My favourite iPhone and iPad app…

…is really two separate apps in that you have to buy them separately. And in that one came out in this latest, great version late last year while the other was only a few weeks ago. But it’s already become so indispensable that I had to check the release date twice before I’d believe it was that recent.

The 2014 release was for the iPad. The 2013 one was for iPhone. There was also a 2014 one for the Mac. Are you getting it yet?

That’s OmniFocus 2 for iPad there. If I could pick only one app for the year, this would be it. If you can only afford to buy one version of OmniFocus, it’s the iPad one you should get. Both decisions are easy: it’s that good.

But for the overall best-app-ever experience, I do of course recommend you get all three editions. I used to say that this To Do manager was so good, was so important to my business and frankly my life now that I would cheerily, readily pay the cost price of all three over again. I don’t say that so much now – because I did do. The Omni Group brought out new editions of the Mac, iPhone and iPad OmniFocus and I bought the lot on the day they were released.

And I will again whenever they do OmniFocus 3.

Go take a look on the official site where you can also get the Mac version. Then head to the iOS App Store for the separate iPhone and iPad ones. Also to the Mac App

If you can buy only one OmniFocus, get the iPad version

That used to be obviously true. Today, it’s obviously true.

The thing is that in between those two sentences lies a huge amount of movement on the Mac and the iPhone versions which went through revisions to become OmniFocus 2. Now OmniFocus 2 for iPad is out and it’s not only regained this ground as the best version, it now really works on its own.

Officially, all three do. There is no requirement to buy OmniFocus 2 for Mac, iPhone and iPad, you can get any of them. Or none, obviously, but you wouldn’t have be missing out on the single best productivity tool I know.

But in practice, it has been that you start with one version and you are drawn to the others. Partly through how useful each one seems, partly because they work best as a set. Or put another way: they don’t work so well on their own.

The Mac edition has always been the closest working on its own. Its problem used to be that it was just hard to use. Hard to grasp, somehow. Now with OmniFocus 2 for Mac that’s gone, that’s completely gone and the app is as improved in ease of use as it is in features. Today I’d argue that the only problem with the Mac one is that it’s necessarily less portable. You need your To Do list with you everywhere you go because it’s through this that you can make best use of an unexpected delay or a chance meeting.

So if you were intending to buy just one version you would look at the iPhone and the iPad editions first.

Rule out the iPhone one. It is very good. I’ve used it directly perhaps ten times today. I’ve added tasks to it via Siri a couple of times. I’ve now used the new Today View maybe seven or eight times. The iPhone version of OmniFocus is very good and I’d call it essential.

However, it doesn’t include the Review feature that the iPad and the Mac one do.

That’s a really important feature and I think a big omission from the iPhone OmniFocus. It’s how you take a step back and go over every task to see what’s on your plate and think about it all. You do that one or more times a week, then you forget stepping back and instead dive in to do things. It keeps you focused but it also keeps you concentrating on what needs to be done now.

Review is in the iPad version. Now with the new edition, so are improved Perspectives. This is a tool to slice up your tasks in myriad ways so that you can see what you can use and what you can do right now.

OmniFocus comes with some baked-in Perspectives such as the Forecast view that shows you what’s on your plate today plus lets you look ahead to tomorrow and the rest of the week. It used to be that you could only create these Perspectives on your Mac but now, there they are, right there, in the iPad version.

I imagine that OmniFocus 2 for iPad lacks some of the power of the Mac one but in my stress-testing today, I’ve not seen any of that.

So I would say that if expense means you can only really get one version of OmniFocus that it should be the iPad one. But I won’t say that. Because you won’t do it. Whichever OmniFocus you buy, you will pretty soon want the set and pretty soon after that you will be buying the lot.

It’s just that today all three versions are genuinely superb.

