Future proof personal knowledge app that works with Markdown files on your local disk.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Fast growing
It's becoming more powerful everyday, it seems like they add many functions within several days.
Pro Locally stored, not dependent on cloud
Everything is stored in your device. You can back them up, encrypt and process however you want to. Works completely offline. Read your notes anytime, anywhere.
This allows you to link notes back and forth really easily.
Pro Lightweight and very customizable
Variety of settings, and community themes & plugins, available from built-in marketplace. Every community plugin is open-source which means you can learn from it and develop your own.
Pro Markdown makes for flatter learning curve
Pro Very easy to use and link notes, preserves the standard form of markdown
Linking notes is a game changing feature. Very easy to use and link notes. Their implementation of markdown doesn't deviate from the standard form of markdown and so the same files can be used by other markdown programs without any consequence.
While renaming note link still works.
Pro Multiple Vaults
A Vault in Obsidian is like a database. Internal links and files are not shared across Vaults. Each Vault is opened with a separate instance of Obsidian. Each Vault can have its unique app settings and plug-ins. Useful if you have distinct/unrelated projects or "data spaces" requiring different workflows and data relations.
Pro In-line tagging
Ability to tag-as-you-write and find each occurrence of a tag in the entire vault makes it very easy to organize and retrieve notes. Supports nested tags.
Pro Cross-platform: works on Linux, MacOS, Windows, Android and iOS
Pro Infinite panes, split panes, lock panes
In Obsidian, pane = window = note = page
Obsidian allows you to open as many notes as you can fit concurrently in your screen. You can split a pane horizontally/vertically. You can lock/link panes so they scroll in sync, useful for and edit & preview modes.
Pro Daily Notes with template
Daily Notes plug-in, when clicked, generates a new note with the current date. Great for journaling and reduces friction in your writing habit.
You can create a custom template for your Daily Note.
Pro Functionality extensions with a growing number of plugins
Also open for anyone to develop their own extensions/plugins.
Pro Helps visualize personal knowledge in ways nothing else allows
The Graph view is more than an aesthetic gizmo. It allows you to grasp and recognise clusters of information, follow branches and easily filter out what you don't want to see. The "animate" option shows how your notes and links have grown organically. With a bit of tweaking to the visuals and the proper theme, your graph might even start to look like a disturbingly "alive", eerie thing.
Pro Markdown rather than outline/blocks
Pro Readable as it hides the [[ ]] around links when in Preview mode
This is a big difference, as having to read through long-form texts laden with [[links]] gives friction.
Pro Random note
A plugin that, when clicked, surfaces a random note from your vault.
Pro Slides for giving presentations from within Obsidian
Easily turn your notes into simple yet sleek powerpoint-style presentations by enabling the Slides plugin and adding the --- separator.
Pro Great onboarding experience
The onboarding consists of well-written help documentation (saved as a vault) served in small chunks and organized systematically so that you become familiar with all its features as well as get hands-on experience in real time.
Pro Support for tags
Pro Page previews on hover
When you hover on an internal [[link]], you get to preview the note without opening it on a new pane.
Page preview plugin must be enabled.
Pro Intuitive and easy to use with an excellent help system built-in
The app doesn't frustrate the user - the built-in help is excellent.
Pro Keyboard shortcuts, Vim key bindings
Hotkeys can be customized in settings.
Can switch on or off Vim key bindings in the editor settings.
Pro Embedding attachments, such as PDF
Variety of file formats are directly embedded in the markdown preview, e.g. markdown, image, audio, video and PDF files.
Pro Multiple cursors
A feature unseen in other tools.
From the help doc, "This can be useful when modifying a lot of lines in the same way, for example putting - at the beginning of multiple lines to turn them into a list, or appending [[ to a series of links you’ve copied from elsewhere."
Pro Community of developers building themes and plug-ins
Due to the tool being very developer-friendly, there are tons of cool developments being made to it by 3rd party devs.
Pro Can copy search results and paste as lists and/or links in a new or existing note
Pro Not locked to a provider
No lock-in to a certain company - just markdown files on disk.
Pro Advanced search
Supports extended searching by default. Community plugin called "Vantage" allows to make more advanced queries.
Pro Graph view
A pretty, alternative way to represent links between your notes.
Pro Git integration
Version Control for your vault with Obsidian Git plugin.
Allows to create templates with built-in plugin. There's also powerful community plugin called "Templater".
Available as a plugin.
Allows to refer to a note with multiple names.
Daily and Weekly notes with Calendar Plugin.
Pro HTML Support
Use HTML in a note.
Pro Linking to blocks
You can link to a block - e.g.: paragraph, blockquote, heading.
Saving and loading workspaces.
Add a custom metadata to a note with YAML front matter.
Pro Academic citations
Supports Citations and provides inserting from Zotero.
Pro Built-in Audio Recorder
Pro SQL-like queries
Advanced queries for the data-obsessed with Dataview Plugin.
Pro Supports importing from other tools
Supports importing from tools such as Notion, Evernote, OneNote, Apple Notes, Bear, Zkn3, TiddlyWiki 5, and Roam Research. Refer to Obsidian Help for more info.
Pro Discord rich presence
Update your Discord status to show your friends what are you working on with Discord Rich Presence plugin.
Pro Exporting as PDF
Allows exporting your markdown files as PDFs rendered with all of your plugins.
Pro Big and helpful community
There's a Discord server and a forum. Join the community!
Pro Support several languages
Translations are made by the community at GitHub repository.
Pro Snapshots, file recovery, trash folder
Pro Syntax highlighting for code blocks
Pro Folders and File level storage which is open to manage, does not lock navigation
With other options like notion, we can not see how the data is actually stored.
Pro Copy and paste images easily
When taking notes, you can just grab a print screen from your clipboard and paste into the notes without having to do any file management
Pro Incredible tool for PKM (Personal Knowledge Management) which allows anyone who has a computer and an internet connection to think better and create new insights
Con Closed Source
Con Proprietary software lock-in
Creates dependence on the application with the promise that the content is yours but that cannot be entirely true without the application being free and open source software. You will end up altering the way you create the content to take advantage of Obsidian features and your processes will evolve for its workflows. This replicates the lock-in pain that people experience moving their highly personal information from one proprietary platform to the next when that initial platform stops serving them well, goes out of business, or becomes a bad actor.
Con iOS version works only with icloud
Does not work with other cloud folders.
Con No table editing yet
(Available as a plugin).
Con Pretty new software
At this moment there is a limited amount of resources / howto's available.
Con Still in beta
Con Does not export to MS Word
Can export only as a PDF file.
Con Needs to be better at block level references, searches, tagging
For example, if you want a tag a block of text, for obsidian, its the whole page that will get tagged.
Con No ability to add dates that link to a daily note, when that day/note may not yet exist
You can create a backlink which doesn't yet exist; it just doesn't auto-fill for you. (Available as a plugin)
Con Requires .md files
Can't read .txt or other plaintext file formats. Can't read asciidoc files.
(Available with a plugin.)
Con Too many plugins
Con Needs to be polished
They still need time to fix some bugs.