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Ric Raftis Consulting

A Guide to Installing Obsidian for Effective Note-Taking

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Are you ready to dive into the world of Obsidian, the powerful and versatile note-taking application? Whether you’re a Windows, Mac, or Linux user, installing Obsidian is a straightforward process that opens the door to a new level of personal knowledge management. In this article, we’ll guide you through the installation steps and provide tips to get you started on customizing your own digital workspace.

Step 1: Downloading Obsidian

Head over to the Obsidian download page (https://obsidian.md/download), where the site will automatically detect your operating system. You’ll notice that Obsidian is available for various platforms and is free for personal use. Should you wish to support the developers and gain access to insider builds, you can opt for the voluntary $25 one-off subscription.

Step 2: Installing Obsidian on Your Machine

Once the download is complete, locate the installer in your ‘Downloads’ folder. Double-click the file and follow the on-screen instructions to install Obsidian. Upon completion, the application will open to its default screen, presenting a clean slate ready for your ideas.

Figure 1: First view of installed Obsidian vault

 First view of installed Obsidian vault
Source: Screenshot by author

Step 3: Setting Up Your First Vault

A vault in Obsidian is essentially a workspace containing all your notes and folders. If you’re installing Obsidian for the first time, you’ll be prompted to create a new vault. If you already have Obsidian and want to start fresh, click on ‘Open another vault’ at the bottom left-hand side, then select ‘Create new vault’, give it a name, and choose its location on your computer.

Figure 2: Creating or Opening a Folder as a Vault

Create or open a folder as a new Obsidian vault.
Source: Screenshot by author

Step 4: Exploring the Interface

At first glance, the Obsidian interface might seem minimalistic. You have an empty file explorer on the left, a note area in the center, and a customizable sidebar on the right. You will use these spaces to organise your notes and access various plugins to enhance your experience. This is all explained and demonstrated in the video at the foot of this article.

Step 5: Customizing Your Workspace

Everyone’s workflow is different, which is why Obsidian’s flexibility is so beneficial. You might prefer a certain folder structure, like the Johnny Decimal system, or you might find inspiration from other users in the Obsidian community. Plugins like a calendar for daily notes, a home note for quick access, and task management tools can be added to suit your needs.

Step 6: Learning and Growing with Obsidian

As you become more familiar with Obsidian, explore the wealth of resources available, including tutorial videos on the official channel or insights from creators like Nick Milo and Tiago Forte. Experiment with different setups and don’t be afraid to tailor your vault to reflect your personal style.


Obsidian is more than just a note-taking app; it’s a comprehensive system that grows with you. By following this guide, you’re well on your way to creating a powerful personal knowledge management system. Remember, the journey is as rewarding as the destination. So dive in, explore, and enjoy the process of making Obsidian your own.



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