13 Super Useful Tips on Organizing Notes Better With Obsidian

The huge amount of data and knowledge spread across the internet makes managing important data a cumbersome task these days. Finding the correct information in the massive pool of data needs careful organizational skills.

That’s where the Knowledge management tools like Obsidian, Logseq and Notion comes in. Compared to Notion, Obsidian has several advantages, especially in the Linux environment because it has a native app. Moreover, it relies on Markdown as a base for note management.

I am not going to discuss if you should use Obsidian. That’s not the intent of this article.

As an ardent Obsidian user, let me use my experience to share some tips to boost your data storage and make the retrieval more efficient if you are already using Obsidian.

Non-FOSS Warning! Obsidian is not an open source software. We cover it here because of its popularity among Linux users and open source developers.

1. Make use of in-built table of contents

Obsidian has an in-built interactive table of contents, that aligns with the level of heading on the document. So, if you have a properly created headings and subheadings, then this ToC is very effective.

Using Table of content in Obsidian
Built-in Table of Contents

Click on the top right panel button. Now, you can click on the outline button to get the current document outline. If you want to hide this view, simply click on the panel button again, on the top-right.

Obsidian’s main selling point is its interlinking of documents and knowledge graphs. A casual note-taking user will get confused here.

Furthermore, some default settings on Obsidian will make it hard for migrating to another app later.

The tweaks mentioned below can be found in Settings Gear → File and Links.

What it does is, whenever you rename a file inside your note vault, any link to that file is automatically updated. Else, you will get a prompt each time, which is easy to miss sometime.

Enable the “Automatically Update Internal Links” button.

Enable the Update File Links Automatically button
Update File Links Automatically

Setting the New Link format to “Relative path to the file” and turning off Wikilinks will be good if you expect your notes to work well with other Markdown editors.

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When you make these two changes, it will be a bit going backwards because Wikilinks is one of the nice features of Obsidian. Only disable it if you are not sure about sticking with Obsidian in the future.

Links should be relative to the file and also, disable Wikilinks.
Link Format and Wikilink

Suggested Read 📖

Creating and Working with Links in ObsidianThe true power of the Obsidian knowledge base tool lies in the links. Learn to use it.

3. Get familiar with the hotkeys

Obsidian has some pre-set hotkeys for some actions. It will be pretty handy, memorizing some important ones.

Function Hotkey
Open Command Palette CTRL + P
Create a New Note CTRL + N
Delete a Paragraph CTRL + D
Open Graph View CTRL + G
Insert Markdown Link CTRL + K

Similarly, it’s better to set some accessible hotkeys as per your preference for the following items:

  • Adding tags
  • Exporting to PDF
  • Inserting attachments and callouts
  • Inserting tables
  • Toggling highlight
  • Zooming in and zooming out

To add a hotkey, you can just press the “Plus” button adjacent to an entry and press the key combination that you want to set to that action.

Add hotkeys to the commonly used items for faster workflow.
Add a Hotkey

4. Use slash key to get in-line commands

Like Notion and other popular editors, you can make Obsidian show the available commands by pressing the forward slash key.

Press Forward Slash key to get the available markdown blocks you can add.
Slash to Get In-line Commands

To enable this, go to Settings → Core Plugins and there, enable the Slash Commands option.

On the Core Plugins settings, enable the Slash Commands feature, which will allow you to get available markdown blocks during editing.
Enable Slash Commands

5. Use Obsidian Canvas for brainstorming

If you want a brainstorming session, you can make use of the Obsidian canvas. Here blocks, images, existing notes, link preview, etc. can be shown. Furthermore, it is possible to connect the blocks and group them as needed.

Use Obsidian Canvas for Brainstorming and idea formulation.
Use Obsidian Canvas

Use CTRL+scroll to zoom in and zoom out of the view. For moving around the area, press the Space key and then left click and drag.

6. Add properties to documents

Inside the documents in your vault, you can add file properties like Date, tags, etc. Properties appearing at the beginning of a document makes management easier.

File Properties are added to Obsidian Notes
File Properties are added

To add properties, press CTRL+P on the document to open the command panel. There, search for “Add File Property”.

Press CTRL + P to get the Command panel. Here, search for Add File Property and select the same.
Select Add File Property

You can add more than one property to a block by using the Add Property button. Once you have added several properties, whenever you add a property to another document, you will get the fields you already created.

File Properties Field are Accessible across notes on the vault
File Properties Field are Accessible

You can right-click on the icon of a property and change its type to an available type.

Set the Type of the Property you added to Date, Number, etc.
Set the Type of Property

This property fields are for Obsidian only. If you try to open the markdown file you created with these property blocks in some other editors, it may give unexpected results.

You can add several tags to your notes and those tags can be used to retrieve data later. Click on the top-right panel button and then select the tags button. It will display all the tags and the number of notes on each tag.

Make tags for Documents and Use Those tags to search Organize Documents
Search with Tags

Clicking on these tag on the right side panel will list all the notes in that tag on the left search panel.

