Who has dealt (or is actively dealing) with transitioning notes from previous applications?

Former Applications of mine:

  • Joplin (Transition Finished, mostly, I have to clean up some notes.)
  • OneNote (In progress, very tedious)

Okay, so this question mainly pertains to moving and updating old study notes for college.

I’m manually transitioning notes over from my previous note taking solutions, over to obsidian. I was curious if anyone had any tips or methodologies for transitioning old and poorly written information into Obsidian.

Backstory Alert, feel free to skip over my wall of text:

I already finished transitioning from Joplin, which was my more recent note-taking application (but for the aforementioned clean-up of notes and updating them to be better), and now I’m trying to shift over all the old notes I had from OneNote, which I used for a long time. Joplin I used for a while, but not for nearly as long. It’s really painstaking to have to try to manually copy over every single note, as well as refine, correct, and update the information found in those old crufty notes. My system back then, in retrospect, was terrible for note-taking. I would mainly try to write down class-specific notes that used as few words as possible that only served in the end (although I thought different at the time) to remind me of what I was doing in that semester. Things got better as I went on, and my notes did get a bit more detailed, but with OneNote my notes can be very random in their layouts, making shifting over data that much harder.

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You may find this helpful


Dump them all in a folder and try not to worry about fixing notes you might never use. If you need to find something that you think is in an old note, use search. If you find yourself opening an old note, you can reformat and improve it then. If you really want to, pick a handful every day to clean up regardless. Consider archiving (maybe in a separate vault) or deleting ones that don’t seem very useful or worth the effort anymore. If there’s formatting you can change automatically with fancy search-replace, do that, but be careful because that can be tricky to do right.

I’ve previously used Wikidpad, Zim, and just plain text files in folders, plus I’ve changed the format of my journal/log numerous times. I renamed a bunch of .txt files to .md, but not all of them were Markdown (the Zim files, for instance). Trying to bring it all in line with my current practices would soak up a lot of time. I’m gradually converting things I especially care about, using bits of automation where I can. I occasionally use the Smart Random Note plugin to select old notes to process.


I wouldn’t dream of transitioning them all. OneNote has search and links that you can insert into your new markdown notes. It’s unlikely to disappear any time soon. Only copy those you need to integrate into the markdown network; do it as and when needed.

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I think this suggestion is very helpful. Thanks!

One not so obvious thing about the fixing of old notes to better gel with how you create your new notes is that they don’t have to match. So, by archiving separately, it is a useful reminder that what you are doing to these notes is simply improving them for easier use as opposed to getting them to fit perfectly into the conventions you are currently using. Chances are many of them already have differing styles already.

I like to start by zeroing out the tags and links and re-enabling them as needed. Thanks @CawlinTeffid

Good luck @Ruq!

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