Thoughts, musings, ramblings, and rants

Using My Documents Folder with Obsidian

I recently started using Obsidian, and I wanted to acheive a seemingly simple goal – to point it at my Documents folder on my Mac and iPad. I really wanted the simplicity of having a single area for things rather than multiple areas to manage. As usual, it turned out to be more involved, but I was able to get it working.

I was using the iCloud Desktop & Documents Folders option to keep all the contents of my Documents folder in iCloud. At first, I thought I could just point Obsidian to my Documents folder as-is. That worked on macOS, but not on the iOS or iPadOS apps. It appears those are restricted to only access the Obsidian iCloud folder.

After some thinking, I figured out how I could make it work. It's pretty simple, and it still keeps my Documents folder saved in iCloud.

  1. Disable the Desktop & Documents Folder iCloud option
  2. Copy existing iCloud Documents to my local Documents
  3. Move my local Documents folder to the Obsidian iCloud folder
  4. Link my local Documents folder to the one I moved into Obsidian

Step 1 is done by going to your iCloud settings in macOS and de-selecting the option. Here are the terminal commands for the other steps. They assume that you don't already have an Obsidian vault named Documents.

cd ~
# sync iCloud Documents to local Documents
rsync -av ~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/com~apple~CloudDocs/Documents/ Documents/
# allow moving / removing the Documents folder
chmod -a 'group:everyone deny delete' Documents
# move current documents to Obsidian's iCloud Drive area
mv Documents ~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/iCloud~md~obsidian/Documents/
# link Documents to the new location
ln -s ~/Library/Mobile\ Documents/iCloud~md~obsidian/Documents/Documents .

I've been running this way for a few days, and so far it's working out exactly as I'd hoped. When I create a new project folder, it's immediately available for Obsidian notes, Terminal work, Finder, and anything else I want to use.

#macos #obsidian