Obsidian vs Notion: A Comprehensive View of Both Apps for 2023

obsidian vs notion

In today’s hyperactive times, people work faster and harder than most can even imagine. Writers, developers, marketers, VAs, etc. — they all have to deal with so many things simultaneously, especially if they work in freelance settings.

There’s research, note taking and to top it all off, the internet has become a neural network, all connected. You constantly have to collaborate across multiple apps and each app seems to be integrated with the other one. So it makes sense for apps like Obsidian and Notion to exist.

Obsidian and Notion are knowledge management and with abilities far beyond your usual notepad. Notion is a workspace that allows teams to collaborate in real time – but that’s just scratching the surface of it. Both Obsidian and Notion help individuals and businesses achieve so much more.

This article will explore the potential of Notion and Obsidian to help you decide which one suits you better. Let’s get started.

Overview of Obsidian

woman on computer and taking notes

Obsidian is a local knowledge management app installed on the user’s computer that focuses on linking ideas in a meaningful network. It helps you make sense of your thoughts and ongoing work. It’s ideal for users who value interrelated thoughts and privacy, with data stored on the user’s device.

Obsidian supports the Markdown format and provides a robust API for creating plugins. And that’s how it attracts its technical user base. Its distinguishing feature is the graph view which visualizes the connections between notes. This is exactly what makes it a perfect companion for writers, researchers, and students.

Benefits of Obsidian

  • Local data storage for full control and privacy over your information.
  • Capability to create and visualize connections between notes for interconnected thinking.
  • Open API allows for extensive customization through plugins.

Drawbacks of Obsidian

  • Lacks built-in collaboration features, making it less suitable for team projects.
  • The interface can be daunting for non-tech-savvy users.
  • Limited automation compared to other apps like Notion.

Overview of Notion

Notion is an all-in-one cloud-based workspace that combines notes, tasks, wikis, and databases. Its wide range of features accommodates needs as simple as note-taking to comprehensive project management.

Since it allows for organizational tools including task management, to-do lists, and bookmarking (and helps make sense of it all), it’s an incredibly expansive tool.

For obvious reasons, this makes it popular among both individuals and teams. With robust collaboration capabilities and seamless integration with other apps, Notion is well-suited to team projects and can serve as a centralized hub for digital workflow. Despite a slightly steep learning curve for its advanced functionalities, its flexibility and multi-functionality make it a powerful tool for managing remote startups/companies.

Benefits of Notion

  • Comprehensive all-in-one workspace that combines notes, task management, and project management.
  • Excellent collaboration features and that makes it ideal for team-based projects.
  • Customizability-wise, Notion is much more flexible.

Drawbacks of Notion

  • Has a steep learning curve to get your head wrapped around its advanced functionalities.
  • Slower performance with large databases or complex pages.
  • Dependence on the internet connection as it’s cloud-based, potentially raising privacy concerns.

Comparative Analysis: Obsidian vs Notion

Person using note taking apps

User Interface

Obsidian’s Interface

Obsidian offers a simple and customizable user interface that focuses on note-taking and linking. It gives you an outline-like structure and helps make sense of the work you’ve been doing.

The design is somewhat reminiscent of coding editors and will appeal to those accustomed to Markdown files and code-based interfaces. Features like the graph view allow users to visualize connections between their notes quite easily.


Notion’s user interface is highly intuitive and visually appealing – it shows you a roadmap and serves as your master plan for your business. It offers users a myriad of content blocks, allowing for a diverse range of page setups and the drag-and-drop functionality makes organization seamless.

Although it can be a bit overwhelming at first, it’s quite helpful and very much like most management tools, including Monday.


Obsidian’s Features

Obsidian follows a markdown pattern to format data and allows for a lot of customization with the help of an extensive plugin ecosystem. You can link/backlink your notes to make better sense of them. You have a visual knowledge graph of your ideas to make better decisions. With Obsidian, you’re primarily looking at a knowledge management tool.

Notion’s Features

Notion has more diverse features than Obsidian. While it doesn’t have the graph-visualization-like feature that Obsidian has, that doesn’t limit it in any way.

Notion helps you manage your projects, take notes, make to-do lists, and help teams collaborate on those lists. It’s essentially an all-in-one collaborative workspace that can be molded to fit each user’s needs.

Collaboration Features

Obsidian Collaboration Features

Obsidian is designed as a personal knowledge management tool and thus lacks built-in collaboration features. However, it has recently started a separate paid service called ‘Obsidian Sync,’ which costs around $8/month and allows a user to sync their notes across all devices.

Notion’s Collaboration Features

Notion shines in collaboration, allowing for easy sharing of individual pages or entire workspaces, real-time collaboration, and user-based permissions. This makes Notion an excellent choice for teams.

Data Privacy and Security

Obsidian Stores Data Locally

Obsidian requires minimal security protocols because, in its default version, all the data is stored locally. But this also means that the user will take responsibility for any security breaches. It is not cloud-based because it’s not meant for collaboration by multiple users across different devices.

Notion is a Cloud-Based Tool

Notion is cloud-based, which is great for accessibility across multiple devices and allows for ease of collaboration. But, this also opens the path for hackers and raises trust concerns. Notion has good encryptions in place but users have to trust Notion’s privacy policies, which may include utilization of data for optimization of the tool.


