Full File System Access For The iOS App (Open Existing Vault/Folder)

Use case or problem

I am using Obsidian on macOS, Linux and Android - and today I installed it on my iPad as well. On iOS the only place where I can store my Vault is the “Obsidian” folder. I am aware that iOS has restrictions in the way apps can use the file system. But some apps allow creating and editing files outside of their “own” folder.

My use case: I want to be able to freely interact with the Obsidian markdown files from other apps. That would be best possible if I could store the vault anywhere on the accessible file system.

Proposed solution

Offer a new option “Open Existing Vault” and use the iOS system file picker to get the location the user choose.


This is my most desired feature and I would pay for it as an in-app purchase if needed. Cryptomator just released their app with native Files integration and if Obsidian launched this feature it would enable fully encrypted cross-platform usage.


This is the one thing missing from the iOS app for me as well.

It’s not a deal-breaker, but I really just want to be able to move my notes folder out of the iCloud/Obsidian folder and into my iCloud/Writing folder with all my other stuff.


This is my use case, too :+1:. Being able to open an existing vault by selecting the folder where Cryptomator places the vault’s unencrypted files would essentially allow me to encrypt/decrypt the vault’s files on demand. It would make my data be encrypted at rest when I don’t actively use them :slight_smile:.


+1 for this request!

I have two vaults, one of which is somewhere else on the iCloud Drive and there’s no way to open that vault in Obsidian on iOS.

Things I have tried

go to the files app on iOS, choose a file of the vault and open it via share – that just leads me to the Obsidian vault option screen with creating a new vault, etc.

What I’m trying to do


Apparently there are several users having this problem: how do I open an existing vault in the iOS version of Obsidian?

I have seen this question numerous times, but no answer yet. All I get in the iOS version is the option to create a new vault or to open already known ones, but not to look for an existing one and open that.

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I guess the iOS and iPadOS Obsidian will lookup/create/delete vaults in a specific root path in the iCloud.

I don’t know how to change it.

And if you want to use Obsidian on iOS or iPadOS and based on iCloud, you can put the vault file under that specific root path.

And I think you cannot open any file as a vault on iOS/iPadOS Obsidian. But this can be done in the desktop version of Obsidian.

Well, I am not using iCloud – I am using my own private Cloud Server … I really like Obsidian, but that’s a breaker. :frowning:


Read this in full

I am not quite sure why this should be the solution!
The provided link speaks about syncing, I am talking about opening a vault. Apparently, I cannot go to a network drive via the Obsidian iOS App and open a vault.
I am using the tool in an environment in which due to security reasons the use of public clouds is a no-go, I therefore want to use a simple internal network drive to open a vault.
If it is not possible, OK - but the description in the link is not the solution, as far as understand - but I am happy to be corrected.

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Ok let me be more precise

No, you cannot pick an arbitrary location. This limitation is due to iOS sandboxing and the way Obsidian access files (a whole vault at time).

That’s what I understand - which basically means that Obsidian cannot be used in a restricted data environment, if to be used with iOS.

Understanding that this doesn’t address all the use cases described here, I’ll note for the benefit of others who might arrive at this thread searching, as I did, for a way to open existing iCloud vaults created on macOS using the iOS app: My workaround was to…

  1. …have the iOS Obsidian app create a vault in iCloud in order to make it create the container in the proper way; then
  2. move my existing vaults into that container;
  3. return to the macOS Obsidian app, >File >Open Vault…;
  4. select “Open folder as vault”; and
  5. choose my existing vault(s, one at a time).

(Happy to move this comment elsewhere if there’s someplace more appropriate.)


Use case or problem

Obsidian vaults cannot be stored in custom folder locations on iOS.

This decreases the storage flexibility of the vault contents. For example, it is not possible to store the vault in a folder being synchronized to a third party cloud provider.

Personally, I like to use a third party storage service and sync files with Cryptomator. Cryptomator creates a separate folder where data can be stored in. This is the main reason I cannot add any Obsidian vaults in there.

Proposed solution

Allow vaults to be created and opened from custom locations.

This will allow the vaults to be present in folders and paths that are not decided by the software itself.

Current workaround (optional)

The only options I can see are to give in and use iCloud/Obsidian Sync or have some Git solution.

I’d really prefer just to create a vault in any folder that the user specifies.


Please search before posting:

Merging into existing request.

I’m not sure I understand this. Apps such as Textastic can open an external folder from the Files app and do read / write operations on the contents of said folder.



I would like an explanation as well regarding it not being possible for the iOS application to access other directories.

I do not have any experience with iOS development, however, I had found the following in Apple’s documentation:

  • In iOS 12 and earlier, users can open and interact with files outside the app’s container.” [1]

  • iOS 13, users can select a directory from any of the available file providers using a UIDocumentPickerViewController.” [1]

Looks like there is an example on the webpage as well for the second option:

Based on this Apple documentation the technical feasibility of applications accessing third party folders and storage locations is there.

Are there any design decisions that impact Obsedian’s ability to implement one of the above options of accessing other folders on iOS filesystem?

[1] Apple Developer Documentation


Have you searched the forum? This has been explained, altho rarely in much detail. I think there was a recent more-detailed explanation in Discord; I’ll try to find that to copy over.

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I may have missed the detailed answer on the forum, and I was unaware the project had a Discord.

The answers I keep seeing are in the realm of “Apple locks down everything, nothing we can do”.

Yet the Apple documentation seems to contradict this (unless there are some caveats I am unaware of, which is probably the case).

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