The Command Box - What is it and how to use it?

Published on July 5, 2024

Note: Command box not working if you press ctrl+shift+o? Please check if the shortcuts are set in chrome://extentions/shortcuts then find Otto, if you don't see one for "command box on current page", then set it over there

Command box for Otto

The command box is a quick action menu that you can open from anywhere in the browser, as long as it is a web page. You can use it to quickly start timers, create new tasks etc. Since, this feature is new and in beta, it only supports a few actions at the moment.

Here are the list of supported actions

  • Start a Pomodoro session
  • Start a Task timer session
  • Create a pomodoro session with a custom time
  • Add a new task to your task list


Here's a quick overview if you're too lazy to read everything.

@start 20:00 // starts a pomodoro work timer for 20 minutes

@create this is a task // adds a task to the task list

How to open the Command Bar

The command bar can be opened by pressing ctrl + shift + o on windows or cmd + shift + o on Mac. You can use the arrow keys to navigate the options and esc key to close the command bar.

Changing the Command bar shortcut

To change the command bar shortcut key, go to your chrome shortcut settings chrome://extentions/shortcuts

Starting a Pomodoro Session

Selecting this option is the same as starting the Pomodoro timer from Otto's popup. It uses the default work time and break time configurations. But if you want a custom timer, you can use the input field to type the command. More on that below.

How to start a custom pomodoro timer

At the moment, the command bar supports @start [time] command to start a timer. You can specify the duration of a session by typing in this pattern @start 20:00 for 20 minutes or @start 00:30 for 30 seconds. If the command is correct, you will see a message asking you to press enter.

Commands like start 20, @start, @start 20, @start 2:00 are considered invalid for now. Always ensure that there are 4 digits in the command or you will see a warning message.

Anything above @start 59:00 is ignored for now. This may change in the future.

At the moment you can't set the duration for the break timer. So it defaults to whatever you set in the Otto popup.

How to create a custom task in the command bar

To create a custom task, just type @create this is an example task and if the commond is correct, you will see a message askig you to press enter. And if all is good, your task will be added to the list.

When you add a new task, the task timer will not automatically start. To start the task timer, you will have to manually start it in the Otto popup or in the command bar.

At the moment, you can't set the duration for new tasks. Each task has a duration of 15 minutes by default. But I will add an option soon, so please bear with me.


On the free tier, you can create upto 3 tasks now. Previously, you were allowed to only have 1 task. If you upgrade to pro, then you will be able to create unlimited tasks.

There are no restrictions for the pomodoro timer.

Invalid patterns

Here are some examples of Invalid patterns

for @start
// invalid
start 20    
@start 20
@start 2:00

// this is valid 
@start 02:00 
@start 20:00

for @create
// invalid
create task

// this is valid 

@create "this is a task in quotes"
@create another task that is valid

One more thing to remember, you cannot combine commands at the moment so things like the below patterns won't work.

@create "a new task" @start 10:00 // won't work
@start 10:00 @create "another task" // won't work