~Customizing OmniFocus – the Pathway to Power

I’ve been promising many readers that I would provide some details on my customized OmniFocus setup, so that is what post #8 and the wrap up of the series entitled, An Advanced GTD User’s Paradise, will be all about. If you’ve missed any of the eight-part series, links to each post in the series are available from part 1.

The OmniFocus Toolbar

The toolbar, as in many other Mac applications is the first stop for customizing your GTD interface. You can choose from a variety of commands and features that are already part of the application by following these steps.

  1. Control+Click (or right-click) any toolbar button.
  2. Select customize from the menu.
  3. Drag the commands (icons) from the dialog box to the desired location on the toolbar.

Note that you will see buttons for a variety of default OF commands and perspectives, the perspectives you’ve created and any scripts added to OmniFocus. Here is a screenshot of my customize dialog box. Remember, I’ve added a lot to the default set, so your options will vary.

Customize the OmniFocus Toolbar

Most of the buttons in my personal OF toolbar come from customized perspectives. Perspectives are a snapshot of the current view settings, and should be saved for any frequently used views you want to have available from a toobar button.

To setup a new perspective, follow these steps.

  1. Choose the mode (planning or context).
  2. Click the View button to turn on the view bar.
  3. Select the desired sidebar filter, e.g. all, active, remaining, etc.
  4. Set each of the main view options as desired, i.e. Grouping, Sorting, Status Filter, Estimated Time and Flag.
  5. Expand or compress notes (Cmd+Option+’ will toggle all notes open and closed).
  6. Expand or collapse all rows as desired (View | Collapse or Expand All) from the main menu.

To save the new perspective, follow these steps.

  1. Select Perspectives | Save Window As | New Perspective from the main menu.
  2. Enter a name that describes the perspective, e.g. “Urgent”.
  3. Press Enter.

Note that your perspective settings are also available within the Perspectives dialog. You can reach the dialog box shown below by selecting Perspectives | Show Perspectives from the main menu.

perspectivesettingsEvery aspect of the view (perspective) can be changed using the perspective dialog box as pictured above, including the image desired for the toolbar button, quick key, and whether or not a new window is opened when the perspective is used.

Quick Print Tip

Here’s another great tip about using the Show Perspective feature. If you click on the sprocket wheel button under the perspectives sidebar (right next to the + add perspective button), you can choose to print the perspective without even opening it. This is a great way to get a quick printout of a perspective before leaving for a meeting.

Selecting Images

You can use any of the limited set of images available in the application for your toolbar buttons, or use your own images using the image settings available in the perspective window.

Follow these steps to select a new button image.

  1. Open the Perspectives window (Perspectives | Show Perspectives from the main menu).
  2. Select the perspective in the sidebar.
  3. Click the list button (arrow) in the lower right corner of the image selector.
  4. Click on an available image or . . .
  5. Click the Choose . . . button to select an image previously saved to your computer.

Selecting a button image.

Note that it is best to save images as jpg in 32×32 pixel size. You may need to experiment with the size that works best for you.

Where to Find Images

I have used a variety of sources for my images, some free and some purchased. A google image search using the name of the perspective will often yield good results, e.g. “waiting”. I’ve also found iconfinder.net to be particularly helpful locating GTD images.

Changing the Button Text

The text for perspective buttons is the name of the perspective, so keep that in mind when naming perspectives. The more buttons you want on the toolbar, the shorter the perspective names should be.

Toolbar Settings

Since many have asked about my personal toolbar, I am including a table that details the settings for each of my toolbar buttons in the table below. I have also included a pdf, OF Toolbar Details, for those that might want to download it for easier reading.  For a description of the purpose for many of these customized perspectives, see the post entitled, Perspective is Everything with OmniFocus .

Toolbar Button Details

So there you have it. Customizing OmniFocus with your own perspectives and scripts, really sets this GTD application apart from all its competition. And one click access to those power features, through the OF toolbar, will make using the advanced features of OF quick and easy, qualifying this app as the Advanced GTD User’s Paradise, that I promised from the start of this series.

I hope you’ve found this series of posts helpful, and thanks again for reading, John

9 thoughts on “~Customizing OmniFocus – the Pathway to Power

  1. John, this has been an excellent series of articles, thanks! Have you posted them to the OmniGroup forums, or let Ken Case know about them?

    Like you, I have many perspectives set up. I have an urgent perspective that shows just actions with due dates that are overdue or due within the next couple of days. I see you have an urgent perspective too but with the use of flagged actions. I have a separate perspective called Important for actions that don’t have due dates but are important for me to complete when I have time. It works well without having to use flags for urgent items.

    1. Thanks for your kind comments Damon. The reason I use flagged and 5m duration (just another flag for me) is that I try not to put tasks into the hard landscape unless they must be done by a specific date, so I have more tasks without due dates, but which are important to get done this week (flagged) and from that flagged list I choose tasks that I want to get done today (5m duration). BTW, I did let Ken know offline that I had completed the series. Thanks again for reading, John.

  2. John Schafer says:

    John: I have been looking forward to the additional chapters of this series of posts ever since I discovered it after purchasing OF a couple of months ago. As I told you in a previous reply, you have really helped me get a substantial leg-up with this program by your very erudite posts. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and thoughts on how to use OF.

    I am wondering about the notes and folder scripts. Are they for using with Omni Outliner or are they contained within OF? And do you have a source for them, if possible. Thanks, John.

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