I’ve switched from Evernote to Obsidian because I like the idea of building a knowledge base on top of folders and Markdown files. Here are some tips to help you get started if you’re new to Obsidian.
- Daily Notes / Fleeting Notes
- Basic Folders Structure
- Map and Remember Essential Shortcuts
- Personalize with Theme
- Obsidian Graph View
- Essential Plugins
Daily Notes / Fleeting Notes
Enable Daily Notes from the core plugins, so it creates a new note whenever you open Obsidian. Some people also refer to daily notes as fleeting notes.
Set the default new note location inside the Fleeting folder to prevent it from cluttering the top directory.
Fleeting note is a scratchpad that lets you capture the ideas and information that resonates with you throughout the day.
There is no structure. There is no editing. There is no filter. You capture your best and worst ideas in this note. You will schedule a time to organize these ideas later.
Basic Folders Structure
Now you have an outlet to capture your ideas with fleeting notes. You need to organize them every day or once a week. It’s your choice. Find what works for you.
Keep the directory structures as simple as possible if you’re new to building a knowledge base. I recommend creating these folders:
- Fleeting for fleeting notes.
- Grow for notes you create by expanding the ideas you captured from fleeting notes.
- Resources for any information that you wish to keep for references.
It’s a simplified version of CODE (Collect, Organize, Distill, Express) concept from Building a Second Brain by Tiago Forte. The structure above allows you to start capturing notes without feeling overwhelmed by the ideas of organizing them.
Map and Remember Essential Shortcuts
You should memorize some shortcuts when you first start using Obsidian. Map them under Hotkeys options if they’re not available.
- Command-Shift-P to open the command palette.
- Command-O to open a file in the existing pane.
- Command-Shift-F to search in all files.
- Command-G to toggle the graph.
- Command-R to toggle reading view.
- Command-Shift-M to move the file to another folder.
- Command-Option-Arrow to navigate note history. You can remap it to Command-Shift-Bracket to match browser shortcuts.
Map the following shortcut so you can start highlighting notes.
- Command-L to highlight notes.
You can learn more about formatting your notes from the official guide.
Personalize with Theme
Obsidian comes up with many beautiful community themes. Browse the collection and choose the one that showcases your personality.
Obsidian Graph View
Graph View is useless initially if you’re new to building a knowledge base with Obsidian. It becomes more valuable as you continue making notes’ connections through WikiLinks and tags. It takes time to see the benefit of Graph View. Pick one note-taking method to build these connections — I personally use Zettelkasten Method.
There are two types of plugins. Core plugins are available in Obsidian by default. Community plugins are built by the community. You need to install them before you can use them. I don’t recommend adding too many community plugins because it may slow down Obsidian.
Here are some core plugins you should enable.
- Daily notes — Create and open today’s daily note.
- Tag pane — Display your tags and their number of occurrences.
- Backlinks — Show links from other files to this file.
You can click Browse from the community plugins options page to install community plugins. Here are some community plugins that you should consider installing.
- Typewriter Scroll — It keeps the cursor centered in the editor view.
- Dynamic Table of Contents — Generates Table of Contents based on the document’s headings. I use this in the beginning when I capture long-form for notes.