Obsidian

Obsidian Icon
Obsidian is a highly-adaptable note-taking app. Notes are stored in Markdown text files in the location of your choice and it's free for personal use.

App Description

Obsidian is a markdown-based note-taking app. It can be used in basic ways and expanded into a feature-rich platform by tapping into a library of hundreds of plugins.

Obsidian “vaults” consist of folders on your computer that can be synced using your syncing service of choice (e.g. Dropbox, iCloud Drive). Obsidian also has a paid Obsidian Sync service that provides end-to-end encryption of Obsidian vaults. You can also publish your notes to the web using Obsidian’s subscription-based offering, Obsidian Publish.

Learn Obsidian: MacSparky Field Guide – Do you need some help getting up to speed with Obsidian? David Sparks (aka MacSparky), a regular guest on Learn OmniFocus, has an excellent Obsidian Field Guide that provides in-depth instruction for configuring and using Obsidian.

Developing Your Ideas Using Obsidian

OmniFocus is a fabulous app for defining and taking action on your tasks, whether it’s something you’re doing for the first time or completing a routine activity. Before you can articulate projects and actions, you’ll need at least some idea of where you’re going. This is where Obsidian shines.

One of Obsidian’s strengths is its ability to relate ideas and thoughts. For example, an Obsidian note may contain a seed of an idea that links to other notes that contain related ideas. Obsidian automatically creates a bidirectional link when you link one note to another. In other words, the note you’re linking to will contain a link back to the note you’re linking from.

If you’re visually inclined, the built-in Graph view lets you visualize relationships between the notes in your Obsidian vault.

Using Obsidian for Project Support and Reference

Completing OmniFocus actions and projects often requires having the necessary project support and reference material at your fingertips. Obsidian is a great place to store notes about your projects and to house information that may prove helpful as you step into action.

For example, if you had a project in OmniFocus to help you prepare for your upcoming trip to New Zealand, you could have a “Trip to New Zealand” note in Obsidian. This note could include your packing list, links to interesting places to visit, and travel information. This information will be useful as you articulate and complete the actions needed to be ready for your trip. It will also be helpful while you’re enjoying your adventure in New Zealand.

Linking from OmniFocus to Obsidian

Include links to related Obsidian notes in the OmniFocus note fields to make it quick and easy to get to your Obsidian notes. Out of the box, Obsidian has a Copy Obsidian URL feature that creates a link to the current note. This link can be added to the OmniFocus note field, making it possible to jump from OmniFocus to the corresponding note in Obsidian. The downside is this link contains the name of the vault, folder(s) and note. As a result, the link will break if any of these items are renamed.

An alternate approach is to include UUIDs (Universally Unique Identifiers) in the Obsidian notes you want to reference outside of Obsidian. While this may sound pretty techie, it’s quite simple. A UUID adds some unique text to your note so you can link to it, even if the vault, folder, or note name changes. Once the UUID is added to your notes, you can link to it using the Advanced URI plug-in.

If you’re using OmniFocus 4.0 or later, you can also install the OmniFocus plug-in, Add to Obsidian. After installing this plug-in, you’ll find an Obsidian entry in the Automation menu. Once the plug-in is configured, it’s quick and easy to create an Obsidian note that matches the name of the selected project, action group or action and contains a link back to the selected item. A UUID can automatically be included in this new note if you have installed the Advanced URI Obsidian plugin.

Linking from Obsidian to OmniFocus

When you’re reviewing and updating your notes in Obsidian, it can also be very helpful to access related OmniFocus actions and projects quickly. Fortunately, this is easily accomplished. Each OmniFocus project, action group, action, and tag has a unique URL.

  1. In OmniFocus, control or right-click on the item you want to reference outside OmniFocus and choose Copy as Link. This places a link to the corresponding item on the clipboard.
  2. In Obsidian, add the text you want to link. For example, you could enter “OmniFocus Project” if the link references an OmniFocus project.
  3. Select this text and press ⌘K. Obsidian will add the Markdown syntax for an external link and place the cursor at the insertion point for the link.
  4. Press ⌘V to paste the OmniFocus link into Obsidian. The final result will look something like this: [OmniFocus Project](omnifocus:///task/gd-W02ZvYd7)

Learning More

Your use of Obsidian can start simply and expand as you get to know the app. Look at the resources below to learn more about how Obsidian can be used alongside OmniFocus. Our library includes recordings of sessions with workflow guests who are using OmniFocus and Obsidian in creative and productive ways.

Other Resources

  • Obsidian Community – Visit the Obsidian website to learn more about putting Obsidian to good use. Resources include the Obsidian Help site and an active and supportive online community (Discord Chat and Forum).
  • ScreenCastsOnline – ScreenCastsOnline also has in-depth Obsidian tutorials. If you’re not already a subscriber, you can access these and hundreds of other professionally-produced screencasts through their seven-day free trial.
  • MacSparky Field Guide – David Sparks (aka MacSparky) has an in-depth Obsidian Field Guide, available in Standard and Plus editions. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re brand new to Obsidian or a seasoned pro.

Learn OmniFocus Resources