omnifocus or things?

January 14, 2009

With the official release of Things (and the expiration of the free betas), there has been ongoing chatter from those trying to decide which GTD app to use: Things or OmniFocus. Things last beta, and a promotional discount, are ending tomorrow, so I know many are trying to decide which way to go. Since I’ve been asked by several people, I thought I’d just post my thoughts for all to read.

Let me be candid…this is not a side by side comparison of the two products. I have dabbled a bit with Things but only have fleeting impressions of it. I have been wrapped around OmniFocus‘ finger since the beta. Before that I was using Kinkless GTD in OmniOutliner, the forerunner and inspiration for OmniFocus. So at best, I can offer you the reasons why Things hasn’t been able to pry me away from OmniFocus. And, these are the reasons I encourage you to give OmniFocus a long hard look too:

User Interface

No doubt, Things is pretty, and OmniFocus is, well, structured. When I first saw Things, I thought a lot of screen space was lost to eye candy. I know some of the layout can be collapsed down, but I still appreciate the function of the simple columns and indentations of tasks in OmniFocus. And while I don’t use them very much, the Perspectives in OmniFocus offer a lot of flexibility to, um, focus.


I could not consider a GTD app that doesn’t have Quicksilver support available. When a task comes to mind, I want to shuffle it away (and into my inbox) with minimal effort and distraction. At least 5 times a day, I activate Quicksilver and fire a task into my inbox while reading, sitting in a meeting or working on another project. (You can read more about how I set this up here.) OmniFocus‘ quick entry feature is convenient, but Quicksilver is still more streamlined. As far as I know, Things does not have Quicksilver integration yet.

Power Use

I’m still learning features of OmniFocus after over a year of use. If you use, or are considering OmniFocus, take a look at Don McAlister’s (of two screencasts on OmniFocuspart one: basics and part two: advanced. I’ve learned even more features from these screencasts, some I have implemented and others I have not, but, I know the app still has plenty of room to grow with me.


I have 2-3 other OmniGroup apps and they make great stuff. I should disclose that I romanticize them a bit since their offices used to be right next to my favorite coffee shop in Seattle (and why they would move away from that java goodness…I have no idea). From my own experience, they are very responsive to customers via Twitter, email and in their support forums.

One Gripe

If I have one gripe, it is the OmniFocus iPhone app. It has great features, and I use it often, but not as much as I might. It is slow to load, and sync via mobileme is a slow process. I still don’t use OmniFocus for capturing tasks because of this (see my quicker solution). My wife syncs her iphone with OmniFocus via bonjour and it is a lot faster, but I don’t want to be limited to syncing over a local network.

I have several friends who love Things, and I don’t think it’s a mistake to go that route. Especially if cash is a deciding factor — Things (both Mac and iPhone versions) is half the price. But OmniFocus is the way to go for me…it has a learning curve at the beginning, but once you push through that, it is an app that will grow with you…and on you.

But I’d love to hear feedback from others too. My opinion is not the only one? Got other reasons to go with OmniFocus? Care to make a case for Things? Leave a comment below…

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