All my tabs vanished!

After going back and forth between vaults and force-quitting several times while trying to file a bug report, all of my tabs reset to “New tab”—save one! See the screenshot below.

Why did this happen? Did I do something wrong? Is it a bug? I don’t suppose there’s any way to recover them. Very frustrating! Tabs aren’t very useful if they’re only semi-persistent.

This is on iPadOS 17.2.

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All your tabs should correspond to files in your vault. Are they there, or have they been deleted? I suppose they are there, only they have been renamed or something. Do you have vault synchronization turned on?

I hadn’t even considered that the files might be gone. That really would be a disaster. No, they seem to be there, at least as far as I can tell.

I’m synchronizing through iCloud.

iCloud is known to offload files even when your device is not low on storage. iCloud could have caused this. Re-download your vault to your device (make sure it is downloaded) and then reopen Obsidian.

No, that didn’t fix it. I’ve certainly never noticed iCloud causing this issue before, and my notes often offload.

You may have to reopen the tabs. Not sure what file the tabs are stored in but I don’t think you can see it in the files app anyway. I believe it is in the .obsidian folder and hidden folders (one that start with a period) are not visible in the files app.

Here’s the list of files in that folder:

For desktop Obsidian, the workspace.json file is where your open tabs, sidebar state, ribbon item order, and last opened items are saved. It’s odd there’s a workspace file in there with no .json extension; I don’t recall seeing that before.

Not specific to this issue, but all the files with numbers in there are where there was a conflict of some sort, and Obsidian went ahead an created a new one. You see that a lot with vaults in iCloud, OneDrive, etc.

Hmm…I think we’re narrowing in on the problem then. Pursuant to creating the bug report linked above, I opened Obsidian on my iPhone, and no tabs were open. That didn’t bother me, as I rarely use Obsidian there. But if the list of tabs is shared among all mobile devices, and opening Obsidian on the iPhone created a new, blank workspace-mobile.json file, then one of those numbered files probably has my tabs in it and renaming it to workspace-mobile.json will probably restore my tabs. Thanks! I’ll try that! And it’s good to know that it’s not Obsidian eating my tabs.

Right, yeah. I should have mentioned it, but I think you got it.

workspace.json is for the desktop saved state and will sync desktop ↔ desktop, and workspace-mobile.json is for mobile devices. Your vanishing tabs may very well be in one of the numbered workspace-mobile.json files.

I do remember that workspace file. I don’t have one now, but maybe it was from earlier versions.

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Oh, good to know. Thanks!

I got stuck on that and forgot Calion’s original post was regarding tabs on mobile Obsidian.

That…didnt work! What’s interesting here is that my original problem wasn’t that my tabs vanished, but that they became blank.

Here’s what one of those old workspace-mobile.json’s looked like:

Only one tab! So that file controls not only the contents of the tabs, but how many tabs are open.

Actually I think it is - maybe. Currently I’m solving synchronization problems of my notes between Android and Windows. And though I haven’t caught the culprit yet, my current opinion is that it is Obsidian.

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Very possible, as the proposed solution did not work.

This was one of the ways how this sync problem manifests itself. Either:

  • The file gets completely empty (zero size)
  • Or the content is replaced with nulls (the size stays the same)
  • Or the file simply stays intact, only its timestamp gets updated, so it cannot be replaced by the changed version.

Fortunately, my sync app creates sync-conflict files when any of these problems occur, so I never lost my data. But if your sync app doesn’t do that, you may lose your data.

See Synchronization conflicts in .obsidian folder for more details.

iCloud is supposed to handle such problems, and in fact does just fine in my experience, but perhaps, as the other issue suggests, Obsidian isn’t working with iCloud properly and is screwing things up.

Losing these tabs isn’t the end of the world, but as I keep tabs open as a reminder of what I’m working on, if this becomes even an occasional occurance, that would be very irritating.

Should a bug report be filed?

IMO, iCloud can avoid most problems if its disk operations are transactional. But iCloud by itself cannot make Obsidian to reload configuration files, if iCloud downloads a new version, hence inconsistencies could occur. But perhaps the Sync plugin can handle that, I don’t have an experience with it.

Yeah, I think that’s what happened, though I don’t understand it. I loaded Obsidian on a mobile device I haven’t used Obsidian on for a while, and, although it’s supposed to download everything in the .obsidian folder before it loads, perhaps it somehow overrwote it.

Perhaps at one point in the past I hit “skip” and didn’t let it download the configuration files, and it created new ones, and somehow they got merged improperly.

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