Free OmniFocus tutorial video from Screencasts Online

I’m working on my own review for the new OmniFocus 2 for Mac – quick prom ahead, I’ve found two and a half things I don’t like about it and around eleventy-billion I do – but others are way ahead of me. And one, Screencasts Online, isn’t reviewing the To Do software per se, it’s just showing us how to use it.

Screencasts Online is usually a subscription service and joining it gets you an enormous and growing number of very good video tutorials. If there’s some software you’re using or you’re just considering, join Screencasts Online and learn all about it very quickly. Very easily and very thoroughly.

Just sometimes, though, the service will make one video free. Yes, I agree, it’s an advertising promotion but they do it with integrity: the last one they did was 1Password and it was made free because of the Heartbleed servility problem. The software 1Password is particularly good at security so their releasing the video free felt to me like a service to the community. Now they’ve done this one about OmniFocus 2 for Mac and I think it’s practically a kindness: showing us how it works and what we can do with it is better than a straight review.

Get more from Screencasts Online and, now you’ve seen it in action, get OmniFocus 2 for Mac.

Free OmniFocus iBook

Maybe it's because I used to write manuals for a living – you cannot conceive how long ago that was – but I do like a good manual. This is a good one: if you are havering over buying the new OmniFocus 2 for Mac, take a look at the free manual.

OmniFocus is the personal task management tool that helps you keep track of all the goals, plans, errands, and aspirations that come up in your life. Whether the task at hand is something small, such as setting a reminder to swing by the bike shop after work, or the tasks are part of a bigger goal, such as making plans for that long overdue vacation, OmniFocus helps you keep track of everything you need to do throughout your day.

Available on your Mac, iPad, and iPhone, OmniFocus is packed full of tools to help you prioritize steps within complex projects or simply jot a quick to-do list for a weekly meeting. OmniFocus works great as a standalone productivity aid or in conjunction with whatever time- and task-management scheme suits your personal style.

Excerpt From: The Omni Group. OmniFocus 2 for Mac User Manual

By the way, that last sentence is a coded reference to GTD, Getting Things Done (UK editions, US editions). OmniFocus works superbly with GTD but has no official connection with that system by David Allen.

More importantly, this smartly, clearly written manual is on iBooks and joins a growing set of free books from the Omni Group.

Breaking – OmniFocus 2 for Mac releasing today

More details as soon as it’s out – give me five seconds to go buy it myself then I’ll get right back to you – but the new OmniFocus 2 for Mac is being released today. It’ll be on the Mac App Store but get it from the maker instead, the Omni Group at

It’s coming out at 9am PDT which I reckon is about 5pm BST but I wouldn’t count on my maths even when I’m not excited.

That sounds strange, even to my ears: the idea of being excited about software. Yet the only real surprise to me is that I am this thrilled when I’ve already been using the beta version for months.

But I’ve used that beta on the Mac for those months, I used the previous version 1 on the Mac for a year or more, and there hasn’t been a day – sometimes not even an hour – that I haven’t used OmniFocus for iPhone or iPad in about two years.

I’m particularly glad about today’s launch because I’m running a full-day workshop of The Blank Screen today for the Federation of Entertainment Unions – the Writers’ Guild, NUJ, Equity and Musicians’ Guild – and this will come up. OmniFocus always comes up, the company couldn’t get more adverts from me if they paid, but I have been hesitating in every single The Blank Screen workshop. That’s partly because OmniFocus only runs on Apple gear; if it were on PCs and Android too, I’d be trying to distribute copies.

But the other reason has been that the Mac version was hugely powerful yet very hard to use. You don’t often hear that said about Mac software, but it was. So I used to be torn over recommending it, especially as it’s expensive.

Now I can tell you from experience that the new OmniFocus 2 for Mac is much easier. There’s still a lot to it but it makes sense and it works how you will expect.

There’s just one more thing. It used to be that the iPad version of OmniFocus was the best of three but now the Mac one is coming out and we’ve had a revamped iPhone one for a few months. Today I’d say the Mac version is the best.

But the company confirms a revamped iPad one is coming so the dance begins again.