Formatting toolbar built-in to Obsidian Desktop NOT as a Plug-in request, plus Obsidian Vault URL Hotkey or CMD work-a-round

Understanding the Obsidian Community

I really like LOVE Obsidian. Even more it fits my already existent workflow organizing life around folders, indexing and files. For all it’s great features, I notice there is an overreliance on plugins to add features to Obsidian that in my opinion should be built in. The following is a list of my strong opinions on the subject, and me reaching out to ask for work-a-rounds that do not rely on plugins to resolve:

  • Built-in Formatting Toolbar that is non-obtrusive for Obsidian, Desktop (just like Mobile has)
  • Built-in ability or work-a-round to ‘pin’ vaults to the Obsidian app in taskbar (or) add a special CMD that specifics this link to ‘local folder’ as a separate Obsidian Vault. (Note: the code already exists, when you open vault and select the vault you want it opens that vault. I just don’t know what that code or command is, in order to make Obsidian Directories appear as indexed Obsidian local links/URLs )

Plugins are a Security Risk

I feel community reliance on plug-ins are a community risk, but Vanilla Obsidian without those plugins lacks functionality which plug-ins (that may or may not be maintained), add.

Workflows that rely on plugins which depend on individuals to maintain and keep that code updated with proper standards for enhanced functionality, is playing with fire. If you become dependent on a plugin as part of your workflow, a plugin becoming unsupported such as the “Day Planner” (a great plug-in that needs more work and flexibility, and is currently unresponsive to their community github issues).

Already I have noticed there are popular plugins that are really useful but unmaintained and lack support. And yet, some of these plugins are actually very useful for adding an enhanced workflow.

And it becomes a choice of: Am I willing to risk the security of my notes and my computer for enhanced workflow? (Most would say yes.)

Vanilla vs. Plug-ins is like making the choice between CSS without SASS/LESS/or some other tool, it sucks. But it doesn’t have to if the Vanilla software is great on it’s own without relying on enhanced functionality and features of plug-ins.

Understanding Community and Developer Mindset

When I was browsing the feature request forum to see if there were any requests for built-in formatting toolbars, a feature common across most notetaking apps, I often noticed responses that relied on plugins or that simply ‘accepted’ it wasn’t a feature and did not see it as a deal breaker. This is biased, because the people who don’t see it as a deal breaker are the people who choose to stay (I am one of those people) and the people who DO see it as a deal breaker return to Evernote or some other software (I was almost one of those people). I’d like to understand the community for those who choose to stay, as to why this isn’t a feature that matters too much to them?


In-depth Feature request

I will list two features. One that I believe should be built-in and has been requested The other I would love to see built-in but would be happy to learn of a script or hotkey work-a-round that would make it’s feature request a moot point. (I do not want to add any more plug-ins to my workflow and would rather write or utilize a simple command or script for it).

There are additional features I would like that would make this a perfect tool but I am not ready to mention what they are until I have done more reading, explored work-a-rounds and spent more time working to unleash the power of Obsidian within it’s current design framework. But there is one feature built-in formatting toolbar should be built-in:

Formatting Toolbar - Built-in

Desktop should have a built-in formatting toolbar and that it doesn’t, and hasn’t had many requests for it baffles me. Mobile and Forums integrates a toolbar fine, so why wouldn’t we extend that to desktop without needing a plugin?

  • Is the lack of this feature a design choice? Why? (I’d love to understand that decision).
  • Is there a lack of interest in formatting toolbars by the general community?
  • Why does Mobile and Forums get to have one over desktop?
  • Can we have a built-in toolbar for Obsidian please :innocent:?

I have searched these forums trying to understand better the mindset of the community or the developers for why these features aren’t built in (or) why we would be encouraged to write purely in markdown and short-code without a formatting toolbar.

Sometimes it is cumbersome to have to scroll through a cheat list, or remember a custom short cut when a small collapsible toolbar could be just a click a way. I’ve have used and relied on formatting toolbars for as long as I can remember. The ability to have a choice to:

  • select, and hit Ctrl+B to bold,
  • to use two asterisks, or ,
  • to quickly move my mouse to hit the bold button in the dropdown menu,

This should be built-in and for it not to be I would like to understand better why. Perhaps I am missing a mindset that having no toolbars is best.

