iCloud sync issues

I am not sure this fixes the whole problem, but make sure that you have the option “Always keep on this device” checked when right-clicking the obsidian vault in the file explorer, if you are using Windows.

that didn’t fix the issue for me, duplicates still show up randomly

I wish it could be on iPhone: it doesn’t have such option now.

I turned it on for my vault on Windows 10 but it doesn’t help with any of issues I described above.

After I turned on the “always keep” I did a cleanup of all the files that still were stuck in the “synchronizing” status and also all the files that had no status (status indication in windows explorer).
By cleanup I mean that I renamed or copied all the .md files that were stuck to some other status (ex. added a _ to the file name) and checked that they got a filled green checkbox status. Removed any file with weird status. Then I renamed them back to their original names. Now it has run nicely for a few hours at least, fingers crossed…

Any update on how to fix this?
Basically, I have the same issue:

  1. during writing, some last characters are wiped out from time to time and I strongly think this is connected to synchronisation issues. During the wipe out it says “file has been modified externally” indicating that through the sync there was a duplicate created.
  2. When closing and re-opening the Obsidian app on Windows, I see many duplicates in the vault. I need to delete them in the iCloud Drive folder structure in Windows Explorer.

If there is no help, I guess I need to copy the vault locally and work without iCloud snyc

1 Like

From the discussion in this thread, Obsidian’s iCloud sync is just straight-up unreliable and shouldn’t be used.

It apparently ate most of my D&D notes just today. I’m moving everything out of Obsidian into something actually reliable ASAP.

I’ve just worked on a note and got an error message (don’t recall the message). Instead of getting a blank note with a duplicate being created I just lost a few words. It seemed like it automatically recovered the note from the file recovery?!
I continued with my note and it synced to my iPad just fine.
That’s on v0.13.27

I don’t remember seeing these referenced in any of the many threads about problems with iCloud. It describes one users irritation with iCloud sync, which he originally ascribed to his writing app, Ulysses.

Despite his delving, I’m not sure he ended up much further forward than ‘Don’t only rely on iCloud’ and ‘Always make sure you have an up-to-date accessible backup stored somewhere else’.

Ran into the same issues, very annoying. I will try to switch to the non-Store version of iCloud for Windows in the hopes that that improves things. Otherwise, I think I’ll just have to cut my losses with Obsidian and iCloud on Windows, maybe I’ll try it again once/if I ever get a Mac.

This is happening to me after a day or two switching to Obsidian, using a Mac and iPhone. Super frustrating. Oddly it’s not the notes, it’s the workspace and themes:

Same issue happened to me on the Windows/iCloud sync. Switched to an all Apple device workflow, but changes made on iPhone still did not sync to Mac from time to time, and I often got two different copies of notes with the same names on each device, with one version overwriting the other when the synchronization eventually kicks in. Would love to have a stable fix or at least some recommendations for syncing best practices.

1 Like

Based on others responses and my experience here, I’m not sure if using 8 is viable

I have a vault with just 16 files in it, and even that is more than iCloud can handle apparently. Even with the entire folder set to “Always keep locally” it makes no difference. This is a truly dire situation for anyone with an iPhone/iPad and a Windows PC as there’s effectively no way to use Obsidian across these devices.

Obsidian Sync is not an option for me either at 8 USD/month. That’s more than the price for Evernote ($2.50) + iCloud ($1) + Google Drive ($2) combined!

Is there anyone at this point who is successfully getting iCloud to sync? What is your set up?

// just to keep this thread open.

Potential Success

I was having the usual duplicate file issues using Windows 11, iCloud from the Microsoft Store, and Obsidian on iPhone.

When I reinstalled Windows 10 Pro, I took that opportunity to install the non-Store version of iCloud meant for Windows 8.1. This version just downloads all your files outright, instead of using the space-saving file-streaming technology that the newer iCloud, OneDrive, and Google Drive all utilise.

I’ve tested the following scenarios and experienced zero issues with duplicate files so far:

  • Obsidian open on iPhone only and editing file
  • Obsidian open on Windows only and editing same file
  • Obsidian open on iPhone and Windows at the same time and editing the same file one either iPhone or Windows only
  • Obsidian open on iPhone and Windows at the same time and editing the same file on iPhone and Windows at the same time. I type one sentence on iPhone, wait for the sentence to appear on Windows, then type another, wait for it to appear on iPhone, and repeat

It’s been 2 hours, and so far it looks good. I will continue to test and report back tomorrow if either disaster strikes, or true success is achieved.

P.S.: Thanks for the hand-holding @pandichef !

1 Like


Ok, so after 3+ days of testing, I’ve noticed exactly zero issues or duplicate files despite being carefree, and leaving multiple copies of Obsidian running (laptop/desktop/iPhone) or open while I edit my notes.

I am happy and satisfied with my setup. Here are some details:

  • Install the Windows 7 / 8 version of iCloud which is linked at the bottom of this article: Download iCloud for Windows
  • There is a downside: iCloud will sync down all files stored in iCloud Drive, which may or may not be a problem for you.

After 8 days, I have experienced one instance of the dreaded “File was modified externally” warning. Upon checking however, it did not created a duplicate (1) file, though I did lose the last word I typed.

I guess in summary, iCloud for Windows 8.1 mostly resolves the issue, but can still cause problems here and there.

For now, I can live with this.

I really hate for this to be my first post, but it is what it is I guess. I’m new to Obsidian, and am running 2 Windows 10 hosts (desktop and laptop) and an iOS phone.

I spent some time debating the usefulness of being able to access my vault on my phone, and without seeing this, thought housing my data on iCloud would be a workable solution. For me, it hasn’t been. I have less than 20 notes, and Obsidian/iCloud is not able to keep up with syncs. I can’t imagine it being capable of handing a full implementation.

I’ll be moving my data to Dropbox and forgoing phone access. I’m just glad I caught this early in the adaption process and I wish I had seen this thread before thinking of iCloud.

Thanks to everyone for testing and posting your findings. It is great to know that this community is active and supportive!

So I’ve started using Windows in my workflow. I’m a heavy Obsidian user and use it across my MacBook Pro, 2 iPads, and an iPhone on the regular, and now Windows. I’m experiencing this changed “externally” bug.

Is there an ETA on when this will get fixed by the Obsidian team?