How to Set up Keyboard Maestro for a Steady OmniFocus Workflow

Quick access to our lists is important. It is useful to be able to get at our information quickly and have it stay out of the way otherwise.

Here’s a neat way I’ve been using to access my perspectives lately:

I just type a key command and up comes the palette. I type the number for the perspective, tag, or template I want and up it comes.

I won’t go into great detail as this post assumes knowledge of Keyboard Maestro. If you’re interested in a solid tutorial, consider checking out David Sparks’ Keyboard Maestro field guide.

Setting up Keyboard Maestro’s Palette for an OmniFocus Workflow

Here’s the set up…

  • Create a folder for your Workflow Palette:

Add any macros you want. You can set up a perspective:

a tag by using the copy as link function and pasting into an Open URL function:

or an OmniOutliner Template by opening the specific file:

Notice, I’ve named them beginning with a number. That way, I can:

  • order them in the palette and
  • call them up by a number.

Finally,

  • Create a Keyboard Maestro folder dedicated to palettes:
  • Then set up the action to open the macro group:

Here I’m using the Karibiner system described by Brett Terpstra and David Sparks. That way, I have CapsLock-A functioning as my key command.

A Simpler Method

Now there is a simpler method for just perspectives that is already a part of OmniFocus. You could:

  • Open the Perspectives window (Control-Command-p).
  • Adjust the window sizes as you desire.
  • Select the Show Perspective Settings button:

The drawbacks here are that:

  • The window sticks and is shuffled around like any other window.
  • You can only have your perspectives (not individual tags unless perspectives are created for them and not other files like an OmniOutliner template)
  • Your list includes all of your perspectives, rather than just a top selection.

I’m sure others have other methods of gathering their workflow processes. Feel free to share in the comments!

Note – the Dropped Tasks perspective is one I’m currently experimenting with. It is based on the upcoming 3.4 version, which you can test as well by signing up at the Omni Group.

Get to the Inbox Quickly with Keyboard Maestro

Get to the Inbox Quickly with Keyboard Maestro

OmniFocus has two ways of working with the Inbox:

  1. The Inbox proper (Command-1) and
  2. Quick Entry (Option-Command-Space for me).

Both have their advantages. The Inbox holds all our deferred ideas for processing later. The Quick Entry just lets us add new things while keeping our other deferred ideas aside so we’re not distracted by them. Meanwhile, the Inbox can only be opened while using OmniFocus and Quick Entry can be opened from anywhere using a custom key command.

Sometimes, though, I’d like to get to my Inbox and its list of stuff from anywhere, too.

Enter Keyboard Maestro. I’m a huge fan of Keyboard Maestro as evidenced by the numerous posts I’ve written on its integration with OmniFocus. Check out the list below.

My friend, David Sparks, has just put out another one of his excellent Field Guides, this time specifically on learning and using Keyboard Maestro. (Please note, this may become an affiliate link. But also note, I think his field guides truly are quite solid.)

While watching it, I learned that I could use a combination of a key command and a trackpad stroke to make a combo. So, I’ve rigged a macro to take me to the Inbox by holding Control and swiping up. If you’re interested, this is what it looks like:

Here’s a set of other Keyboard Maestro posts on UsingOmniFocus.com:

Advanced Quick tip – Keyboard Maestro and Saving your Place

Wilsonng writes over at the Productivity Guild a neat Keyboard Maestro script that can show your task in its project without leaving your current perspective.

The issue is that we can lose our place when using “Show in Projects” (Option-Command-r). We leave a custom perspective to go to the Project Perspective and might even forget where we were.

Wilsonng’s set up creates a new tab that you can easily close (Command-w) when you’re done making modifications.

Having used this script for a couple of weeks now, I’m really happy with it.

Quickly Access and Hide Features using Keyboard Maestro

Sometimes I want to see all of my options. I want to see the Inspector, the Toolbar, and the Sidebar.

Other times, I don’t. I just want to see a simple list of tasks.

Jumping back and forth between these states normally takes a bit of work. Minimizing the Sidebar, Toolbar, and Inspector, as well as resizing are all little things I don’t want to do.

So, I’ve made a Keyboard Maestro snippet to do all of those with a single keystroke. It’s a bit of work to set up, but once done, it’s done. Using it is simple. I type Option-q to expand everything. I type Option-q again to minimize:

Here’s the macro I’ve put together. Feel free to mess with it. As always, I take no responsibility for any form of wanton destruction that may occur as a result of your messing with your computer. This set up seems to work for me, but for all I know, it will summon rabid kittens from within your computer.

Let’s set it up. In Keyboard Maestro,

  • Create a Group for OmniFocus:

Create a new group for a specific application in Keyboard Maestro

Create a new group for a specific application in Keyboard Maestro

  • Title it:
  • Select “Available in all applications” and change it to “Available in these applications”.
  • Select the green + button and select OmniFocus:

You now have a folder that will let you make Keyboard Maestro macros specific to OmniFocus. As an aside, I have numerous folders dedicated to individual applications:

It will import in a disabled state. To enable the macro,

  • Toggle the X into a checkmark:

You ‘re now ready to go.

