Default Location for new attachments setting not saving "In subfolder under current folder"

The File and links setting item “Default location for new attachments” doesn’t save when you set it to “In subfolder under current folder” when you don’t change the “Folder name” item that appears below it. It instead changes it to “Same folder as current file”

There was an old topic that mentioned this with someone replying “it works fine for me” but it didn’t have any repro steps so it just got ignored.

Steps to reproduce

  1. Open the settings. Navigate to File and links
  2. Open the Default location for new attachments dropdown and change it from any other setting to “In subfolder under current folder”.
  3. Leave the “Folder name” item that appears below it blank.
  4. Click out of the settings panel
  5. BUG: Open the settings and check the Default location for new attachments. It’s now set to “Same folder as current file”

Did you follow the troubleshooting guide? [Y/N]

Did you try the above steps in the sandbox vault (or just any vault started in restricted mode, no snippets and default theme)?
yes

Expected result

When I change it to “In subfolder under current folder”, and the folder name says “attachments”, even if it’s grayed out, I expect it to use the subfolder name “attachments”, and save the setting. Not change it to something else.

Actual result

If you leave the Folder name to its default value (the text field says “attachments” in gray), then the setting incorrectly changes to “Same folder as current file”

Problems

  1. If you’re supposed to be required to fill out the “Folder name”, it should be clear that not changing it/“leaving it blank” is invalid. Maybe make it turn red until it’s valid. Show an error. Don’t change the setting without telling the user.
  2. If it’s not required because there’s a default value (as the setting currently suggests because it shows “attachments” when you leave it blank.) then it should use the “attachments” folder name by default. But it currently doesn’t.
  3. It’s wasn’t particularly clear that a new item appeared after it because the dropdown obscures (and takes the attention of the user) from the item below.

Environment

SYSTEM INFO:
Obsidian version: v1.6.5
Installer version: v1.5.8
Operating system: Windows 10 Pro 10.0.19045
Login status: not logged in
Insider build toggle: off
Live preview: on
Base theme: adapt to system
Community theme: none
Snippets enabled: 0
Restricted mode: on

RECOMMENDATIONS:
none

This isn’t an actual bug, but I’m filing it as one because of how misleading it is.

Summary

The Ghost Text for various settings looks verryyyy similar to real text and makes it appear as if the field is already filled out. This can result in a user thinking the field is already set and closing out the settings. Since there’s no save button on the settings, it will revert back to the previously set value.
ObsidianMisleadingGhostText

Context

For weeks, I attempted to change the Default location for new attachments setting from Same folder as current file to In subfolder under current folder. When I change this setting, a new Subfolder name setting appear that contains the value attachments as ghost text. This ghost text appears extremely similar to real text, and I mistakenly thought the field was already filled in. Therefore, I would close the settings thinking it would save, only to later find out that the setting did not save and had reverted back to the previous value. I have just discovered that it’s because the attachments text was actually just ghost text that needed to be filled in in order to save the setting.

This problem could be a a result of the theme I’m using (Obsidian Nord) - I have not checked to see if other themes handle this better. However, I do think that the Ghost Text is serving the opposite of its intended purpose. If its purpose is to help the user, it has done the opposite by making it appear like its filled out.

Proposed solution

Since there is no save button for settings, users won’t be sure of whether their setting changes actually registered. Therefore, it needs to be immediately apparent that information is needed from the user for the operation to work. There are a few diff solutions for this:

  1. Remove the ghost text so it is more clear that the field needs to be filled in
    • Maybe surface the example message in the question prompt or beneath the answer box
  2. Have the “attachments” ghost text (or the other ghost text examples) be the default value if a user fails to set it
  3. Give a red error highlight on the input box until it is filled in so that it is incredibly clear that it needs to be completed
1 Like

Are you using the default theme there?

In the default theme, it looks like this for me (without entering a location myself):

This seems a theme issue.

2 Likes

ah that makes sense - appreciate the follow-up. I do still think that the way settings are handled here invites issues like this one to arise. Adjusting how unfilled fields in settings are handled could prevent potential confusion for users (especially issues that can vary across themes). Something to consider for UX i suppose

The ghost text in Obsidian settings can be misleading by making users think field are already filled. To improve this use options like removing ghost text or providing clearer prompts.

1 Like

thanks