But I should reiterate that even this forum has a formatting toolbar, so why can’t the desktop have one built-in too? If it is a matter of simplicity then a toggle on/off button would be nice.

Current plug-in depends on someone else maintaining it and floats in the middle of my screen. An Obsidian toolbar built-in would integrate much better.

Pinning Vaults to Taskbar or Internal Vault Linking [Work-a-round] request

I wrote a forum post that I didn’t paste here because it was long. My request appears simple enough that if there is a way for me to implement it on my own I would happily do so. Request is as followed:

Is there a way to pin Obsidian Vaults to the pinned Obsidian App in Taskbar (or) inside an Obsidian vault as a type of LOCAL URL that launches an Obsidian Vault.

INDEX.MD > [[~/Folder/Obsidian Folder/]]

clicking on that from my index page would immediately open the vault (as an alternative to pinning or other drastic changes).

Why do I want this feature?

I would like to have many vaults but current structure of Obsidian makes it easier for me to just organize a single vault with all my projects and ideas (this get’s overwhelming, but with proper organizing it is not unmanageable). Still, I would like to place them in their own separate vaults instead. If someone has 7 vaults scattered in different folders related to that project, finding those vaults and launching them adds added time that would be removed if such vaults could be ‘pinned’ to taskbar (or) ‘linked in Obsidian index.md files’.

Arguably adding such a command to an index.md would be more powerful than simply allowing Obsidian folders to be pinned in taskbar. This is a ‘me problem’, and likely limited to me. Prior to Obsidian I relied on Pinning ‘master index files’ (that is any file that contains a library of organized files and folders that I could quickly hop to in a 1-2-3 click way).

With Pinning Workflow is as followed:

(1) Right Click Application Pinned to taskbar =>
(2) Click Pinned Master Index File =>
(3) Go to desired link on the Master Index page and open.

Workflow for Notebooks without pinning but indexing “Vaults” instead

  • Onenote does not have pinning, instead when you open Onenote the most recent (Notebook) vault is opened, and on the sidebar all your optional Notebooks appear there as desired. You can remove non-active notebooks or add them, and work only in the current notebook or vault.
  • Evernote does allow for pinning Notes but not notebooks (vaults) and allows multiple Notebooks to be loaded in Sidebar as a type of ‘indexing’ similar to Onenote.

Obsidian’s Design without pinning:

(1) Right Click Obsidian App Pinned to taskbar =>
(2) Most Recent Vault is opened adding a point of distraction =>
(3) After distraction I must now scan buttons to the Left to figure out which one Opens another vault and then Open Another Vault =>
(4) If Vault is not recently accessed it requires to be browsed and searched for (adding time, which pinning would have avoided) => If Vault is already on the side I have to scan through the list and pick vault.

(This makes it a : 1-2-Get distracted-3-4-Browser/Search before Load process.)

Why Pinning Helps

I have a lot of notes just because of the type of work I do and the projects I have to manage. Pinning and indexing allows me to organize those overwhelming Vaults into their rightful home and then jump between those Vaults and their respective Indexes. Each Vault represents a mammoth project whose index is organized usually via table or ‘lists’ which link to folders, documents or internal notes. This is efficient and works well for me, it’s a methodology I have used for years – except I didn’t have a tool as powerful as Obsidian to do this and had to do this in other tools. Docx, Xminds, etc.

XMinds recently stopped supporting their free version with updates, and their new subscription based version no longer allows internal linking. It also takes minutes to initially load my ‘vault’ containing all my libraries. I did not want to return to .Docx, Evernote was more for random thoughts than a Library Knowledgbase, and then I discovered Obsidian and it changed my life. No more proprietary file-types I can’t export!! Loads quicker and more. Works way better than my mind mapping software as a web of knowledge…But the Vault pinning has slowed me down.