Note, there is some wonkiness to the script. If one of the Sidebar, Inspector, or Toolbar are open or closed while the others are not, then the macro stops.  In that case, you have to manually set them all in the same state using a menu or key command for it to work again.

OmniFocus Perspectives & Keyboard Maestro

Perspectives At-the-Ready

Key commands are an excellent means of getting around a program, and Keyboard Maestro brings key commands to the general Mac OS.

Most of the custom perspectives I’ve designed in OmniFocus are assigned a key command. However, the key commands only work when OmniFocus is the front-running program.

Using Keyboard Maestro, I have macros created to immediately call my most commonly requested perspectives, opening OmniFocus when needed, regardless of my present active application.

As an example, I like to view my “laptop core” tasks easily. Usually, I would have to navigate to OmniFocus before calling the perspective with Control-Command-l. In the cases when OmniFocus is not already open, I would then need to open it before going to the perspective.

Now I just type Control-command-l wherever I am and the requested perspective appears. If this sounds appealing to you, read on.

 

Cautions

* In creating key commands with Keyboard Maestro, one needs to be wary of creating hotkeys that may interfere with the hotkeys of Mac OS or other applications.

** Keyboard Maestro seems to be one of those programs that really rewards experimentation. I’m still experimenting, so follow along if you dare …

 

Creating the Folder

When OmniFocus is running, a path to call up a perspective by key command already exists. Rather than risk confusing the system, we need to tell Keyboard Maestro that it is not needed when OmniFocus is the front-running application. To do so, we can create a folder group in Keyboard Maestro with this specific command for all macros listed inside:

  • Create a Group in Keyboard Maestro by selecting the plus sign in the bottom left corner:

Keyboard Maestro - Create Group 3

  • Title it something like, “OmniFocus Perspectives”.

We’ll now create a set of parameters for the folder.

  • In the editing pane, select “Available in all applications”:

Keyboard Maestro - Set Exception 2

  • Choose “Available except in the following applications:”:

Keyboard Maestro - Available Except 2

  • Select OmniFocus:

Keyboard Maestro - Select OmniFocus 2

  • Leave “Always Activated” as is.

We now have a folder in which we can create our perspectives:

Keyboard Maestro - OmniFocus Perspectives Folder 2

 

Creating a Perspective Command

To create a new command by which we’ll call up a perspective:

  • Select the plus sign on the bottom:

Keyboard Maestro - create new

  • Title it the name of the perspective you’d like to call.

Here, I’ll do “Laptop Core Perspective” under which I have only Flagged and Due items in contexts available for the laptop:

Keyboard Maestro - Designing Laptop Core Trigger 2

  • Select “New Trigger” and choose “Hot Key Trigger”:


Keyboard Maestro - Hotkey trigger

  • Type the same key command assigned to the perspective in OmniFocus:


Keyboard Maestro - Assign Command

 

Assigning Actions

Now, we assign actions. We’ll need to open OmniFocus and select the perspective.

  • Select the area that says “No Action”:

Keyboard Maestro - Select No Action area

  • The actions choices appear on the left:

Keyboard Maestro - Editing pane

To search,

  • Type the desired command in the left search pane. Here, we’ll use “Open”.
  • Double click “Open a File, Folder, or Application”:

Keyboard Maestro - Open File 2

  • Select “Unknown” and choose the application “OmniFocus” from your applications.

Keyboard Maestro - Choosing OmniFocus

  • Again, select “New Action”: (If it does not appear, then it is likely that the actions menus are already open. Skip this step.)


Keyboard Maestro - New Action

  • Search for and double-click “Select a Menu Item”:

Keyboard Maestro - Menu search

In the resulting fields,

  • Type the Menu Title as “Perspectives” and the Menu Item as the exact name of your perspective. In this case, I have written “Laptop Core”:

Keyboard Maestro - Assigning Laptop Core menu command 3

  • Select “Current Application” and choose the OmniFocus application:

Keyboard Maestro - current app to of

The completed list appears as:

Keyboard Maestro - complete workflow 2

  • Select the Edit button on the bottom to close the editing process:

Keyboard Maestro - Close editing

 

Inserting a Pause (an optional step)

This may be particular to my own system, but adding a pause here allows Keyboard Maestro to open a perspective more reliably. Otherwise, when Omnifocus is closed before executing the macro, the program opens, but the requested perspective does not, (possibly because OmniFocus is still opening when the perspective request is made).

  • Open the editing process by selecting the editing button on the bottom again.
  • Select “New action”
  • Search for and double-click “Pause”:

Keyboard Maestro - find pause 2

  • Drag and drop the Pause between the opening of the application and the selection of the menu:

Keyboard Maestro - move pause

I find that 0.5 seconds is plenty of time:

Keyboard Maestro - shorter pause 2

Now, when using another application, you can call up the perspective you want without opening or moving to OmniFocus first.

 

Other Options

If desired, you can also add the action “Hide Other Applications”. This might be useful with a customized Inbox perspective, for example, where you may want to hide everything from view while entering thoughts.

You can create additional perspective macros easily by duplicating the one already made with Command-D and making the necessary adjustments. A bonus is that since it is already in the dedicated “OmniFocus Perspectives” folder that we first created, the new perspective macro will inherit the same properties.

 

For further study …

If you really want to start getting into Keyboard Maestro, then consider: