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An Obsidian Homescreen for iPhone and iPad

In the video below, I walkthrough an “Obsidian homescreen” I’ve set up for iPhone and iPad. These shortcuts and widgets use the information in my notes to provide a bunch of features, such as “Open the note for the project I’m currently working on” or “Show me a menu of my reading list and, when I tap on one of the items, open the book right away.”

In this blog post, I provide detailed instructions for each part of the homescreen.

Table of Contents


The homescreen

A screenshot of the homescreen.A screenshot of the homescreen.

The homescreen itself is shown above. I put together the icons myself. Each one is available for personal use and can be downloaded from the relevant section below.

If you want to make your own, it’s pretty easy. Flaticon’s a fabulous resource. Since this is for personal use, most of the icons have a usable license. Just download the ones you want, and when you’re adding a new shortcut to your homescreen, tap on the new shortcut icon and select your downloaded image.

I gave these a bit of a theme by setting them to a purple-y gradient background in OmniGraffle, which was tedious and probably unnecessary.


Graph widget

Explanation

The graph widget is simply an image of my Obsidian vault’s graph. This has no real function. I just like it—it’s pretty.

To make this Widget, I used Widgetpack, though I imagine other widget apps on the App Store would also work.

Instructions

The instructions are simple:

  1. In Obsidian, open your graph view.
  2. Style it however you’d like via the Filters/Groups/Display/Forces menu, in the upper-left.
  3. Tap on the ⋮ menu in the upper-right.1
  4. Click “Copy Screenshot.”
  5. Paste that screenshot as a file somewhere on your device, and save it into Photos.2
  6. In your widget-maker of choice, make an image widget, then select the graph view screenshot for the image.

If you’re using Widgetpack for step 6, this Shortcut will do it for you.

Install the Widgetpack Obsidian Graph View widget


Today’s Plan widget

Requirements

  • Format your daily tasks as - [ ]-prefixed items in your daily note.
  • To have the widget automatically open to today’s daily notes, install the Natural Language Dates plugin from the Community Plugins gallery in Obsidian.

Explanation

If you track today’s to-dos in your daily notes in Obsidian, you might be jealous of all the other task apps that offer homescreen widgets on iOS and iPadOS. Well, say goodbye to that envy. Thanks to Obsidian’s use of plain text files, you can parse daily notes, extract those tasks, and render them as a widget.3

This concept was pioneered by Scotty Jackson, who offers a more thorough explanation of how this works (along with a bunch of other neat homescreen widget ideas) on his blog. See the Get To It Widget heading.

The idea here is to keep your day’s tasks in your Daily Note as task items (e.g., prefixed with - [ ]). Then, the shortcut linked below extracts those incomplete task items and renders them on your iPhone or iPad homescreen.

If you keep your tasks in a running list somewhere, or only want to derive tasks from a specific project note or something, you should still be able to use this widget. Delete the date actions and instead switch the Get file from [your vault] at path [filepath] action to grab the desired note.

Instructions

  1. Install Widgetpack.
  2. Install the Today’s Plan Widget shortcut.
  3. Follow the setup instructions.
  4. Have some tasks in your daily note.
  5. Run the shortcut.
  6. To get the widget to update automatically each day: Set up a personal automation (see the Automations tab in Shortcuts) to run early in the day (e.g., 4am). Include a “Run Shortcut” action, and select the Today’s Plan Widget shortcut.
  7. To get the widget to update regularly throughout the day: Set up a personal automation (see the Automations tab in Shortcuts) to run whenever you launch Obsidian. Include a “Run Shortcut” action, and select the Today’s Plan Widget shortcut.
  8. 🎉

Install the Today’s Plan Widget shortcut


Daily Notes button

An icon for the Daily Notes button.An icon for the Daily Notes button.

Foreground icon from Flaticon/Freepik. Background illustration created by me.

Requirements

  • The Natural Language Dates plugin from the Community Plugins gallery in Obsidian

Explanation

This simple button gives you a menu with the options Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, and Pick Date. Tapping each of these buttons opens the relevant daily note. Thanks to the Natural Language Dates plugin, if you haven’t already created a daily note for the day you’ve selected, Obsidian will create the note based on your daily note template.

Instructions

  1. Install the Natural Language Dates plugin from the Community Plugins gallery in Obsidian (if you haven’t already).
  2. Install the Open Note for Date (NLDates) shortcut.
  3. Open the Shortcut.
  4. Open its settings.
  5. Tap “Add to Homescreen.”
  6. Call it whatever you’d like and choose an icon.
  7. 🎉

Install the Open Note for Date (NLDates) shortcut


Frame button

An icon for a “hub” button.An icon for a “hub” button.

