Subtask Sections (aka Subsections) - The Hidden Story

This incredibly useful feature is completely hidden in the Asana user interface and I don’t think it’s documented either, but it’s been there forever and good to remember about.

It looks like this:

The trick to adding a Subsection is to:

  1. Open the Task Detail pane for the task in which you want to add the Subsection,
  2. Click to focus your mouse cursor somewhere (any field) within the Task Detail pane (otherwise you’ll get a Section in the Tasks List instead of a Subsection here).
  3. Use the shortcut Tab+N (the same shortcut that creates a Section when in the Tasks List) to create the Subsection.

Larry

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Good points, @lpb.

The only thing I would mention on the negative side of this feature is that visually subtask sections look like regular sections (i.e. top-level sections in a project) but they are not - they act wholly different from regular sections.

For example, when you move a regular section, the tasks in that section move with it; when you move a subtask section, its tasks do not move with it. And while one can collapse a regular section, you can’t collapse a subtask section. (There are some other differences but those are the two most obvious IMO.)

(And for the technically-minded, from a development/API perspective, subtask sections are called separators to distinguish them from true sections.)

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Thanks, @Phil_Seeman. All key points. Thanks for making this tip complete!

Larry

THANK YOU! I thought this feature had disappeared!

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I am currently training staff to use subtasks more, the problem we are facing is that “Sub Tasks” do not show the “Project Name” when viewed in the “My Tasks” window.

If you change/add the “project name” to the sub tasks while in the “My Task” view it automatically duplicates the “Sub Tasks” and adds it as a main/parent “Task” in the project. But if you mark this duplicate complete both the duplicate task and the original subtask are affected.

How do we fix this?
How do we ensure subtasks apply the project labels?
How do we get them from duplicating in the project tasks?

Hi @Jackie_DiCiacco,

You’ve highlighted a couple of large and well-established issues! I’ll point you to some resources here.

Here’s a (long) discussion of this topic and a place you can vote for a change:


It’s not actually a duplicate; it is the same (sub)task just being displayed twice in two different places. That’s why if you change one, it changes the other, because it’s literally the same object.

Whether to use subtasks or not is pretty much of a religious argument here - some swear by them, many discourage their use due to the the quirks you’ve mentioned (and a few others), some organizations flat-out prohibit their use. Here are a few threads on the matter of subtasks:

While it doesn’t directly address your specifics points, you might also find this thread useful:

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Hi All (@Phil_Seeman & @Jackie_DiCiacco in particular)

I was going to thank Jackie for confirming to me that I wasn’t MAD and that my UX with Sub-Tasks was exactly the same as hers (i*.e. no Project Name in the My Tasks column AND when you think you’re being clever/efficient and flag it to a Project, it replicates the task :roll_eyes: !*) I accept, Phil, that it’s not a genuine duplicate but it does take up screen territory in Board view and it can be confusing for the unwary (that would be me).

Ignoring the religious argument for a moment (and I’m an un-reconverted lapsed Catholic) could we not be ecumenical and allow it as a User Setting (On/Off) for the likes of Jackie and me and allow those of all faiths to choose according to their Use Case?

Thanks for your candid and useful feedback, Phil.

This is great!

It would also be extremely useful to have “Add as *Subtask to other Project/Task”.

Thank you Chris!
I am a consultant for Asana integration, helping interior design firms use this program as their task management software for their team.
It would be great to see the solution, and in the meantime continue to direct my clients organizations to avoid subtasks as much as possible that need to show a project tag/ assignee and utilize them more for lists or steps of the parent task.

Best,
J

Great reminder. Thank you, @lpb :clap:

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