Todoist vs. OmniFocus: A Comparison by a Former Things User

OmniFocus may have been voted the best app in 2015, but can it remain the champion?

Last week, I wrote an article called Things vs. Todoist, or Why I Abandoned an Old Favorite App of Mine. In it I discussed the reasons why I stopped using Things and switched to Todoist. (In a nutshell, I did it because Cultured Code, the company behind Things, updates its products far too slowly. It didn’t hurt that Todoist works as well as Things, if not better.)

Today, however, I’m comparing Todoist with OmniFocus, considered by many the reigning GTD champion (if you’re on Mac, that is: OmniFocus makes no software for PC or any mobile platform except iOS. More on that later.)

Hello , stranger

It’s not my first time writing about OmniFocus. In a previous article, I analyzed its pros and cons from the perspective of a Things user.

To summarize, I liked its robustness as a GTD app, not to mention the fact that it’s updated more frequently than Things. In terms of specific features, I particularly appreciated that it supports attachments and that it can integrate with your calendar.

On the other hand, I didn’t like its lack of Retina support for Mac (an issue that has since been addressed), its price (a $60 premium over Things when you buy each company’s full suite of Mac and iOS products), and above all, its steep learning curve. I also thought OmniFocus could use a cloud-based interface (but then again, so does Things).

Overall, I didn’t think OmniFocus suited my needs so perfectly that I should stop using Things. But now that I’m an Todoist user, should I take a look again?

OmniFocus vs. Todoist

With over 6 million users, Todoist has quickly become a household name. It also gets excellent reviews. Macworld, for example, called it a “favorite to-do app;†PC Mag rated it as excellent.

Todoist works on pretty much any device as well as on your browser.

As I wrote in my previous article, Todoist is widely acknowledged to be visually striking, yet easy to use. On that basis alone, today’s overwhelmed office workers would be tempted to favor it over OmniFocus, which looks (and is) more complex.

There’s more to it that just looks, obviously. Unlike OmniFocus, Todoist is a cross-platform platform—again, a major bonus for people who switch back and forth between different ecosystems at home and work. Todoist also offers team task management (OmniFocus doesn’t) and supports custom filters that work with Boolean operators (Federico Viticci compared them to OmniFocus perspectives, albeit “based on a simple syntax and entirely under your control.†)

No product is perfect. You can only add notes or comments to tasks on Todoist, not to projects. Nor can you add tasks via Siri on your iPhone, not unless you rely on an IFFFT recipe, something which I could never get to work reliably. (Contrast this with OmniFocus’ native Reminders Capture feature, which imports information from Apple’s Reminders app on Siri-compatible devices.) Lastly, OmniFocus’ Weekly Review feature works better than Todoist’s Karma, which I see more as an inspirational feature than a proper reviewing mechanism.)

Is Todoist the new Things?

In the debate as to which GTD platform works best, many people have traditionally focused on OmniFocus vs. Things. The former offers powerful, yet complicated products that appeal to finicky users who’re managing complex projects (or like to think they are); the latter sells apps that are perhaps lacking in advanced features, yet are faster and easier to use, not to mention more visually pleasing.

But with Cultured Code having become too slow to adapt and evolve, Todoist has now stepped in as a more suitable champion for clean, easy-to-use GTD apps, one that’s not only updated frequently, it also boasts convenient features like natural language support and team task management.

In the end, which app will work best for you will be largely determined by your approach to the GTD methodology. Don’t mind spending time to completely master a new tool or customize it to your satisfaction? You may be happier with OmniFocus, provided you don’t care about being restricted to an Apple environment or don’t need to collaborate with others.

But if you like a tool that works reliably out of the box and requires little to no tinkering, you’ll probably prefer Todoist. Its array of benefits allows it to easily fit into any GTD environment, and its flexibility all but ensures that it will continue to grow. Lastly, Todoist is in line with the new trend towards cross platform, which we at The Tech Now: The Group regard as the way of the future.

7 Comments

  • Chris Laarman says:

    There is a third-party app “Focus GTD” for Android on the Google Play Store. It synchronizes with OmniFocus.

    (I have both, but I haven’t yet used either,)

    • Kerry Dawson says:

      Yes, it isn’t bad but it is third party and is not blessed by Omni. In fact, the last thing i read is Ken Case making it abundantly clear this was not an Omni app. There’s another like this one but it has more problems.

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  • ckh says:

    Lot of time devoted to GTD, but i don’t see any mention of 2DO. It blows the doors off of most of these other apps. Tons of features and configuration preferences, so you can pretty much customize it however you want. Omni is good, but i wouldn’t give it a head nod. That i reserve for 2do.

    • Kerry Dawson says:

      I have to apologize for this. This is my fault. I actually have used 2do. I was on the beta team for 1.5. It’s more an oversight on my part rather than a lack of realizing it’s potential. I’ve in fact been watching a number videos on 2do and realized I haven’t done anything on it. The good thing I found about 2do is it’s flexibility and power. I’m trying to decide if there’s a downside to all this power. I ended up using the Hit List then for testing purposes went Android for a while and came back to Omnifocus and 2do as they both have Android apps (ominfocus’ is third party). I may return to 2do. I will definitely write an article on 2do itself (probably brief) and then a longer comparison article.

      I would like to ask anyone that has interest in something in particular to let me know and if it’s appropriate I’ll write about it. Feedback though is very important. Please check out the blog for info on what doing ( just started) and it would be nice to see people use the forums but they haven’t caught on.

  • Jason says:

    Recently my favorite apps (and most useful) are ToDoist; Click Meeting for my video conferences; SmartClothed for my styling (it’s a new app and it’s really functional and easy to use, I love it); Sprout social for my social media accounts, it’s a bit expensive but it’s worth it imo.

  • N.Hong says:

    I checked this SmartClothed app that is mentioned above and I have to say it is pretty interesting, I recommend it. And on the topic – I prefer Omnifocus!

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