Current workaround

My main Index links to folders containing Obsidian vaults. This returns the steps to a 1-2-3 step process.

(1) Open Obsidian which is pinned to taskbar =>

(2) Open the Index.md file which is copied across vaults and click the file, this opens the vault folder (alt) copy the code from the directory=>

(3) Open the vaults and paste the directory there if it doesn’t appear on the side.

(This makes the work around a 1-2-Copy-3-Paste solution).

If anyone knows of a command I could type or input or even ‘script’ or ‘hotkey’ that would allow me to directly open or specify an Obsidian Vault URL, that would be an excellent workaround which I could live with.


Solutions that were offered

For built-in Tool Bar

CMenu - is often cited as being a plug-in solution
But as far as I understand (maybe it’s a bug or a setting) cMenu floats in the middle of my screen instead of being an option that exists that you can toggle from the upper menu. It just floats around in my way and it is a plugin which is a security risk. Obsidian itself warns us about using community plugins, so why do we need to rely on cMenu? Obsidian also has this ability on mobile phones and forum, so why not build-it in to desktop. If people don’t want it they can toggle a setting, but for those who want it they can utilize it.

Use Evernote/DevonThink/some other software - There is a backlink or link that I read that I cannot find in my history anymore, someone was asking or pondering not having a menu as a ‘design’ choice by the developers to encourage only writing in markdown. The individual ended up just accepting there was no toolbar, no plugin was suggested. In lack of this I added another backlink where a solution was offered to use other tools for basic features that would enhance the power of Obsidian.

For Internal Vault Linking (as a work around to Taskbar Pinning)

Index that links to ‘folders’ and learning what the CMD for Opening Vault URLs would be.

Backlinks & Links

For built-in Tool Bar

Format Toolbar - solution relies on cMenu

How to make Obsidian Less Tool-less - solution relies on cMenu

Options for Rich Text Editor - Again response points to cMenu

Replacing Evernote - Individual mentions Bolding and Webclipping, reply is use DevonThink or EverNote for different tasks

This is 3 posts in 1

I think you’ll get more answers if you split your 3 questions into their own posts (I’d put the “reliance on plugins” question in Meta). And it would help future users searching the forum.

Reliance on plugins

The app is relatively young, the plugin community is quite active, and there are many feature requests. There are numerous plugins or plugin feature that I think should be core, but the 2 developers can only work so fast. And some features will always be too niche to include in the main app.

Formatting toolbar

I’m not surprised they haven’t prioritized the formatting toolbar. It would be nice to have, but you can already type Markdown, which is pretty easy. It exists in the mobile app because typing symbols is harder on phone keyboards. As for the forum, it isn’t Obsidian — the developers presumably configured it, but they didn’t design or code it.

Pinning / linking to vaults

I don’t understand your “pinning vaults to the app in the taskbar” request. I think I understand your alternate desire to link to vaults — see “Using obsidian URI” in the Help vault.

Maybe it will help with the pinning thing, too, if you can pin URLs.

1 Like

You are correct that it is multiple posts in one. Though my intent was for it to be a 2 in 1 post. With the opening post being my argument for the main request I was making, and the second feature request being not that important. As a new user to the forum I did not want to spam Obsidian with multiple separate posts. I was confused on where each post should go.

Reliance on Plugins chapter -

was my opening argument for why I believed relying on the plug-in community for the Formatting toolbar not being built-in was bad practice. The opening argument can be best summarized as: "It is, bad practice to rely on plugin community for this one simple thing."

The plugin solution often quoted for this (cMenu) floats in the middle of the screen and is not to me a proper solution for a problem that should be built-in. I would not be so frustrated with the cMenu plugin had been integrated properly into Obsidian. Realizing when it came to plug-in issues or design flaws I would have to reach out to scattered developers across the net, and realizing that some I wished to contact were not contactable became an overwhelming endeavor.

I wanted to understand better why the community didn’t seem to mind not having this formatting toolbar, and were OK with relying on a security risk to have it. I understand this topic would get more feedback in the Meta area of Obsidian. But it was not intended to be a separate discussion from the formatting toolbar being built-in.

