From OmniOutliner to Obsidian

I feel like I am late to the Obsidian train that has blasted its way across the internet, but having slowly tried it out, I feel like it has the right combination of “tweakability” and functionality that it feels like it’s the app I wanted a lot of other apps to be. I have long clung to OmniOutliner as my go to for creating outlines, especially when I knew the material would eventually end up in Word. (For long documents that I will be the only author on, I use Scrivener, but for those on which I need to collaborate or at least share drafts I almost always end up with Word because it’s so ubiquitous.)

The notes functionality in OmniOutliner has always gotten short shrift, a tough thing for a writer of complex documents to accept: dammit, there are headings and then there are body paragraphs. Folding Paper was a great app, and I used it for quite some time, but I appear to have been among a (too) small pool of users to support its development.

Now, along comes Obsidian and with its easily toggle-able edit/preview modes and the ability to fold headings … wow, this looks pretty impressive. I’ve ported a couple of outlines into it for some current documents I am working on – both production notes, lecture notes, and possible handouts for a course I am designing for a client – and we’ll see how it goes, but I have to say I am impressed with the functionality of the app out-of-the-box, let alone the community add-ins.


Two particularly nice outlining plugins: the Outlines core feature and the Markmap community plugin.

There’s also one or two that add more customizable hotkeys for managing lists.

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Also, Obsidian might soon remember the folded state of your notes soon. Maybe! 🥸


Have you found a way to port OmniOutliner files to markdown for Obsidian?

I have some large OmniOutliner files with details of various Photoshop techniques for processing photographs. Since the same technique can be useful for a variety of situations, links and back-links might be quite useful. (Photoshop’s known for offering 4-5 ways to do just about anything.) Of course, you can manually build links in OmniOutliner, but it’s tedious at best.

Update: Now it does!

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Sorry for the delayed response: life has gotten a little crazy. Since posting that, I stopped using Obsidian. While I like the app’s functionality, it’s lack of a native interface was just a bit too crazy-making. Too, I realized I could implement much of what people were doing with ToCs/maps in Devonthink. (And while I hope DT will one day have a network graph of connections, I know they move slowly in this regard.) I still us OO for bursts of work, but its limitations are just as likely me to work in a text editor that can handle LaTeX, which has to be about the most bizarre sentence I have ever written, but it does reveal the depth of my annoyance with OO at this point.

Thanks, John.