How do backlinks work?

Things I have tried

I’ve read the help on backlinks. It distinguishes backlinks from links.

I find the description given confusing. It says, “A backlink for a note is a link from another note to that note.” In the context of the example given I think that description is incorrect. A more helpful description in the context of the example given would be, “A backlink is a link from a note to a note referencing that note.”

It doesn’t say how backlinks are established. It would be convenient if a when you link to a note a backlink from the note linked to to the note linked from would also be created? Is that how it’s done? Or do you have to manually create a link from the note linked to to the note linked from?

I also don’t understand the concepts of “linked mentions” and “unlinked mentions,” especially the former. How is it different from a backlink? How does it help? Why not eliminate it?

What I’m trying to do

I think I understand the concept of a backlink. I find the description in the help more puzzling than helpful. Most of all I would like to understand how backlinks are established. I can probably figure it out. It would be helpful if the help just said how they are established.

I created two notes: “note linked from” and “note linked to.” Then I linked “note linked from” to “note linked to.” I see “note linked from” is listed as a “linked mention” in “note linked to.”

So that answers the question how backlinks are established. But why not just call it a “backlink”?

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I don’t know why “Linked Mentions” aren’t just called Backlinks. But I guess you’re right. It’s the same thing. Maybe because “Unlinked Backlinks” would be even more confusing. So “Linked Mentions” and “Unlinked Mentions” are the two different types of Backlinks. (As far as I understand.)

I guess the way to explain “how backlinks are established” is that there is no strong “connection”. The backlink isn’t exactly something that exists. It’s just Obsidian helping you.

A link does exist. It’s the syntax you write. All that makes a link is the format [[Link]] or [Text](Link).

But a Linked Mention is just Obsidian telling you that there is another note that has a link to this current note. But that information isn’t hard-coded anywhere in the current note. If you opened those notes in a software that didn’t respect that idea of a “backlink”, then it wouldn’t exist in any way. Or even if you turned off the Backlinks plugin.

The note has no knowledge of the link. Only the Backlinks plugin has that knowledge.

Unlinked Mentions are times when the title of the current note is mentioned in another note. But it hasn’t been linked yet.

So in your note “Apple Pie Recipes”, if you go to the note “My Favourite Recipes”, and add the text, “Apple Pie Recipes”, that is an Unlinked Mention.

Again, nothing exists in the note, except Obsidian tells you that match exists. And gives you the chance to make it a link, which would turn the text in “My Favourite Recipes”, from “Apple Pie Recipes” to [[Apple Pie Recipes]], and now it will be a Linked Mention in the note Apple Pie Recipes.

(I hope that wasn’t too long-winded.)


No, it helps a bit as to why “linked mentions” are introduced. But I still think it’s more like to confuse than to clarify.

So, to clarify “Unlinked mention,” (a) can a mention occur any where in a note, not just in the name? And (b) does the match have to be exact or is the matching “fuzzy”?

And thanks.

a) Right, anywhere in the note.

b) I’m pretty sure it is not fuzzy. Just exact. I’m also not sure about case-sensitive or not.

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