[Feature] iOS: Release grip on opening .md files

Current behaviour

We have already seen how, when a user uses iOS Files to open an .md file stored in a sub-folder of “Obsidian”, Obsidian opens - but it does not actually show the file.

You have previously said that, by design, it is not Obsidian’s objective to allow opening of Markdown files but, rather to function for the management of a self-contained vault.

Problem and observation

That is a design choice. However, the app opening and doing nothing is sub-optimal experience - it is a dead end.

While it is eminently possible to “Share” a file to an alternative app, it takes longer.

Further, while the files can be “Shared” with Obsidian, this, again, does not result in them being opened. In this instance, Obsidian pops up with an “Import” suggestion - but the file is already in the vault.

Following experiment, I think iOS behaves as follows…

  • When a file contained in vault sub-folder of “Obsidian” (iCloud Drive) is opened, Obsidian opens - but does not open the file.
  • When I open a copy of that file stored, instead, in Documents, I have seen an alternative Markdown client, Taio, open the file.

Trying to understand

You have previously said: “Obsidian does not set itself as the default markdown reader anywahere.” I am unclear, therefore, how iOS determines which app to use. Perhaps the logic is…

  • For files stored in the app’s own iCloud Drive folder, it will attempt to use the app itself.
  • For others, it may relate to order of priority in the Share sheet?
  • Or perhaps some kind of inference based on usage frequency.

Feature request

Regardless, I think something could be improved…

  • If the file IS under the “Obsidian” folder (ie. It’s part of an Obsidian vault), there might be a reasonable expectation that this should actually open in Obsidian, as this does not break Obsidian’s integrated-vault-management ethos. Could this happen?

  • Any file not under the Obsidian folder should be free to open in another Markdown client.

  • If, for files .md under the “Obsidian” folder, Obsidian has no intention of roadmapping a feature to open them in Obsidian, is there any way it can release its hold on its own files, such that, by default, we can open them in another Markdown client? I’m unclear if this is in Obsidian’s keep to work around.

  • When Obsidian receives a “Shared” .md file, “Import” is not a required prompt for a file that is already in the vault.


Thanks for posting this! I moved it to the Mobile category and added “[Feature]” to the title in accordance with the devs’ preference.

I think when you open a file in an app’s folder, Files opens it in the app instead of the usual default because those files “belong” to the app. If so, Obsidian should open those files.

I suspect there isn’t a way for Obsidian to release its hold on files in its own folder, tho I’d love to be wrong about that since I don’t expect the devs to prioritize making it work in (what seems to be) the expected way.

It would be great if Obsidian recognized when a file shared to it is from its own folder and opens it instead of asking to import it. I imagine it would be relatively easy to implement, too, if iOS provides it with that info (if it doesn’t … le sigh). I proceeded with an import out of curiosity and it creates a numbered duplicate (as it does in other duplicate-name circumstances), which is bad.

Here is another behaviour pattern I just noticed.

  1. If I use iOS Spotlight to search for a Markdown file existing in my Obsidian vault…

… it will open in Taio.

This seems like a way to circumvent the hold that Obsidian has on files within its app folder.

  1. If I open it from Files…

… Obsidian opens (but without truly opening the file) - as described earlier.

3 . The file type description is “iA Writer Markdown Document”. I do not have iA Writer installed. Weird.

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I don’t believe this is doable.