Not able to sync settings to my second device

I just started using obsidian, and it works great! Now I have a question about sync. I am using Obsidian 0.14.2 on Linux (Ubuntu). I have activated Obsidian Sync as described here

Now, I decided I would see if sync actually worked by installing obsidian on my second device which is a macBook Air. I installed obsidian on the macBook and then activated sync as described here:

And everything seemed to work fine. All notes I had created on my Linux machine appeared on the macBook. But then I realized that my plugins and settings had not been synced to my mac. I found that I had forgot to check the page “Settings->Sync”. So I went to my Linux device and switched on all settings under the headings “Selective sync” and under “Vault configuration sync”. Then I went to my macBook and did the same there too. But nothing happend on the macBook. Unfortunately, I am still missing all my settings from my Linux device on my macBook.

Any idea what can be the problem, and how I can solve it?

With the default theme, there is a sync check mark next to the word count. If you click it, it will open up the sync log. You can also get to the sync log from the sync plugin settings panel. It will list sync activity. It would be worth checking the log on both devices. For example, make a settings change on your linux device, and you should see logs on the linux machine like this

2022-04-01 06:17 - Uploading file .obsidian/plugins/obsidian-minimal-settings/data.json
2022-04-01 06:17 - Upload complete .obsidian/plugins/obsidian-minimal-settings/data.json
2022-04-01 06:17 - Fully synced

and on your macbook air like this

2022-04-01 06:17 - Server pushed [LINUXMACHINE] .obsidian/plugins/obsidian-minimal-settings/data.json
2022-04-01 06:17 - Downloading file .obsidian/plugins/obsidian-minimal-settings/data.json
2022-04-01 06:17 - Downloading complete .obsidian/plugins/obsidian-minimal-settings/data.json
2022-04-01 06:17 - Accepted .obsidian/plugins/obsidian-minimal-settings/data.json
2022-04-01 06:17 - Fully synced

That’s what would happen if it should work. If you are not seeing anything, that’s useful for troubleshooting too. Then go back and carefully review setup.

Also note that depending on the setting you are expecting (enabled/disabled plugins, theme changes, etc) that requires an app restart to take effect. It would be disruptive to have appearance and active plugins change instantly on push.

Yes the sync log was very helpful to debug this! This is what I found out about how sync of the settings worked:

  • Sync only happens from the device to the other device when a change is made
  • Sync never happens by only switching on sync settings in “Settings->Sync”
  • The files which are synced can be found in the .obsidian subfolder of the vault:
    • appearance.json
    • app.json
    • community-plugins.json
    • core-plugins.json
    • hotkeys.json
      and possibly others like switcher.json and templates.json.
  • Only one of these files are synced when a change is made to the corresponding settings
  • So if you change appearance settings only appearance.json is synced.

This meant that in order for me to get transferred my settings from the Linux machine to the mac machine,

  • I needed to change settings on the Linux machine, not on the mac machine
  • This could be done by switching on and off a setting in each of the above five settings categories on the Linux machine

I think this is working now. As far as I can see it has copied all major settings to my mac machine now.

Sync never happens by only switching on sync settings in “Settings->Sync”

I’m not sure that is quite accurate. In the normal flow of adding another device, clean vault, just enabling a toggle will pull down the respective un-sync’d settings.

Yes you are right, to verify this, I tried on another device now with Windows 11. The following seemed work there:

  • Install obsidian for Windows
  • Create a new local vault direcotory
  • Go to “Settings->Account” and login to obsidian account
  • Go to “Settings->Core plugins” and enable “Sync”
  • Go to “Settings->Sync” and connect to the remote vault (enter encryption password here)
  • In the next dialog do not choose “Enable sync” yet, first :
  • Go to “Settings->Sync” and switch on all settings under the headings “Selective sync” and under “Vault configuration sync”.
  • Finally, go to “Settings->Sync” and under the heading “Sync status” click “Resume” to start syncing
  • After the notes have been downloaded, restart obsidian to activate the downloaded settings
  • The community plugins do still not appear. The last step is to go to “Settings->Community plugins” and turn off “Safe mode”
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