Using Obsidian, A Year On

Last year I started using Obsidian to take my notes, and if you couldn’t guess, I’m still using it today. I do still take handwritten notes from time to time, and my uses have changed but overall I’m still loving it. Today I wanted to share why, and give a look at what I think Obsidian is doing right.

I loved doing a themed month through April, so, for May we’re doing a month looking at Obsidian.

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

What is it?

For those of you who don’t know Obsidian is a note taking software that markets itself as a “second brain”. Essentially, you take notes as you would with any other software, but you can link notes together through internal links [[that look like this]], or through hyperlinks.

All notes are taken using markdown, but you do have a “reading” view where it looks like you’d expect, so bold text looks like this, italic like this and so on.

There are plugins, themes, and so many different additional features to this that I think it would be impossible to list them all in one post. Next week’s post will focus on themes, and the week after I’m looking at community built plugins that I would recommend to everyone!

Why?

I’ve said so many times to people that they should be using Obsidian, and I’ve listed a variety of different reasons but I wanted to highlight some of the key ones here.

  • Customisable
    • The first point I want to make is that it’s so customisable! Plugins like StyleSettings (more on that later!) will help, but even just the base app. It has light and dark modes, you can change the line width, font size, and there’s a lot of themes to choose from!
  • Themes
    • I love that there’s so many user made themes to choose from. This really makes a difference since it helps me to be able to use the app comfortably, on all devices I own. I’m currently using the light mode of Primary for my Second Brain vault and Catpuccin for my BuJo vault
  • Markdown
    • Learning how to write notes in markdown made it so much easier to write seamlessly and be able to turn a wall of text into something beautifully styled in half the time. Plus, I was already using *this* to emphasise points I was making so it came naturally.
  • Ability to have multiple vaults
    • This is better than just having separate folders since I can actually link between all the notes in a vault so easily whereas I can’t really do that with MS Word. So I have my “can publish to the internet” notes in a separate place from my BuJo and planning notes. No risk of accidentally sharing the wrong thing, but I can still use both.
  • You own your notes
    • This is a big benefit, I can access my notes when I’m offline. I can go in, take all of my notes right now from my computer and copy them onto a hard drive and in a year’s time use a markdown to RTF converter and have my notes and for them to be readable. I’m not locked into having to copy and paste all of my notes, or find some way to download them all.
  • Linking between notes
    • As I mentioned earlier being able to link between notes (and embed content from other notes) is such a bonus. If I had this ability back when I was studying for my GCSE’s and A-Levels it would have been an entirely different playing field.
  • Plugins
    • These are some of the best things about Obsidian. Some plugins are built in, others you have to download and these are community made. They are great for customising your experience and making sure that you can use Obsidian for whatever purpose you want easily and efficiently.
  • Community
    • Not only is there a Discord server, but there’s a forum, a subreddit, and also an absolutely incredible newsletter made by Eleanor Konik that I highly recommend everyone subscribe to. The community is one of the best parts of Obsidian in my opinion since everyone is and continues to be so welcoming and friendly and helpful.

General Overview

If you’re looking for a free note taking app with incredible linking ability between notes, and the chance to own your own notes then I wouldn’t recommend anything other than Obsidian.

You can pay for services like Sync and Publish if you want to (check out my digital garden here) which are definitely worth it, in my opinion, and make the experience better but it’s not necessary.

If you have any questions then jump onto the Discord server or forum and people will help you and that’s another thing that I love. The community is incredible for this product.

I have loved using Obsidian for the past year and it’s definitely made taking notes so much easier, and also recalling information from notes easier too. I use it every day whether that’s on my phone or on the desktop and I would highly recommend it to everyone.


Hey! Tara here and thanks for checking out my blog. I update every Tuesday with posts about studying tips, advice and talk about productivity and organisation too. If you want to keep up to date with my latest blog posts I’d love it if you subscribed to this blog.

Published by Tara

UK based freelance tutor, proof-reader and copywriter. My blog is centered around productivity help, advice for students based on what I've learned at university, app reviews and other things in that vein. I have my website linked below for any tutoring, proof-reading and copywriting enquiries.

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