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.



* 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: