Should I be using Obsidian?

It offers zero knowledge encyption, which many other apps do not meaning you are the only one who can read your data. Privacy is very important.

Still a closed beta, sadly.

Export is important, and good. But I still consider anything using a dedicated database backend to be significantly less portable than apps that use a standalone files in plain text (or some other open format: csv, json, markdown… which are all plain text in the end).

The latter can be used with a wide range of other apps simultaneously. Relying on export doesn’t allow that, and potentially leaves you with multiple, unsync’d copies of your notes — which is a recipe for confusion.

Personally, I also don’t enjoy spending my time exporting, importing, cleaning up details that didn’t translate exactly, keeping track of whether I’m using the right version of my notes. The whole point of PKM (if that’s what you’re doing with a notes app) is to externalize that kind of cognitive load. The more time I spend on the export-import-cleanup routine, the less time I’m getting productive and creative work done.

I realize most people are looking for “the” perfect app, and believe they will settle down happily once they find it. But I would argue that, particularly for many of the people here, that may not be a reality over the medium to long* run. I know I’m always looking for better ways to do things; I’ve come to realize that means I’m likely to change apps in the future. If I make sure I’m just using apps that can share a folder (or folders) of plain text notes, I cut way back on my overhead. I may have to wait for some features, or miss out on a little pizzaz (Craft does look beautiful!) but I am confident I’ll save over time.

*Unless you mean “long run” in the Keynesian sense, in which case, sure, we all eventually settle on a final app… :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


Yeah, NVultra seems a real white elephant. It’s forever going to be released.

I don’t disagree with anything you state, in fact, I’ve also articulated my preference for plain text files in Finder in previous posts.

That said, there is also inefficiencies and overhead associated with apps that required extra effort to accomplish one’s tasks. A simple example is trying to add files/images or tables to plain text files. Doable but not efficient and easy. Another example is the sometimes unreliable use of Pandoc in Obsidian to get a plain text file in Word or in my case, Pages. At least for me, I’ve not found it to be reliable. I don’t have these issues with a program like Craft. I’m using Obsidian along side iA Writer and this works but in addition to the above, it is frustrating for my workflow not to be able to manually sort files.

Also, I do not export frequently. In my case, I’m mostly referring to bulk export of files should I desire/need to change applications. The bottomline is that I’m not locked in with Craft given the bulk export options, including to plain text/markdown files. This is less true of apps like Evernote, Apple Notes, etc.

With all of that said, I’m using both Obsidian and Craft as there are pros/cons to both. With the recent update and announcements to Craft (e.g., extensions) I’m leaning more toward Craft again for my default writing application. Obviously, each of us have different needs so I’m not advocating one way or the other as to what others should do; I’m only sharing my personal workflow needs and preferences. :grinning:

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It there was a perfect app that innoculated one against all desire to change, then I would still be using WordStar on a CP/M-80 machine, and saved a fortune on all the hardware and software that I have bought since then.


I have the luxury of mostly using text. And for my own purposes, I don’t find using images or PDFs all that difficult — throw it into an images folder, get the file path, and use it in the note. But absolutely, everyone’s mileage will vary.

I don’t use Word much, but to get formatted text into an editor like Word, I’ll view it in Marked, and then copy the RTF out. Then I can make whatever formatting changes I need to styles in Word, doing it once instead of repeatedly. I haven’t felt the need to tackle pandoc.

But I also have the luxury of being able to focus on content, not presentation. And when I do need to worry about presentation and styling, I can do it myself, and so stick with markdown apps, Marked and converting to PDF.

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You can export notes from Apple Notes into Markdown files using Exporter. It works great for text and images (but had some limitations around attachments when I last used it).

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I don’t mind typing the double asterisks for bold, though some editors allow ⌘-B to put in those asterisks.

I’d like to see images inline with the text I’m writing. Sometimes I have a diagram that helps me understand better what I’m writing. Having that .png file shown while I’m writing would be helpful. And markdown tables are always challenging.

You described perfectly a few of my pain points with Obsidian. I have created conceptual diagrams that inform and direct my writing content and flow in some chapters of a book. I also have tables, which are challenging to create. But, as I note above, one of my biggest pain points for a project like a book is the inability to manually sort files. This forces me to use a numbering system. This works fine until one has to move a file to another location within a large multitiered hierarchy of sections and chapters. :grinning:

Thanks for the tip, I was not aware of the app. I read the description and the reviews. One reviewer noted a possible character limitation. I don’t know how valid that is. My bigger concern is depending on a third party app to export my AN to plain text. If the app stops functioning and/or is abandoned, I’m stuck with several thousand or more notes that can only be exported as PDFs. That is not a comforting prospect. :grinning:


TableFlip is a great app on the Mac for creating, editing and managing markdown tables. But yes, definitely a pain point.

Doesn’t the preview window let you look at an image while writing? It’s to the side instead of above or below — but it find that’s better, because the image doesn’t slip off the screen as I write.

Anyway, no question, you can’t have it all. Given what I do, I find the flexibility, clarity and durability of plain text outweighs the inconveniences.


Another one to consider if security/encryption is important, although it’s not macOS-native and many of its better options require a subscription: Standard Notes.

I’m a subscriber and Standard Note’s functionality and development are woeful. Besides with Obsidian’s zero knowledge encryption Standard Notes is not necessary.

Yep, totally understand those concerns. They are why I moved away from Apple Notes a couple years ago. It was painful enough moving a couple thousand notes out of Notes. I try to mention Exporter as much as I can it totally saved my bacon and the author has been steadily updating it for a few years.

It’s a shame that Apple insists on keeping everything as a walled garden. While Notes misses more advanced functionality it hits a pretty amazing sweet spot between ease of use and functionality. And it’s CRDT based sync is amazing and nothing else I’ve used is even close (two people can edit the same note at the same time and everything works in close to real time).

I’m currently looking at Obsidian after having spent two years trying all the alternatives to Notes I could find. Their new Live Preview feature has finally tipped me over the edge …

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Yes, being able to index an Obisidian vault is certainly a huge plus for DEVONthink users. And that’s how I set up, indexing my Obsidian vault in DT3.

In fact, I’ve tried to love Obsidian, but I always end up using Typora to edit markdown files in DT3. I personally feel that Typora gives a better writing experience overall.

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I often see Typora mentioned positively on this forum. I checked the website but it seems it is only available for the Mac, not iOS devices. Is that correct?

Yes, that’s true. If you’re looking for something that you can use on iOS as well, Typora is a no-go, unfortunately. Since I use my iPad mainly for viewing things, not editing, I personally had no problem with that (If needed I can edit markdown files in Devon Think To Go on iOS, although I don’t particularly like DTTG’s editor).

That is unfortunate, Typora looks like a great app but I use my iPad for a lot of editing and writing. But, I have iA Writer and it is great and cross platform so I’m in good shape.

As to the DT editor, I agree. I’d go a bit further and say it is a terrible editor. :grinning:

Given the flexibility of markdown, where you can use all the different editors, maybe you can useTypora in Mac and iA Writer in your iPad?
As to the DT editor again, but at least it is steadily improving. :slight_smile:

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