OmniFocus: Why You Don’t Need All 3 Versions

Earlier this week something odd happened, my Father came to me asking if he should pick Things or OmniFocus for task management. Naturally I recommended OmniFocus, but I quickly warned him to take price into consideration. If you were to buy the Mac client, iPhone app and iPad app of OmniFocus you would spend a grand total of $139.97, before any of your local taxes. That is no small chunk of change.

That’s when the wild notion hit me; maybe you don’t really need to buy all three versions. I already knew that I could get by with just one version of OmniFocus, I have done it in the past when on vacation, but what I really wanted to know is how I use each version of OmniFocus. To figure that out I decided to pay very close attention to what I do in each version over the past 3 days, what I found out surprised me a bit.

OmniFocus for Mac

The Mac version costs a whopping $79.99, so this is the easiest one to save some real money on. What I found is that I use the quick entry panel the most out of all the other features on the Mac version, I use Quick Entry about 3-4 times during the day. The rest of the time I only used to OmniFocus for the Mac to reschedule tasks.

Honestly over the past three days I have only used the Mac version of OmniFocus to entry a few tasks and reschedule a few tasks, nothing else. This is astounding to me, given that it was just under a year ago that I spent at least an hour a day using the program.

OmniFocus for iPhone

The iPhone version comes in at a high price (for an iPhone app) of $19.99 and is the cheapest of all three. Being around now since just shortly after Apple allowed 3rd party apps I have gotten quite used to using OmniFocus for the iPhone.

Over the past three days my usage has been quite a bit on the iPhone. The two main things I do with the iPhone version are: quick entry of new action items, and viewing of what I need to do. The iPhone in GTD terms is my ubiquitous capture tool, it is where 9/10 times I will input actions items that are on my mind. Due to this my iPhone with OmniFocus has become a very valuable tool in my proverbial tool bag.

OmniFocus for iPad

Weighing in at $39.99 for the app, OmniFocus again pushes the upper echelon ((What a fun word to say.)) for iPad app pricing. Over three days of monitoring I have found that I use the iPad version to do the following things: view what needs to be done, check off completed items, filter items added to the inbox (set the context, project and due date), organize the rest of my actions.

In other words out of all three of the apps I use the iPad app the most. As I have mentioned before I really love the forecast view that the iPad app offers, it is by far the best way to see what you need to do and when they need to be done. More than that the way the new action window / editing actions window is setup is by far the best and easiest way to assign contexts, projects and due dates to your actions items.

Assigning this data to actions is by far faster on the Mac, but once I get to work I usually won’t process new actions items. I usually will only process actions items when I wake up, and at night before I go to bed, making the iPad app even more of an optimal experience even if it takes a bit longer to accomplish.

Save Yourself $99

If like many people out there right now you are trying to figure out if OmniFocus is right for you, save yourself $99.98 and just buy the iPad app to begin with. You can do everything you can on all the other versions and it is by far the best version of OmniFocus. If after a bit you find that you have really taken to OmniFocus (and you will) go get the iPhone app for another $19.99. ((Don’t worry OmniFocus will sync without the Mac client in the mix.))

At this point I know that I could get by without the Mac app. Not everyone has all three devices, but if you do I don’t see a compelling reason right now to buy the Mac version of OmniFocus. Unless of course you have $79.99 kicking around that you want to part with.