Help! Obsidian Vault disappeared

Find my vault

Hi everyone. Today I opened Obsidian and the vault was completely gone. Plugins were also gone. I had the .obsidian map on my Mac and I can’t seem to find it anymore anywhere.

No idea of what I could have done to cause this, I really never touch installation files. A couple of days ago I deleted some iCloud files, I’m not sure if Obsidian files were there as well. As read in other topics, I tried restoring them from iCloud, but they were not there, neither in the thrash bin.

Things I have tried: iCloud restoring data, thrash bin, looking in the Finder

Was your vault stored on iCloud or locally on your Mac ?

I mean, were you syncing your vault between your Mac and another device (iPhone/iPad) or was your vault located “anywhere” in iCloud.

If you were syncing your vault between devices, it should have been located in specific folder in iCloud: iCloud > Obsidian (as this is the only folder Obsidian’s mobile app can “manage”).

But if you were just storing your vault in iCloud, well it could just be anywhere :no_mouth:

Did you try searching for .md files in Finder (locally and in iCloud Drive) to see if anything comes up ?
Maybe, it has just been off-loaded by iCloud ?

Did you try opening the “vault switcher” to see if it’s not listed there ?
Vault Switcher

On the other hand, sadly, if you accidentally deleted your vault and don’t have backups :no_mouth: , I don’t know if something can really be done :pensive:


The vault was stored only on my Mac, not on iCloud. That’s why I find it really strange. I tried searching for .md files, but no trace of anything! That’s really strange.

I updated a few weeks ago to Sonoma, but I used Obsidian without problems.

Today I opened it as usual but everything was gone.

And the thing is, I never touch(ed) de vault files on my Mac.

That is indeed really strange :thinking:

Do you have the "optimize storage" in iCloud setting’s turned on ?
Maybe something wrong happened there :thinking: (as it seems to have been an issue with Obsidian and Sonoma :pensive: )

When you say:

What do you mean exactly by “everything was gone” ?
Does Obsidian open on an empty vault ? What are you seeing when you launch Obsidian now ?

Do you know exactly where was your vault located locally ?

In any cases a .md search should have returned something … unless, for some reasons, your notes are hidden somewhere in a hidden folder :woman_shrugging:

Yes, “optimize storage” is turned on.

When I launch Obsidian I see indeed an empty vault. No plugins, no theme I had installed.

I tried searching for the .md files, but no trace of them. Do you know how I can look for hidden folders?

I use Cmd+shiftì., but nothing appears in the folder where it’s supposed to be.

Wait a minute! I managed to find this folder (see screenshot). Do you know if it could be the one I need? I can’t open the files that are in it.

This looks like the hidden .obsidian folder of a completely empty vault :no_mouth:

I mean, if I compare to a “never used or opened vault” I created recently …

Empty vault

But as you can see, notes, folders and co. should appear just below the .obsidian

I’m still on Big Sur and never used the “Optimize Storage” feature of MacOS.
I have sadly no idea what happens when iCloud does its thing and optimise the storage :sweat:

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Reading this thread, I am very confused whether you are using iCloud or not. Almost everything you are saying suggests that you are, except this one line where you said you aren’t.

→ → → So things can be very clear, can you please share the exact path where you are storing your vault? (Hide your username or any sensitive info if you prefer.) ← ← ←

What do you mean you can’t open the files that are in it? How exactly are you trying to open the files? In what app? If you use Quick Look (space bar) can you see contents inside those .json files?

But those json files are your vault settings. They have nothing to do with the contents of your notes. If you deleted the .obsidian folder, the next time you opened your vault, Obsidian would create a new .obsidian folder. Your vault wouldn’t have your old settings, but your notes would still be there. So finding the settings folder isn’t going to find your notes. We still have to figure out what happened there.


In the screenshot you can see the path: Documents → Obsidianvault. Here I stored another vault, called MoreDrums. That one has disappeared. I tried searching for it on the Finder and in the thrash bin without finding it.

