Obsidian: a toy or a productivity app?

Entirely seconded, and thank you for saying so :slightly_smiling_face:


Oh…it was warranted!!! And, I couldn’t have said it better.


Just weighing in with my two cents.

I think any app or note taker has to balance fun/prettyness with productivity, and I think Obsidian is doing a fantastic job of it.

For me to use an app, I need it to have a base set of features I’m looking for, but it also needs to be clean, distraction free, and inspiring. To be honest, if I wasn’t able to add custom CSS to take away a bunch of the borders/clutter and disable some plugins, I probably wouldn’t use the app, because too much clutter is uninspiring to me.

But with how toggleable and customizeable everything is in Obsidian, I’m able to fine tune it exactly as I want. With obsidian, I’ve been able to replace Ulysses, Notion, and DayOne–as well as 95% of my Apple Notes. And even moreso, I’m able to connect these things in ways I never before possible. That is game changing.

I think there is a small issue of expectations and while there may be a valueable critique underneath the original post, it could have been worded way better. I do find it offensive that you would call other people’s use-cases a “toy” just because the features aren’t directly useful to you. I also find it a bit ungrateful when you consider that 1) its a free program 2) its beta software and 3) the release schedule has been insanely fast.

tl;dr. Be patient. Or don’t. I know they have a great refund policy


Totally valid reply. I had exactly the same feeling when reading the initial post. I was online when it was posted - I also felt the need to directly reply…
I was a bit hesitant doing so and luckily because my response would probably be considered “harsh”. So I decided to follow the rules and reply positively even if my “gut-feeling” was different.
Therefor: I totally want to second the response of @ryanjamurphy!
And I do believe the Devs are doing a great job!!!


the choice to belittle an entire user base because one did not immediately get their feature requests met from a two dev team is quite strange. obsidian is not a productivity app. use the WSIWYG css. what in the world.


I would like to say that the fundamental premise of your criticism does not align well with Obsidian. In other words, I think you have misunderstood what Obsidian is.

Obsidian is not a productive app. It is branded as a knowledge base, and the feature that the developers have enabled (so far) fit into this description. You can argue that a knowledge base should enable productivity, and I’d agree. But even then, what makes you productive may not be what makes others productive.

What would have shifted the development towards the direction you prefer is reasons why such and such should have been implemented. Lacking any argument, I cannot see this as anything more than a pointless ranting.

I realize my tone is harsh, but I don’t appreciate the statements of the kind oh-they-should-have-done-this-and-that while not even entertaining the possibility that your understanding of the direction the app is taking is not comprehensive, and not providing any reason that would have led you to making such statements.

What I think this thread is, is simply not constructive.


I think it is a little harsh to deride Obsidian as a toy. It is an open project to create a knowledge base built upon markdown files. I personally believe in the project which is why it is one of the first software projects that I have financially supported. I am also already using it in anger for some of my professional work.

Sure there are some features which would be helpful, although the team are rather open and you can post feature requests under the designated section. I think the most conducive thing there would be to post your requirements as requests and perhaps (this is assuming) walk-through how you would use it. E.g. I would love to be able to view and use SVG files as normal images, since I use them a lot within reports and also have a library of them. That’s why after searching I found a request and added my support to that request. Personally, I don’t use the graph but I can see that this is a draw for others, particularly those interested in ROAM.

As it stands, the software has a good community, and it is free, and developing. I reckon you could contribute in your own way, but you also need to recognise that it will not be all things to all people, and that it may take a while before your requests are supported.


Whether or not Obsidian is a toy or a productivity app depends on how you use it.

Before I switched to using Obsidian I treated the app like a toy. I made a couple files, played with the graph, and then closed the application to not re-open it for 9 days. Then I reopened the app again, made a couple file changes, and close it again.

Since I didn’t really use Obsidian for its purpose, it was more of a gimmick and toy. I probably didn’t even use 10% of the features during that initial period.

But once I switched to using Obsidian in my daily workflow, and committed to learning the app and its features, it became an incredible productivity tool. My note taking in Obsidian works much smoother than I used before, I can find my earlier notes with ease, and my general learning efficiency is higher.

For me Obsidian (and every other app for that matter) is that you need to put something in, before you can get something valuable out of it.

As an analogy, if you use a calendar app and only put your birthday on it, then you can’t really call the calendar just a toy or an unfinished product. :slight_smile:


Obsidian is getting closer and closer to the app I’ve been dreaming of for years. I couldn’t care less for .doc and .xls and .ppt, but I won’t be surprised or disappointed if the the devs implement those features — I’ll just not use them, I guess. For some, the graph is a fun gimmick; for me, it’s a powerful tool and the recent update has done wonders for my workflow.

What I’m saying is that despite not being a productivity app, as you seem to assume, Obsidian is catering to a multitude of happy users with very different needs, and people tend to realize and respect that.

If you feel that things are taking a direction contrary to your expectations, you are, of course, free to express your frustration (preferably in a nicer tone), but shouldn’t be surprised when you get these replies from those who, like me, appreciate Obsidian’s inclusive development.


All the comments are valid. There is 1 more that can be added, which, after all is said an done, is the bottom line: take it or leave it, the choice is yours, no one is forcing you to use it.


I think branding Obsidian as a “this” or a “that” (be it productivity or knowledge management or creative sandpit or reference library… whatever) is the real mistake here. As with any tool, there are use cases which do not fit, so you have to move on, or use something else. If you wanted “everything” you could always use emacs!

So I think the OP, to give some credit here, might have posted because of Obsidian’s strengths, and because it is such a joy to use, but doesn’t necessarily tick all of the boxes yet.