Foreground icon from Flaticon/Freepik. Background illustration created by me.

Requirements

  • None. Well, except for Obsidian, and an iPhone/iPad. …And you have to have a note you like enough to bookmark on your homescreen.

Explanation

This button is very simple. It’s just a shortcut to a specific note. The shortcut uses Obsidian’s URL scheme to open it directly in Obsidian.

The note itself is one that acts as a kind of “hub” for me. I keep a reading list there (more on that later), a set of bookmarks across my notes for where I’d left something unfinished, and some links to other important notes.

Instructions

  1. Install the Frame button shortcut.
  2. Follow the setup instructions.
  3. Open the Shortcut.
  4. Open its settings.
  5. Tap “Add to Homescreen.”
  6. Call it whatever you’d like and choose an icon.
  7. 🎉

Install the Frame button shortcut


Projects button

An icon for a Projects button.An icon for a Projects button.

Foreground icon from Flaticon/Freepik. Background illustration created by me.

Requirements

  • A project note formatted something like the below, which was generated by a Kanban note.
    • You can use whatever you want for the section headers, and you can use as many headers as you want. It simply needs projects listed as task items.
    • Similarly, you do not need to use a “Backburner” divider, but you will have to adapt the shortcut. (See more in the Explanation below.)
## 🔥

- [ ] [[Lumberjack - Tools for logging quick thoughts to Obsidian]]
- [ ] [[Task Atlas—Natural task and project management in Obsidian]]
- [ ] [[Joystick - An intuitive mobile navigation tool]]
- [ ] [[Thoughts as notes - Reframing the products of note-taking as unstructured data for integrated thinking environments]]
- [ ] [[Fix the roof]]
- [ ] [[Omniscience—OmniFocus integration]]


## Due this week
- [ ] [[Enlightenment - Pay attention to what you're paying attention to]]


## Engagements

- [ ] [[Refactor my notes for publishing on Blot]]
- [ ] [[Move content from previous websites to Blot]]


## Due this month



## Due this semester



## Due this year

- [ ] [[Plan my thesis proposal]]


## Backburner

- [ ] [[Some other project that I've archived]]

Explanation

When you set up this shortcut for the first time, you tell it to look at a particular Projects note, formatted like the above. ☝️

You then specify a divider, like ## Backburner. (Everything below this divider gets ignored by the shortcut.)

When you run the shortcut, it scans everything above the divider in the project note. It then takes every task item, strips the task prefix (- [ ]), then adds the rest of the line to a project list. (If the items are [[ links, it removes those brackets too.) It also prepends the project note itself to the project list (in case you want to jump straight to your projects note).

Finally, it presents the list of projects as a menu. When you select an item on the menu, it translates the selected item into a link to that note, and opens the link. (For this reason, it won’t work with [[piped wikilinks|aliases]], nor heading links [[a note#some heading]] or block reference links [[a note#^someblockreference]].)4

Instructions

  1. Install the Projects shortcut.
  2. Follow the setup instructions.
  3. Open the Shortcut.
  4. Open its settings.
  5. Tap “Add to Homescreen.”
  6. Call it whatever you’d like and choose an icon.
  7. 🎉

Install the Projects shortcut


Current Project button

An icon for a Current Project button.An icon for a Current Project button.

Foreground icon from Flaticon/Freepik. Background illustration created by me.

Requirements

  • A note where the first task item is a link to a project note. (For instance, the Projects note described above would work!)

Explanation

This shortcut works similarly to the above Projects shortcut.

You give it a Projects note for which the first task item in the note will always be a thing you want to open with the shortcut.

The shortcut scans the item for task items, stripping task (- [ ]) and link ([[, ]]) formatting from the task line. It adds the remaining text to a list. Then, it takes the first item in that list, converts it into a link to the corresponding note, and opens that link.

The result is that when you tap the shortcut, it immediately opens the first item in your projects list.

Instructions

  1. Install the Current Project shortcut.
  2. Follow the setup instructions.
  3. Open the Shortcut.
  4. Open its settings.
  5. Tap “Add to Homescreen.”
  6. Call it whatever you’d like and choose an icon.
  7. 🎉

Install the Current Project shortcut


Books button

An icon for a Books button.An icon for a Books button.

