Please explain vague "iCloud Drive Sync" instructions

Things I have tried

What I’m trying to do: Access my iCloud vault from my iPad

I have desktop Obsidian accessing my vault in an iCloud Obsidian folder. Now I just want to access this vault with my iPad’s Obsidian mobile app.

Per the iOS app help page, the “iCloud Drive Sync” section, I’ve started the iPad app and created a new vault with the same name as the one I’m accessing from the desktop app. The iPad screen now just says, “No file is open.”

The instructions say “Wait for iCloud to sync this empty folder to your desktop.” (How long does this take? How do I know when it’s done?)

Does “sync this empty folder to your desktop” mean it will copy all the files to the iPad from the iCloud vault that my desktop is using?

If so, why does step 4 tell me to “Copy and paste everything under your vault to this empty folder” ? How do I do that? With the iPad’s Files app?

The instructions are just a little vague for my limited experience with this stuff…


From my experience,

Create an empty vault(for example, ABC from iOS device with the same Vault name on Desktop.

Then, you can see the “Obsidian” folder in the iCloud Drive.
Inside the “Obsidian” folder, there is a empty “ABC” folder.

And, then just copy all of the files from desktop “ABC” folder using “File explorer program for Windows 10” to “iCloud Drive/Obsidian/ABC”.
You also have to open the iCloud Drive/Obsidian/ABC folder as a vault, again.

That worked nicely for me.

I think you’re overthinking some things and underthinking others!

At this point (v1.0.3), the set up should be:

  • Install Obsidian on iOS/iPadOS from the App Store.
  • On your Mac, look for Obsidian’s iCloud Drive app container (an app-specific folder created in your iCloud Drive directory). It will have the Obsidian logo.
  • Drag and drop your Vault folder into the aforementioned iCloud Drive/Obsidian folder.
  • On iPhone/iCloud, wait for it to sync. This part can be a little tricky. Obsidian needs your entire folder structure available to work: it uses the contents of every file inside to drive its functions. Unfortunately, Apple’s a bit paternalistic about whether or not iCloud Drive files should be downloaded. So, you need to trigger the download by launching Obsidian and opening the vault. That might take a little while, especially if the vault is big, because Obsidian is forcing iCloud Drive to download all of the files inside it. While this is happening, you can actually check progress by going to the Files app and looking at the vault in iCloud Drive/Obsidian. If it seems to get stuck, you can relaunch Obsidian to give iCloud Drive some encouragement.

Aside: The most frustrating thing about this process is that it’s really a bunch of workarounds that address Apple’s insistence that iOS/iPadOS not be a real operating system. Far as I can tell, users on Android had a much easier time because the file system is designed to be a lot easier to work with in these kinds of situations…

Cross-posting this to your reply on the MacPowerUsers forum.

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