Alternative solution to nesting synced vaults & sharing content across separate vaults

I got to this solution by combining suggestions from other threads, I’m just doing a success story and how-to post.

:fast_forward: TLDR: multiple config folders, shared vault. Bonus: different settings for desktop/mobile too.

  • Under the hood there’s only 1 vault. But as far as my user experience on my laptop, I effectively have several different vaults open at the same time that happen to all be synced together.

Trigger warning: Annoying repetition of my new word “pseudo-vault”. :grin:

  • Normally, “vault” refers to both the specific folder of markdown files/notes saved somewhere and the Obsidian UI using those notes (the Obsidian program editor/window for a given collection of notes). In this alt solution, I use the same notes-vault but create new UI-vaults (ie work vs personal). I’m calling the new UI-vault a “pseudo-vault” bc in my mind it’s a fake, “new” notes-vault.
  • Regarding Obsidian-Sync’s vault limit, there is only 1 vault, the shared notes-vault. It’s just happens to be used simultaneously on different devices & different UI-vaults.

:thinking: Why would anyone want nested vaults?

  • Share content between separate vaults. Various odd use-cases for this odd situation.
    • For me, I was duplicating knowledge I’m learning about coding in my work and personal vaults bc I code for work & as a personal hobby, and they were very fractured. I share the personal vault with my spouse to collaborate financial/planning/etc notes we each want to reference in our separate personal notes, so simply merging my work vault into the shared vault would add too many irrelevant notes and note-link-suggestions for his personal notes.

:x: Problems/risks with nesting synced vaults

  • Seems to be that links from parent vault to child vault work great, but links from child vault to parent vault can cause problems when editing/creating/accidentally duplicating notes from child vault.
  • Using different templates and each using the periodic/calendar plugins, we want our own automated templates.
  • Search the forum for “nested synced folders” for more, smarter answers

:man_facepalming: Caveats of this solution

  • Single combined vault = bigger vault size. Obsidian Sync has a size-limit.
  • Unique Obsidian config folders for each device means themes/plugins/settings are unique to each device. I have to duplicate plugin and setting changes.
  • Requires separate folders in the synced vault for each device/pseudo-vault. Each pseudo-vault creates files in different folders so we don’t cause problems with duplicate note names.
    • Shared content (ie: my coding notes) explicitly live in my personal subfolder, so that if I ever change jobs, I can archive my work folder and make a new one for the new job. All the general coding notes stay on the synced vault.
    • Links for shared content should go one direction for future-proofing, ie, use links in my work notes to the actual notes living in my personal.
  • Still not a solution for live collaboration. We never work on the same file at any given time.

:trophy: Result:

  • 1 vault (collection of all notes) that is synced (via Obsidian Sync). It has 3 key subfolders: 1) spouse’s folder. 2) my personal folder. 3) my work folder.
  • 3 pseudo-vaults, one for each of the above.
    • His pseudo-vault also excludes the syncing of my work folder so it doesn’t clutter his experience. (Note: After adding to the Obsidian-Sync exclude list be sure to restart the app.)
    • Each pseudo vault creates new notes in it’s corresponding subfolder.
    • Bonus: we made extra subfolders for explicitly shared content, like home management & finances. We only live collab on these by editing together on one laptop.
  • 3 config folders would work perfectly, but we’re extra and wanted separate mobile/desktop experiences for each pseudo-vault.
    • In actuality, we have 6 config folders. Effectively 2 configs for each pseudo-vault. Many of the same settings, but different themes & plugins. My desktop plugins were making Obsidian on my phone sloooooow.
  • I now keep entirely separate “Work” & “Personal” UI-vaults open at the same time, they share content, but with different colors, plugins, settings, workspaces, calendars, etc according to how I use that pseudo-vault…

:memo: Quick How-To:

  • From your main vault (new or exisisting), create top level folders for each pseudo-vault. ex: Josh Personal, Josh Work & Spouse Personal
  • Find and duplicate existing config folder. It’s a hidden folder named .Obsidian in every vault’s top level folder. Use a file explorer & “show hidden files” to see it.
  • Name copied config folder according to use or “device”. For example, I have .Obsidian.josh-personal & .Obsidian.josh-personal-mobile for my personal pseudo-vaults.
    • I think each config folder has to use the .Obsidian.xxxx format for Obsidian to recognize it properly. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong
  • As of Obsidian v1.5.3, go to SettingsFiles and links look for the Override config folder setting.
    • enter the name of the new config folder. Ex: obsidian.josh-personal
    • Close and restart Obsidian

:tada: You are now using a pseudo-vault, changing settings will not affect any other device using a different config folder.
:exclamation: Change these settings for this pseudo-vault:

  • Files and linksFolder to create new notes in to desired subfolder
  • Files and linksDefault location for new attachments to anything inside that subfolder

:exclamation:Repeat steps for every other pseudo-vault or device desired. After restarting obsidian, Open a new vault synced to the exact same vault you just used, but give it a different name & change the Override config folder to the config folder you made for this pseudo-vault.

  • Copy notes into new psuedo-vault & test that it’s working as expected before deleting old vaults.
  • Optional: Point any plugins and templates to folders inside the new subfolder.
    • ex: I use 2 different calendars and each pseudo-vault manages its own caledar in it’s own subfolder. They have their own templates and I use them very differently.
  • In my case, we use Obsidian-Sync with a shared account.
    • For each new pseudo-vault, Choose Open vault from Obsidian Sync → connect to the initial vault used, create a new Vault name for this pseudo-vault.
    • Should basically be the same with any other instant-syncing service.

:exclamation::exclamation::exclamation: REPEATED WARNING: Never edit the same file from different pseudo-vaults simultaneously!! Or you’re living on the edge and risking data loss. You do you.