Using NotePlan as an Obsidian companion (iPhone and iPad compatibility!)

Thanks for the great write up.

One call out, I haven’t fully tested this but it’s good to know.

If you use CloudKit Sync and then edit a file within Obsidian while it’s open in NotePlan the file will automatically update.

If you don’t use CloudKit Sync the file won’t automatically update until you refresh or open it again. Let’s say I have the daily note open in both apps at the same time, I add something to it in Obsidian and then switch back to NotePlan, in NotePlan a quick CMD+T will refresh the note. It’s a minor inconvenience but could potentially lead to conflicting files.

I discovered this issue because CloudKit is blocked on my work laptop so I’ve been trying out Dropbox sync instead.

Also, the NotePlan dev just announced basic ‘Linked References / Backlinks’ functionality will be available soon.

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Ah, that’s great to know, thanks! I’ll make a note of that nuance in the guide. It reinforces why I like CloudKit, I suppose, in spite of the Application Support weirdness.

Great to know. Can you provide a link to where he announced this?

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Thanks for taking time to write this, Ryan.

You mention a lot of “incompatibilities” between Obsidian and NotePlan. (That’s probably a strong word – but they are more than minor differences.)

But other than “it’s awesome”, why would someone want to do this? What kind of user would link the data from Obsidian and NotePlan together? After all, NotePlan is what the name suggests: a note taking application that happens to be associated with the calendar. For that use case, isn’t NotePlan good enough alone?

(I’m not in the user category who would use Obsidian for task planning, if that matters.)

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@Daveb08
Here you go:

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Thanks, it’s a good point. I meant this post mostly as a “how” to use both apps, but perhaps the “why” deserves its own write-up—or at least a bigger call-out. Briefly, there’s two main reasons:

  • iPhone/iPad notes access. NotePlan gives us a powerful way to access and add to our notes when away from the desk.
  • Task filtering. If you’re not managing projects/tasks within your notes, this won’t matter, but NotePlan provides an intuitive rollup of tasks that is very handy. (E.g., I can review and interact with every “overdue” task from my previous daily notes in one view.)

NotePlan also provides a few other benefits unavailable in Obsidian: you can open notes in their own windows on macOS; you can use @ to tag people and it’ll pull them together, there’s a CloudKit-based collaboration option (e.g., share a note with another NotePlan user and you can both edit it simultaneously). But the main ones are above!

Edit: missed that the question went both ways… As for why not to use just NotePlan, I find Obsidian’s “IDE for thought” approach to be more productive than NotePlan. The graph, transclusion, search, and window management features all make Obsidian a bit more powerful, for me. Plus, customizability (especially with plugins) is a major boon—I love using the “focus mode” and “Andy’s mode” tweaks to get different emphases on what I’m working on, for instance.

You’re right in that the overlap of both apps may mean that just one might be enough for most people. It is an important consideration. Still, as both apps continue to develop, I think we’ll see more divergence than convergence here.

I’ll edit this into the guide. Thanks again!

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Thanks again, Ryan.

Did you mention that NotePlan 3 will probably be a subscription app at around $60/year?

NotePlan 2 was (is) available on SetApp but the dev told me that NotePlan 3 will not be on SetApp, at least initially, because he wants to maximize MAS sales first.

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Good point as well! I thought about adding pricing info in originally but held off arbitrarily. Added footnotes to point people to the pricing info for both apps. Thanks!

Edit: note that these changes have been made at the source and in the post above/on the Mac Power Users forum.

Thanks for the writeup @ryanjamurphy! I didn’t see Dropbox support on NotePlan’s site initially so I steered away from trying this. Glad to see the beta has Dropbox support though.

Is there a place to sign up for the beta? I’m curious about this from an iPad/iPhone perspective.

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NotePlan is built by a single dev who is incredibly receptive. You can email him directly - I think the link is on the website and he’ll more than likely get you beta access pretty quickly. That was my experience anyway.

For what it’s worth the Dropbox sync has been functioning for me but isn’t ideal.

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I think it’s https://beta.noteplan.co! Posting this so I can tap the link, because I’m lazy…

edit: yes, that’s the link

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Thanks Ryan, great write-up!

I’m going to need to access my vault at the work windows computer, so I’m guessing CloudKit doesn’t work and Dropbox will be my friend.

I played with Noteplan yesterday and one thing I found confusing is the differentiation between tasks and reminders…I had hoped that they would be the same, so that my tasks from obsidian would end up in my reminders app and beep at me at the right time :grinning: and that I would be able to write

  • [ ] save the world on Friday at noon

In obsidian and Noteplan would then schedule it for me on Friday at noon. Am I missing something obvious?

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I’ve been meaning to investigate this. I expected similar, but it seems like the only integration right now is read/write access. You can see scheduled reminders in the calendar view and you can create new ones (e.g., choose the … menu in a given note.)

Deeper integration, though, should be easy. Eduard, the developer, is pretty responsive. I will try to write him about e.g., “create new reminder from this line”-type features with the kind of natural language date processing you’re talking about, and maybe all reminders created in today’s note should automatically be scheduled or something.

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I’m experimenting with both apps and actually I’m using iCloud Drive instead, because when I tried CloudKit I encountered a problem: the syncing worked perfectly well but when I tried to access the vault from my laptop, I noticed that CloudKit syncs only the NotePlan native subfolders, not the whole main folder/vault (All the Obsidian settings or any folder outside the notes folder for example will not be synced between my desktop and my laptop).
Are you experiencing the same problem or have I missed something??

I think I understand this. NotePlan expects content to be in the Calendar folder and your Notes folder. I wouldn’t be surprised if it only synced those and the other two helper folders while ignoring obsidian.css and .obsidian.

I recommend only keeping note data in the Calendar and Notes folders.

As for .obsidian, I don’t have use two instances of macOS to test this, sadly—but yes, if might be a dealbreaker if NotePlan’s CloudKit sync isn’t allowing people to keep their vault settings the same.

Does this make any sense?

Sure, thanks for your feedback. So we are left with iCloud Drive or Dropbox, but I think the Dropbox sync is still unreliable on the NotePlan side and I also noticed that Dropbox doesn’t support emoji in files and directories names.

Sorry, which issue are you encountering? Are you trying to keep two Macs synced or is it the keeping-notes-out-of-the-Notes-and-Calendar-folders issue? (I’m not sure if the first is real, and if it’s the second I’d recommend just putting your files in those folders.)

The problem is trying to keep two Macs synced, I guess you are right, only the notes and calendar subfolders are synced with CloudKit.

Ah, shoot. Thanks for reporting that, though! I’ll add it as a caveat in the guide.

Note: NotePlan’s latest beta moves the location of its notes to comply with Apple’s sandboxing rules. See the top of the post for instructions on how to open your vault in Obsidian in the right place!