Obsidian and links

A gentle reminder that this forum is in fact provided by L&L precisely so we users (and potential users) can discuss any and all software not written by L&L. Merx is using this forum for its intended purpose.

I don’t need a gentle reminder. Yes, in theory he is, however taking tone/direction of his posts overall…

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I hear you, but he’s not worth it. Let him be miserable without dragging you into it too. Speaking as someone who has let too many people on this forum live rent-free in my head for too many years…


I had a major heart attack less than a week ago and currently am a bit of a ‘Mr Grumpy’. Should let somethings just go.


Both Obsidian and Scrivener are excellent programs. Given Scrivener’s ability to sync to external folders, they are can be used together.

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Indeed they can, and it is a remarkably good pairing of two tools, each with their distinct strengths and very little functional overlap, without pushing either tool into an arena it wasn’t designed for. A very simple way of doing so is to designate an area of your binder for notes with the external folder sync feature, and then opening the entire sync folder as a vault in Obsidian. Put the two programs side by side on the screen, and now you can use it as a “front end” for your notes, which all go straight back into the binder where they can be organised and interlinked with the drafting process in the Draft folder. You get the best of both worlds without the posturing over which is “better”.

For those with one foot (or two) already in the Markdown pool, it’s certainly worth looking into, if you’ve been wanting something a bit more like a “notepad” interface that integrates more deeply with Markdown directly than Scrivener does.

While these two posts focus on integrating with Ulysses and Sublime Text, the underlying concepts from Scrivener’s side are identical to integrating with Obsidian, Visual Studio Code, Vim and hundreds of other file-system based tools:

There are large and critical chunks of how I use Scrivener that would be flat out impossible to bring to iOS, simply because Apple does not allow that kind of software to be published through their locked down store, nor provide any development tools for doing so in the first place. To put it another way: to actually port the full power of the desktop “app” to iOS you’d have to first jailbreak it and install Linux.

So overall this type of argument is not very compelling to me, and secondly I would also question its veracity, since off of the top of my head I can think of a several things Obsidian on desktop can do that iOS wouldn’t allow. We’re talking about one of them in fact.


Thanks very much for your helpful posts on this forum @AmberV (and I think you wrote the manual as well?).
Can you clarify what you mean by designating “an area of your binder for notes with the external folder sync” (emphasis mine)? I have set up external folder sync with my Obsidian vault and set the plain text /md settings but not as far as I’m aware siphoned it off to an area of my binder.
I’m trying to work out how to make Scrivener work with Obsidian, writing only in Markdown in both (which I know you do in Scriv already), so that I any changes in the text will be reflected in my Obs vault but I can use Scrivener’s structuring & outlining features (which is basically the only thing I’m looking at it for atm, namely binder, corkboard, Scrivenings).

Obsidian’s blocks sound a lot like Notion’s. When help on that page says a block can be anything with blank lines before and after it, well … Scrivener can do that too. Any paragraph or set of paragraphs can be made into a document, documents can link to one another, etc.

Yes, have been using Scrivener for years.

No, Scrivener is not currently able to do what Obsidian can.

With Obsidian:

  1. there’s no need to separate blocks out into discrete documents;
  2. blocks can be any part of any file; and
  3. it is possible to view blocks inside other files while working.

Scrivener can’t do any of the above while writing.

Started using Obsidian with a view to it replacing Apple Notes or Bear. It’s replaced both of those, as well as largely or completely replacing Scrivener, Pages, Keynote, Reminders, Day One, Panda, TextEdit, and iA Writer.

And unlike Scrivener, where there is a chasm between what is possible on macOS and iOS, Obsidian offers full functionality across both Apple platforms, as well as Windows and Android. Plus, iCloud sync is incredibly fast and simple. Users don’t even have to close the app or file they are currently working on.

Obsidian has delivered more developments in the last fourteen months than Scrivener has in the last fourteen years, and on platforms that Scrivener hasn’t reached yet. Different company set-ups, of course, and a different programming era / paradigm, but a phenomenal mind-expanding piece of software. Though not for everyone, of course.


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  1. In scrivenings view, separate documents look and act like one document while writing
  2. Not any part … only a piece between two empty lines (a stricter requirement than Scrivener’s)
  3. Splits and quick reference take care of the 3rd feature, I think.

