Mobile: Edit with external app (PDF, Image) and get the result back

Use case or problem

In the mobile app (at least Android) one can’t open the PDF file with an external viewer. However this is necessary because the Obsidian viewer can’t zoom in.

Proposed solution

Similar to the desktop version, after a long tap on the file in the menu there should be an option for opening the file with the default app.

Alternatively, always open it with the default app or make a setting for that, see Change default behaviour to be able to open links to pdf local files in default app by left clicking (instead of with an option displayed by right clicking).


I’ll also note that the “share” context menu item for wiki links is not usable, since it sends a copy of the PDF to the other app, not the filesystem path. It’s pass-by-value, not pass-by-reference (as it should be). I want to be able to annotate PDFs in Xodo with my S-pen, and have the annotations get saved to the right place to be picked up by Syncthing.

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Also, iOS is probably a lost cause here, because of their draconian filesystem sandboxing. The ability to have multiple apps operate on the same set of files is care to why I abandoned by iphone experiment after a year of earnestly trying to make it work. I mean, I guess you can sort of have a limited version of that life if you put everything into iCloud, but I aint gonna.

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I can’t quite follow: Editing a PDF within a vault with a PDF Reader does work. (In my case the vault is considered local by iOS since it is synced via Obsidian Sync.)

Well, maybe I was too pessimistic. In my experience, iOS’s equivalent of Android’s intents system was all “call-by-value”-style–if you said you wanted to open a file in another app, what you really got was a copy of that file into the other app, and then you’d have to manually save it back to some place the first app could get at it again.

That is, except for images, where most apps used some official iOS API to access the photo roll.

Anyway, for Android, there’s probably just two different kinds of sharing/intent launch, and Obsidian devs used the by-value one rather than the by-reference (or by-path) one.

Or they’re using the “more privacy-friendly APIs, such as Storage Access Framework or the Media Store API.” Privacy-friendly they may be, but I don’t want handholding here. Obsidian does request scoped access to the particular vault directories I tell it to open.

Somehow you need to prompt the other app to do ACTION_OPEN_DOCUMENT instead of ACTION_GET_CONTENT, maybe. I don’t really know what I’m talking about, but the description sounds nice:

Instead of retrieving a copy of a file that you must import to your app (by using the ACTION_GET_CONTENT action), when running on Android 4.4 or higher, you can instead request to open a file that’s managed by another app by using the ACTION_OPEN_DOCUMENT action and specifying a MIME type.

I wasn’t theorizing: editing externally does work with sync on iOS - at least when using Obsidian sync. Can’t say for iCloud.

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Editing externally works for icloud. I can open PDF file on Goodreader; and the change reflects. But the main issue seems to be not just editing but also the viewer is terrible; no scroll view (only page by page), and not being able to access bookmarks.

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My current workflow that works very well on ipad is that once I have a PDF open,I tap on the menu dots and tap, share , markup. this allows me to view the PDF in a external editor, and both navigate and annotate, draw, highlight etc, then when I am done, simply tap done, save file to and then navigate to your attachments folder in your obsidian vault in icloud. This then saves the changes to your pdf and sets the location as default for next time.

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[ ] iOS
[x] Android

Obsidian Mobile version: v1.0.3

When tapping a file in obsidian file explorer, for example PPTX, the file is sent to the operating system, not the path. This makes the file uneditable, because a temporary file is created, which is then opened by Office. So the file cannot be saved after editing.

When tapping foreign file types, Obsidian should open the file in the real folder with their real path, just like a File Explorer.


This also applies to PDFs. Tapping those links naturally opens the internal editor, but I can’t comment on PDFs with this (which I want to do pretty much every time I touch a PDF file). So, I need an external editor, so, I use “Share”, and I get the bug described here.

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I would like to add to this request, it may seem dumb, but as an student I am constantly editing PDFs that are saved in my vault, and having to do this game to overwrite on all changes that I want to do with my stylus on an external app is a waste of time.
Please consider adding this simple option “open with” or “open with external app” to the options menu.


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I open pdf file(which located in obsidain vault) in files app and use build in ‏Feature( quick action > markup) And annotate it and voilà it’s done.

‏This is the only viable method I came up with.