One of the remarkable things about obsidian (opens in new tab) is that it is the work of only two developers; Shida Li and Erica Xu. Before founding Obsidian, they worked on Dynalist, a popular online outliner. They met as students at the University of Waterloo in Canada and have collaborated on many side projects.
As the story goes, both developers were looking for a suitable note-taking app (opens in new tab) but were dissatisfied with existing solutions. So they tried to build theirs, with three primary considerations; local-first and plain text; links as a first-class citizen; and make it highly customizable.
Although Obsidian has only been around for a few years, it has amassed a large number of users, a significant percentage of whom praise it as an effective note-taking tool. We decided to see for ourselves whether the app deserved its praise.
Obsidian: subscriptions and prices
One good thing about the Obsidian app is that there is a free version (called Personal) that anyone can use. You don’t even need to sign up or create an account to use the free version. However, it lacks many features that the paid plans have.
There are two paid plans; Catalyst and Commercial. The former requires a one-time payment of $25 and offers early access to insider builds, special badges, and access to an exclusive development channel. The latter is primarily for business use and costs $50 per user per year.
You can also purchase two add-on services for the app; sync and publish to the web. The former costs $8 per month billed annually, and the latter costs $16 per month per website. Some note-taking apps include syncing in their premium packages and require no additional payment, so we consider this feature of the Obsidian app to be a drawback.
The platform offers a 14-day free trial for the premium plans. You can also request a full refund within seven days of your purchase.
To use Obsidian, you need to download the app on your PC or smartphone (opens in new tab). It is available for the Windows, macOS and Linux desktop operating systems and Android or iOS mobile operating systems. It does not have a web-based interface, which we consider a disadvantage.
In the app, the first feature that stands out is: make a safe. A vault is a location on your device where Obsidian stores your notes and all of the app’s settings. You can choose a name for your vault and a specific storage area on your device. For example, we saved the vault in the Downloads part of our PC. Once you’ve created the vault, you can proceed with making notes that will be stored in it.
Find the new note button, click it and a new page will appear where you can type your notes. Unlike many note-taking apps, Obsidian only supports plain text, with no formatting options. This feature is a plus for people who want to keep simple notes, but a hindrance for those who prefer to format their notes for aesthetic purposes.
When you’re done typing your note, you can save it directly to your device and open it at any time to view or edit it. If you pay for the sync addon, you can create an account to save your notes online. Therefore, you can access these notes on any device by logging in with your account.
If you pay for the publish add-on, you can publish notes directly from Obsidian to a dedicated website. The note taking app works as a blogging platform (opens in new tab) with this function.
Obsidian: interface and usage
We found it quite easy to use Obsidian. The app makes it easy to take notes and access them at any time. It has some notable features that make it aesthetically pleasing. For example, you can Chart viewwhich resembles an interactive map.
The only concern we have in this criterion is that there is no web-based version of the app. Many competing note-taking apps offer web interfaces that make them easier to access, but not Obsidian.
Paid users have access to direct customer support via email. Otherwise, free users can access the official Discord channel or online forum where users often communicate and exchange solutions to their problems.
Obsidian: the competition
Obsidian’s main competitors are Quip (opens in new tab)Joplin (opens in new tab)and Atom (opens in new tab). Its main advantage over these rivals is its excellent user interface and relative affordability.
Obsidian: final verdict
The Obsidian app makes note-taking a joy, even for free users. It has an extensive feature set that you will probably enjoy and a pretty neat interface that is easy to navigate. However, we noticed some drawbacks, including limited (email-only) customer support and the lack of a web version.
We’ve highlighted the best note-taking apps for Android.