IDE style navigation (tab reuse on link opening, tab management, switch to already open note)

I get that you wouldn’t want to override the default behaviour by switching to a new tab when clicking a link in a page when that tab already exists, as that would make switching focus inconsistent with the case when that tab does not exist.

But could tabs be reused when we explicitly ask to open a new tab, for example by cmd-clicking?

And then if there is a configuration option to ‘always open notes in new tabs’ I think everyone can get the behaviour they want.


Urgently needed, please implement, I am so used to this in IDEs and text editors, and this different behavior of Obsidian is confusing to me and difficult to get used to since the other tools, which I use on a daily basis, work differently.


I genuinely do not understand the argument from the Obsidian team’s side.

Obsidian is not a browser. Sure, it is built on top of Electron and runs inside of Chromium, but the use-case for Obsidian and a browser are very different. One you use to browse information online. The other you use for short-term and long-term knowledge management. Not only does mimicking a browser-based workflow for an application that does not fit such a workflow lead to terrible UX, but it’s also just a terrible argument all around.

Ironically, Visual Studio Code is a great counter-argument to the arguments that the Obsidian team are making. Visual Studio Code is not truly an IDE, it’s an extensible text-editor with enough third and first-party extensions to let it mimic the required functionality. Dendron is a great example of this.

In essence:

  • Obsidian’s applicable field of use is not as a web browser, and it should not try to mimic a workflow designed for an entirely different use-case, one which does not fit and was not designed for knowledge management.
  • Obsidian does not need to mimic an IDE, just handle files like sane text-editing software does

And honestly, “(…) the way browsers and IDEs handle this is very different and it’s either one or the other, because hybrid approach look odd.” is a terrible argument. The default that Obsidian currently ships with is not only a remarkably odd, non-standard approach for the type of field the application means to combat, but is just terrible from a UX and accessibility standpoint.

Likewise, from a descriptive standpoint, it’s not particularly hard to define a rudimentary example of how it could function based on how a majority of file handling software does.

  1. If you click a file in the file viewer sidebar it will:
    • Open the file like default and if it’s already open, focus it instead
    • (ctrl-click): Open the file in a new tab, regardless of if it is already open or not
  2. If you single click a link, it will:
    • (edit-mode): Not open the link, but focus the text such that it can be edited
    • (reader-mode): Open the link like default and if it’s already open, focus it instead
  3. If you ctrl-click a link, it will:
    • (edit-mode): Open the link in a new tab and if it’s already open, focus it instead
    • (reader-mode): Open the link in a new tab and if it’s already open, focus it instead

I don’t use panes, but you can handle this with middle-clicks if you’d like. Something like this:

  1. If you middle-click a link, it will:
    • (edit-mode): Open in a new pane and if it’s already open, focus it instead
    • (reader-mode): Open in a new pane and if it’s already open, focus it instead

Overall, I feel the most egregious issue is how the application doesn’t handle duplicate tabs. The rest is a decent implementation, though I’m sure it can be improved. But seriously, what kind of sane software thinks opening a file, making a file and opening the previous file should result in a new tab ad nauseam?


I also end up with plenty of duplicates of the same file opened, since I often use the file search to switch between files (cmd + p). I think this topic should be addressed soon by the developers, since it is easy to improve and reasonably high impact on user experience.


Just wanted to add an additional vote for this behavior as well. A more IDE-Like navigation scheme makes more sense to me for this type of app.


I’d also appreciate the option to navigate the focus to a tab that already has the file open; rather than opening the file again in a new tab. This QOL change would go a long way to improving my use of the software.


I use the Quick Switcher++ plugin which already implements this behavior by default when opening files. This would probably be sufficient for me as I don’t particularly care one way or the other for link navigation, except that it doesn’t cover the case of handling external requests to open files. I’m using the Raycast Obsidian extension and when it opens a file in Obsidian I would prefer Obsidian to re-use any tab with the file already open.


