Seems like it’s all I hear about lately. Just installed on my Mac and iPhone. But it’s not clear to me yet what it buys me that I don’t get between Apple Notes (I store a lot of things in there, and have some shared notes w family) and Drafts?
How do you use it? What do you especially like about it?
I think this post is a good jumping off point.
Obsidian is powerful and has a lot of extensions and customizations. Ignore that initially and start with the basics.
One thing I do suggest is finding a theme that you like (light or dark, colors, etc.). It can make a lot of difference.
If you haven’t found a gap with Apple notes yet, no need to dive into Obsidian. Most people are looking for something specific: portability, privacy or functionality that Obsidian delivers on.
I wanted an odd mix of aesthetics, automation and “SQL-like” functionality, which Obsidian excels at, via community developed plugins. Other offerings would get close, (looking at you Notion) but always lacking in some key area.
Obsidian provides just about everything you’d need and for the rest, you’ve got Python, AppleScript, Shell scripts…
It is all over the place, just like Roam all over the place a few months ago, before that was Craft, Notion, Ulysses, Agenda, etc.
I will be the first to admit I think sometimes I am guilty of ‘let’s try that shiny new app’. With all that being said, I am exploring Obsidian this month. What led to me all this was a natural progression of writing in my situation.
A couple of years ago, I left Evernote and went to DevonThink. After years of use (or misuse) it became a hoarding place. Inspired by @MacSparky DevonThink field guide, I have been trimming the digital fat and trying to use it so that it works in my daily life. As I went on that journey and saw how DevonThink algorithms and cool features are I wondered if I could have it index my writing that I do in Ulysses. Unfortunately, I never found a solution since Ulysses is in iCloud. However, DevonThink can index an Obsidian vault. So, that’s where my journey is at right now.
Are there more use cases for Obsidian? Probably. But starting off with basics for now. I am also following Jamie Rubin and reading his Paperless series with Obsidian
I’m using it to replace DEVONThink. It’s my go to place for storing ad hoc notes, archived thought, and after NaNoWriMo my journals and pronbaly all my initia writing. I’ll move things that are close to neeidng final editing into Scrivener but Obsidian is great for 99% of what I do. I’ve added GoodNotes with a shortcut that will text recognise my handwritten notes and save them directly as markdwn in Obsidian, filling a major gap in my system. The Kindle plug-in plus the Dataview Plucg in and a few others are turning Obsidian into a much more ful features system thatn I ever imagined it could be.
This is where I land on this stuff as well. If you’re currently using Apple Notes, and you’re wanting to switch, you should be able to identify some “pain point” that the new app will address. And the new app should, ideally, not add any new pain points. If it does, they should be less painful - collectively - than whatever pain point you’re addressing by switching.
Even if an app is free, the very real time & resource cost of switching your data and workflows isn’t.
I agree with all of the above on not bothering with new software if what you have works for you.
But more generally: Obsidian is essentially an attempt to re-create many of the features of Notes, and many other note-taking apps, but using plain text files.
Why? Because plain text files are very portable — if you want to stop using one app and use another, you usually can, and don’t even have to export first. Text files are also “future-proof” — or at least, more future proof than most proprietary formats will be. (Ever tried to use an early-2000s MS Word for Windows document on a Mac? It may have gotten easier, but at least a few years ago it was murderously difficult).
That’s it. If Notes works for you, and you aren’t worried about moving your notes to other apps, or the risk that 20 years from now you’ll have trouble reading or retrieving them, I’m not sure Obsidian will be of much interest.
I’m hesitant to use it because it’s an Electron app. If you don’t know Electron, it is some kind of Chome(ium) wrapper. Imagine a Chrome browser window without any browser specific buttons. This is a new way of making cross-plattform apps nowadays. It has its pros and cons, I’m not saying that it is bad just because it’s an Electron app, no. They have their use cases. And Obsidian is running very good, compared to other Electron based software like MS Teams. But it still has its quirks. It feels like using Flash in the good old days.
Like others pointed out, the UI might not be what you are used to on a Mac and although it is fast as hell it still has the sluggish taste of a browser window. Don’t get me wrong, native apps can be slower than Obsidian, like starting Apple Notes.
But using Notes doesn’t feel kind of wrong.
Yeah, I don’t use Obsidian for much; I use nvUltra, The Archive and some other apps alongside it. I like some of Obsidian’s automation plugins — QuickAdd for logging activity (though I’m inconsistent about using it), and Mermaid support
If only I could combine Drafts (incredible custom syntax/theming and automation, but doesn’t use plain text files) with NotePlan (great task management and syntax/theming, brilliant link formatting, intuitive interface, but seems to sync best with CloudKit, which means notes are buried in a weird folder somewhere, making them hard to use with other apps) and Obsidian (plug-in architecture, things like Mermaid, but clunky and ugly).
Ooh, I forgot about nvUltra. It’s only macOS, though.
I wonder why there aren’t more WYSIWYG markdown editors like Typora.io or Bear’s Panda. My ideal would be editable rich text, including tables and images, that are stored as markdown files (ie, portable).
For what it may be worth, one nice thing about Craft is that the data is not trapped in a proprietary system. Craft has a lot of export options with more on the way. I can also directly export notes to iA Writer, Ulysses, and DEVONThink. The only export option for Apple Notes is PDF, which is one of two major reasons I can’t use AN as my default note app, though I wish I could.
That said, one cannot currently access external files/folders through Craft nor access Craft files from outside the app. Personally I don’t find that to be a problem because I can bulk export to plain text my notes in Craft. Craft also just announced Craft X and extensions, which will significantly expand Craft’s capabilities.