My essential and useful Obsidian plugins

A friend is getting started with Obsidian, making the switch from Evernote, and he asked me for recommendations on plugins. Here’s my list:


Command Palette This is the main way I invoke commands in Obsidian. You type a keyboard shortcut (Command-P on my Mac) and a little text popup comes up. You start typing and Obsidian auto-suggests possible commands, until you quickly narrow down to what you’re looking for.

Command Palette is a Core Plugin. It comes with Obsidian. If you want to use it, just switch it on from the Preference settings in Obsidian. The same is true for all Core plugins.

Slash Commands does the same thing, but you start by typing a slash into the text of your note. I often use this as an alternative to the Command Palette. (Core)

Quick Switcher. A palette for quickly finding files and documents. It’s similar to the Command Palette. The Quick Switcher is my primary way of navigating between Obsidian documents. The keyboard shortcut on Mac for that is Cmd-O. (Core.)

I’m in Obsidian all day when I’m working. Most of the time, I’m writing, but when I’m in Obsidian and not writing, most of the time I’m hitting Cmd-P or / to invoke a command, or Cmd-O to switch between documents.

Daily Note. For writing daily notes. (Core.)

Files. See the files and folders in your vault. (Core.)

Better Word Count. Obsidian comes with its own word counter plugin, but this one can count the words and characters in a text selection.

I see now that Better Word Count has a couple of useful settings I have not explored, like excluding comments from word counts, and counting pages in addition to words.

My work as a writer requires me to write to length, and Better Word Count is how I keep track of that.

Better Word Count is a community plugin. Community plug-ins are made by people in the Obsidian user community. To get Better Word Count, or any Community plugin, go open Obsidian preferences, go to the Community plugins section, and search for the plugin by name.

Pandoc Plugin. Export Markdown documents in a variety of formats. I use it to export documents to the DocX format, for sending to clients. (Community.)


Backlinks. Shows other documents that link to the current document. (Core)

Search. Searches the vault. (Core.)

Outline. Displays an outline of the document you’re working on. (Core.)

Page Preview. Hover over an internal link to view its content. (Core.)

Templates. For creating note templates. (Core.)

Auto Link Title. When you paste in a Web URL, this plugin automatically fetches the title of the page. Works almost all the time. (Community.)

Calendar. Displays a calendar. Useful for navigating between daily notes. (Community.)

Daily Notes Viewer. View your most recent daily notes in a single page. (Community.)

File Tree Alternative. Displays files and folders separately. (Community.)

Minimal Theme Settings. Customizing the look of the minimal theme. Also, Styles. (Community.)

Natural Language Dates. For example, typing @today enters the current date, @yesterday enters yesterday’s date, and so on. (Community.)

Typography. Automatically replace dumb quotes with smart quotes, three hyphens with an em dash, and so on. (Community.)

AidenLx’s Folder Note. Creates a with the same name as a folder, and you can use the folder note as an index to the folder, with notes about what’s in the folder. The folder note can either be inside the folder, or in the parent folder.

That’s seven plugins in my “Essential” category, and 13 more in the “Useful” category. This level of complication might be holding Obsidian back from mainstream adoption.

On the other hand, this level of customizability is precisely what appeals to Obsidian’s core user base.

And there’s more:

Trying these out to see if they are useful

Properties. Manages custom metadata you can add to your file: Dates, descriptions, links, whatever you want. Uses YAML formatting, which is just plain text at the top of the file. Obsidian has supported YAML for a while, but previously you had to work with the plain text; Properties puts an easier to use and prettier face on it. (Core, currently available only to people in the Obsidian Catalyst early-access program.)

Tags. I’m experimenting with switching to a very tag-heavy organizational structure for my vault. Previously I used folders. (Core.)

Tag Wranger. Rename, merge, and search tags from the tag pane. You can also create tag pages—pages with the same name as your tag. (Community.)

DevonThink. Helps to pair Obsidian with the very sophisticated Apple-only DevonThink document and information management tool. (Community.)

Very useful to many people, but I’ve never found a need for them

Bookmarks. Saves files and searches as favorites. (Core.)

Workspaces. Save and restore workspaces layouts. Frequently used for displaying multiple notes on one screen. (Core.)

Dataview. Turns your vault of text documents into a database you can query. I lack the technical chops to use this plugin. (Community.)

Templater. A powerful alternative to the Templates core plugin. As with Dataview, this seems to require more technical chops than I have. (Community.)

I plan to post this to my blog later this week. I’m trying it out here first.

UPDATE, a day or two later: And now I have posted this to my blog, with one or two small changes: Mitch W - My essential and useful Obsidian plugins


Nice list! I try to keep a minimal set of community plug-ins and they have to work on both iPad and Mac. I’ll check out Natural Language Dates.

I’d add Advanced Tables and Excalidraw to my essentials.

