Nested vaults in mobile (iOS/iPad OS) for team collaboration

What I’m trying to do

I want to create nested vaults on my iPad (which I can do without any problem on the desktop (Mac), as shown in the image below), but it seems like Obsidian mobile only allows vault root folders located directly under the Obsidian folder.

Is there any workaround?

Main vault Shared sub-vault

More background

Why do I want nested vaults?
I’m trying to set up Obsidian for team collaboration.
Each team member has their own vault with Shared/ subfolder within it.
This Shared folder is set up as a “sub-vault”, and we install the Self-hosted LiveSync plugin in this sub-vault to sync it across all members. (Personally, I’m willing to pay for Obsidian Sync, but it’s still hard to force all members to do that too, so LiveSync is a great option here.)

This works pretty nicely so far as long as we only use desktops.
But once we try to sync our main vaults (i.e. the one containing Shared as a subfolder) between desktop and mobile, we stick.
(To clarify, here are two streams of syncing: one for team collaboration, and another for personal sync of each member)

Whether I use the Obsidian Git plugin or LiveSync (or Obsidian Sync) for syncing the main vault between my desktop & mobile, I have to exclude the Shared folder to avoid conflicts with LiveSync working inside Shared.
This means we cannot see the Shared folder on mobile, because it is excluded from sync.

To be able to see the Shared folder on mobile, we have to create Shared folder again (under the mobile vault root) and set it up as a sub-vault, just like we did on the desktop. But the problem is Obsidian mobile seems not to allow it.

Things I have tried

Possible solutions and why they doesn’t solve the issue:

  • Include Shared in the main vault synchronization - This may cause conflict with LiveSync working in the sub-vault.
  • Place the main vault in iCloud, and then make Shared subfolder in it, and open as a new vault on desktop: Shared doesn’t appear in the vault list on mobile. Plus, LiveSync warns that we should not place our vaults in iCloud when using LiveSync.
  • Stop using nested vaults. Install LiveSync inside the main vault, and exclude any files/folder other than Shared from sync. Then use Obsidian Git for syncing the main vault with Shared excluded.: Probably works, but we can’t use LiveSync for files outside Shared, which is pretty restrictive.

As a coder, you can easily make a Siri Shortcut with A-Shell to move the nested items up to root/vault level and move them back when you’re done editing them. Then sync when all is back in original place.
Hacky but doable.

Thank you for the reply! Do you mean something like this?

  1. Create two separate folders Main vault & Shared at the same level so that Shared can be recognized as a vault by Obsidian
└── Main vault
└── Shared
  1. Set up LiveSync inside Shared and sync with other team members

  2. When I do some real work, I move Shared under Main vault and enter the Main vault. Now I can reference the notes in Shared as a part of Main vault, but the sync with team members stops.

└── Main vault
      └── Shared
  1. To refresh the content of Shared, move it back to the same level as Main vault, enter it, and run LiveSync
└── Main vault
└── Shared
  1. Repeat this process

Looks nice, but it would be even better if we could keep syncing even in step 3…

When I was experimenting with this, I had one main vault and moved the temporary/prospective vault up one level to have Obsidian recognize it (did not even need inititializing), but this one is equally good. Problem will be people working and syncing at the same time and merging changes.

Problem will be people working and syncing at the same time and merging changes.

Yeah, you’re right.

Probably we can reduce the chances of manual conflict resolution by making a rule like:

  • While entering the main vault, don’t edit notes under Shared.
  • When editing a note inside Shared, move the sub-folders up to the top level (i.e. directly under the Obsidian folder) and work in this Shared vault with LiveSync enabled.

But it looks a bit cumbersome…

(It now seems that I should post a feature request to enable nested vaults on mobile)

If you know about git, you can make branches and merge those back to master. Needs the effort, though.

By all means write up the FR.


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