Add ability to use Obsidian as a markdown editor on files outside vault

I think even without plugins, the Obsidian editor is still just as good / better than most other markdown editors out there (as people have already said).

But to your point, it seems like this feature goes in tandem with another suggested feature: global settings. That way all of your most used plugins could still be accessible by the Obsidian markdown editor without being tethered to a specific vault


Tangent Notes, which has an architecture similar to Obsidian’s vaults can open files directly from the file explorer. If the file is in a vault, it opens that; if it isn’t, then it makes the folder a new vault. I’ve switched to opening nearly everything from the file explorer except when I’m working within a folder. Works even at the top of my nested system as I just target a file at the top. Can’t see why this couldn’t be possible in Obsidian.


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I would like to add my vote to this feature request. Don’t be too modest, Obsidian developers, your product is a uniquely excellent Markdown editor (in addition to everything else it is) which ought to be available for all Markdown files on the user’s system.

The responses seem to indicate this feature is not on the roadmap. Obviously that’s up to the developers, but I must say the arguments are puzzling:

True, but that formatting assistance is excellent, and that matters a lot e.g. when editing a table.

Even if it’s not a Markdown editor, it has a very good Markdown editor built in. The request is that this editor be available for system-wide use.

True, but Obsidian understands most varieties and can edit those files.

That sounds strange: many apps that open and save files everywhere on Windows, MacOS, Linux, seem to be developed by lone volunteers after reading a bit of documentation. Macdown was written by a single guy. And the brilliant team behind Obsidian would not be able to figure out how to do it?

Most users find it cumbersome to edit one filetype with two programs – be it editing HTML with WebStorm and BBEdit, or Excel with both Excel and LibreOffice, or Markdown with Obsidian and another editor. You get used to an interface with its particular buttons, shortcut keys, extensions and so on. I really hope this functionality can be added.


In iPadOS Files, when clicking Open on a .md file, Obsidian opens - but it does not open with the note.

This is despite the note existing within the Obsidian vault.


[x] iOS
[ ] Android

Obsidian Mobile version: v1.4.1

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I see Obsidian does not open Markdown files via iOS Files

@WhiteNoise says:

“This is not a bug. We don’t support it.”

That’s a shame. I think it would be useful.

I am contemplating migrating to Markdown and plain folders and files.

Of note:

  • “Share” to Obsidian opens a prompt to import the file to the vault.
  • Share to Taio opens a Markdown file in Taio.
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Tthe unit of work of Obsidian is not a markdown file but a vault.
Obsidian manages your vault, parses all the files, builds a graph, makes sure the links are consistent and it is hardwired around this concept.

We could go the route that tangent notes, or vscode, took of implicitly creating a whole vault in the directory of the file that is being opened, but I am not sure that’s something all users want when they just need to edit a file.
Another complication is the need to recursively scan the directories backwards to find if the file belongs to vault whose root directory is above the file being opened.

Thank you for this and for your upvote. I have iA Writer, Typora, Zettlr, and (with markdown extensions and themes) VS Code all installed on my laptop, and every one of them has annoyances and inadequacies Obsidian doesn’t have even when judged strictly as a text editor. It’s not as if I haven’t been trying to find another markdown editor for files outside my vault.

I am not sure that’s something all users want

If Obsidian couldn’t include a feature unless all users want it, a lot of existing features would have to come out and a lot of incredibly useful new ones couldn’t be added. (Just imagine the comments in the Linux thread on the Discord if Vim support got removed because not all users want it.) :wink:

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I use Tangent Notes and I value this feature. But it’s not as simple as you imply. It’s not that only some users might want it but that many users might strongly dislike its impact if it were there. Vaults appearing without being added deliberately; .obsidian files being spread right through the file system; slow performance if it hits a particularly large folder.

As WN says, Obsidian is a vault manager, and many (probably most) users are very careful in how they manage their vaults. This approach would make that harder.

Nit a real objection. Obsidian could create / have a temporary vault to support this. It gets instantiated/used when you open a file outside the vault and closed/cleaned later. Kind of like the sandbox vault.

Further no one has to open in to make Obsidian their default markdown editor.

This is an incredibly important feature and not having it is a total pain.


That would mean default settings, default theme and no plugins. There will be users who hit delays as Obsidian tries to make a massive folder a vault, and a new cleaning process to be added.

The point is that thinking about how to do this is distinctly non-trivial and that the outcomes may be quite different from the ideas being requested. Some of the posts in the thread envisage the editor being separated from vault management and being triggered independently.

My thinking is that you wouldn’t make folders outside Obsidian’s real vaults into temporary vaults or anything like that. I agree with you that many users would find that obtrusive, and that it would involve needless import/scanning of many files that have nothing to do with the task of opening one file.

My request is that the module/portion/part/framework of Obsidian that is the Markdown editor be freed to open files outside all the vaults, and that it can be made the default app for .md files. UI settings and extensions could be those of the ‘default’ (or the ‘active’) vault.

Understandably this is not on the agenda of the developers, as they are developing a knowledge-management app based on vaults. On the other hand, those developers who are mainly focusing on the Markdown-editor part of the work might have enough pride in the already-impressive result that they’d be happy with it assuming a greater role on users’ systems.


One last remark – as a workaround, I wrote a script for the Mac. It ensures that all Markdown files are opened in Obsidian. Works by creating symlinks in the vault.

But I’m hoping this hack will prove to be temporary.


I will try this later, but it looks very promising! Thanks for that!

I really hope the devs see this.

“Obsidian: Your PKM AND MARDKOWN-EDITOR!” :smiley:

My request is that the module/portion/part/framework of Obsidian that is the Markdown editor be freed to open files outside all the vaults, and that it can be made the default app for .md files. UI settings and extensions could be those of the ‘default’ (or the ‘active’) vault.

This exactly. :100:

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