Looking for a different note taking service with mobile app to use alongside Obsidian


I have just started my journey with Obsidian and I love to use it on desktop and laptop systems. I’ve also been using the iOS app (syncing works fine for me), but this part has been less of a pleasing experience. I feel the mobile interface is too similar to the desktop’s for small screens and use cases on the go.

What I’m trying to do

Therefore, I’ve come to the conclusion that I want to use a different service while I’m on the go during the day (or whenever) to quickly capture my thoughts and then transport those notes to Obsidian in the evening (or whenever the occasion arises) when I’m at my PC.

Requirements and Desiderata

  1. The service must include a native mobile app (iOS). If I were willing to swallow the inconvenience and settle for a web app, I could just as well and would rather stay with Obsidian mobile.
  2. There must be a way to export to markdown obviously. So it’d be nice to have a dedicated desktop app, too (should support both macOS and Windows). Cross-platform synching should be secure, reliable and convenient.
  3. simple and clean is desired. I don’t need any sophisticated functionalities for my use case.
  4. ideally free, open source and encrypted—but these are not necessary
  5. no subscription, however, so if not free, there must at least be an option to purchase a lifetime licence.

Options considered so far

  1. There’s an exporter for the Apple notes. In the long run, I might opt for that; but for the time being, I need to do the trick on Windows…
  2. I’m still subscribed to Evernote and in the process of migrating all my notes there to Obsidian. I can continue using this for my purporse for a while; but I want to leave Evernote behind completely rather sooner than later.
  3. I’m attracted to Simplenote. Too bad it exports .txt’s rather than .md’s and dosn’t prefix the tags with #. Would be great if someone wrote a programm for converting Simplenote’s output to Obsidian-friendly input like @akos0215 did for Evernote.


  1. Joplin (see discussio below)
  2. Drafts (see discussion below)
  3. tried Markology—perhaps the only candidate I deem too minimalist

Currently under consideration

  1. Taio is in principle apt for my use case as is. The intersting functionalities are behind the paywall, though, and for the base version there is too much distraction going on in my opinion.
  2. iA Writer is presumably the best when it comes to simple&clean, focus-oriented, minimal, distranction-free, however you wanna call it. Intersting piece of software I think, just expensive, very expensive indeed. But it complies with my one-time-purchace policy.
  3. 1Write is inexpensive and seems intresting.
  4. So does Byword.

I’d be happy to hear about someone’s experiences in particular with any of these latter four.

Any suggestions? Evey idea is welcome :smile:

Try Joplin. It works well for me.


It sounds like you’re talking about the Drafts app. If you check it out, do a search in the actions directory for Obsidian actions. The Send to Obsidian with YAML action is particularly useful. Here’s an example:

title: My Atomic Note
author: Dan Landrum
date: 2021-08-18
source: Drafts
tags: [ sent2obsidian, watch ]

My Atomic Note
dictated on my phone or watch
I can even add tags on my watch and those are the tags you see in the YAML above. This action is unique in that it doesn’t add all the frontmatter to the Drafts note, rather, it creates it in Obsidian when you run the action.
#pickles (I added an inline tag for demonstration purposes. It’s all just markdown, so it appears as you would expect.)

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Thanks. Forgot to mention that I had consiered Joplin already. How do you do the synching? When I checked this option that seemed a bit tricky and apparently no support for iCloud? Also, I read somewhere that exporting to markdown does’t preserve all timestamps. Can you confirm this?

Ouuh, this sounds intersting/promising. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.
But how do you access it? Is this a pro-exclusive and/or Mac-exclusive feature? I couldn’t find it whithin the iPhone app.

Now I got it, so it’s basically a community plugin. You can always install it, but it’s still de facto pro-exclusive because you need to edit your vault name into the script for the whole thing to work, and editing ‘‘actions,’’ as they’re called in Drafts, is exclusive to the pro version, which is subscription-based, which in turn makes it violate my requirement no.5. Hmm, too bad :disappointed_relieved:
Well, I’ll have to think about it…

Here is a list of markdown applications you can consider.

I’ve set up a few iOS Shortcuts actions to quickly capture notes, links and even images. I use 1Writer for accessing and editing my notes (synced via Dropbox).

Before Obsidian released their mobile app, I was using 1Writer. It works really well, and as you say, it’s only a $5 investment vs iA Writer and others. Here’s how my iCloud syncing worked:

  • Run 1Writer the first time
  • Find the 1Writer folder in iCloud (it’s under ~/Library/Mobile Documents/something....
  • Copy my Obsidian vault to that folder
  • (optional part for nerds) create a symbolic link to the vault to your home directory
  • In Obsidian, open your new vault that is now located in the ~/Library/Mobile Documents/something... folder

It worked quite well with very quick syncing across my laptop (Obsidian), iPhone (1Writer), and iPad (1Writer).

I’ve since abandoned it for the Obsidian app because it’s good enough for me, but hopefully this will help you!

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So you aren’t using the mobile app?

I moved my vault to iCloud to make the mobile app work but am having too much friction and miss drafts.

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I used Drafts extensively with Bear. Later on, when I moved to Obsidian, I found out that I could achieve the same frictionless, templated input with the Shortcuts app. This is what I value the most in my note-taking workflow.

As for retrieving and editing, 1Writer is competent at best. Fortunately, that’s not crucial for me.

I tried the mobile app, but it’s not mature enough for my needs. Besides, I want to keep my notes on Dropbox/Git and the integration is currently very hacky.

The one thing I would advise you against is having two separate note-taking systems and trying to manage them in tandem. I found it difficult enough to maintain one future-proof set of notes.

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I’ll try that out, thank you!

Me too, I have made it work, but I’m also having too much friction but don’t miss Evernote a bit :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

The one thing I would advise you against is having two separate note-taking systems and trying to manage them in tandem. I found it difficult enough to maintain one future-proof set of notes.

I agree. I don’t want to have two systems, just one, an Obsidian-based one. Only I want an auxiliary app just for capturing fleeting notes that are to be imported to Obsidian later on.

I use dynalist for this kind of thing. Although ios default note taking app should be ok too.
I have iA Writer, it’s good just too much for my use.

How does the process look like with dynalist in detail, @pkeep? Isn’t it kind of cumbersome to get the files and bring them to markdown format…? Seems like it from a quick research.

I mean just copy and paste from dynalist desktop app to your obsidian desktop app, right? Seems to work just fine, I just tried it. The bullets, links are formatted correctly.

To be fair, any non-obsidian solution you find will involve similar process. Some perhaps plays less nice, and you need to export it to text/markdown and process it further.

I’ve finally got my satisfying solution: In this video, @tallguyjenks mentions and links this video, in which this Siri shortcut is linked and explained. For my part, I actually didn’t follow that link at first but searched for the video myself and found an earlier one with a different shortcut link. The idea is really the same in both cases, but I find the later mentioned video to be more instructive, somewhat easier to follow. Plus, this older shortcut doesn’t depend on third-party software. iOS 14 suffices on its own. I found the shortcut has even been referred to on the forum before.

Anyways, I adapted the shortcut to my idiosyncracies (including my YAML setup and whatnot) and now have just what I need. Well no, it’s even simpler than what I (could have possibly) hoped for. Tap the phone on the back, enter text, done! It’s worth a look for anyone remotely interested in making quick capturing efficient and convenient.

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