own WebDAV implementation via OS X Server.

Internet connection speed is also important to take into account. This means you can have very different sync experiences between the Wi-Fi network you usually use at the office and the wispy cellular connection on the edge of town. If you think your cellular connection is too slow to sync OmniFocus, try limiting sync to Wi-Fi using the instructions provided later in this article.

The size of your database also plays a part. A database with many attachments can have a large impact on sync performance, especially if you’re accessing the server from a cellular data connection on an iPhone. Here’s a support article that provides some methods for reducing the size of your OmniFocus database.

Can I sync OmniFocus without a 3G/4G/LTE cellular connection?

Certainly! It’s worth mentioning that a sync connection isn’t required in order to use OmniFocus — if you make changes to your OmniFocus database without a sync connection, the server will automatically compare those changes the next time the app syncs. If you’d just like to disable cellular sync altogether for OmniFocus on iPhone/iPad, in the iOS Settings app under Cellular there’s a section titled Use Cellular Data For where you’re able to allow or limit any app’s access to cellular data.

I sometimes get duplicates of repeating actions. Why is that?

If a repeating action is marked complete on one device and then the same action is marked complete on another device without syncing first it will cause each completion to generate a new copy and thus a duplicate when they are synced. In other words, you’ll see a duplicate for each device where you checked off the action before syncing. To avoid this, make sure you sync before checking off these items, or if you find yourself frequently unable to sync (on a submarine in the Pacific, for example) designate one of your devices for checking off repeating tasks.

Last Modified: Apr 28, 2017

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