Foreground icon from Flaticon/Freepik.. Background illustration created by me

Requirements

  • A note where you’ve listed links to books (or other links to things, like videos you want to watch, articles you want to read, et cetera). An example of mine is below.
    • The shortcut expects your note to contain more than just a book list—i.e., it expects sections after the book list section. If this doesn’t fit your set-up, you will have to modify the shortcut or just add a fake section header below your book list.

[...]  

## Current Books:  
  
- [The Practice - Seth Godin](x-devonthink-item://BC526FB2-5A1F-43D7-9068-16D406B6C49A)  
- [[Run a reading group on Knowledge Architectures by Bedford]]  
- [Solving the Procrastination Puzzle - Timothy A. Pychyl](x-devonthink-item://C4E85FCA-9B78-4769-8F50-3AAC66F0585E)  
- [Making It All Work - Allen - 2008](x-devonthink-item://61484C77-E2B2-49AC-B589-852B619FBAF6)  
- [The Shallows](x-devonthink-item://DA20C372-D696-4F0E-8AC3-3FFE00062420)  
- [The Science of Managing Our Digital Stuff](x-devonthink-item://83CB3E32-0A34-4C4E-BDB0-E28940303E94)  
- [The Future of Text](https://futuretextpublishing.com)  


## Waypoints  
%% note: the query below presents a list of places where I've  added a flag, as a way of bookmarking work I want to get back to. %%  

\`\`\`query  
line:(/.*𖠱.*/)  
\`\`\`  

[...]  

Explanation

This shortcut follows the same pattern as the Projects shortcut.

Given a note, it looks above a given divider for list items (e.g., those prefixed with -). It adds each list item to a list in Shortcuts. Then, it presents that list to the user. When they select an item, one of two things will happen:

  • If the selected line contains a URL, the shortcut extracts the URL from the item, then opens that URL.
  • If the selected line does not contain a URL, it assumes it is a [[wikilinked note]]. It extracts the name of the note from that syntax and then opens it in an obsidian:// url.

Instructions

  1. Install the Books shortcut.
  2. Follow the setup instructions.
  3. Open the Shortcut.
  4. Open its settings.
  5. Tap “Add to Homescreen.”
  6. Call it whatever you’d like and choose an icon.
  7. 🎉

Install the Books button shortcut


Current Book button

An icon for a Current Book button.An icon for a Current Book button.

Foreground icon from Flaticon/Freepik. Background illustration created by me.

Requirements

  • A note where you’ve listed links to books (or other links to things, like videos you want to watch, articles you want to read, et cetera). An example of mine is above, in the Books shortcut Requirements section.
    • The shortcut expects your note to contain more than just a book list—i.e., it expects sections after the book list section. If this doesn’t fit your set-up, you will have to modify the shortcut or just add a fake section header below your book list.

Explanation

Similar to the three shortcuts immediately before this one.

This shortcut accepts a note with a list of items (e.g., lines prefixed with -) above some given divider. It then takes the first item in that list, and one of two things happens:

  • If the selected line contains a URL, the shortcut extracts the URL from the item, then opens that URL.
  • If the selected line does not contain a URL, it assumes it is a [[wikilinked note]]. It extracts the name of the note from that syntax and then opens it in an obsidian:// url.

Instructions

  1. Install the Current Book shortcut.
  2. Follow the setup instructions.
  3. Open the Shortcut.
  4. Open its settings.
  5. Tap “Add to Homescreen.”
  6. Call it whatever you’d like and choose an icon.
  7. 🎉

Install the Current Book shortcut


Log: Add a new item to your daily note and start writing right away

An icon for a Log button.An icon for a Log button.

Foreground icon from Flaticon/Freepik. Background illustration created by me.

⚠️ Note: Lumberjack 🪓🪵 is not yet publicly available, sorry. Soon! I will remove this note when it is out.

Requirements

  • The Lumberjack plugin must be installed and enabled on every device you wish to use the shortcut on.

Explanation

By default, Obsidian isn’t necessarily quick to get you writing.

Lumberjack 🪓🪵 is a new plugin I’ve built to make adding something to Obsidian as fast as possible.

Once you’ve installed and enabled the plugin on your devices, opening the URL obsidian://log will immediately open today’s Daily Note in edit mode, add a new item to the note, and places your cursor at just the right spot so you can start writing out the brilliant idea you wanted to capture.

Instructions

  1. Install the Lumberjack 🪓🪵 plugin from the Obsidian Community Plugins gallery.
  2. Configure the plugin’s settings to your heart’s content in Preferences → Lumberjack 🪓🪵.
  3. Install the Log shortcut.
  4. Open the Shortcut.
  5. