todo application icons for The Hit List, Things, TickTick, and OmniFocus 4 with the first in the list diminished and the last prominent.

Migrating ToDo Apps to OmniFocus

My ToDo app is how I run my life, but after switching from Things to TickTick a few months ago, I've realized TickTick isn't really clicking for me, and I am taking the opportunity of the new release of OmniFocus 4 to give it a shot.

In September, I finally decided that Things wasn't powerful enough for what I needed my ToDo app to … do. So, I decided to give TickTick a try. I've been using it since, but over the last month or so, I've realized it's doesn't really work the way my brain works so I'm taking the fortuitous release of OmniFocus 4 to try a new ToDo app again.

A quick list of things that TickTick wasn't doing for me:

  • Calendar sync doesn't work well. If an event changes, it is almost never reflected back in TickTick. This is a shame, because one of the initial draws on TickTick was an ability to see events and tasks in the same place.
  • Everything is based on due dates. I actually rarely have due dates, but instead have dates when I should check in on something or should start work. Due dates are reserved for deadlines. TickTick has a concept of durations, but it's not a first class citizen in the way Things (or OmniFocus) treat start/defer dates.
  • It would be nice to have more nesting. I have two big buckets of "work" and "personal", but there are many sub-buckets under that.
  • I'd like to assign dates to projects, not just rely on the dates of the sub-tasks. Things is really good at this.
  • TickTick keyboard shortcuts are very non-mac like, and many actions don't have keyboard shortcuts (e.g. "won't do" a task)
  • In a ToDo app, I set dates all the time. The fact that I can't do this with a keyboard is a major slow down. The best option is to have smart date parsing.

I've tried OmniFocus in the past, but found it to be too complex for what I wanted. There were too many fiddly bits and I felt like the app was constantly trying to get me to focus on organizing the app not my life. So far, version 4 of OmniFocus doesn't have the feeling. This is in part because the interface is really customizable, in a powerful but simple manner. I'm still "moving in", but so far I think I have gotten it to feel like home.

There are a few things I'm missing from TickTick:

  • TickTick respected MacOS/iOS focus filters. This was really nice, I do miss this in OmniFocus. Hopefully it's on the roadmap.
  • TickTick has a highly flexible way of viewing projects either with Kanban or timeline views. I didn't use this a lot, but it was nice to have. Similarly, both Things and TickTick had a concept of "heading" in a project. I haven't yet seen this in OmniFocus, but maybe nested projects is the key?

To make the TickTick to OmniFocus migration simpler, I updated an open source script for 2023. I won't maintain it, but it should be simple to modify if you know a little JavaScript.