A friend is getting started with Obsidian, making the switch from Evernote, and he asked me for recommendations on plugins. Here’s my list:
Command Palette This is the main way I invoke commands in Obsidian. You type a keyboard shortcut (Command-P on my Mac) and a little text popup comes up. You start typing and Obsidian auto-suggests possible commands, until you quickly narrow down to what you’re looking for.
Command Palette is a core plugin. It comes with Obsidian. If you want to use it, just switch it on from the Preference settings in Obsidian. The same is true for all core plugins.
Slash Commands does the same thing as the Command Palette plugin, but you start by typing a slash into the text of your note. I often use this as an alternative to the Command Palette. (Core)
Quick Switcher. A palette for quickly finding files and documents. It’s similar to the Command Palette. The Quick Switcher is my primary way of navigating between Obsidian documents. The keyboard shortcut on Mac for that is Cmd-O. (Core.)
I’m in Obsidian all day when I’m working. Most of the time, I’m writing, but when I’m in Obsidian and not writing, most of the time I’m hitting Cmd-P or / to invoke a command, or Cmd-O to switch between documents.
Daily Note. For writing daily notes. (Core.)
Files. See the files and folders in your vault. (Core.)
Better Word Count. Obsidian comes with its own word counter plugin, but this one can count the words and characters in a text selection.
I see now that Better Word Count has a couple of useful settings I have not explored, like excluding comments from word counts, and counting pages in addition to words.
My work as a writer requires me to write to length, and Better Word Count is how I keep track of that.
Better Word Count is a community plugin. Community plug-ins are made by people in the Obsidian user community. To get Better Word Count, or any Community plugin, go open Obsidian preferences, go to the Community plugins section, and search for the plugin by name.
Pandoc Plugin. Export Markdown documents in a variety of formats. I use it to export documents to the DocX format, for sending to clients. (Community.)
Backlinks. Shows other documents that link to the current document. (Core)
Search. Searches the vault. (Core.)
Outline. Displays an outline of the document you’re working on. (Core.)
Page Preview. Hover over an internal link to view its content. (Core.)
Templates. For creating note templates. (Core.)
Auto Link Title. When you paste in a Web URL, this plugin automatically fetches the title of the page. Works almost all the time. (Community.)
Calendar. Displays a calendar. Useful for navigating between daily notes. (Community.)
Daily Notes Viewer. View your most recent daily notes in a single page. (Community.)
File Tree Alternative. Displays files and folders separately. (Community.)
Minimal Theme Settings. Customizing the look of the minimal theme. Also, Styles. (Community.)
Natural Language Dates. For example, typing @today enters the current date, @yesterday enters yesterday’s date, and so on. (Community.)
Typography. Automatically replace dumb quotes with smart quotes, three hyphens with an em dash, and so on. (Community.)
AidenLx’s Folder Note. Creates a note with the same name as a folder. You can use the folder note as an index to the folder, with notes about what’s in the folder. The folder note can either be inside the folder, or in the parent folder. (Community.)
That’s seven plugins in my “Essential” category, and 13 more in the “Useful” category. This level of complication might be holding Obsidian back from mainstream adoption.
On the other hand, this level of customizability is precisely what appeals to Obsidian’s core user base.
And there’s more:
Trying these out to see if they are useful
Properties. Manages custom metadata you can add to your file: Dates, descriptions, links, whatever you want. Uses YAML formatting, which is just plain text at the top of the file. Obsidian has supported YAML for a while, but previously you had to work with the plain text; Properties puts an easier to use and prettier face on it. (Core, currently available only to people in the Obsidian Catalyst early-access program.)
Tags. I’m experimenting with switching to a very tag-heavy organizational structure for my vault. Previously I used folders. (Core.)
Tag Wranger. Rename, merge, and search tags from the tag pane. You can also create tag pages—pages with the same name as your tag. (Community.)
DevonThink. Helps to pair Obsidian with the very sophisticated Apple-only DevonThink document and information management tool. (Community.)
Very useful to many people, but I’ve never found a need for them
Bookmarks. Saves files and searches as favorites. (Core.)
Workspaces. Save and restore workspaces layouts. Frequently used for displaying multiple notes on one screen. (Core.)
Dataview. Turns your vault of text documents into a database you can query. I lack the technical chops to use this plugin. (Community.)
Templater. A powerful alternative to the Templates core plugin. As with Dataview, this seems to require more technical chops than I have. (Community.)
Canvas and Graph View are core plugins you use to visualize relationships between notes. Graph View generates maps automatically, using the links between notes. Canvases are built manually, by dragging notes and cards on a two-dimensional surface. I am an extremely non-visual thinker, so I do not find these two plugins useful. At least not yet. Maybe one day.