Floating \ Pop-out \ Multiple windows of the same vault

Definitely +1 ~ Does anyone know if this feature request has been added in the roadmap?

@Dor ~ Just wondering: does the “Electron limit” mean floating Windows will not be a possibility in Obsidian? Or, might there be another, different way to eventually provide this built-in functionality?

In the meantime, thanks for explaining your “nested vault” workaround! I look forward to giving it a try.

@Metta, you can find the roadmap in the footer on the main site. Here’s a direct link.

Looks like it’s not on the roadmap yet.

1 Like

In terms of implementation, it looks like spawning the window isn’t the hard part. Electron has had that functionality since at least 2016. I think @Silver was alluding to issues with syncing state between windows?

Issues I can see:

  1. Users could open the same document twice in different windows; expected behavior is (probably) that one mirrors edits made the other without changing its cursor location in the file. Probably could do some IPC to mirror edits between windows.
  2. Multiple instances could save metadata at the same time and clobber each other. Plugins are more likely to hit this issue. Could possibly delegate all metadata calls to the main window via more IPC.
  3. Dragging tabs between windows would be a minor nuisance, but probably isn’t the end of the world.
  4. Obsidian would need to stop redirecting you to the already-opened vault. I think this is a matter of taste; you could argue that this behavior should be kept and a menu/command item would better suit the needs of most users.
  5. Dragging and dropping a tab outside of the window would need to spawn a new window.

It looks like there’s some work needed to tailor current app behavior to match this feature, and the rest boils down to IPC.

Maybe I missed something or got the current state of affairs wrong. Let me know. :smile:

3 Likes

@jcrpaquin ~ Many thanks for your thoughtful and thorough feedback! Although I’m not a coder, I do appreciate having a little more insight into what might be required to provide this (helpful) feature.

Would be delighted to see floating windows eventually make it into the roadmap, if it eventually turns out to be feasible.

FWIW, my frame of reference for floating/synced windows is (primarily) from working with TheBrain.

1 Like

While the ability to tear off panes into their own windows (like Chrome or JetBrains) would be ideal, I’m very happy to find the symlink workaround, it’s working for me now, as the main thing I wanted was to be able to have another window open on a separate monitor.

I can report on Windows, that after experimenting with shortcuts, and file and directory “soft links”, the approach that worked was using mklink /J to create a “directory junction”, which is the directory version of a “hard link” on windows. So for each new window I want, I need an extra uniquely-named junction/link somewhere (I just put them in the same parent directory that contains my vault). Not so bad; definitely better than having to nest it in 4 dirs deep.

I also use multiple monitors, that are different sizes and orientations and positions, so simply stretching the window across them, while better than nothing, is far inferior.

Basically I just wanted an extra window or two for my other monitors, and this workaround gives me the ability to do that, so for now I am happy. (There may be some weirdness or drawbacks to discover later with the shared .obsidian dir/cache, we’ll see.)

Thank you to all :pray::slightly_smiling_face::om::v:

(Update: after using this solution for several months, I haven’t really run into any problems or weirdness. I use Dropbox with and without Cryptomator to store and sync my vaults (one encrypted, one not), and access them from both Windows and Mac OS, as well as the unencrypted one on iOS using Editorial and 1Writer (which have built-in Dropbox support) and occasionally on Android via Markor and Dropsync (less convenient as Dropsync can be slow, but still works fine.)

2 Likes

Hi, I am just passing by. To everyone reading the previous comment. We don’t explicitly support neither nested vaults nor this hack with symbolic links. You are free to do whatever you want, but you are on your own.

1 Like

Just writing to say that this set of features would be really awesome.

Another usecase where a floating window would be useful is when you have another app in full screen (say, a conference in Zoom) and want to take notes in live. With floating windows, you can just put a note in small window in a corner.

1 Like

Related feature request: PIP like Note Float

  • is specifically about the case mentioned by melsophos
1 Like

If you need more than two windows, then What about combining the two approaches, i.e. nesting soft links in vault-like folders like this?:

- OriginalVault
	- .Obsidian
		- config
	- Content
- ViewVault1
	- .Obsidian
		- config
	- soft link to OriginalVault
- ViewVault2
	- .Obsidian
		- config
	- soft link to OriginalVault
...

With folders for attachments and for new files being other than roots of ViewVaults.

Some workflows might be solved also by Sliding Panes (Andy Matushcak Mode) Plugin

If you are using Mac Spaces, you can right click on the Obsidian icon in the dock and have the app “stick” to all desktops/spaces.

1 Like

Agreed, this is my use case too.

2 Likes

nope, when aspect ratios & resolutions are different for each monitor it looks janky AF.
so extending it to multiple windows is not an universal solution. :frowning:

1 Like

an ability to open a MD note in some other external MD editor could do a trick.

This is for people with multiple screens. It would be great to detach a view (or at least detach a view from the main window) to have on a separate screen

How are people solving this problem currently? Is there a method for getting the benefit of multiple windows that doesn’t involve potentially problematic workarounds like symlinks?

I saw a reference to using the Andy mode sliding panels plugin. (I can’t find the link now–it was on reddit.) That seems like it would work.

My current workaround is to open a note in another text editor app (using “Open in default app” option). In my case, I use Byword: it auto-saves like Obsidian, offers decent markdown support, and doesn’t mess up my files in any way.

Admittedly this loses you any Obsidian functioning (multiple panes, quick switcher, auto-complete links, etc), but it works for me when I want a single note split-screened with my web browser when taking notes while researching.

1 Like

I think this would be a nice solution.

Opening notes in another app would mess up with all the function of linking and reference, you’ll lose the meaning of using Obsidian.

Definitely need notes in floating windows.

1 Like

It occurred to me that saved workspaces would work for this, wouldn’t it?

It’s possible with a simple workaround using symbolic links.
Suppose your folder structure is:
~/vaults/thesis

then create a folder called mirror in vaults:
~/vaults/mirror

inside mirror folder type:

ln -s ../thesis thesis-mirror

And it’s done!
Open one obsidian for thesis, and other for thesis-mirror

Both obsidian instances will work in sync.

4 Likes

Thank you for the suggestion.

I’ll figure out how to make a symbolic link in Windows and give it a try.