Canvas — Drawing and Pencil or Pen support

Correct. Why would including handwriting prevent obsidian from being a “sense-making” tool? If anything it would add to it

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No one said that. The point of that response is that Canvas is not considered a drawing tool. It never has been. Obsidian is a Markdown text tool.

It’s a bit like if you marched into a dentist’s office, and became upset because they don’t also sell eyeglasses. It’s all part of the face isn’t it? Does that mean the dentist is against clear vision? Of course not. Does that mean there will never be an optometrist in the same office suite? Also of course not.

That’s very true. But it would be a fundamental change to Obsidian and the dev team’s focus. It’s not just something you can tack on top. It would be an entirely different domain of design, user experience, storage format, link structure, OCR search, debugging, hardware support, etc.

It’s extremely easy for you to type the phrase, “include handwriting”.

As you said, you already use other writing tools because they are “smoother” than Excalidraw’s handwriting experience. For years Excalidraw didn’t even have pressure sensitivity. (I’m not sure if it does yet, I saw some chat about it somewhere. Even if it doesn’t, part of their success is based on their tight focus and simplicity of tools.) But it seems you are imagining that the Obsidian devs (whose focus is on Markdown notes) can just put on a pot of coffee and some inspiring montage music, and magically have an expressive, high-quality, bug-free, hand-writing brush-engine and instantly be better than Excalidraw; a company that has been focused on drawing for years? Or to be on par with OneNote; an enterprise team with (it sounds like) 126 people and $26.6M revenue a year?

Maybe they can! The dev team is amazing. But your argument, “It’s a bad decision if they don’t do it” is what doesn’t seem realistic to me… or very kind.

Ok. That’s the end of my rant. I’ll be eating my hat if they do suddenly release this feature. :slight_smile:


If the CEO states that he wants canvas to be a sense-making tool as a counter to why handwriting isn’t being considered for canvas, I’m pretty sure that means that they think handwriting isn’t good for sense-making. Also, if another markdown-based note-taking app can include handwriting without any issue (according to the developers), then I don’t see why Obsidian can’t do the same. In fact, even OneNote can include both markdown and handwriting (just have to add some extensions).

I’m not alone in feeling like Obsidian would be better with a handwriting tool (just look at this thread). Hence why I think it would be a mistake to not include handwriting because as soon as another app comes along that includes handwriting and has similar features as Obsidian, lots of people would leave Obsidian or at least not use it as their main note-taking app.

For me, Obsidian feels like it was written by software engineers for software engineers. A text-based note-taking app isn’t the best for free-form thinking, IMO, especially if you’re in the fields of physics, engineering, etc. Handwriting will always be better at freeform thinking because you can express your thoughts exactly as you want without any interruption in thought (I don’t need to add a codeblock to write a diagram for what I’m thinking).

I don’t feel that I’m being harsh/mean either, just honest.


True. We all really want handwriting and drawing–it would be awesome–but we also have to remember that something on par with larger companies isn’t realistic.

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I don’t.
And I do use handwriting and drawing at times - I have Samsung Note phones and tablets and a Surface just for that. But don’t see the need in Obsidian.

I think that depends on how often you use diagrams. For me, typing is much better for freeform thinking than handwriting; and that’s before any extra layer of OCR or interpretation.


I am currently using Goodnotes, Marginnote to keep my writing notes, if canvas could have pen support it will kill other note apps for sure.


I’m doing the same thing, except I’m using Notability. I know Logseq allows you to use handwriting on their canvas, but it’s not the best at the moment (still some bugs to remove and features to add). It’s really nice though: you can easily switch from handwriting to text. It’s just unfortunate for me that Logseq is an outliner, otherwise I would switch

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A picture is worth a thousand words. This will always be the case

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I’m not sure how typing (a digital input/output form of expression) can be better than handwriting, which is a continuous form of expression. I can’t draw a picture with typing; however, I can draw a picture and describe it at the same time with handwriting

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Well, it is for me. Most competent typists will type much faster than they can write by hand - unless they know shorthand.
And I suspect that typing isn’t digital in the way you mean. Once someone is competent, the brain sends instructions to fingers by words rather than letters - that’s why people have problems with always mistyping some words in the same way.
And some people don’t have continuous handwriting. Letters are written separately, with some written as little groups.

As I said, if you draw diagrams etc, then handwriting is better.

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You replied to the same post in the same thread three times over 21 days with no other conversation happening in the thread. This is a friendly reminder that campaigning in this fashion is against the community code of conduct. Thanks!

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Nope–canvas is doing something almost completely unique–it’s brilliant, bridging the gap between mind mapping and outlining. While it wouldn’t hurt me to have it draw as well, that’s not what it is for. And, as people point out: there are tons of ways to do this or similar in Obs or other programs.

The big danger for obsidian will be getting to be the next Scrivener–a tool that does EVERYTHING and hence, gets waaay too intimidating for a new user and actually distracts from the productivity things it does excellently, which is knowledge management/2nd brain…

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I completely disagree. Canvas is just linear, text note-taking on a canvas. It handles PDFs and images awkwardly. It’s really nothing compared to OneNote’s canvas. OneNote did this already and in a much better way, so this isn’t really new ground.

Also, obsidian is already being pushed to do everything with all of the plugins that it has, so that argument of it being the next Scrivener is kind of null and void.

I think once it starts to be more like a note-taking and making application that handles all kinds of notes (not all notes are text, not all notes are handwritten, and not all notes are audio) then it will fulfill its goal of being a complete note-taking/“second-brain/PKM” (whatever that really means) application. Limiting it to just discretized ideas in the form of text is very limiting.