Obsidian’s Pricing/Subscriptions

Obsidian’s basic Free package allows users to download the tool and utilize it with all its features. However, the paid version that costs $50 per year gives priority support and a commercial license to use the product.

Recently, Obsidian launched two new add-ons. One of them is the ‘Obsidian Sync’ ($8/month) add-on that allows users to sync their data across all their devices. The second add-on is called ‘Obsidian Publish’ ($8/month) which allows users to save their data/notes in the cloud/on the web.

Notion’s Pricing/Subscriptions

Notion is available in four packages: Free, Plus, Business, and Enterprise. The Free version provides maximum use for a single person but limited block usage for only 2+ people. So if you have a large team you’re working with, you’re going to have to buy one of the packages, which start at $8 per user per month.

Notion now also offers an additional add-on called Notion AI, which helps automate tasks, including content generation, brainstorming ideas, and generating action items/insights quicker.

Integration and Compatibility with Other Apps/Platforms

Obsidian doesn’t offer many built-in integrations, relying instead on plugins developed by its community. Its compatibility is largely with just text and markdown files.

Notion, on the other hand, offers integrations with a wide range of tools like Google Drive, Figma, and more. It supports importing from several formats (including CSV files) and exporting to Markdown and HTML, making it more compatible with other apps.

Use Cases Where Obsidian Would Be Better

Man working in the computer

Research and Learning

Obsidian’s backlinking and graph view features make it an excellent tool for managing complex knowledge bases. For researchers or students, it facilitates the organization and visualization of interconnected ideas or concepts, promoting a deeper understanding. It can be extremely helpful when developing a synopsis or writing a thesis.

Writing and Brainstorming

Writers and creatives can benefit from Obsidian’s focus on note interconnectivity. When working on a novel or screenplay, for example, character arcs, plot points, and themes can be linked and navigated easily, fostering a non-linear brainstorming process. It could also be of great use to directors, screenwriters, and writers in general.

Use Cases Where Notion Would Serve Better

Project Management

Notion’s versatility allows for the creation of comprehensive project management systems. Its blend of databases, Kanban boards, calendars, and note-taking capabilities facilitate task tracking, scheduling, and documentation in one place.

Collaborative Workspaces

For teams or groups working together, Notion offers powerful collaboration features. Shared workspaces, real-time collaboration, and user permissions allow teams to work together seamlessly, making it an ideal choice for businesses, clubs, or any group working toward a shared goal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is easier to use: Obsidian vs Notion?

The choice between Notion and Obsidian largely depends on user preferences and comfort with markdown language. Notion generally has a more intuitive and user-friendly interface, making it easier for beginners or those less tech-savvy. It’s a more visual tool with clear functionality, drag-and-drop features, and templates that can be used right out of the box.

However, Obsidian’s markdown-based system may appeal to users who are comfortable with such an approach. It might require a bit of a learning curve but once mastered, it offers efficient and quick note-taking.

Can Notion and Obsidian work together?

Yes, Notion and Obsidian can work together, to some extent. They don’t have a direct integration, but you can export your notes from Notion as markdown files and import them into Obsidian.

This way, you can leverage Notion’s powerful project management and collaboration features alongside Obsidian’s excellent linking and graphing capabilities for personal knowledge management. However, changes made in one platform won’t automatically sync with the other, so you’d need to manage the updates manually.

Is Notion good for taking notes?

Yes, Notion is excellent for note-taking. Its rich text editor allows for easy formatting and organization of notes. You can create nested pages, use templates, add checkboxes, and even embed multimedia.

Notion’s main strength, however, lies in its flexibility – you can create a customized note-taking system that suits your specific needs. Additionally, its robust search feature allows easy retrieval of information. Notion also supports collaboration.

Does Obsidian sell your data?

No, Obsidian does not sell your data. A key highlight of Obsidian is its focus on data privacy and local-first software design. All your notes and data in Obsidian are stored on your local device and not on a cloud server. This means that your information doesn’t leave your computer unless you choose to sync it via a third-party cloud service.

Obsidian’s business model is based on selling optional services like its Sync service (encrypted, end-to-end, and real-time syncing across devices) and its Publish service (for publishing notes on the web). Therefore, their revenue does not rely on selling user data.

Verdict: Obsidian vs Notion

There are many knowledge management, and note-taking tools available. ClickUp, EverNote, Microsoft OneNote, and even Google Excel sheets (with the right plugins) are some examples. Some tools are better suited for certain tasks, and that’s exactly where Obsidian and Notion make their place.

If you’re an individual who only wants to make more sense of your research, want to have an assistant help you streamline your writing projects, or would like an aid while writing a novel or a screenplay, Obsidian should be your go-to tool.

However, if you’re a business owner (small or startup) or if you have a team that you’d like to collaborate with to achieve a common goal, then you need Notion. It will help you greatly by streamlining things and generating results in an organized manner.

Our analysis inclines towards Notion because it is much more diverse. However, if we had to rate the two apps (Obsidian vs Notion), we’d rate Notion 8.5/10 and give a 7.5/10 rating to Obsidian.

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