You can make of Obsidian what you will… but I have yet to find an app which allows such elegance and ease of use for linked document creation. Sure, there are features which I would love to see implemented. But that’s true of any piece of software, and here is the place to ask for them… at least we can ask!

I also do not think that “toy” is a bad thing either… no offence intended either way to Obsidian devs or to the OP. I’ll be honest, I like toys. As the releases say “shiny new things” which is one of the reasons I support this product, it is both serious and fun to use.


This is my first time ever being a part of an online community/forum and also watching an amazing product grow.

Like @ryanjamurphy said, the team is doing an amazing job bringing big rocks of major features along with small delightful features.

And your reply was well-warranted. Thank you for writing it out.

Also, while comparing Roam Research and Obsidian on Reddit, when I had to decide on one, one of the key differentiators was how amazing this community is. Let’s keep it that way @everyone :blush:

And @qithend, honestly I didn’t completely get how “useful” the forces in graph view is. I agree with you on that. But please don’t disregard everything else they’ve been doing.

It’s a small team, and they are doing an amazing job. And like @romanov.maxim pointed out. It’s a powerful knowledge base, not a typical productivity app.


To offer a different take:

I myself am here because Obsidian, for me, is “Roam but local and open”, which is very valuable to me.

“Productivity” means different things to different people, which is why numerous apps exist already. As an example, I index all of Obsidian content into DevonThink, which is where I also index every other doc of any kind.

So the focus on graph view is exactly what I want, and I appreciate all the innovation and work there.


My 2 cents’ worth, as someone who writes and researches all day…

For me, Obsidian is an ideal research tool, just as it is. The devs are a delight… The addition of the Outline plugin almost made me weep tears of joy. (Not kidding, and THANK YOU.)

I don’t need Obsidian to format anything. I have a MILE of “writing” apps (MS Word, Ulysses, Bear, Scrivener… and on, and on) which can take Markdown and format it in any way I choose.

I WOULD weep tears of anger if Obsidian went from a plain text note-taking app which is perfect for my researching and thinking needs to a would-be word processor.

Not meaning to denigrate the OP; your concerns are valid, of course. And thank you for posting them.

But I can assure you, from my point of view, which seems the complete opposite of yours, Obsidian is all about serious work for me… And to reiterate, just as it is, I love Obsidian. It’s the first app I open each morning, and it remains open all day.

So, horses for courses, to coin a cliche. :slight_smile:


I’m new here, and still exploring whether or how I want to use Obsidian. (I’m already all-in on plain text notes using Markdown and have been for years.)

I was saddened to see this thread, and the degree to which everyone is piling on. The initial post was maybe inelegant, and could have been phrased more diplomatically; but I’m going to guess that it was written by someone for whom English isn’t their first language.

Even if that’s not the case, it didn’t strike me as cause for replying (equally?) dismissively.

I will think twice before offering my own thoughts on any features or the direction of the app.

@tf2: it is not the OP’s own thoughts per se which have been criticised.

It is the denigration of how other people use Obsidian (as a toy) and the devs’ “change of track” (towards a non-productive app), both of which are based on his/her frustration of features that he/she cannot use.

Uttering frustration that way shows disregard (not to say contempt) for fellow users and the devs. Apart from the attitude towards the fellow users, I must say have not come across any other app devs who are as responsive, approachable, pleasant as Licat and Silver are. And they certainly have not changed track, on the contrary.

Everybody is entitled to their view but to treat others like the OP did out of the blue is a bit much. And in my view most of the replies here are even kind and courteous.


Expressing one’s wish for having Obsidian fit one’s use case in detail is certainly valid, and the request of having Obsidian be able to interact with more mainstream format such as Office docs certainly seems like there’s merit to it.

What is not cool is to dismiss the entire app out of frustration that it does not fit your use case. The tool is what it is and it is plenty productive for many people; if it isn’t for you, then… maybe it just isn’t for you.


Welcome, @tf2! I agree that some of the earlier comments sound a bit harsh on OP, but the latter posts read to me as examples of how people use Obsidian as a “serious” tool and not so much as piling on. The initial content and tone of the post make it a little hard to offer any help, other than to point out how each of us is using it and maybe help OP see it from other people’s point of view (and this is what I got from both the harsh and non-harsh responses), or how some of the recently implemented features are actually useful for a lot of us.

One of the best things about Obsidian is definitely the community, and I’m sorry the first impression we gave you/you got from us was a bad one. I would really recommend looking at other posts too and not take this post as the only picture of what the community does, because almost always the community is trying to help out.

That being said, here are two related topics where the community has helped before:

  1. Integrating Microsoft OneDrive/Office/365 Files into Obsidian
  2. Clutter free edit mode

Aye. Sorry, @tf2 and similarly-minded others. I do think the “pile on” here is unnecessary. I almost locked the thread when I replied above, but I was hoping the OP would respond earlier, perhaps to clarify—or, maybe, apologize in some way shape or form… (As a Canadian, saying “sorry” is the opposite of shameful. It is awesome and always helpful. Alas, maybe it is the Canadian superpower…)

I will say this: some sparks are ideas. Others cause wildfires.

There are 1000+ “sparks” in #feature-requests that have been well-received. 150+ previous requests were so well-received that they’re now in #feature-request-archive. And that doesn’t include all the additional context, use cases, suggestions, and details found in the replies to those threads.

I don’t think the evidence supports the interpretation that this community is dismissive or hard to please. Rather, I think it shows how eager folks are to hear out and encourage a diversity of use cases.

And with that, I’ll :lock: this thread… folks can message me if you have concerns or questions or favourite emoji to share.