The formatting toolbar being built-in IS the only plug-in I believe that shouldn’t have to rely on the security risk of community plugins.

Formatting Toolbar Built-in

I didn’t realize there were only 2 core developers.
The plugin community is indeed active, but inconsistent and a security risk.

My primary argument was that a simple formatting tool should be built-in, and that we should not rely on a plugin for it. Because it is on the Mobile app.

I understand now there are only 2 developers and that my desire for a formatting toolbar is a minority request (niche) to be included in the main-app I can understand better why it has not been added or seen as essential. But I still feel it is essential, esp. since it appears to be simple to add.

I know everyone says you can type markdown but as a programmer this just feels like when I’m writing code. Every mainstream note taking app that I’ve ever used has a formatting toolbar. An individual has to remember and carry a cheat sheet for short-cuts, in addition to typing out the code that makes it do what they want. A Visual formatting toolbar being built-in doesn’t feel niche, it feels fundamental if not essential.

Let’s say I want to add a ‘blockquote’ to my text. But I don’t remember the markdown I am supposed to type to put that blockquote in. Or I have to add a footnote. I now have to search for markdown cheat sheets to help me remember how to do this. Maybe I’ve forgotten the ‘short cut’ code.

There is a reason that formatting toolbars exist on nearly every mainstream notetaking app. And I don’t think it’s because it’s niche.

I genuinely do understand that there are 2 developers and this is not a priority at this time for them. I can learn to deal with the struggle of trying to remember all the short-cuts and codes I have to type out to make Obsidian work for me. Example: 3D Modeling works similar, you’ve got to remember all the short-cuts and/or set your own. But even they have a toolbar on the side to help people like me who struggle to keep all of that in their head without pasting a cheat sheet for every app they want to use next to their head.

But it is my hope that they eventually add it, as it would make the entire process easier for newcomers and as you mentioned, a nice to have for the people settled in =).

My Niche request: Pinning

This feature request or work-a-round is niche. If you’re on a Windows, and you lower your mouse to the taskbar, there are a list of (optional) pinned apps. (lets say)

  • Video App
  • Word Processor App
  • Notetaking App

Right clicking on some apps will show a list of recently accessed files, in Windows you can pin those apps.

  • Notetaking App > Pinned Notebook > “Opens that Vault”
  • Video App > Pinned Playlist > “Opens that Playlist”

Pinned Playlist > Local URL Links:

  • Video.mp4
  • Video2.mp4
    Those videos will automatically play if set to do so.

Note Obsidian doesn’t allow pinning vaults so this doesn’t work like that but this was a niche request I was asking for:

Pinned Obsidian Vault >

  • Obsidian Vault 1.md
  • Obsidian Vault 2. md >

If you open that Pinned Playlist or Notebook / Vault you will then see all your notes. If you use an Index Method for organizing and quickly accessing things you might see:

Obsidian Vault (opened)>

  • Link to internal notes. (Internal Linking)
  • Link to folders. (Local Links to “Folders”)
  • Link to Web URLS (Web Links)
  • Link to Obsidian Vaults ( treated like a local Links to “Folders”)

I initially asked for a niche feature request to allow pinning, but then realized my work-a-round was good enough to solve the problem, and asked what command or script would I need to utilize to make it so that Obsidian Vault recognized “Obsidian Folders” and would launch / open them the same way you would open a new vault. The command already exists because when you open a new vault and open an obsidian file, it opens that obsidian file. but, I don’t know how to use this.

I don’t know what forum would best be for this - as it’s no longer a feature request it’s now a, how do I make this work request. I think maybe I need to ask this in a plug-in forum. But again this is such a niche request and writing these posts were so overwhelming as it is that I’m not sure it is a priority for even me to type it up and ask it again! (esp. as my work-a-round as I currently have it works well enough for saving time for now). :laughing:

P.S. Thank you for pointing me in that direction =) :smiling_face:

And thank you for helping me understand better (your initial reply). I have gained a new perspective and awareness on this.

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