Smart Folders: Notes can sort automatically to chosen folders based on tags

I hope you like the idea, do you think that would be helpful to your personal workflow?

It came to my mind the following:

  1. Right-click on a folder --> “Smart folder”

  2. A small Context menu appears, “Chose tags”, here you can add the tags that you want that all notes with such tag to go directly (tags already chosen for other folders do not show and subfolders also have assigned its parent folder tag as default).

This way, you can add the tag #Evergreen, and it would go to a folder you have set up with that tag, no more unsorted tags in the left panel!.

Folders are hierarchies so for example:

  • FolderA(with tag #X)
    • Folder1(With tag #A)
    • Folder2(With tag #B)

then, if you create a note and add #X then it goes inside Folder A, If you add the tags #X #A, then go to Folder1 and so on.

Extra–> This behavior could be improved with logic rules (if, also, and, not, etc…)

What you think?

32 Likes

This is an interesting idea—it significantly overlaps with starred searches, and yet the two concepts are not the same. Hmm.

What are the benefits smart folders have over/in addition to starred searches?

3 Likes

The main benefit is the physical structure: certain types of notes are automatically sent to specific folders. For example, in the Zettelkasten method, one first creates temporary notes (temporary folder), which then must be reviewed and converted to permanent notes (permanent folder). Keeping them separately — in different folders is more convenient.

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The feature would be able to automatically organize any note with any workflow.
personally I find uncomfortable to see an immense list of notes in my right panel, and I do forget to spend the time to organize them.
As an avid system thinker, this would take care of the issue :slight_smile:

3 Likes

I think the concept of the “smart folder” could be expanded to not only include tags, but also some other data points which could be logically combined, such as:

  • Last updated date within n days, etc
  • Accessed n times within last 30 days
  • Is starred / favorite
  • Tag with / not tagged with
  • In folder / not in folder

With that I could have the following view, perhaps:

  • ((Note is updated within last 30 days) OR (Note is frequently accessed)) AND NOT (Note is in the “Journal” Folder)
  • (Note is tagged with “#project”) AND (Note is tagged with “#active”)

This would be more powerful / flexible and should more easily maintainable than building one feature per item. I have also seen this approach done very well in other software apps, OmniFocus (perspectives) being one of my favorites.

5 Likes

There are also other uses for this, like speeding up certain kinds of workflows. Currently, I host a github repo from one of the subfolders in my vault, so being able to tag notes would make uploading them to the repo much easier.

3 Likes

I’m at this post because I just had a need to create a smart folder and discovered there is no implementation of that. Example use case: I have notes tagged with #stub that need some completion. A smart folder that contained all #stub notes would give me some focus on what’s left. Similarly, if I’m starting a journal article creating a folder to collect the relevant notes would be good too. The query language that can be used in markdown could be implemented but just presenting results in a folder instead of in a document.

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I love this idea.

I also wonder one other thing: How conventional folders can be tagged. My guess is this is impossible due to file system constraints. It would make for an interesting addition to the graph: Connections between containers (folders), aside from connections between notes.

Would love to see this - would by very helpful in keeping the vault organised

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I was just searching for something like this, Nice idea!

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This sounds like an interesting idea.

Just one workaround (if people desperately need to automatically sort files) is to use something like Hazel, point it at your vault and have it automatically move files with certain #tags into specific sub-folders.

Otherwise, I currently use the Dataview Plugin to create a table view of all my notes that have been tagged with #to-process and I check that table on a weekly basis to see whether I have anything outstanding to process.

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I am wondering whether these should be actual folders or more akin to saved searches. In Eagle (which I was introduced to here on the forum), there are “Smart Folders”. They do not make multiple copies of a file to place it in all the Smart Folders whose conditions it satisfies. Instead the folders are more like collections, which allow overlap.

I think it is interesting to bring up the idea of tagging the folder. Could there be Smart Sub-Folders? Might this allow a Smart Folder to meet the conditions of another Smart Folder? Just thinking out loud.

Thanks.

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I’d very much like to see this idea being implemented - mostly for the reason that @CarlosMK mentioned. Putting notes into folders helps me unclutter my file explorer.

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As someone coming from Ulysses, which has a really powerful smart-folder system, I really miss this feature. Here’s why:
I’m a grad student so I like to use tags that reference topics, as well as tags that reference authors when I’m taking notes on a book, and ‘place’ tags that reference where the note came from (lecture, book, paper, conference). Given that these tags are of different kinds, I want to separate my ‘topic’ tags from my ‘people’ and ‘place’ tags.

My workaround is to use nested tags, but this isn’t perfect because I really like adding my tags inline as I write on the fly, and it’s really clunky to do this when you have 3 nested tags (and it doesn’t read nicely either).

The problem with using Hazel as @vishae suggested is that it still uses a traditional folder system whereby one note can only be in one place. The idea with the smart folders is that a file can be in multiple places at once. A file on a book on Einstein, for example, can be both in the ‘people’ folder under its author, and in the ‘topic’ folder under ‘physics’, ‘time’, and so on.

3 Likes

This would be an excellent feature to add in obsidian. I hope the devs consider it!

+1 Smart folders work great in Ulysses and Zotero, and would be a great addition to Obsidian

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Couldn’t an Obsidian smart folder just be an auto-populated Map of Content?

Sounds like a Plugin, not a Feature.

Conversely, Obsidian could institute Virtual Folders, and we can get rid of the file system folders all together. Then you could do this tasks easily since virtual folders are just special tags to make a note show in the virtual folders on the left side.

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Smart Folders would be something I would use IMMEDIATELY. I’m already using them in every app I run in macOS that offers them – Outlook for work, Mail, as well as others.

+1 for this feature