Vault Zones/Filters/Focuses (alternative to nested vaults)

Ive been reading about nested vaults wich accomplish a lot of what i want but arent supported and have their own issues; most of what i saw suggests/requests support for then but i think its the wrong way to tackle it (and involves a lot more of headache for coding, memory and such). Heres a different proposal:

Use case or problem

Handling specific contexts that are too large inside an large and growing main vault- like specific projects- creates a lot of noise; Creating another vault is an way, but isolates then entirely, and nesting vaults allow their coexistance on a macro level but have traps and bugs

Proposed solution: Zones/Filtering

The best solution i can imagine is allowing this type of division within a vault itself- not by making obsidian treat folders as vaults, but by allowing vaults to have larger contexts that can be easily focused - cleaning up the interface, links and graph automatically for ease of use.

calling then Zones for now for clarity, but other names could apply (areas, levels, macro-filters, idk)

A zone would work as a form of tag, where any notes/files could be assigned to it.
Along then a view/toggle called Focused View would filter an vault by zone:

  • Focused View: clicking or double clicking a Zone would filter out anything but what pertains to a zone. A collored ribbon could appear on top of the window written Focused View: [Zone Name] with an X button for closing the focused view, returning to normal

  • Folder as Zone: right clicking a folder to create a zone quickly, automatically assigning everything thats put into it as pertaining to that zone- and unsassigng everything removed from it.

  • Expansion Level: a setting (perhaps a dragabble bar in the suggested ribbon on top of the window) would expand how much focused the view is; On 0(or 1) it shows only whats assigned as a Zone (in a folder-as-zone as well as tagged-to-zone); Increasing it one level would show notes/files that are directly linked to whats in the zone but arent assigned to it thenselves, increasing it more would show links from those notes and so on (but by that point it would defeat the purpose)

  • Additional Features: views/workspaces and perhaps even themes, plugins and settings could be assigned to zones. For example opening a zone setting would show the same setting windows but with every option like it is on default (and labeled as default), toggling then differently would customize the focused view for that zone alone.

At first i tought of suggesting just some ease of use filtering, but the more i tought about it the less tags made sense. If done by tags it would require to assign every note for separation (without ease of use of dropping in bulk on a folder), folder-as-zones would replicate many of the usecases people have for nested vaults (hosting, using with other apps) - plus being open for additional features in the future, like customizing their view

Ui/Ux suggestions:

  • Zones tab: just like file explorer, starred and search, an tab for zones.
    upon clicking it shows all files per zone, zones appearing as folds(>) like folders; Every vault would have 1 default zone called master/root/macro/full (or No-Zone)

  • zone pill: if a note is assigned to a zone the zone name appears on the file like a collored tag- or on the title bar; Clicking on it would open the focused view to that zone.

  • context menu, folders: option to turn a folder into a zone (folder-as-zone)

  • Colored folders(zones): on the file explorer folders who are treated as zones have a distinct color or icon alongside then

  • ribbon: way of showing users the vault is being filtered/focused in a zone; button for closing and settings if applicable.

Alternative: Focused View for Folders

Disregard zones- would be implementing such focused view for folders, any folder as is. No need to have a special name for zones, focusing would be achievable by right clicking on a folder to focus, much simpler.

However i personally think being able to tag files in different folders as also being a zone would be much more flexible and usable

Related feature requests (optional)


Hey @vincer I honestly think this is an excellent idea, I’ve talked alot about nested vaults with @Dor who’s opinion on this would be super vaulable.

And even though for now nested vaults have allowed me to deal with my workflow without any issues (so far) nested vaults are not beginner friendly and having something like “zones” as you propose them is a great idea!

I’m on board and support this awesome idea, thanks for the contribution!


Testing nested vaults now without issue, but then I’ve been mostly working on top level stuff currently. What I’m afraid of is when I start going deep on a project (thus working on the lower level vault) and mistakenly creating a page by a empty link that already exists on the macro level.
What happens if there’s pages with the same name on different vaults, or worse the same internal id? Anyone had any experience with that?

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Nested vaults still havn’t given me many issues, but to be honest I usually just stay in my root vault and filter things by search folders and tags so I don’t find my self opening a nested vault that often.

I also don’t make much use of block id’s mostly becuase I like my plain text notes to be compatible with other tools like spacemacs, so I don’t have much experience with id issues but I can see how it could be an issue

I think much of the needs fulfilled by nested vaults and in your suggestion could be accomplished much more simply for the devs by just augmenting workspaces.

It’d be nice if, in any workspace other than the default workspace, the graph and link auto-completion don’t show any notes that haven’t already been opened or linked to in the workspace.

I.e. if I switch to a new workspace, the graph would be empty, and typing brackets wouldn’t show any autocomplete results. The files would show up, however, in the file open modal as usual, so you can search for any file in the vault

The file browser would have a toggle to only show files in the workspace, and when toggled off you could bulk add multiple files to the workspace without having to open all of them.

I’m neutral about workspaces or zones, but I don’t see sufficient overlap to see them as an alternative to nested vaults. I suppose it depends on what people use them for. I think the request should be presented as a feature on its own rather than comparing it with nested vaults

I also see nothing complicated or demanding about nested vaults. They require no change in Obsidian’s design or function and just work as is. They are simply data structures, and prepared filters. I find them just as useful outside Obsidian.

For me, Focused View For Folders would be enough. My use case is a vault for projects, with each project in a folder. Projects may sometimes connect but are mostly separate. The fuller Zone concept that could also use tags and other things appeals to me, but I don’t have any use in mind yet.

It would be nice to be able to add multiple folders to a focus (but usually I would only need 1).

To expand on “Focused View: clicking or double clicking a Zone would filter out anything but what pertains to a zone” — I’d expect this to affect:

  • Autocompletion of links and tags
  • File list view
  • Search
  • Quick open
  • Starred items (maybe?)
  • Maybe other things I’m forgetting?

Should consider what happens when you follow a link to a note outside of the focus.

EDIT: There is a request just for folders: [Feature] Focus mode in file explorer

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