Read on to learn more about OmniFocus for the Web’s capabilities. We’ll also look at OmniFocus for the Web’s current limitations and will explore some creative ways to use OmniFocus for the Web alongside its Mac and iOS counterparts.
What is OmniFocus for the Web?
In a nutshell, OmniFocus for the Web is intended to be a companion to OmniFocus for Mac and iOS. It provides you with a way of accessing your OmniFocus database from virtually any computer with an Internet connection and provides a subset of the functionality of the Mac and iOS apps.
Before we take a closer look, here are a few important things to keep in mind:
- OmniFocus for the Web is designed for computers, not mobile devices – In its current form, OmniFocus for the Web is intended to be used on a computer with a mouse or trackpad. It’s not currently built to be used on mobile devices (i.e. phones and tablets).
- It’s not a stand-alone app – Unlike OmniFocus for iOS and Mac, OmniFocus for the Web isn’t designed to be used as a stand-alone app. It’s meant as a companion to the fully-featured OmniFocus apps that run natively on your Apple devices.
- Supported Perspectives – OmniFocus for the Web currently supports four of OmniFocus’ built-in perspectives: Inbox, Projects, Tags, and Flags. This initial offering doesn’t include Forecast, Review, or Custom Perspectives. The good news is that OmniFocus for the Web is actively being developed. You can access the Forecast perspective by using the OmniFocus for the Web Test Site.
- Inspector Limitations – OmniFocus for the Web currently exposes a subset of the Inspector fields and doesn’t allow access to more advanced features, such as Repeat and Notifications. Even though these features aren’t accessible, the underlying data remains intact. For example, if you have an action that repeats every Wednesday at 12 pm, it will continue to follow this repeat schedule. You’ll just need to use OmniFocus for iOS or Mac to change its Repeat settings.
Who Will Find OmniFocus for the Web Most Useful?
The most obvious target audience for OmniFocus for the Web is people who use Mac and iOS devices in their personal life and a Windows-based computer at work. Though, it could also be useful to people who use a company-issued Mac and don’t have permission to install OmniFocus.
Before OmniFocus for the Web came along you may have had to resort to less-than-convenient ways to get to your OmniFocus data during the day. Maybe you needed to bring an iPad or MacBook to work with you each day. Or perhaps you resorted to leaving your iMac powered on at home so that you could run OmniFocus remotely using an app such as TeamViewer (assuming such connections are permitted by your company).
If you don’t rely on OmniFocus’ more advanced features as you go through the day, OmniFocus for the Web will allow you to access your OmniFocus database without having to tote around any extra Apple gear or rely on remote access. You can continue to capture and classify actions as you go through the day and, with a bit of careful planning, OmniFocus for the Web can help you quickly hone in on those actions that are most relevant.
Subscribing to OmniFocus for the Web
OmniFocus for the Web is available on a subscription basis. This represents a departure from the Omni Group’s standard practice of purchasing licenses to apps. They opted to go for subscription-based pricing to make sure that they’re covering the cost of running the servers.
On a technical note, OmniFocus for the Web actually runs on Macs. If you’re interested in learning more about the history and technical aspects of OmniFocus for the Web, I recommend listening to Episode 27 of the Omni Show podcast, How We Built OmniFocus for the Web.
It’s important to note that OmniFocus for Mac and iOS will continue to be available as one-time purchases. The Omni Group hasn’t given any indication that they’ll be moving to a subscription-based model for any of their Mac or iOS offerings. As it stands, OmniFocus for the Web is their only product that is available exclusively through subscription-based pricing.
Getting Started with OmniFocus for the Web
The Omni Group produced this helpful video that will help you get up and running with OmniFocus for the web and take you on a tour of the interface.
Also, check out the Omni Group’s Introduction to OmniFocus for the Web article on Inside OmniFocus. And there’s an article on How Security and Encryption Work in OmniFocus for the Web.
