Tutorial: How to Get Text into Obsidian Without Opening the App
And always have the text that matters in the places that count
As promised in my last Plain Text, Paper-Less Digest, here’s the nitty-gritty on how to interact with your Obsidian vault in iCloud, without opening the Obsidian app.
You might want to do this if —
You store your vault in iCloud, but don’t use Obsidian Sync
Obsidian takes too long to start up on your iPhone
You don’t want to switch focus within your vault (on any device) just to take a quick note
This adjustment to my workflow has wiped out a significant pain point! Like, really. This was something that felt crippling until I found the answer. I’m delighted to have found an input workflow that greases my productivity wheels nicely, making idea capture so much more fluid and natural.
Here are two solutions; one free, one paid. I happily use both—read on to learn why.
While you can follow this guide in Shortcuts or Drafts on any device, these instructions refer to the iPhone.
Solution 1: Shortcuts (free)
These instructions are for creating a shortcut that appends text to a date-based file with a variable name. For example, your daily note, or weekly log.
Pros of this method:
It’s accessible via Siri, allowing you to dictate your text hands-free
If the shortcut glitches, you’ve lost your text (unless you follow these rules).
The shortcut only seems to send the first line of text when I’m typing, however when dictating it allows me to verbally enter text onto a new line.
Open Shortcuts and press the + to create a new one. Give your shortcut a name like Daily Note, or Weekly Log. Whatever fits with where you’ll be sending your text.
Add action, and start typing
Ask for inputinto the search box at the top of the screen. Customise the prompt if you wish.
Add another action by starting to type
Append to Text Filein the search box (now at the bottom of the screen)
Click on the blue word
Shortcutsin the second action, then
Replace. Select the folder (not the file) that contains the file you wish to append to.
File Pathfield, choose
Current Date, then add
Current Dateand choose the format of your date-based variable file.
If the available formats don’t match the one you’re using in Obsidian, choose
Custom. Use this reference as a guide to formatting the field.
2022-08-04 Thu = yyyy-MM-dd EEE
2022-W31 = yyyy'-W'ww (you must wrap non-date token text in single quotation marks)
Click the blue adjustment circle at the top right of the screen, and choose
Add to Home Screen. Tap the icon in the middle left of the screen to change it to something more interesting. You may also like to toggle the
Show in Share Sheet option.
Solution 2: Drafts (Pro)
While Drafts is free to download and use in its basic form, custom actions require a Pro subscription. In my mind, it’s very much worth the cost. So much of my text begins here that while I could do without it, I’d be very sorry to have to give it up.
The Drafts action you’ll need to send text to your variable file consists of just one step, but it does require you to set a bookmark in your Obsidian vault to make it work.
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