Single Obsidian instance, multiple folders in different places

Instead of having a single vault with a centralized tree of folders, I wish I could naturally use Obsidian with my existing structure of folders/projects. I know it can open any folder with MD files as a vault, but then I lose Obsidian settings/plugins, which are implemented within a specific vault and only work within that vault.

So… is there a way of having a single Obsidian instance with all settings and plugins, but being able to open folders from everywhere with that specific Obsidian’s look and settings? In other words, is it possible to have a single /.obsidian able to open folders from places other than the folders that are not under the same tree?

You can copy the .obsidian folder to other vaults, tho of course they won’t stay in sync. I’m pretty sure some people have worked out ways of syncing them if you search the forum, tho they may not be the smoothest methods. Also you’d have to remember that settings changes made from outside Obsidian don’t take effect until the app restarts and can be overwritten before then.

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Can’t I use a folder in a relative path, e.g. ../.obsidian? This way, I could have a /.obsidian folder within the root of my Google Drive and use the subfolders as vaults when needed, but all of them referring to the same config files.

By the way, I tried to use ../.obsidian in Override config folder but it hasn’t worked - but I’m asking anyway bc I’m hoping I missing something.

I tried a few different scenarios and they had unintended consequences. Some of the plugins put information in the .obsidian folder that do not transfer well from one vault to another. And if you have two vaults open at the same time and they are both trying to modify the same .obsidian file, bad things can happen.

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If you tried it and it didn’t work, it probably doesn’t work. Until now I’ve assumed Obsidian expects the directory to be in the vault’s root.

If it did work, you’d need to somehow exclude workspace.json because that stores (among other things) what tabs are open. (And from pdworkman’s post it sounds like other files could have problems too.)

Depending on your operating system there is also another solution, and that is to have a dedicated folder for you vault, which holds the actual version of the settings and a proper root folder, and then use symbolic links (possibly hard symbolic links) to connect all the folders from elsewhere into to your vault.

This would kind of look like a duplication of the folders, but due to the symbolic links you’re actually working on the original files within that folder. However, be warned that you could get some issues with linking between files having the same names in various folders. That is, you might turn your settings to shortest path available, and you might need to qualify some of the links now and then to make it clear which variant of a given file you want.

I found that Obsidian Sync does not work with symlinks. So while this works okay on one dedicated computer, you run into problems if you want to sync those to a mobile device.

I can see that happening, and it kind of depends on how you setup your structure with symlinks. Given the use of hard symlinks on folders, it shouldn’t be a problem with syncing. With soft symlinks, and possibly on the file level, you are bound to have issues with syncing.