We’re also planning to feature OmniFocus for the Web in our upcoming content, including the Start Smart with OmniFocus 3 session that’s being recorded LIVE on July 3, 2019. A recording will be available to Learn OmniFocus Members within a week of the live session.
Five Tips for Making Productive Use of OmniFocus for the Web
If your current OmniFocus workflows rely on more advanced features, such as elaborate custom perspectives and the Forecast view, you may need to tweak your setup and workflows to accommodate OmniFocus for the Web.
Let’s say you use a Mac at home and are on a Windows computer during your workday. Here are some specific ways to use OmniFocus for the Web that will help bridge the gap.
TIP 1: Focus On What’s Available
When you’re getting down to work, make sure that you have the View setting set to “Available” so that you’re not distracted by anything that’s on hold or can’t be accomplished until the future. If you want an even shorter list, set the view to “First Available”.
If something shows up on your available list that you can’t or don’t plan to take action on in the short term, consider deferring it to a future date or time.
As is the case on Mac and iOS, you can defer a project, action, or action group by typing into the Defer Until field in the Inspector or choosing from the calendar. OmniFocus for the Web understands text inputs such as “today”, “mon”, and “1w Sat 2pm” (i.e. one week from Saturday at 2pm).
TIP 2: Use a Today Tag
It’s helpful to have a list of everything you’d like to get done today, including those actions that could technically be done tomorrow (i.e. they’re not due) that you’d like to complete before calling it a day.
To tie all of these actions together, assign a tag named something like “Today”. Or maybe call it “☀️ Today” to make it more visually distinct. This same tag could be used as your Forecast Tag on Mac and iOS.
TIP 3: Use Flags
Flags can be another great way to bring prominence to actions. Actions that you’d like on your list for today that are particularly important could be given both a “☀️ Today” tag and a flag. When you switch to the Flagged perspective, you can click on “☀️ Today” in the sidebar to quickly hone in on all of the flagged actions that are earmarked for today.
TIP 4: Make Progress on Projects
Perhaps there are some projects that you want to move forward, but adding a “☀️ Today” tag and/or flag to multiple actions seems pretty tedious.
An alternative is to create a repeating action along the lines of “Make progress on Project X”. Give it a tag of ⚒️ Progress (the ⚒️ implies that it’s something you’re chipping away at). Additionally, you can flag “Make progress on…” actions for your top-priority projects.
You can switch to the project and get to work by clicking the “Go to project” arrow to the right of the project name in the Inspector. To go back to your list of the “⚒️ Progress” list, simply click the back button in your browser.
TIP 5: Batch Similar Activities
Tags can be very helpful for grouping similar types of actions, including those that span multiple projects and multiple areas of life.
For example, you might have a “Phone” tag that’s added to any phone calls you need to make and a “David” tag that’s assigned to everything you need to talk with David about.
By batching similar types of activities (e.g. making phone calls, responding to emails, and doing focused writing work), you’ll be avoiding the significant productivity cost that comes with frequently switching between different types of activities. Maybe even block off time in your calendar to do specific types of work.
When it’s time to get to work, go into either the Tag or Flagged perspective in OmniFocus for the Web and go to town. Make sure your View Settings is set to Available and, if you encounter tasks that can’t be done into the future or that you don’t want on your radar for today, use the Inspector to defer them off to the future.
More to Come
The Omni Group has indicated that more advanced features are coming. If you’re an OmniFocus for the Web subscriber, you can get early access to features that are currently in development, including the Forecast perspective, by logging in to the OmniFocus for the Web Test Site.
In the meantime, tags and flags, combined with View settings give you a useful portal into your OmniFocus database from virtually any Internet-connected computer.
Take a moment to contact the Omni Group if there are features that you’d like to see sooner rather than later. The easiest way to get in touch with them is to click on the checkbox button in the upper-left corner of OmniFocus for the Web, then choose “Contact Omni” from the menu.
This menu also gives you access to OmniFocus for the Web documentation and release notes. And, especially if you’re using OmniFocus for the Web on a shared computer, make sure that you Sign Out when you’re done working.