Beginner of Beginners

Hi, I’m only beginning to discover the Obsidian and Roam Research type of tools. Can I check, right at the start of launching the program, what is the difference between “Open folder as vault” vs. “Create new vault”? Thanks guys

My attempt to explain the difference:

  • Open folder as vault
    Choose this option if you already have a folder containing your notes in .md format, so that you can “import” your existing work into Obsidian.
  • Create new vault
    Choose this option if you don’t already have a folder of markdown notes, so that you can start from scratch.

Of course, you can always choose “Create new vault” when you open the program for the first time, and later on manually copy & paste markdown files into the vault folder.


The answer above is very good. I would just add that Obsidian doesn’t “import” anything. It works directly off of the local files on your device. It does add some configuration files in the vault, but that’s it.

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Just want to add a basic idea to the above advice: don’t be afraid to experiment. Obsidian is wonderfully forgiving. After all, it’s not as if there’s a relational database or other “big” tech behind it. That’s part of the beauty of it–it’s" just" plain text files and your OS folders.

It’s almost unfortunate that they chose the term “vault”. That makes it sound as if there is something complicated and highly technical going on, like encryption.

Right after downloading the app I jumped in and made some folders, copied in some text and image files, then also made some vaults, then played around. And fell in love.

This is the way software should be for the user. Simple, elegant, fun. Yet as effective as you want to make it, depending on the effort you put in.

But you can always go with something like DevonThink, and its large manuals :wink:


Agree absolutely! If the vault was just a folder, it’d be far less scary for the newbies.


But it reinforces the completely contained nature of vaults. No making links, or tags etc between them. Folders gives the impression that you should be able to.


Thanks xurc! I do not have a folder of markdown notes, so I guess Create New Vault it is!

But, what are actually markdown notes…? Geez, I’m sorry for these really basic questions

Thanks for explaining that Obsidian is “forgiving”!

I’ll try my best to offer a concise explanation:

Markdown is a markup language whose key goal is human readability and ease of use, e.g. using *asterisks* for italics, so that users can focus on the content rather than the styling.

When you write a document using Markdown, it is stored in a plain text file with a .md extension. Those files are what I was referring to when I said “markdown notes”.


Many thanks!