How to get all of your crap into OmniFocus

The Techie Scheky series offers tips and tactics for being more productive and creative through technology (especially with a Mac).

After talking about how I take all of the varying types of tasks in my life, I thought I’d run through the various ways that you can create tasks in OmniFocus using their Quick Entry or Quick Clipper. This post looks to show you how to create one or multiple tasks using Quick Entry, how to create a variety of tasks using the Quick Clipper and how to make Quick Entry in OmniFocus work with Evernote.

Too lazy to read? I’ve got you covered!


Click here if you can’t see the video.

Quickly Creating Tasks in OmniFocus

Single Tasks

When setting up OmniFocus, go to preferences, select the General tab and set the Quick Entry shortcut. I use Control-Option-Space as suggested by David Sparks. From there you can quickly capture a task and add it to your inbox or fill out any relevant information including the project this action is related to, the context, a start or due date and any notes you might want to add at this time. You can also use the setting to add estimated time. Once complete, select save and your task will be added to either the inbox or your selected project.

Multiple Tasks

I also find that Quick Entry serves as a great place to do a brain dump. If you just want to get everything out of your head, use your keyboard shortcut to evoke the Quick Entry box and start entering your tasks. Once you’ve entered as much information as needed for each task as needed, type Command-Enter and you will get a new entry line. Once you’ve cleared your mind, hit save and all of your tasks will be added into the proper locations.

Using The OmniFocus Quick Clipper

Oftentimes, you are going to want to add text from a website or a specific file to your task. OmniFocus makes this easy with their Quick Clipper. Start by going into your preferences menu, go to the Clipping tab and select your shortcut. Again, per David Sparks, I use Control-Option-Command-M. With a little extra help, it can also create links that take you back to emails in Mailplane and Mail.app or notes in Evernote.

Text

Once you set a keyboard shortcut for the clipper, you can create a task that includes any highlighted text from just about any application.

Website

While this only works natively in Safari, you can highlight text, use the clipper and not only will it add the highlighted text, but a link that takes you directly back to the page. This is great for creating tasks that require you to reference a webpage at a later date. Sure you could just use a bookmarklet, but I love having the direct tie in between the task and the site.

File

Oftentimes you’ll need to use one or more files for a task. Simply highlight file(s) you’ll need, use the clipper and links to the files will be added into your task. If, like me, you work between two computers, you can save files in Dropbox in order to have links work seamlessly across computers.

Email

While you can add The OmniFocus Clip-O-Tron 300 to Mail.app directly from the Clippings Preferences inside the OmniFocus preference menu, I’m not a big fan of Mail.app. Thankfully for all of us Gmail folks out there, the team over at Mailplane came up with a great solution. It’s a plugin that allows for all of the functionality of the clipper in Safari, except instead of linking to a webpage, it links directly back into your email message. Every time I have a message that I cannot follow up on immediately, I use this clipper to create a follow up task in OmniFocus. It’s by far the easiest and fastest way I’ve found to defer email for response at a later date.

Scanned Document

Paper and I have a contentious relationship. I suck at it and it hates me. So part of saving my sanity was finding a way to properly store reference materials in a way that they could quickly be called up for use at a later date. While my love affair for my ScanSnap 1300 (affiliate link) and Evernote is a post for another day, it does play a major role in getting paper off my desk and into my system. When scanning something that requires follow up, I scan it in, right click the image on the main Evernote page (or by selecting Note menu option from the actual note) and select “Copy Note Link”. From there, evoke Quick Entry (or the Clipper if you select the note name in Evernote) and paste the link into the notes field of your task.

Shawn Blanc came to the rescue with a solution for all of you Keyboard Maestro or FastScripts users out there.Bonus: One minor inconvenience of both the Quick Entry box and Clipper is that they only work when OmniFocus is open. Thankfully

While this may not cover everything in your own personal workflow, I can tell you that just about anything digital and even most of the paper on my desk is out of whatever inbox it came from and into OmniFocus in a way that empowers me to take action at a later date. It’s helped me clean up my life and get more done; hopefully some of this will help you do the same.

Have a better way? I’m always interested in hearing one!

To learn more, subscribe for free by Email or RSS to automatically receive future Techie Scheky posts from A Better Mess.

