Trying out The Hit List as a possible OmniFocus replacement

I’ve been getting dissatisfied with OmniFocus for months now. It’s just too complicated. And it’s too rigid in some ways.

OmniFocus is a high-maintenance app. I was spending too much time working on my to-do lists, and not enough time getting things done.

What I’m looking for is something much simpler.

I’ve looked at a few Mac and Web-based to-do apps recently and none of them seemed satisfactory. Then I saw this recommendation for Potion Factory’s The Hit List ($50). I spent a little while Saturday afternoon copying my tasks from OmniFocus to The Hit List, and now I’m trying it out. So far I like it.

The plus side:

  • The Hit List is much more flexible than OmniFocus about the order in which you display tasks. I can easily create a list of things I want to do today, put the list in the order I want to do them in, and then get to work. I haven’t found a good way to do that in OmniFocus.
  • The Hit List supports tagging, which OmniFocus does not. Tags are a good way of organizing tasks, although you have to watch out you don’t go crazy with them.
  • The Hit List has an iPhone app and over-the-air synching.
  • It has a nice-looking user interface. It reminds me a lot of Cultured Code’s Things. Actually. I can’t remember why I gave up Things.
  • The app makes extensive use of keyboard shortcuts. I’m not usually a big fan of keyboard shortcuts; I have trouble remembering them. But The Hit List does a good job with them. And The Hit List has a hints bar at the bottom of the app window that displays the most common keyboard shortcuts. I love this. All apps should have it.
  • When you create a new task, it appears at the top of the list. In OmniFocus, new tasks appeared at the bottom, and I couldn’t figure out a way to change that. For me, more recently created tasks are likely to be more urgent, and therefore should be at the top of the task list.

The minus side:

  • No iPad app. I can live with that.
  • No Outlook integration. Outlook is my company standard mail and calendar client. I can work around the lack of Outlook integration.
  • Poking around the Web site, I see users complaining that development is extremely slow, and that the developer is unresponsive to support requests and bug fixes. In particular, there seems to be an ongoing bug with recurring tasks and the iPhone app. Over the air synching seems to be problematic.
  • The Hit List, like OmniFocus, has a quick entry window. You type a keyboard shortcut, and a little window pops up that you use to type in a task when it occurs to you, without breaking flow of whatever else you were doing. That’s great. But the quick entry window doesn’t let you link to email messages. You have to do that from within the application window itself. That’s inconvenient; I create to-dos to respond to email a lot. I found this script to add email messages as tasks with links to the original mail message in Mail.app (rather than Outlook). I tested it and it seems to work; we’ll see how well it serves in real life.

Fortunately, there’s a two-week free trial of The Hit List, and I plan to give it a good workout. If it works for me, I’ll buy it, and won’t expect any upgrades anytime soon.

If it doesn’t work, well, I guess it’s back to OF. Maybe I can make OF work for me. Or I’ll take another look at Things, although I’m not optimistic about that app’s future. I hear good things about Remember the Milk, too.

5 Replies to “Trying out The Hit List as a possible OmniFocus replacement”

  1. The hit list is far superior. The smart folders are like are like perspectives on steroids. They’re way more powerful and somehow simpler at the same time.

    You’re absolutely right about OF being too complex. Unfortunately for me, I need an ipad app, and the dev is very very slow.

    I’ve become a big fan of 2do on the ipad. On par with THL, and they are now developing a Mac app. One to look out for.

  2. Things is in beta for air-sync — seems to work great so far, but I don’t know how far they are from going wide with it. They make an iPad version but I just use the iPhone version on my iPad so far. I sync with my work computer (which is a pain when I want to look at the full list at home) now, and will be thrilled when it goes wide.

    Been using it for years now — can’t live without it. Just wish the iOS search included it in the results instead of having to search it separately. I keep some things in Notes, some in Things, but don’t always remember which is where.

  3. You might be able to hack together some level of Outlook syncing by using iCal as a middle man. The Hit List can sync with iCal, and there are numerous way to sync iCal with Outlook, I believe. Messy but workable, I think.

    1. Grant – It isn’t the tasks synchronization I’m looking for. It’s the ability to link to an individual mail message from within a task. I do a lot of that in my daily work.

      1. You can drag and drop email message to The Hit List dock icon. Files can be dropped here too…
        At least in the latest version.

        Btw, please, fix your web design… top and left menus overflows over text… Don’t use position fixed for that…

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