Entirely lost my vault

Hey y’all, I am not tech savvy and distraught and would appreciate any potential help.

What I’m trying to do

I upgraded from a 2017 Macbook Air to a Macbook Pro two weeks ago, and today went to open my Obsidian and my vault is gone. I have NOTHING, starting completely fresh, hours and days of notes gone.

Things I have tried

I figured this was a simple issue of not being logged into my account, but none of my normal passwords are working with my email, and there appears to be no “forgot my password” button, for starters.

Secondly, I searched all the files in my computer and am currently not finding my vault. However everything else has transferred perfectly to my new computer, so why not Obsidian? Did I never back it up?

I recognize this is probably all my fault and my ignorance in the right steps to prevent this from happening, it just doesn’t make sense that everything else on my computer transferred seamlessly. Any and all help would be SO appreciated!!

Unless you use Obsidian Sync or Obsidian Publish (both paid services), you probably won’t have an account to login to. Obsidian keep all its files and folders local on your computer (your “vault”).

  • Can you remember your vault name or any note titles that you can use the mac Finder to search for? The notes will be .md files, like 2023-09-10.md, etc.

  • Do you use any online services like One Drive or iCloud? Could your vault have been in one of their folders? Sometimes those folders/files are removed from your computer automatically to save space.

  • If you open the Obsidian vault switcher →

Screenshot 2023-09-13 at 5.20.21

Can you see anything in this list that might give you a clue of the path / location of your vault on your computer?

That should get us started.


Can you give some more details about how you transferred your computer? Did you use the built in Apple transfer process to move your whole computer over?

Obsidian doesn’t store your vault in your account (unless you pay for and use Obsidian Sync.) And for your Obsidian account, keep in mind that the account for the app, and the account for this forum are completely separate and unrelated to each other. And any Obsidian Sync remote vaults also have separate passwords.

Do you no longer have access to the old computer?

Otherwise, ariehen already asked all the good questions.

That’s a good question. Did you? A backup would be a copy that you stored somewhere other than your old computer. Online, or on a separate hard drive, or thumb drives, etc. Can you remember anything like that?


Thank you for this response, I was able to find my separated notes in .md format still in my files! (You have SAVED ME!!) If you happen to know, is there a best way to mass transfer these back into Obisidian?
When I open them currently, they appear as code in my web browser.

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Don’t open the notes directly from Finder. I think that is why they open to your web browser.

Instead: Go into Obsidian. Choose “Open Another Vault” button, or “Open folder as vault” in the open dialog.

Then browse to the folder where your notes are.

That should fully restore your vault, assuming your hidden .obsidian folder is still intact, with all your settings. You can display hidden folders by hitting Cmd-Shift-period.

If your settings folder disappeared, your notes should still open up, but you might have to manually set your settings and plugins again.


If you did one of these indicated by rigmarole, your vault should be open and good to go. Out of curiosity, where is it? /Users/mallorie/Documents/VAULT or something like that?

Now is a great time to set up a backup system. You can use Time Machine as it’s built into macOS and automatic, or manually copy your vault to an external drive and rename it 2023-09-14-VAULT (or whatever) once a week or so.

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