Why am I getting "Links will not work with file names containing any ..."?

I am getting a red popup error message stating:

Links will not work with file names containing any of these characters: # ^ [ ] |

My file name is 2023-01-12 at John Smith and I’m trying to turn John Smith into a link like so:

2023-01-12 at [[John Smith]]

… but Obsidian won’t let me because it somehow thinks John Smith contains at least one of: # ^ [ ] \

Is this a bug? Am I missing something here? Obsidian supports creating links to files (pages), yes?

Are you trying to type the [[]] brackets into the title of the note? You can’t do that. You add links in the body of a note.

My guess is you have Settings → Appearance → “Show inline title” turned on. And you’re trying to add a link inside the title. It’s not possible.

If you change the title to have [ or ] in it, that is why you get the error. The title is the file name.

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Is this a major shortcoming of Obsidian? In my case, I had a meeting with John Smith. I created a note titled “My meeting with John Smith” in which are details of the meeting. Now, sometime in the future, if while typing in a some other note, I type “John Smith,” I would like to see a link to my original note ("My meeting with John Smith).

It’s seems so natural to title that first note “My meeting with [[John Smith]]”

So not being able to do this looks to me to be a large “functional gap” in Obsidian. How would I do this?

You just need to turn off “Inline titles”, and give your note an actual title. Then you can add all the links you want to it.

What you are currently seeing as the “title” is actually the file name.

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@AlanG I’m sorry, but I don’t see how turning off “inline titles” helps. I still get the same error:


I consider a note (or file) as a container of “stuff.” Stuff can link to stuff, but stuff should also be able to link to a container (of other stuff).

So, in practice, how can I have some note (let’s assume I won’t create this note for another year) that contains the following text:

blah blah blah blah [[John Smith]] blah blah blah

… and have that link to the note (file) containing the notes I took about the meeting I had with John Smith a year ago (relative to the note I won’t create for a year)?

Again, this seems like such obvious functionality that I’m sort stunned that Obsidian doesn’t support this (it’s like a car with no driver’s door).

I guess I don’t understand what you mean, sorry!

For me, I would create a John Smith note, and then reference that when I create the new note in a year, and everything will link up fine.

My new note created in a year links back to John Smith:



also going back to John Smith.

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You can’t put links in the title of a note. That doesn’t make sense, as Obsidian is designed.

Put links in the body of the note.

The reason AlanG said to turn off inline titles, is some people get confused, and think the title is inside the note, like a Header.

You’re straight up trying to put a link in the name of a note in the files pane. That isn’t possible. The only thing I can suggest - and I swear this isn’t meant to sound rude, but you say “stunned” like this is a defect - read the help docs and give it a try to work with Obsidian as it designed, first.

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What you’re basically saying you want to do is something similar to this:
<a href="http://any.com/My_meeting_with<a href="http://any.com/John Smith">... </a></a>. This doesn’t really make sense.

It’s much wiser to have the note named My meeting with John Smith, and inside of it have the link to John Smith. Or even better have the note title list what the meeting was about, like New house build meeting, or something like that.

To specifically answer you, “how?”

Inside “My meeting with John Smith”, write up whatever notes you have.

I had a meeting today. Attending was [[John Smith]], [[Tuber McYam]], and [[mbmast]]

We discussed the [[2023 budget proposal]] and [[Secret Project B]]

Now when you go to the note “John Smith”, you’ll see in the Backlinks pane (it’s a core plugin), you’ll see ALL the notes that link to John Smith.

You can also use YAML to add more structure at the top of your note. I’m not super comfortable with YAML, so I might have typos. This data can be queried and searched. And tags act like links too.

date: 2023-01-18
attendees: [John Smith, Tuber McYam, mbmast]
topic: [[Secret Project B]]
key: value
key: value

More notes down here. More [[Links to notes]] here.

You can do this with aliases, pointing to a file called 2023-01-12 at John Smith.

aliases: John Smith, Smithy, John Boy, 

This is a link to the alias: [[2023-01-12 at John Smith|John Smith]]

This is a link to the alias: [[2023-01-12 at John Smith|Smithy]]

This is a link to the alias: [[2023-01-12 at John Smith|John Boy]]

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