My journey to Obsidian has consisted of a relatively small number of apps. I’ve tried many, but only actively and consistently used a few.
![[Notetaking app history.jpeg]]
When I made my switch to Obsidian more than a year ago, I did so reluctantly. I loved so much about Obsidian - the plugins, the complete file ownership, the million ways it could be customized, the community - but the UI left a lot to be desired, especially on mobile. I was using Craft at the time and Obsidian lacked the polish and mobile-friendliness of Craft. I was also concerned Obsidian would take me down a rabbit hole of too much tinkering and not enough working.
## So.....how did it turn out?
My initial foray into Obsidian Land was definitely a time suck. Plugins, home pages, themes! It was too exciting for me to resist. There were the necessities to set up (syncing and some basic plugins), but also so many other things to explore.
I also spent a lot of time making Obsidian work for me on mobile. It’s important for me to have my full note taking experience available on my iPhone, as there are times when a good amount of my work is done on my mobile device. This included figuring out a way to save and edit CSS snippets.
But once I got over my initial excitement and got everything figured out, I stopped (most of) the tinkering and settled into using the app. And more than a year later it continues to be the best approach I've found to note taking and writing.
## Some Lessons Learned
- **Limit plugins.** I let myself go wild for awhile but eventually had to scale back to just the ones I actually used on a regular basis. I learned two really important lessons. First, periodically go through plugins and delete the ones NOT being used. It’s easy to collect and forget plugins, and plugins can sometimes be the source of issues in Obsidian, particularly if they are not regularly updated. Second, limit plugins on mobile. The mobile app is fantastic, but definitely a bit more finicky, and not all plugins are truly optimized for mobile. I ran into a few bugs and glitches on mobile and each one was due to a plugin I didn’t actually need. If you use Obsidian Sync, you can set which plugins you want active on which devices.
- **Supplement with other apps!** One of the biggest reasons I was drawn to Obsidian was that the local, Markdown file storage on my device meant my files could be accessed by other apps. While this hasn’t been perfect (apps aren’t always able to access Obsidian’s files in exactly the same way as Obsidian), I have found a couple of apps that work really well for editing my Obsidian vault and are a bit more mobile friendly. [Taio]((https://taio.app/)) is a great text editing app that can access local files and edit them in a much more mobile-friendly environment. [Working Copy](https://workingcopy.app/) is a Git client, but is great for accessing hidden systems folders within Obsidian that are not available within the iOS folders. I primarily use Working Copy for editing and saving CSS snippets.
- **Develop your own structure.** There are so many videos out there showing elaborate vault setups. They are great for ideas, but my recommendation is don’t try to copy what others are doing. Not only are these setups often extremely elaborate and time consuming, but they were developed with someone else’s needs in mind. Just start taking notes and saving and linking information. Use tags and back links liberally and soon a structure within your vault will emerge. You will be able to figure out whether having a home page makes sense or whether daily notes are helpful in your workflow. Obsidian’s beauty is in its flexibility; it can be as simple or complex as you need it to be.
- **Don't make Obsidian your everything app.** I see so many people on YouTube trying to do everything in Obsidian. While it's tempting to have an everything app, reality is that most apps (including Obsidian) are not good at performing every function. Managing tasks in Obsidian is possible, but there's a lot of friction. Some notes are better suited for Apple Notes or a lighter, faster note-taking app.