End to end encryption for obsidian sync - how does it work?

I have been trying to get more information on how the end to end encryption works as I have heard @MacSparky mentioned so many times on his podcasts. I have signed up and the sync is working quite well but I still do not feel I fully understand the encryption part.

I have syned to a remote vault and the files all downloaded to my iPad. I can see all the files using the native IPadOS file app. Those files can be opened by other app such as BearNote. However, I thought all those files are end to end encrypted by my own password and other app such as BearNote should not be able to read the content?

I want to post the question here first as this forum is more likely to get the right answer before posting on Obsidian forum or Discord that seems to bury into the large number of Obsidian discussions

Files are readable locally (that’s the whole point of Obsidian) but encrypted on device with your sync key before being sent to the cloud. It’s exactly what DEVONthink, Boxcryptor and such do. In the cloud, the data is unreadable without the password which only you have.

There are a lot of details on the Obsidian help pages, FYI:


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thanks, so I take that E2EE only applies to data that leave my computer and back. Locally, they are decrypted without the need to entering the password every time, correct?

thanks, but it is still not clear to me with the following statement in the help pages

End-to-end encryption means the data is encrypted from the moment it leaves your device, and can only be decrypted using your encryption key once it’s back on one of your devices.

Obsidian Sync does not locally encrypt your files— they are available to you with any app or service you want to work with on your device. You only need to enter a password when setting up Sync.

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Hi @fuzzygel. Looks like you got your question answered but I may add this to the feedback outline anyway. I suspect other listeners are wondering about this.

@MacSparky , I still not clear on Obsidian Sync. I posted another question on Obsidian Forum [question] how to avoid double sync - Mobile - Obsidian Forum