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

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!

As it’s Friday I spent a bit of time playing with NotePlan again to see how the latest betas are performing.

I did a fresh install of NotePlan across a couple of devices (iOS and Mac) and set it up with a clean version of Dropbox sync.

  • Daily notes sync’d pretty well, I didn’t see major issues and sync was relatively quick (5-10 seconds typically from making an update on one device to seeing it another. Mac to Mac seemed more reliable than Mac to iOS.
  • NotePlan notes were hit and miss and I got a bunch of issues creating a file one machine and then seeing duplicates on the other. Not great.
  • It’s also weird because NotePlan doesn’t directly read the files on your Dropbox folder like you would expect. It seems like NotePlan speaks to the API which then sends the file to your Dropbox folder. If you open a note in finder from NotePlan you’ll see it goes to the container folder, not directly to the Dropbox. This is important because you would expect to open your Obsidian vault based on the Dropbox folder but that’s not necessarily the latest version of a file. It still needs to sync through.

I think based on this Dropbox sync is still too unreliable to meaningfully work between both apps at the same time. The developer even says as much.

I tested out CloudKit which is very robust but as we’ve discussed CloudKit doesn’t include Obsidian vault files in it’s sync so it doesn’t help with Mac to Mac syncing.

FWIW I’ve also been testing out directly syncing the NotePlan data folders between two Macs using Resilio sync which seems to work pretty well.

Edit: I still think NotePlan is a great option for accessing between a Mac and a mobile device but things get more complicated if you want to sync your notes across two Macs.

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I have an odd problem (unless I misunderstood direction) that NotePlan refuses to let me open the local folder for CloudSync. Not through the app. I have no data and I can do what’s needed in the iPhone and iPad app. I can’t find any permission issues.

Hm. As in, Preferences → Sync → CloudKit → Advanced → Open Local Database Folder doesn’t work?

Perhaps play with the other Advanced options—e.g., copy your notes somewhere safe, then delete local and cloud database, then try. If it works, copy and paste your notes back into the folder and re-upload local database.

That said, this is probably not the best place to seek support for NotePlan. Eduard, the dev, is really responsive—reach out to him directly!

Yes, just as you say and I did play that way. But you are correct, just double checking the instruction. Thank you again for listing it.

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Thanks for the great article, Ryan. I confirm Eduard the NotePlan dev is very responsive, and over in the NotePlan discord we’re also having interesting conversations about interoperability in general and Obsidian in particular :smile:.

FWIW I’m new to Obsidian but can see myself using it as my notes storage and linking, and NotePlan for my task/project/life management. But Obsidian really needs to add the usual Mac-ness which is possible with Electron, but not there out of the box.

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I have been beta testing Noteplan 3 and it has just been released. I was in contact with the developer today and I did mention the issue of the title of a note which is an issue for interoperability with Obsidian. He mentioned he is working on it. So I expect that over time the combination of NotePlan and Obsidian will become better.

For the time being I decided to use Chronosync and selected a few folders from Noteplan that on an hourly basis sync into designate folders on Obsidian. That works for me and also makes it possible to write notes on iPhone or iPad that will appear on Obsidian. Chronosyc is one of the most reliable backup and sync software that I have been using forever: They have a 10 dollar discount for Thanksgiving: https://www.econtechnologies.com/chronosync/overview.html

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I’ve had the same “conversation”. Seems like a $$$ no-brainer for the Dev in light of Obsidian\Zettelkasten “explosion”.

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I just wanted to share a very simple iOS Shortcut that will

  1. Take an obsidian: link (via share sheet),
  2. RegEx for the file name and,
  3. If (and only if) it perfectly matches the Note Title, it will open that note on Noteplan on iOS (via Noteplan’s URL-scheme).

It’s been proving handy for me and I hope it could benefit others as well.

There are several limitations with this approach, main ones being:

  1. Will not work for daily notes
  2. Will not work if the title does not perfectly matches the first line of the note
  3. Will not work if the note has a YAML front matter
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Howdy all,

I’m playing around with this set up (Noteplan + Obsidian). Thanks for all the work you put into the walkthrough @ryanjamurphy

Quick question… as Obsidian appears to name the Vault with the name of the Finder folder you point it at, should I just go ahead and decide to like the idea of my vault being called “co.noteplan.NotePlan3”? I suspect CloudKit sync breaks if one changes the name of that folder?

I mean, I’d love to have my Vault called something other than that, but not the end of the world if it has to stay that way.

Thx!

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Well…

After a bit more tinkering I think I’ll wait until Noteplan has developed auto link updating like Obsidian has, which is like magic to me. NP looks and feels really polished. With calendar integration I thought it could be this sort of Mission Control centre on top of dates, projects and notes. And I’m frightened of breaking connections inadvertently (very likely in my clumsy hands).

I think I’ll stick with 1Writer for the time being to browse and nibble at notes when on the hoof.

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I love NotePlan 3, but really need it to work for PC as well. Have a work PC, an iPhone and a Macbook Pro. Getting reminders and calendar events integrated on both iPhone and desktop is a killer feature…

The Dropbox sync doesn’t work very well.

Does anyone have Obsidian Sync? Is it possible to sync a vault located on Noteplan 3’s Cloudkit location? Since NotePlan 3’s Dropbox syncing is kinda crappy, maybe this is a work around…

Why? To sync with NotePlan 3 on Mac and iPhone to Obsidian on a Windows PC computer.

I think I did this when we were alpha testing sync and it was fine. You might want to ask the devs for a trial of sync for this purpose.

Testing it now, doesn’t cost that much for a year! Gladly support.
I made sure to deselect syncing Filters and Notes/@Trash folders of NotePlan.
Wow, it actually works… Shows up on my PC and changes made on PC, shows up on Mac. Very quickly without any “reload” actions.
Tested iPhone app, changed made there shows up everywhere too!

Both Obsidian and NotePlan 3 has to be open for this to work. Only iPhone and Obsidian won’t work. But still! Will continue testing tomorrow.

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Been using the Obsidian Sync and Noteplan combo ever since Sync was released. No issues thus far (knock on 🪵 !)

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When I added more files, NotePlan stopped updating correctly. Going back to Obsidian, so many new plugins that are great - it’s just confusing to have different apps…

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