In this digital age, our brains are constantly exposed to a never-ending stream of information and ideas. However, with the sheer pace of this bombardment, it can be difficult to remember every single one of them. All too often, a thought or notion that we promised to pursue can slip away.
That's why taking notes is so important. Notes create a lasting record of thoughts and ideas that you don't want to forget. Obsidian gives you the perfect platform to do this—you can easily format your notes, link them together, and store them in your vault.
What Is Obsidian?
Obsidian is a powerful note-taking and knowledge-management app. It provides a unique way of organizing information because Obsidian is based on the Zettelkasten concept: a vault of interconnected and dynamic notes. This method allows you to easily explore and manage your notes. It can even catalyze new ideas.
Obsidian is built on a distributed version control system called Git, which allows you to keep track of all the changes you make to your notes. This makes the application incredibly flexible, as you can modify and reorganize your notes whenever your needs change.
On top of that, Obsidian's graph view visualizes all your notes and the connections between them with a single click. You can filter and customize this graph to see the connections between specific notes, or to get a quick overview of your vault.
With its dynamic structure and the graph view combined, Obsidian turns your notes into much more than mere scribbles: They become a dynamic part of your second brain.
An Integrated Approach to Markdown With Obsidian
Much unlike your brain, Obsidian is an app. Apps have their own file formats, and they need regular updates to work on the latest systems. Obsidian becomes practical only after you've used it for a while, and the more you invest in your vault, the better it can serve you as your second brain.
So then, here stands a conflict. Your Obsidian vault is a long-term investment, and yet Obsidian is an app that might go out of service anytime. What if Obsidian suddenly dies? Will you lose years of knowledge locked in your Obsidian vault forever?
The solution to this conflict is perhaps Obsidian's best attribute. Obsidian notes use Markdown, and they are stored as markdown files (.MD) in plain text.
Markdown is a simple, plain-text syntax that allows you to write and format your notes in a consistent and organized way. Through Markdown, you can easily format text, add images to your notes, and link your notes together.
Obsidian notes are stored as MD files. As a result, you can swiftly format your notes with Markdown and view and edit your Obsidian notes with other Markdown editor apps.
How to Use Obsidian for Note-Taking
Obsidian note-taking has two aspects. The technical aspect of it is installing the app, creating a vault and notes, and using Markdown to format and connect the notes. The second aspect is less technical. It is the methodology you use to store your notes. Truth be told, no single note-taking method works for everyone.
You need to realize what you want from Obsidian, and then see what method suits you best. Generally speaking, Obsidian isn't the best tool for fleeting notes. Your Obsidian notes require structure and connections to store information efficiently, and formatting notes requires time and peace of mind.
So if you're sitting in class and the professor is teaching at a high pace, it's a challenge to type and format everything on the go. You can use simple note apps or even a piece of paper to write down bulk information. Then, transfer the essence of your new information into Obsidian.
Remember that your Obsidian vault is a long-term investment. The more effort you pour into efficiently organizing information, the better Obsidian will do its job. With that out of the way, let's get into installing and using Obsidian.
1. Download and Install Obsidian
The first step in using Obsidian is to download and install it. Obsidian is available for free on the official website, and you can install it on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is also available on the Play Store and App Store for free.
Download: Obsidian (Free)
2. Create a New Vault
Once you launch Obsidian for the first time, you'll be presented with the startup window. Here you can create a new vault, or open an existing one. Click on Create new vault to get started.
On the next screen, give your vault a name and pick a folder for it. The location you choose is where all the notes and files in that vault will be stored. Click Create to enter your new vault.
3. Create Your Notes
Welcome to your vault! It looks pretty bleak right now, but as mentioned before, your vault is a long-term investment. Obsidian isn't going to boost your productivity the moment you install it. Instead, it provides you with a platform that you can use to boost your productivity.
So let's start by creating your first note. You can do this by either clicking the New note icon on top of the File view, or by pressing Ctrl + N on your keyboard. Give your note a title, and then start inputting the content. Use Markdown to format your notes. You can also add images or other media to your notes.
4. Link Your Notes Together
By linking a note, you can quickly access the related notes and visualize the connections in the graph view. Once you've got plenty of notes and information, you can start linking them to each other.
Type two brackets ([[), then enter the target note's name. Once you type in a few letters, you can have Obsidian automatically complete the link by pressing Enter. For instance, the markdown below links to the Carvedilol note:
The anchor text will be the target note's title by default. You can set a custom anchor text by typing a pipe (|) in the Markdown code. The markdown below links to the Carvedilol note as well, but the display text will be custom text.
5. Check Out the Graph View
A couple of linked notes are enough to get a graph in Obsidian. Other than being able to quickly access related notes, by linking your notes together, you can also link them together in the graph view. Press Ctrl + G on your keyboard to open the graph view.
You can customize the graph by clicking the cog icon in the top-right corner. The graph settings allow you to create a filter to only display specific notes, or to color code the note nodes by creating groups. There are also some settings to alter the layout of the graph.
Take Your Notes to the Next Level With Obsidian
Note-taking is a critical skill in the modern world. Your notes can serve as a reliable method to review your findings, but you can also inspect the connection between different topics to come up with new ideas, or fill vacancies in your knowledge base.
Obsidian provides a great platform to accomplish this. It uses Markdown to format and store the notes, so you don't need to worry about your notes becoming redundant in the future. Other than formatting and organizing your notes, Obsidian also lets you connect the notes by creating internal links.
You can use the graph view in Obsidian to visualize your entire vault or parts of it. Organization and visualization together can boost your productivity by making your note-taking efficient. Now that you know the basics of using Obsidian, it's time to lay down the first brick and start building your knowledge base.