Obsidian blocks

While discussing other software in this forum is fine, regurgitating another application’s marketing materials quickly becomes tedious. That’s what hyperlinks are for.

There are a few ways to narrow down how much of the binder is used for folder sync. The approach I was describing above assumes you want to use an external Markdown-based tool to manage notes, but not the draft itself. So for something as simple as that, you could disable the draft folder checkbox toward the very top, and leave only the checkbox for Sync all other text documents in the project. One could constrain their usage to the Research folder, but as hinted at in the wording of that setting, this would apply to all text outside of the Draft folder itself.

If you want to get more precise than that, than I would suggest the third option below that one: Sync only documents in collection. Given how this works, the approach is more opt-in, in that you would add text documents to the sync collection to make them available externally. The advantage is that your externally managed notes can be all over the place, rather than either in or out of Draft. So this will be useful for those who interleave notes in the Draft itself.

If you simply want everything available in Obsidian, then simply leave both of the main checkboxes ticked, at the top. You would then want to open the main sync folder as your vault, so that both Draft and Notes subfolders are available. Care does need to be taken in that root level text items won’t sync. For Scrivener to pick up new notes you create, they must be in one of these two subfolders. Hence, I would suggest using the Obsidian feature to automatically file new notes into a designated subfolder.

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Think I have messed up somewhere. Should I have a load of RTF files in Obsidian from syncing with Scrivener? Can I safely delete them from Obsidian?

The best setting in Scrivener is to change the sync settings to plain-text, and then modify the extension to ‘.md’. That should work flawlessly with Markdown tools that read directories like this. (You would also want to disable the setting to adds or removes line spacing if your source is Markdown in Scrivener.)

You can make these changes to your sync settings without redoing anything. Just swap out the format type, click sync, and it will replace all of the RTFs with Markdown files, and they should pop up immediately in Obsidian.

Instead of syncing with the original files in Obsidian a notes folder is being created with the Scrivener copies in Obsidian.

Here are my sync settings.

You do have to follow the rules of how Scrivener’s sync folder works. It creates one to two subfolders, “Draft” and “Notes”, within which two different categories of text will appear. The former is self-explanatory (and will be omitted in your settings) and the latter is everything other than in the draft folder. Text added to the root level, alongside the “Notes” folder, will not be seen by sync. If you are only syncing notes, then it may be better to set your vault directory to the Notes folder itself, instead of one level up. Otherwise you’re always going to be working in a subfolder, which is kind of awkward.

Also, given the wording in your message, make sure you are making the sync folder first. I can’t say for sure whether or not things will get messy if you try and set up a sync folder into an existing vault. If that means setting up an empty vault (or at least one that is populated with the initial sync files) and then moving/copying an existing vault’s text files into that location, then that’s going to be the best approach to take I think.

Here’s what I do:

  1. Set up sync in Scrivener. I use no prefix numbers, plain-text, ‘.md’ extension, no paragraph spacing conversion, and the rest is up to what the project needs.
  2. Run an initial sync to create the folder structure and starter files.
  3. Open the folder as a new vault in Obsidian. If the project only needs draft or notes, then open the subfolder as the vault. If I need both then I’ll just have to work in subfolders (that’s not too bad if you set Obsidian’s preference to create new notes within a subfolder rather than root level).
  4. And from here on out it should be straight-forward.
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Ah that was the issue! I was trying to sync to an existing vault. Right when I am back on my desktop folder. I shall delete everything and start again! I have a copy of the project safety stored on my iPad so my data is safe. At least now I know to create the sync folder in Scrivener first!

Hi @StaceyUK, I wondered how you ended up getting on with keeping an Obsidian vault synced with your Scrivener Notes folder?

If it helps to have another view: I have used the ‘sync with external folder’ tool for different projects over the years, syncing both draft and notes in md format. I’ve used various external text editors, and save for the occasional small blip that might have been caused by one or other app, an OS, a ropy sync service, a bad connection, or me, the tool has always worked well.

Being more than a text editor, I had wondered if there would be issues when using Obsidian and Scrivener together, but they both performed perfectly well for my needs.

I stopped using ‘sync with external folder’ between Scrivener and Obsidian after a few months, but would use it again if I ever needed to.

I need to work more with both apps before I give a definitive answer. I would recommend not using internal links from either program because as of now they do not understand each other internal link systems.