Finally, I’m not sure how handwriting would distract or make it harder for new users, since handwriting is one of the most natural forms of taking notes/recording ideas. So, if anything, it would make it easier for users to get used to Obsidian and want to use it. I think the number of plugins that it has or rather its “Lego-like” structure is what’s intimidating—adding handwriting would do nothing to add to this already relatively complex note-taking application.

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I understand where you’re coming from. Although I am not sure, I believe it would be possible, since canvas is open for plugin development, to extend Obsidian so that something like a simplified Excalidraw could be used without having to first open the note. The thing is, of course if the developers were going to undertake even the “simplest” of drawing plugins within canvas, they would want to make it really smooth, and having features like zooming, scaling, undoing, erasing, etc., which all adds a lot of complexity. So I totally understand why it doesn’t exist yet. I just hope there is a pathway. It would be so useful!

I just wonder if there are others who feel that any implementation that allowed a quick sketch to be accomplished within a canvas card, would be invaluable. This would be especially true if you could set up a shortcut to open that sketch in your paint program of choice once it is the right time. Being able to create a mindmap of quick sketches in combination with quick cards including links, embeds, etc. would just make Obsidian feel even more so to be the center of my creative universe that it has already proved to be.

Of course, when people want a feature, they will try to say this is “all” we need, but I totally understand the philosophy of trying to do what you do right. But, this just feels like a time when many people actually would be very satisfied with a very primitive drawing implementation. It would mean so much to me to be able to get a few scribbles down to indicate something that would take many words to describe. And the friction of using existing non native in canvas solutions just feels not worth it for the type of instances I am referring to.



An absolutely +1 to this FR.
Nowdays the only way to achieve this in Canvas is through the creation of an Excalidraw file, however i think this adds a bit of extra friction to your thought process rather than doing it directly on a canvas.
Furthermore i wish not having to use more excalidraw in obsidian because the team (not Zsolt) hasn’t made any progress on the mobile version, i mean i think the app itself is very unergonomic (the buttons distribution) making it hard to sketch on large smartphones, the menus are hard to access, etc. Compared to that making an Obsidian canvas on any mobile is a breeze, so if this implementation comes, I hope this also be the case when sketching.
I like the combination logseq has achieved with its whiteboards and i wish obsidian could reach to a similar concept.

This would be the game changer of the game changer of the g…x100


An absolute must, requested here and in many other FR. Hopefully it gets implemented one day.


Yep, its will be a killer feature for me, cause I want to switch fully to Obsidian, but for now Apple Notes and availability of Apple Pencil give me more space for using Canvas even with new awesome feature from Obsidian


I’d like to know the current status of this request. Will this request be put onto the roadmap or will it not be implemented?

You should not expect this information. Check the roadmap. That’s the info available to you. The devs don’t give personalized feedback to the thousands of requests.

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Another wholehearted vote for this feature here. It’s the only thing holding me back from finally switching from OneNote to Obsidian.

I have a Surface Pro tablet that I use for hand-writing notes. My use-cases are mostly:

  • I take notes by hand during calls or meetings that I later selectively transcribe to issues/todos. These could be called fleeting notes, or quick jot-down notes.

  • For some in-person meetings, I sometimes have a list of talking points/questions that I type beforehand (by keyboard) in a note. In the meeting, I then use my pen to write next to/over/under the typed text, to highlight or strike through, etc. This is much less friction, and much more personal, than typing away furiously as my opposite is speaking. If you’ve ever been in a meeting where your opposite did that, you know what I mean. It’s terrible.

  • Conversely, for video calls, I actually prefer typing over handwriting, because it allows me to keep my eyes closer to the camera vs. looking down. You see, I’m not a die-hard handwriting cult evangelist. I can differentiate.

  • I sketch ideas visually in a note, like a planned development feature’s architecture, data flows, layers, etc. - sometimes in the margins of an existing, typed note.

  • I take reading notes about some books I read. Not for everything, but just some books I may want to retain better, so I handwrite notes or a quick summary/learnings about it.

  • I’ve recently decided to learn a new language, so I got myself a teacher whom I meet once a week for an hour by video call. I take notes on my tablet during class.

  • Where the stylus really shines is when I study outside of class. The majority of students, no matter their field of study, will probably confirm this. In my case, in studying a language, I create lots of notes on grammar. I use color to highlight important stuff and key conjugations. I create connections with arrows, swirly brackets, annotations, highlights, callouts, references to books/pages, and more. I visualize things naturally, with a pen, just like in school/uni, instead of trying to squeeze things into a constrained format. Instead of thinking “how am I gonna do this”, I just do it.

These are just my personal use-cases, and I’m a sample size of one. But it’s been shown over and over - in scientific studies and not just by random armchair enthusiasts on the internet - that handwriting is much better for memorization than typing.

It’s also been shown that for brain activation, handwriting on actual paper beats handwriting on a screen with menus and a UI and other cognitive attention-seekers, but I’m not totally backwards and do appreciate the benefits of digital notes, handwritten or typed – so here I am, finding a compromise, trying to make the best of the two worlds I have access to.

OneNote recognized this a long time ago and added it, so did others. Unfortunately, Obsidian’s CEO doesn’t seem to recognize the need, let alone the connection.

I do hope Stephan and the team at Obsidian, who make such an innovative and amazing application, and who seem like such a breath of fresh air, don’t categorically discount handwriting as out of scope.

Call me an optimist, but I know things and convictions and positions can change, sometimes rapidly - especially in software development. So I see a glimmer of hope yet that Obsidian will come around and start to seriously consider adding pen support.

I just hope it’ll be sooner rather than late.