I totally second the request to introduce a setting where the user can choose the behavior. Re-using an already open file/tab should be the default IMHO. Of course it is a valuable feature to have a note open in two tabs - one in edit and one in read mode. But opening an already open note in a new tab should be triggered explicitly by holding a key - and simply jumping to the open tab by clicking without any key surely covers the use case of most users.


This would be really nice!

The current navigation logic actually bothered me sometimes.

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+1 to the feature request. It would be nice to have atleast a setting to reuse the already opened tab for when opening notes from search (⌘+p). Thanks for the support.


+1 for that. is the only thing that I dislike in obsidian. it makes very confusing to use.

quite often I was at the end of some file, switched to another and then clicked in the sidebar to go back to the first file and instead end up opening the file again at the top. it took me a while to figure what was happening


Use case or problem

when opening several leafs, tabs become smaller and that's not easy to see if a leaf is already opened.

Proposed solution

an option to open a leaf once only

Current workaround (optional)

Related feature requests (optional)

thanks to have merged my request. I didn’t find this one because my key words was very different…
I repeat the fact that it could be an option in settings

1+ for the feature request. specifications perfectly outlined by @Gur92Jjm! (thx very mucho btw) I tend to think that the majority of respondents in a survey would find his suggestion intuitive. I think most users are only peripherally aware of the strange behavior of obsidian, but would experience a much more pleasant UX as a result of the change.


+1 for this

I’ve written here a post about “tab addiction”, why endless feature requests on tabs are expected:

and I think this feature request here is a very good one to illustrate the idea.

Please, could you explain precisely why the following behavior:

  1. “When I click on a link it is open in another tab”

really helps your workflow (and I even omit the rest of the FR), instead of:

  1. “When I click on a link it is open in the current tab”


In both cases you have direct access to the target note and the previous note is not displayed anymore.

In case (1) you have to manage a (new) tab:

  • close it after reading (but with no certainty of what will be the behavior when you’ll close it. Will the former tab will be then the active tab? Not sure. Maybe another FR will be needed for that?)
  • leave it open, return to the former tab with a mouse click or by Ctrl+tab or Ctrl+Shift+tab (not super handy when there are several tabs opened).
  • at some points you will have several open tabs that you’ll have to close because become useless.

In case (2) the note opens in the same tab.

  • to go back and forth between the new note open and the previous: forward and backward (super handy, universal shortcuts with the keyboard and some mouse)
  • no tabs to manage / close, no weird tab behavior to care about, simple and 100% predictable workflow.

And if you want to see both notes at the same time you just have to open a note in another pane.

Please explain why solution (1) is better for your workflow. Maybe there’s something I’m missing. It seems to me that it is more complicated, and that we are here in full in the logic of the “tab addiction”. We absolutely want to use tabs, because if it’s there it is necessarily more efficient. But because it lacks a lot of fluidity in use, a lot of options become necessary so we ask for gas plants.
While simple and ergonomic solutions are available, at hand, but they are denigrated because we absolutely want to use the tabs.

PS: Sorry if my post in considered as trolling. Well, it is in a sense. But maybe it is good too to question the real relevancy of the usages.

Please, could you explain precisely why the following behavior:

“When I click on a link it is open in another tab”

really helps your workflow (and I even omit the rest of the FR), instead of:

“When I click on a link it is open in the ?

For what I can see, this is the default behavior in all text editors, so having this stable behavior (which I expected btw) is good, IMO.

there’s also the problem that every time that a new tab opens it will show at the top of the note instead of being where I left last, which is kinda frustrating, specially if is a big note.

and is true that you still can end up with a lot of tabs opened, but if you open always the same tab that is already opened, it will be one less to close. quite often I end up with 3 or 4 tabs of the same note open and this is quite irritating to me.

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+1 for this,
it’s always annoying when file is opened in the same tab


+1 for this

+1 for this

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