I’ve been recently experimenting with a @Reference tag.

OmniFocus already has two means of adding references. You can:

  1. Add notes in the note field in either project or task (Accessed by Command-,).
  2. Link to files, folders, and more on your computer by either link, alias link, or directly embedded file.

I use both of these extensively. For example, if I have a task to purchase something, I might write the URL in the note field to make it easy to make the purchase when the time comes. As another example, if I’m working on a document, I often add a link to the file by holding the Control key and dragging and dropping it into a task’s note field.

However, there are times that I just want to keep a reference file handy, even though the work of the task is done.

As an example, I was recently trying to improve my Youtube channel. I ran across a Creator Academy page.

At first, I wrote a task:

As I browsed the videos, I would create other relevant tasks based on the videos I wanted to watch:

When I was done browsing, I did not want to complete the “Browse…” task as I would then lose the link. While I could copy and paste the URL into the project’s note field, I decided I wanted the original task to be handy.

So instead I created a @Reference tag.

A reference tag is simply a tag named “Reference” and set On Hold. To make one, you can:

  • Create it directly in the tag field:

  • Then go to the tag by Control-Click:

  • Set the tag on On Hold (menu also accessed by Control-Click):

With enough reference items, you may wish to group them together in a project like so:

You may wonder, why not just complete the task and access it by seeing All tasks through the View Settings (Shift-Command-v)? The reason is that I prefer completed tasks that are no longer relevant to stay out of my view while keeping these references nearby.

Another advantage over copy and pasting references into a project note field is that this leverages the ease of tags. I can just add a @Reference tag to a task, and it is quickly set on hold.

Now, this is still in the experimental stages. Usually, I keep OmniFocus for only actionable things, and this tends to fly in the face of that rule. For all I know I will soon overwhelm the system with a bunch of static stuff. At that point, I’ll likely have a lot of cleaning up to do. So as always, join the experiment at your own risk.

For now, I am only using this @Reference tag in projects that I intend to complete. Therefore, I do not use them in Single Actions projects which I use for more ongoing things like a Routine project and the like.