8. Use Callouts to write better documents

Obsidian has a callout feature, that allows you to mark points that need special attention. See the screenshot below.

Tip, Warning and Note Callouts are displayed in Obsidian.
Callouts in Obsidian

Here, I have added callouts like Tip, Warning, Note etc. To make this appear inside the document, use the format below:

Creating callouts in Obsidian
Creating Callouts

9. Keep attachments neatly

In a markdown-based app like obsidian, it is easy to get confused about the location of an added attachment.

First, go to Settings → Files and Links. Here, scroll down a bit to get to the Default Location for New Attachments. Set it to “In subfolder under current folder”. On the Subfolder Name option, type a name for the attachments folder. That’s it!

Save Attachments on a Subfolder Inside the Current Note's Folder
Attachment Location

Now, whenever you copy and paste a file to a note, that attachment file will be saved to the attachments folder per directory.

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Whatever file you are adding to a note, try to give a better and unique name for easy retrieval in a later stage.

10. Work with interlinking and graph View

The knowledge graph is one of the main focuses of Obsidian. These are visual representation of the links of an article. The feature is particularly helpful, if you are using interconnected notes and need to know to which notes a particular note is connected to.

Notes are connected on the Obsidian Graph View
Graph View in Obsidian

You can either click on the Graph view button on the left panel, or use the shortcut CTRL + G. In order to link an article to another, make use of the quick links creation. Just type [[ and then search for the note in the appearing box.

Adding internal links to notes in Obsidian
Adding Internal Link to Notes

11. Install plugins

Plugins make Obsidian ever more powerful. So, you should use them frequently. First, click on the settings button.

Click on the Settings gear icon on the bottom left part of Obsidian to open the preferences window.
Click on the Settings Button

This will open the preferences window. Go to the Community Plugins tab and then click on the Turn on Community Plugins button.

Click on the “Turn on Community Plugins” button to enable the third-party community plugin support in Obsidian.
Turn on Community Plugins

In the next window, click on the browse button to browse various community plugins.

Click on the Browse button on the community plugin window to browse the vast number of plugins available in the repository.
Click the Browse button

You can click on any item to go to its installation page.

The community plugins page in Obsidian, where various community developed plugins are listed and ready to be installed.
Community Plugins Page

Press the installation button there to install that plugin to your Obsidian version.

To install a community plugin, you can click on the install button on that plugin’s page in the Obsidian Community plugin browser window.
Install a Community Plugin

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The extensions that are installed by you will be saved on a folder called.obsidianin the local storage, where you created the vault. When you copy the whole vault and open that copied vault using Obsidian in another system, all the extensions will be installed there as well. It will ask, “Do you trust the author” while opening such a copied vault. So, you don’t need to handpick extensions every time, you migrate from one system to another.

LanguageTool is an open source proofreading software. You can use it to avoid spelling and grammatical mistakes.

You can easily set up LanguageTool on Obsidian so that it just works inside the app.

First, install the obsidian community plugin for LanguageTool.

Install LanuageTool Plugin on Obsidian
Install LanguageTool Plugin

You can enable the plugins one installed using the enable button.

Enable the LanguageTool Plugin from its page on Community Plugin browser.
Enable LanguageTool Plugin from

The plugin can be enabled from the Community Plugins page on Obsidian Settings as well.

Enable the LanguageTool plugin from the community plugins settings page.
Enable Plugin from Community Plugins

You need to set a hotkey for the Language tool. For that, click on the Plus button as shown in the above screenshot. On the next screen, set some non-conflicting shortcut keys. You should set a hotkey for at least the Check Text function.

Set a hotkey for Check text in LanguageTool plugins hotkeys.
Set Hotkey to Check Text

You can now disable the spell check by Obsidian since it’s not necessary.

Disable Obsidian Spell Check function
Disable Obsidian Spell Check

That’s it. Now, when you need to check a text manually, press the hotkey you set.

LanguageTool spotting errors in Text
LanguageTool spotting errors in Text

13. Set an icon for Obsidian AppImage (only for Linux users)

If you are using Obsidian AppImage on GNOME, you will notice that, the Obsidian Icon is missing from the GNOME Dash. You can make it appear on the dash by placing the contents given below to a file called Obsidian.desktop in the ~/.local/share/applications/ directory.

[Desktop Entry]
Type=Application
Name=Obsidian
Comment=Knowledge Management Application
Exec=</path/to/the.obsidian/appimage/file>
Icon=</path/to/the/required/icon/file.png>
Terminal=false
StartupWMClass=obsidian

Conclusion

Even though Obsidian uses Markdown, and it is accessible through any platform that has Markdown support, there is a small amount of vendor lock in involved here. It is in the form of plugins and some built-in content blocks.

It is not a specific issue to Obsidian. Even open-source editors like Joplin have such issues. When you install plugins and other tools specific to an editor, you may not find it accessible on other editors, that do not support these plugins.

You may already be familiar with some of these Obsidian tips that I mentioned here. I am eager to know if you ‘discovered’ something new. Please let me know in the comment section.

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