How do I add files to my Obsidian notes? Like I'm a 5th grader

Hey all, I’ve read the documentation and it’s just not helpful…

I am trying to add things like PDF’s and images to my notes.

I’m imagining being able to save recipes or sheet music as PDF’s, embedded in a note or as the note itself, however it works.

But I can’t understand how this is done.

The documentation tells you how to link an internal file - which I think assumes the file has already been uploaded somewhere in the ecosystem.

Obsidian manages markdown files. Create one. Then drag into the editor pane your non-markdown files. I usually do images but PDF’s should work too, I imagine.
You can also try dragging your attachments into the file explorer where (one of) your attachment folder(s) is/are.

Which brings us to Settings > Files&Links and some settings you’d do well to sort out first.

In my case, my attachment folder is named assets and my default location…is on the screenshot.

Play around with the location – what suits you best. If you’ve just started out with Obsidian, I recommend doing this in the Sandbox vault (press F1 and choose Sandbox) and getting to know the differences in settings.

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So does this mean that when it Syncs between devices it’s copying all media files from one device to another - for example from my desktop to my phone?

Sure. Anything that is part of the vault.

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Note that working with attachments can be different on mobile i.e. adding files is different. In addition of dragging files you can copy your file and then paste in the editor. You can also use insert attachment command using command palette or equivalent command in mobile toolbar. On iOS insert attachment offers option to add picture or video on-the-fly using your phone’s camera. There is also share menu that can be used to add files to Obsidian. @gino_m can maybe tell if above apply to Android as well.

By nature using Obsidian is focused more on actively characterizing information which means left clicking image will select its source link. There is also special action with secondary left click which is quite odd action for normal users. When you plan to work with long term projects that involves images, then tables can be used to describe document structure that contains images. You can for example describe how many images are displayed horizontally together with other text cells. In summary using tables is essential part to produce well structured documents in Obsidian.

I stopped using Android for a while now. No experience with Obsidian there.

On iOS I usually copy the picture to the clipboard and paste (and use the Paste Rename plugin to set my image names to match the corresponding markdown filename).

Thanks. Here is the corresponding feature request. Personally I think attachment names are not very useful to describe attachments compared to note properties. Currently data indexing in Obsidian is note-based which encourages note-first workflows. This is somewhat significant workflow requirement if you would sometimes want to start with editing and creating files and then later importing them to Obsidian. Since Obsidian doesn’t offer many ways to query binary files, binary file creation -> Obsidian workflow is cumbersome to some degree. There are some workarounds to this like using execute code community plugin and ExifTool. Having such functionality natively could benefit many users who work with external files and want to use Obsidian as supporting application.

I write longform. I have imported my txt/md files along with the corresponding images to be filed under alphabetic subfolders with assets folders right beneath them (so as to have them work with the Taio app as well) so from a file management point of view it was useful to have the attachments correspond to the md files (in Obsidian you can put your attachments to be embedded in any folders as long as the filenames are unique, which I always keep unique).
The QuickSwitcher does get crowded indeed but for that I use the exclusion in Files&Links (which puts the md files always on top):
For other people it would be something like:

By the way, I just saw this a while ago (didn’t try it as I’m not about to move anything yet):

Thanks for responding.

I think I’m not going to use Obsidian, it’s hard to see how it’s a scalable cross platform note-taking app if my files need to be copied between devices rather than stored in a cloud. For now I think I am just going to use UpNote

This is not the case in Obsidian. You can sync notes (including attachments) either using iCloud, Obsidian Sync or FolderSync (3rd party service for Google Drive, OneDrive etc). iCloud offers 5GB for free and Google Drive offers 15GB for free. FolderSync has a free plan which is based on ads. Most recommended syncing options are iCloud (5GB is free) or Obsidian Sync (paid, 10GB end-to-end encryption).

Everyone here over complicated things for you.

To link stuff just add your images to your vault.

Note Name


Text body.

It’s that simple.

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In French: everyone = “tout le monde,” literally: “the whole world.”
N’est-ce pas?

You can use any cloud syncing solution you want. Or Obsidian Sync which also stores an encrypted version on a server and lets you include/exclude file types to sync for each device. The main idea behind Obsidian is that it is just a local folder with files so you’re never cut off from accessing your notes. But you can always choose to use a syncing solution regardless.