29 Responses to How to get all of your crap into OmniFocus

  1. Nice video, Michael. Very much my workflow on the desktop and iPad but a bit more fiddly on the iPhone.

    Have been wondering how to link from Instapaper or Evernote, thanks for sharing the latter one, great stuff.

    • My pleasure! There’s also a better way to send something to OmniFocus. Just use the share option on the iPhone and select the OmniFocus option. You can even select text and only send that selection.

      • Definitely love it on the iPad, my life saver even if only to capture things before I forget about them.  Must practice more on iPhone – as a former wicketkeeper in cricket I have meaty hands and fingers making it clumsy with tiny links. 

        How do you do the clever Evernote trick on the iPhone without the right click button?

        • Evernote on the iPhone/iPad only really play a role for reference. I don’t believe there is an elegant way to create tasks from evernote in OmniFocus on the phone.

          As for the typing, my hands are a bit meaty as well, but once I started writing on the phone with regularity, things got a lot better.

          • Last week after downloading OF for the iPhone I got a bit ahead of myself while at a conference.  The presenters included references to scientific papers, so I quickly searched for them, downloaded the PDF, saved it to Evernote and thought it would be useful to clip the thing to OF to remind myself to a) read and b) do a blog post on it.  Unfortunately, this is what I got – it didn’t clip the PDF or the title of the paper… I have no idea what any of the dozen clips like this refer to:

            https://img.skitch.com/20120213-nx6252kyp49fb5r83jyi999xkf.jpg

            At least I can laugh at my own folly!  Evernote is easy to clip to but so tough for getting anything OUT of, one of the things I really dislike about the app.

          • Like any good workflow, it takes time to perfect and get used to :)

            As for Evernote, I agree, it’s better for getting things in than it is for getting them out. Wish they had a bit better integration into better apps, but I haven’t found anything I like better including Yojimbo.

  2. […] Sven kicked things off by showing how he uses TextExpander within OmniFocus to track the status of projects he delegates to others. This encouraged David to share several of his own TextExpander shortcuts for speeding up new entries in OmniFocus. Driven by my innate laziness, I decided to see if I could push things one step further. Since they both “threw down with a video,” as David so eloquently put it, I decided to create one of my own to show you how to use Keyboard Maestro to significantly speed up repetitive email clipping. […]

  3. Brilliant ideas. After reading about using Evernote’s Copy Link Note to get a URL to a note that you can add to Omnifocus : http://www.asianefficiency.com/task-management/omnifocus-and-evernote

    It got me thinking about automating the process even further with OmniFocus and Keyboard Maestro – I wanted to make a single keystroke copy the Evernote link, open the OmniFocus Quick Entry Window, paste the Evernote Note Link into the OmniFocus Notes field, and set me up to name my task, tab over to the other Quick Entry fields if I wanted and send it to my Inbox.

    I set up a macro triggered by a custom Hot Key that executes the following in Keyboard Maestro:

    Select ‘Copy Note Link’ in the menu ‘Note’ in Evernote Type the [your Quick Entry] Keystroke Pause for .5 Seconds (needed to add the pause to allow the Quick Entry window to fully load) Type the ⌘V Keystroke (paste the Note Link into the auto-selected Title field) Type the ⌘’ Keystroke (edit the Notes field) Type the ⌘V Keystroke (paste the Note Link into the Notes field) Type the Up Arrow Keystroke Type the Up Arrow Keystroke Type the Up Arrow Keystroke (I needed three Up Arrows to get back up to the beginning of the Title field)

    There’s probably a more efficient method out there, but this worked for me – hope it helps someone else out too!

    • Too funny. Looks like we think alike, I just put the finishing touches on my own KM macro last night. It’s for a post that’s going live on Monday or Tuesday. I went a little nuts. It does one or multiple notes and thanks to some help from Macdrifter, I got is so you can highlight text and paste it into the note. http://cl.ly/13342l1p3K1f2V081S3G

  4. […] it wasn’t about the price I paid or its popularity. It was about the ease with which I can create tasks from a variety of media. It was about the long-term gain in the time it takes to process my tasks that proved to be well […]

  5. I’m guessing it’s the same for you, but does your Mailplane::Omnifocus clipper grab the subject of the email as the Task title? That seems to be a hangup for me because the subject of the email doesn’t always clearly state what the task title should be. Any thoughts?

Leave a reply