I recently discovered this personal knowledge management tool called Obsidian.md via a Facebook group that I belong to on Learning How to Learn This is both a note taking app (markdown) and information storage tool that is platform independent, works on Linux, Windows and Mac. The system is based on the Zettelkasten system pioneered by Conrad Gessner and others in the 1500s.
This tool has really transformed the way I capture, store and retrieve information both personally and at work. I would like to walk you through some of the features and how I use them in my daily work.
- A big selling point for me on this app is that it does not use a proprietary note format (only markdown), so it sort of “future proofs” your knowledge repository. I call it my “second brain” since my current brain is so bad at remembering information.
Simple File Structure:
- The app does not store the files in a database, but uses the file structure that you establish on the sync services that you prefer.
- You can define where you want attachments to live in your file system.
- You can create reusable templates to simplify your note taking.
- It takes a little bit of work to set it up initially, but once you have it configured it is a very flexible and efficient tool. I have used Microsoft OneNote for many years but have had concerns about losing my information due to a file corruption (which has happened before). The flexibility that this tool offers blows away OneNote!
Another great feature is the ‘graph view’. This allows you to see a visual representation of all of the notes in your vault. You can also filter them and show how they link together, which I use for mapping tasks to my agendas and meeting notes.
- Obsidian has both light and dark mode, but you can change the style of the app by enabling “Custom CSS” in the settings. By enabling this feature you can leverage many different custom formats by the user community.
There are several videos on how to set up and use the tool, but here are the basic settings that I have implemented:
- Establish your Obsidian vault (they do have a db for indexing your files and configs) on a cloud drive like OneNote or Dropbox.
- File structure is important, here is mine which I adopted from a video I watched on setting up Obsidian.
- Once you have the file structure it is pretty easy to use. I use the templates feature and have set up the following templates:
- This allows me to create a new file and insert a header template very easily.
- Tiles – Obsidian offers you the capability to pin files to a tile for different notes that you use frequently using a larger wide screen monitor. See my example here:
- I use 4 or 5 different panels, one is my current daily note on the far right. The upper left note is my running task list. Below that were two files I needed open for reference in a meeting. You can pin the files for a time and move them around as you see fit.
- I use a lot of links at work to open google documents for standing meeting agendas, etc. I have created on document just for hyper-links that I keep open in the panel.
A couple last really important points:
- I configure the tool to use the Obsidian trash bin rather than my current system, this allows me to undo a move to trash no matter what computer I am using.
- Be sure to configure your system to automatically update internal links when you rename a file. This is found in the Files & Links in your settings.
I have only begun to learn the capabilities of the app, but am learning more every day. I hope you enjoy using this tool. Feel free to post any usage ideas that you come up with on this post.
Reference Links & Videos:
How To Videos
- Nick Milo’s YouTube Channel Start Here
Feel free to comment if you begin using the app and what your thoughts are.