And some of the built-in formatting is key for me, like mermaid diagrams, MathJax, and the collapsible callouts.

Core Plugins (some are on by default, I guess):

  • Backlinks
  • Canvas (never used this)
  • Command pallette
  • Daily notes
  • File recovery (never used it, but sounds useful)
  • Note composer (not sure what this is)
  • Page preview
  • Quick switcher
  • Templates

Community Plugins:

  • Advanced Tables
  • Dataview (may uninstall, don’t really use this)
  • Excalidraw
  • Minimal Theme Settings
  • Style Settings

This is the standard File > Print shortcut :thinking:

I get a lot of use out of Dataview and Templater, and have no claim to expertise, but they are both widely enough used that Professor Google quickly locates how-to answers for me when I need it. I embed Dataview queries in many notes.

I use Templater for templates assigned to specific folders, so that when a note is created in the folder, such as the Unique Notes folder (defined in the Unique notes creator Core plugin options). For most templates, however, I code those up in Typinator because many of my templates use scripting to call out to databases to retrieve data via APIs, and it is fruitless to try to do that in Obsidian. With Typinator, once the template is in place and debugged, it’s just a matter of typing the keyword and Typinator fills in the rest.

The other major plugin I use all the time is Readwise Official (Community).



Not in Obsidian it ain’t.

I keep meaning to disable Cmd-P in other apps, and map it to something more useful. I rarely print anything out.

Add Graph View and Canvas to the “Very useful to many people, but I’ve never found a need for them” list. I’m an extremely non-visual thinker, so they have never clicked for me.

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I used to think of myself as being a non-visual thinker, too. Then I spent some time with TheBrain and, probably due to the automatic layout, their version of a map (the „plex“) became quite helpful. Still using DEVONThink to actually store documents but as a knowledge repository TheBrain sticked and Obsidian did not.

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I am also not a very visual thinker. I’ve played with Canvas, but in daily usage I barely turn to it. Nor, in fact, to MindNode which I’ve let lapse, or other such apps.

But I do like the Obsidian community plug-in Kanban (could be replicated elsewhere, e.g. Trello or now with ToDoist).

I have only a single Kanban note to track writing projects from the their various stages (conception, research, writing, revision, proofs, published) – and I really love it. Always get a huge sense of achievement dragging a little card to the next column.


Ha, I guess my Obsidian keyboard shortcut brainspace is sufficiently isolated from others that I didn’t even realize the Command+P overlap!

And that also made me discover there’s not even a Print function in Obsidian at all. Which makes sense, I guess; it’s all just plaintext, and you could either export the rendered text as PDF and print that or open the raw version in TextEdit and print from there.

Apparently it hasn’t caused enough heartburn to prompt someone to make a Print plugin!

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone comment on the lack of a print function before. And I’ve been using Obsidian and frequenting the forums for years.

And now I have posted this to my blog, with one or two small changes: Mitch W - My essential and useful Obsidian plugins


Sure is, I remapped the code it originally was to the standard command p

It creates a PDF file of the note.

Is that different from the “Export to PDF” command?

No it’s just that for my purposes a PDF is a print that is usable so I tend to treat them as the same but you are correct it;s the export to PDF command.

All of these suggestions and I didn’t see the one plug-in that not only I find essential from 3+ years of Obsidian use, and not only changed how I use Obsidian, but has been somethings I’ve wanted for 20 to 25 years for linked note systems and that is looking through to what is connected to that other note.

The plug-in: Obsidian42 - Strange New Worlds

Backlinking is essential and far more powerful than tagging (think of tags as hooks to aggregate things, but lack a foundation for understanding the tag), if you do it well with subject or canonical note pages / files. In my daily notes I can have a backlink to a person, subject, book, article, etc. but, with Strange New Worlds I can see the link to that note (even if that note doesn’t exist) and see the block of text that backlink to that note.

So, in my daily note I am capturing a note about a new battery technology written up my a scientist I follow and know I can write up the note back linking to the person the, battery technology canonical note (which would have structure), the new technology note (which may not exist as a note yet), and the publication the piece came from.

Each one of this backlinks will get a number after them, which if you hover over will show a hover listing of everything that links to that note you are linking to (even if that note doesn’t exist yet) and you can read the block (paragraph or other block type) around the back link in that far note. So, in my new battery technology find that I don’t have a note for I can see I backlinked to that new technology type two other times in the past 18 months. Now I know I not only don’t remember everything, but I need a canonical note page for that new battery technology type.

On that new page I have a template in TextExpander for all notes (I create notes in Drafts when I’m on the go and they push into my iCloud directory that Obsidian sits over - I use many markdown apps that I use to do things with those notes beyond just using Obsidian and this to me is the utter beauty of Obsidian is it follows the small apps loosely joined model of standard formats and apps with extended functionality).