I logged in to and checked the restore files section. There was no trace of the file(s)


Well, that still doesn’t show the full path, as far as I can tell. If you select “Documents” does it show “Documents - Local”, or “Documents - iCloud”?

(I’m still on Monterey, so it might appear different.)

Or the full path: /Users/[my name]/Documents/Folder Name

Or the path bar at the bottom of Finder:


That’s the breadcrumb:

One last thing to check. Actually two.

  1. In System Preferences → Internet Accounts → iCloud → “Options…”

Is “Desktop & Documents Folders” checked (or whatever it is in Dutch)? If yes, then your Documenten folder is syncing to iCloud. Which might explain how this glitch happened. But I have no idea why you can’t see or restore your files from iCloud.

  1. You have Google Drive. Make sure you don’t have your Documenten folder synced into Google Drive. If I recall correctly, Google Drive offers to sync some of those default folders for you. (Or if you do want to sync to Google Drive, make sure you do NOT have it also synced with iCloud.

If you do have both checked, that could very probably be what caused this data loss.

Also if you do have Google Drive syncing your Documenten folder, there is a chance you can find files to restore in Google Drive. But who knows.

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I checked both, they’re not synchronized neither with iCloud or Drive.

What weird is, is that if I right-click on the Obsidian icon, I get to see the missing vault (MoreDrums, see screenshot) but when I click on it, I get nothing. It’s evidently removed, but I sure as hell didn’t do it.

Any idea of what could have happened?

So frustrating!

I’m afraid I don’t have an answer to your main question, but it’s normal for removed vaults to linger in the Recents list. They can be removed by Menubar > File > Open Recent > Clear Recent.

That’s just the history. It’s just displaying the name of a previously opened [thing an app opens]. Even if you moved or renamed a vault, I think that old name would still be there.

At this point, I’m sorry. I have no ideas or clues as to what has happened.

  • If you open your empty vault, can you try to go to Settings → File Recovery → Snapshots → View. When you click “View”, you have to search for the name a particular file. Can you search for a known note name, and see if anything comes up? Maybe you’ll get lucky and this plugin saved something.
  • Do you have any apps that are designed to clean your Mac? CleanMyMac, Disk Doctor, Gemini, etc. If so, inspect them carefully. Maybe check their logs too.
  • A google search seems to indicate some people lost their Downloads files when upgrading to Sonoma. I would spend a bit of time investigating if Sonoma has any auto-clean features.

Some unsolicited advice now:

  • I never store important documents inside Mac’s Documents or Windows My Documents folders. I don’t trust them not to have fancy automatic features, or unwanted syncing. I make my own folders in the ~/ directory on Mac, or on a separate D:/ drive on Windows.
  • Please please please consider keeping good incremental backups in the future. These mistakes happen. Disks fail. Lightning hits homes. Keep backups!
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You definitely have a point, I thought it would have been safe if I had it stored on my mac instead of in the cloud.

What’s the best way to make backups?

I was going to link to worldbackupday, but the site is reporting that the security certificate expired. There are lots of options, and you should research what’s best for you.

  • Syncing tools are not backup. They are better than nothing, but they also sync problems to all of your devices.
  • There are online tools like Backblaze that copy your HD to a cloud image.
  • There are tools like rsync that help automate some of that.
  • Git and other version control software let you keep snapshots of work. There is an Obsidian Git plugin that can automatically commit and push your git repo to Github every N minutes. (Having local version control isn’t enough if the entire folder gets deleted somehow.)
  • Occasionally copy your files to an external drive, or location.
  • Some people use RAID arrays so the data is spread across multiple hard drives.
  • MacOS has Time Machine.
  • Or even at the very least, occasionally .zip up your files and put them in a different folder. That’s not enough if your hard drive fails, or your computer is damaged. But it’s a start.
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Do you mean saving the vault file on an external disk?

Yes, but I’m talking about any and all important information you have on your computer.

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Here are archived links to World Backup Day, and an article about why sync isn’t backup.

Easy directions to setup local backups:

Links about online backups:

(Note that sync isn’t backup.