Using Siri to capture reminders to OmniFocus

This is definitely my biggest use case for Siri and if you are an OmniFocus user and haven't set this feature up, I guarantee you will do once you've finished reading. 

I listen to a lot of podcasts, predominantly when I'm driving. These podcasts, particularly those by the British Tech Network and almost anything that involves Merlin Mann and David Sparks, generally give me ideas for something that I want to implement, research, or (when feeling particularly frivolous, which isn't often) - buy. 

However, when driving it's difficult to get these ideas into OmniFocus which is my trusted collection system. If I don't get it down somewhere, then that RAM element of my brain will just drop it at the earliest opportunity. 

Also, I'm sure a lot of you are like me in that you can get your best ideas when you are driving. You think about that task that really needs doing at the weekend, or the email that you've got to respond to in detail as soon as you get to work. However, by the time you get to your destination, it's too late and you've forgotten it. 

Well, by configuring Siri to automatically update your OmniFocus inbox, this goes away and here is how to set it up:

1) On your iPhone (or iPad of course), drag down from near the top of any OmniFocus screen to reveal a hidden menu bar. 

2) Click Settings in the toolbar that appears

3) In the Capture section, tap Reminders

4) Finally, you’ll see the Reminders screen, where you can turn on the capture option (an alert pops up asking you to give OmniFocus access to your Reminders; tap OK) and, if you have multiple Reminders lists set up, choose the list you want OmniFocus to capture from. (If you only have one reminders list, OmniFocus assumes that’s the one you want).

Warning: You should only configure Reminders Capture on a single iOS device. If you rely on iCloud to sync your reminders across devices and you have OmniFocus on iPad mini and iPhone, you could end up with duplicate entries in your Inbox

To record a new Inbox item with Siri, try these phrases:

  • ”Siri, remember to…“ records a task to the system default Reminders list. OmniFocus grabs it from that list if it’s the one you have chosen to capture.

  • ”Siri, remind me to…“ records a task to the default list, and Siri asks for a due date.

  • ”Siri, remind me when I get to (or leave)…“ records a task to the default list with a contact location attached. If you choose a specific location, make sure it matches an OmniFocus context location.

Note: Use the small dot distance (200 meters/650 feet) if you would like OmniFocus to capture Siri-transcribed actions associated with that location.

  • ”Add … to my OmniFocus list” records a task to a list named OmniFocus if you have one set up in Reminders. OmniFocus captures the task if that’s the list you’ve chosen.

  • Replace OmniFocus with the name of whatever list you’d prefer!

When OmniFocus captures a Reminder, it removes the item from the Reminders so that there’s no confusion about where it belongs. To keep your data safe, there are some Reminders items that OmniFocus will not claim. (Reminders will retain ownership of the data and it will not be lost.) These are items that have data beyond what OmniFocus can track, such as contact locations outside the set of small-size OmniFocus context radii you have established.

For this reason, the location-based aspects of capture are most effective when you tailor the locations of your OmniFocus contexts as closely as possible to your location-based Reminders contacts.

Be sure to visit the OmniGroup for details on their superb range of products. I use OmniOutliner, OmniFocus and, most recently, OmniPlan for my Project Management work and I couldn't now live without any of them.