For many years I was searching for a tool that could help me to build my knowledge database (and categorize notes or documents). Each application had its pros and cons. Among others, I used mostly Google Keep (fast, simple, searchable), Notion (powerful but slow for me), OneNote (generally good but not for programming notes), Evernote and Gist (web version was not appealing to me, external tools became paid). Recently I started using Obisidan and it looks like I will stick with that for a longer time. Below you can find why.
Markdown and a folder structure is a good marriage
One of my biggest concerns regarding cloud-native note-taking apps is their security and ability to migrate notes between apps. Obsidian is local-first and makes use of plain-text – notes are stored as Markdown files and their structure is basically a folder structure they are stored in. You can take all your notes (aggregated in a “Vault”) and copy them between machines easily. Alternatively, do a backup in the cloud (ideally by using an encryption tool, like Cryptomator: Secure your files in the cloud – Cryptomator for the rescue!). Therefore you can have access to all your notes offline and you can work on securing them on your own. Of course, the drawback is, you will need to take care of that by yourself.
In Obsidian I store also images or PDF files (i.e. documents), but it is able to recognize also audio and video files (Accepted file formats – Obsidian Help).
Obsidian has a bunch of cool features by default
I especially enjoyed a command palette (Ctrl+P) that allows executing commands quickly, especially together with a Git plugin. It is possible to see a graph of our notes, tag notes for an easier categorization, or search notes i.e. by using regex.
It is community driven – and has lots of fantastic plugins!
There are already lots of plugins that make Obsidian even more powerful. Among many, I definitely recommend:
- Kanban – works exactly as it should! I replaced several Trello boards with help of this plugin.
- Tasks – you can even use Obisidan as an app for tasks.
- Obsidian Git – I have several clones of the main notes repository. With this plugin, I do not need to use a command line.
- Calendar – useful if you want to quickly create daily notes.
Additionally, there are more and more themes available for Obsidian. By default, it also supports a dark theme, so it does not hurt the eyes in the evenings.
A pretty decent mobile version is there
I use an Android version of Obsidian. It is good, however, a desktop version naturally is more appealing to me. Still, a mobile version is a great thing to make a quick note on the fly or check existing ones. As I do not use any cloud to synchronize my notes (yet), I utilize FolderSync to sync notes between my computer and a mobile phone.
… and it is free (for personal use)!
Last but not least, Obsidian is free. No monthly/yearly subscriptions. As notes are regular Markdown files, they are just yours as well as the Obsidian executable. There is something called Obsidian Sync which can sync your notes between various devices, and yes, it is paid. Additionally, Obsidian is paid for commercial use. Nevertheless, for personal use, there is no need to pay anything.
I really enjoy using Obsidian. Community plugins allow unlocking the full potential of this app – and it will become even more significant in the future. If you think about building your know knowledge base or just a place to store notes and categorize documents – give it a try. There is a high chance you will enjoy it for a longer time 🙂 You can grab it here.