"Use tabs: off" only replaces tabs with spaces in lists


When Use tabs is toggled off under Settings --> Editor, a certain number of spaces (I’m assuming 2, but it does not say) should be inserted when Tab is pressed instead of a tab character as stated; however, that is not the case. Tab characters are still inserted when Tab is pressed.

Steps to reproduce

  1. Set Settings --> Editor --> Use tabs to off
  2. Go to any note and press the Tab key on your keyboard

Expected result

2 spaces should be inserted into the note.

Actual result

1 tab character is inserted into the note.


  • Operating system: Windows 10 Pro for Workstations
  • Obsidian version: v0.8.1 (Although I believe this has been a bug in previous versions)

Additional information

I also noticed that if I opened up a new line via Enter or o in Vim mode, it would insert spaces no matter if the previous line was indented with spaces or tabs. If I set Use tabs to on though, and the previous line was a list item indented with spaces, then it inserts spaces still, but if the previous line was indented with spaces and not a list item, it inserts a tab character. So, this settings’ behavior seems to be fairly unpredictable when it comes to indentation as well as pressing the Tab key.

I didn’t see a setting for it, but it would also be useful to configure the number of spaces that the Use tabs setting would insert when set to off.

1 Like

I’ve been surprised by this today.

With use tabs on off:

If you are on a list, like this (| is the cursor)

- Hello|

And press Enter + Tab, you get spaces.

But, if you are just on plain text:


And press Enter + Tab, you get a tab.

Just wanted to mention that I was fighting formatting the markdown for a list of checkboxes to align appropriately and I was having problems because a tab snuck in a previous list item. It was frustrating.

I searched, and in the last week I have 3 files with tabs in some of the list items.

This is usually invisible but when it bites you it is quite frustrating to figure out :sob:

I have double checked this issue. I agree with @joakin that the setting work only in list and not elsewhere.
So we either fix this or clarify what the toggle does.

EDIT: renamed topic

Personally, I believe this setting should definitely apply to all whitespace indentation. It would be a little silly and inconsistent to mix tabs and spaces in the same file in my opinion. I am a software engineer and always use spaces in everything I write (except Makefiles of course). It also makes it easier to use other unix tools with plain text files such as these.


The setting should definitely change all tabs to spaces.
Everything else makes no sense whatsoever.

I realized today the this behavior is what caused this bug report from me:

Because sometimes I write the lists by hand it apparently entered a tab when the rest of the list was using spaces.

1 Like

will be fixed in 0.9.23

Great news, looking forward to it.