I’ve been using obsidian for almost a year and while it has a very solid user experience for text-only notes I believe there is a wide margin of improvement regarding attachments, especially images, which in several cases are a significant role in the note-taking and learning experience.
The issues I encountered
I’m approaching my learning journey with the concept of atomic notes and for most of the concepts I tend to include at least a photo, diagram, plot, or any other type of image that help to explain the argument better and add value to the content of the note - although I’ve to admit it’s not rare that I include images or attachment that are not so valuable, but I guess better to have them than regret not having put them.
After the first year of university, in which I wrote 1500 notes, I accumulated more than 2300 attachments, which are all uploaded to my Imgur account thanks to the Imgur plugin.
Even though I somewhat liked that solution, in the last few months I started to see the drawback and the lack of Obisidian regarding attachment management.
First of all, in line with the Obsidian Total control, Local files principle, Imgur - or any other hosting service, except for self-hosted ones - is a security, privacy, and reliability source of concern. From one day to the other you could lose all the files, or someone else could potentially access your image library. Also, the service you’re based on could be down for a server issue, maintenance, or for some other reason, causing you to not be able to upload o view the images. And lastly, you are tied to always having an internet connection, both to read and to write a note.
With cloud-based solutions there are also other issues, for example, it’s complex, often impossible, to search and retrieve an old image to reuse in a note (or in some other context outside Obsidian). You end up, as a consequence, with multiple copies of the same resource in your hosting account, which makes the search for other photos even more tedious.
On the other side, the Imgur plugin (or any other solutions to host the images) makes it very easy to just paste a pic or a gif and just keep writing the note. You don’t have to worry about where to put the file, how you name it, or how much space it occupies. At the end of the day, you end up with a remarkably small size vault that you can easily backup on GitHub, dropbox, drive or send to others.
I would really like to move my image library from Imgur directly inside the vault (or even externally with a symbolic link) and manage all the binary files (embedded in and related to the notes) in the same environment, but as of now, I feel like the attachments manager of Obsidian is inadequate for more than some tens of files.
Some proposed implementations
- Add some basic built-in image edit capabilities directly in Obsidian, such as resize, rotate, and compression (for example as in the Paste image png to jpg plugin).
- Add a popup to rename the attachment immediately after it’s pasted, such as the Paste rename plugin, to facilitate an ordered and well-maintained archive.
- OCR for PDFs and photos.
- Auto-recognition of duplicated/already present files, based on the content of the file, related FR: Pasting same image twice should not duplicate the image but paste the same link. Also relevant to reduce the cluttering of the attachments: CTRL+z a newly pasted image should delete the link AND the image from Obsidian.
- Take advantage of the default tag system of Windows and macOS, so you could search by tags also in the default file manager of the OS (I don’t know if there is something similar also on Linux).
Alternatively, tags can be added to the metadata (see next point).
- Add support to extended metadata, for example as in the Binary file manager plugin. See also Attachment metadata for advanced searching.
- Option to bind the attachment to the note, see Automatic image and attachment management.
- Add an image/attachments gallery where you can easily add tags, rename the files, search by filename, file type, and tags, and drag and drop the file in a note. For example as in eagle.cool, related FR: Hope enhance Image/GIF/Audio/Video features in Obsidian.
I understand that almost all the solutions I proposed are the base function of a digital assets manager (DAM), and most of the attachment issues that I encountered are potentially solvable with a good DAM. However, I’m struggling to find a decent DAM that works well with Obsidian and that is based on plane folders.
I also acknowledge that some proposed solutions are already somewhat accomplished by some community plugins, nevertheless, some do not work and/or are not more updated, and generally speaking, I believe that an integrated solution directly in the Obsidian core, for such an important aspect, should be preferable.
I think that Obsidian by integrating some of the functionality of a digital assets manager could radically improve the current (in my opinion) poor experience for attachment-heavy notes and vaults.