After retiring from my IT career in public education in 2020, I found myself less engaged with technology news and updates. My previous habit of upgrading my phone yearly faded, and I continued using the software already on my MacBook. An Evernote user since 2009, I relied on it for everything from technical specs to recipes. My subscription auto-renewed annually without much thought.

Within a few years, it became clear that staying at home full-time wasn’t for me. Through connections, I landed a relaxed role in the IT department at a small, private university in my hometown. It’s the perfect post-retirement job: I enjoy helping faculty, staff, and students with their tech problems without the headaches of being on-call, budgeting, or strategic planning.

Around that time, I noticed an unfamiliar program, Obsidian, gaining popularity among the tech circles I used to follow. David Sparks (MacSparky) wrote an entire field guide about itand The Sweet Setup offered a sample starter vault. Since the guide was expensive and the sample vault was free, I naturally started there. I downloaded Obsidian and figured out how to access my new files.

A Starter Vault

The Sweet Setup’s Starter Vault includes articles about common Obsidian use cases like journaling. It provides instructions on how to download, install, and configure community plugins, and how to integrate them with the core plugins that come built-in, like the daily note plugin. My journaling habit and my use of the Quick Add plugin began on day one thanks to this resource.

While other demo vaults are available, I recommend waiting a bit before exploring them. This gives you time to familiarize yourself with your own setup before adopting someone else’s system. Some notable ones include:


I realized early on that Obsidian has a steeper learning curve than most software, but there seemed to be ample resources to help. True to the 21st century, I turned to YouTube and stumbled upon the perfect beginner’s video: Nick Milo’s Linking Your Thinking. He has an entire beginner’s series, but that first video truly explains the philosophy behind Obsidian. Two other YouTubers whose content I found particularly helpful were:

  • Nicole van der Hoeven: A Senior Developer Advocate at Grafana Labs, Nicole shares about learning in public, note-taking, and other interesting topics. Her videos are conversational, mostly stay under 20 minutes, and demonstrate concepts clearly. You can follow her on Mastodon:
  • FromSergio Though he no longer produces Obsidian videos, Portuguese YouTuber Sergio’s past content is excellent. Like Nicole, his videos are short, to the point, and easy to understand.

Other YouTubers I enjoy include Danny Hatcher, No BoilerPlate,, and Dann Berg, who also has a blog linked from his YouTube page.


Obsidian users gather in three main online spaces:

  • Reddit With over 126,000 members, r/ObsidianMD is a massive subreddit. Be ready for the deluge of graph screenshots, but it’s also a helpful place to ask questions, stay updated on plugins, and interact with the community. Obsidian’s CEO, u/kepano, even moderates and interacts with users there.
  • Official Obsidian Forum This is the best place to go when you’re stumped by a problem. I’ve always received an answer to my questions here. Superuser holroy even wrote me a working DataView query on the first try!
  • Obsidian Members Group on Discord A huge and somewhat chaotic space. Many plugin developers hang out here.


Obsidian Rocks is the product of Tim Miller (@WebInspectInc on Twitter). I finally got the courage to use the complicated and powerful Linter plugin after reading Tim’s article on it - Automate Your Notes With Obsidian Linter. Another helpful article was Obsidian Mobile: Five Tips for Success, which helped me configure my iPhone settings so that I had many fewer problems. There are plenty of other articles on Obsidian Rocks on all facets of the apps use and I encourage you to check them out.

Prakash Joshi Pax on Medium - One of the most helpful articles on Obsidian that I’ve ever read came from this site, Obsidian Templater Snippets I Wish I Knew Sooner.(Note: I link to Medium articles through to avoid the paywall). There is new material being added regularly and it’s worth bookmarking and checking back. Pax also has a newsletter worth reading and he occasionally makes videos.

I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t plug my Obsidian “how to” articles. I’ve written about plugins, backup, vault structure and more. I also answer questions as best I can. My whole career has been helping people with technology issues and I still enjoy it.


Aidan Helfant has a website, YouTube channel and a podcast about Obsidian, geared towards students but helpful for all Obsidian beginners. I subscribe to his newsletter and find value in it.

Mike Schmitz has a website, Obsidian University where you can subscribe to his newsletter, download a starter vault or sign up for his (paid) Obsidian class. I got a lot out of his material, especially his video on configuring Obsidian’s settings.