iA Writer for writing Notes

Things I have tried

What I’m trying to do

I’ve been experimenting with Obsidian and I’m starting to see the benefits of having linked notes. I do have to say that the editing capabilities of Obsidian leave a lot to be desired. I’ve been using iA Writer for a couple of years now as my primary note taking app. Considering that the Obsidian files are just markdown, I’ve been using iA Writer to write my notes and then going to Obsidian to link and analyze the relationship between the notes. Am I losing anything by creating my notes this way? Does Obsidian do anything special as you type up the notes in the app?

This is fine. Obsidian doesn’t do anything special. That’s the great thing about markdown files - they’re just text files that any app can edit.


Not having use iA Writer before but intrigued at its capabilities, can you let me know if it is a WYSIWYG editor? Can it create tables?

iA Writer is not a WYSIWYG editor. It is a Markdown based text editor which does highlight Markdown syntax.


The 2 things I miss from iA Writer are

  1. Keyboard shortcuts, Cmd-1 to create heading 1, etc. The same shortcuts work on iPad and Mac. As far as I can tell Obsidian doesn’t have these types of formatting shortcuts.
  2. Live preview, iA Writer can split the screen and show the text editor on the left and the rendered markdown on the right. I spend most of the day in this mode. In a sense this is like a WYSIWIG editor
1 Like

Obsidian can do both:

  1. Go to settings → hotkeys and you can configure the options to your likings. If there are not enough options you can install the 3rd party plug-in Hotkeys++
  2. Open a note and then cmd click the edit/preview button. A second pane will open which is linked and will scroll and show a preview.

Personally, I’m using Typora as an external editor when I need to edit tables with a lot of content in the cells. It’s simply the only editor I know that handles this task gracefully. (Yes, maybe Zettler too, but it’s not very convenient to use it as an external editor.)

One thing that you get only in Obsidian and in no other external editor is the whole experience around links ! If you enter a link in iA Writer or any other editor, you won’t get the interactive selection list, nor the possibility to interactively link to blocks or headers. And you won’t be able to drag and drop references into your note and get an immediate link.

Just a few reflections. I do think that Obsidian has got a more than decent editor. I dare to say it’s a great one, as it is right now.

Olivier :-{)

Another vote for Typora here. I like using it with a custom theme (GitBook Azure is my favourite). It’s a very clean experience that neatly and innovatively declutters documents from the “noise” of Markdown, while still having Markdown very close at hand (imagine switching between Obsidian’s edit and preview mode, but you can still edit in preview).

It’s particularly handy for copy/pasting rendered Markdown. If I copy/paste directly from Obsidian, I get the theme colours; and if I copy and paste using plain text, I lose all formatting. So I open in Typora > Copy without theme styling and voila - I get nice, clean, formatted content on my clipboard without the theme cruft. This is on Windows, so YMMV on Mac or Linux.

They have a trial version for Windows and I downloaded iA Writer. I love the focus mode and syntax highlighting (it highlights noun, verb, adjectives, adverbs). Aside from these two feature, it is a very plain Markdown editor - so, my question is, why pay $30 for this when Obsidian provides the same interface for free for personal use?

But, I think maybe iA Writer for iOS/iPadOS will be a different story altogether.

Thanks, the hotkey for headers doesn’t work, not sure what’s going on. The cmd click for a live preview is just like iA Writer.

But isn’t is just simpler to copy/paste from the Obsidian Edit view?

Time and friction.
doing the linking while you are writing is, for most people, quicker and easier.
Which means you need to compare the time and friction of using Obsidian to write with the time and friction of using both iAWriter and Obsidian for the dame files.
Only you can judge that.

You already have a sunk time cost in iAWriter, so no extra effort required to learn it. However, you should also add the cost of updating that as the program changes to the two program time and friction cost.

You can use Templater for heading templates and then the plugin Hotkeys for templates to assign shortcuts to them. This allows for infinite flexibility.

I like iWriter a lot, esp. for its focus mode. It would be nice if the internal links worked like they do with 1Writer, which is what I use now for working with Obsidian Vault on IOS.

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