What is the relationship between view modes and pencil button?


It is my understanding that “Reading View” is a read only mode. The “Source Mode” is to toggle the editing screen to view Markdown source code.

It seems that I can keep “Source Mode” on and then choose “Reading View” from the menu. While I am in this situation, and click on the pencil icon, it shows the source code. So far so good.

Also, I have a pencil icon to start editing the document. After clicking around these menus and pencil icon, I see that pencil icon does not move me to the “edit” mode.

Is this a right behavior?

About Obsidian
Version 1.3.4 (Installer 1.1.16)

Sometimes when I have

The pencil icon at the upper right of the note should start edit mode. When it happens the pencil should become a book, which is the button that takes you to reading view.

In essence there are three different modes that Obsidian works in:

  • Source mode – The edit mode where you see all the syntax, and you see all the markup
  • Live preview - The edit mode where all but the current block are rendered. The current block shows the markup of that particular block.
  • Reading – The full reading, non-edit, mode where you see the final rendering of your markup

Note that the render engine in live preview and reading have differences, albeit for most cases they produce the same visual effect. This really comes into play when starting to customise the visualisation using CSS.

Related to changing the mode, you can either use the icon and the menus in the top right (see first image below), aka the book and the pencil icon, with the corresponding triple-dot menu to enable source mode when in the editing mode. Note that this icon shows which mode you’ll change to, which can be a little confusing. So if you’re in either editing mode, it’s a book to show you can change to reading. And if you’re in reading, it’s a pencil to indicate you can change to an edit mode.


You could also use the keyboard to change mode using various commands, and there is also an option to enable Editor status from Settings > Editor > General, which will show the editor status in the lower right (see image below), allowing you to hit the icon and change directly to either of the available modes.



Thank you so much for your kind responses.
I now understand that roles of the pencil button and the different modes.
What seems to be happening (that I can’t prove because I have not found a pattern yet) is that when you use menu and pencil icon interchangeably, the mode goes into odd state where I can’t go into the “edit” mode. Thankfully, either one of them works in this situation, so I am good.

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