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Obsidian vs. Notion

Obsidian vs. Notion

Obsidian is a newcomer in the note-taking world. Its nature of being a brain is slightly different from other apps, making it unique for a particular audience. Notion has been here a long time. How do both compare? This is the Obsidian vs. Notion review to help you decide between the two.

What are both?

Obsidian

Obsidian Overview

Obsidian is a note-taking and knowledge graph app that can work as a second brain. It lets you create notes and link them with each other to develop complex knowledge graphs.

Obsidian can work both offline and online. You can save notes in a local folder or online storage such as OneDrive and Dropbox. The paid Obsidian Sync plugin lets you sync vaults on multiple devices.

Notion

Notion Overview

Notion is a block-based note-keeping app that lets us track our business, personal notes, and project tasks.

It is made to help teams collaborate on projects and work effectively. Notion is a complex app letting you link pages with each other. It can work like Obsidian, but it does not support knowledge graphs.

On this note, Notion has the power of views. You can set a list, calendar, Kanban, and other view types.

For example, if a page has a date property, you can set the calendar view and see pages on calendar dates. This makes Notion a one-time stop if you are tired of using multiple productivity apps.

Note editing options

In terms of taking notes, both differ slightly. Notion supports both rich text and markdown formats.

In Obsidian, we can type in the plain text or the markdown format. In markdown format, we use special keyboard symbols for formatting text. There is no direct way to get to editing tools.

In Notion, you can type “/” to see all editing tools and “@” to refer to people or pages. Here is a list of options in Notion.

  • Text
  • To-do list
  • Headings
  • Tables
  • Lists with bullets, toggles, and numbers
  • Quotes and dividers
  • Link to an existing page
  • Callouts
  • Mentions
  • Date or reminders
  • Emoji
  • Inline equations
  • Boards
  • New and existing databases
  • Add images, audio, video, web bookmarks, and files
  • Embed various integration services
  • Text and background colors

Here are some of the examples of markdown symbols used in Obsidian. The complete markdown guide is available on the official guide page.

SymbolUsage
#Heading 1
*text* or  _text_Italic text
**text** or  _ _text_ _Bold text
_text**text**Combine them
_entry 1_entry 2Creating list
[[Internal links (page links)
>Black quotes
‘text’Inline code
Obsidian popular markdown symbols

Platforms

Both Notion and Obsidian are available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS devices.

Notion comes with a web clipper extension that lets us save a whole web page or just a part of it in our notes.

Related: Joplin vs. Notion

Obsidian vs. Notion: Templates

The Visual Journal – A Notion template

Because Notion is a note-taking app rather than a brainstorming knowledge graph app, it is great if you look for templates.

We can access and use several pre-built templates through Notion’s template repository.v The templates are categorized into job applications, basic budgeting, marketing, etc.

In Obsidian, there are no built-in templates, but we can create our text fragments and insert them into our notes as templates.

To do this, make a folder and put the markdown text snippet files inside. Then choose that folder as a template repository by going to Settings >> Templates >> “Template folder location.” You can insert a template in the following way:

  • Pressing “Ctrl+P”
  • Search for “Insert Template” 
  • Select the saved template.

Integrations

Plugins in Obsidian
Plugins in Obsidian

Notion makes it possible to integrate many different services. Additionally, we can make our application and connect it with Notion through its API. Here is a list of some integrations supported by Notion:

  • GitHub
  • Jira
  • OneDrive
  • Zoom
  • Google Drive
  • Figma
  • Slack
  • Trello
  • Dropbox
  • Asana
  • Pitch
  • Grid
  • Zapier
  • Typeform
  • Neeva
  • Make
  • Tray.io

On the other hand, Obsidian lacks integrations, but we have plugins. With its 621 community plugins available on the plugins page, you can find several plugins to help you extend its functionalities.

We can open any plugin in the Obsidian desktop app by clicking the “Open in Obsidian” link below any plugin’s name. Then we can install this plugin on our desktop app and use it.

Also, the markdown files created by Obsidian are editable with any tool that supports markdown editing, such as Visual Studio.

Collaboration

Obsidian does not support real-time collaboration as Notion. However, we can share the stored markdown files with others.

We can also benefit from its cloud storage options, store files online, and share them with anyone who can access Obsidian.

In Notion, we can send email invitations to people in our workplace. We can allow them to edit, comment, view, or even have full access to a page.

Related: Nimbus Note vs. Notion

Note exporting options

Exporting Notes in Notion
Exporting Notes in Notion

Obsidian can only save notes in markdown format, which can also be opened in a text viewer or editor. Notion, on the contrary, lets us export notes as PDF, HTML, Markdown, and CSV files.

Pricing

Obsidian vs Notion
Obsidian vs. Notion Pricing

Here is the section comparing the plans and prices of both programs.

Obsidian

Obsidian’s account is free for personal usage, along with access to plugins, API, and community support.

The first paid plan, called Catalyst, costs a one-time payment of $25 that lets users support development, earn special community member badges, access the development channel, and get early access to inside builds.

The Commercial plan costs $50 per year. It gives us priority support and lets us use Obsidian for commercial purposes.

The app also has a separate paid plugin, “Obsidian Sync.” Its monthly package costs $10, and its yearly package costs $96. With the help of this plugin, we can synchronize our vaults across multiple devices.

Notion

Notion’s free plan is more than enough for individuals and small teams. Some of its benefits include:

  • Unlimited notes and blocks
  • Collaboration with up to five guests
  • API

Its Pro plan brings private guests options, unlimited file storage, and version history for up to 30 days. It costs $4 or $5 per month on the monthly plan.

The Team plan comes with a collaborative workspace, admin tools, and advanced team permissions. It will cost you $8 (annual) or $10 monthly.

Obsidian vs. Notion: Links

Conclusion

Obsidian is based on the concept of brainstorming ideas by creating new notes. It can be helpful in gaming and other projects where one node links to other nodes in the same project.

Notion’s effective collaboration and sharing tools let us take notes, manage project tasks and responsibilities, and keep an eye on the project’s workflow.

Both have pros and cons, but it comes down to what you want to achieve.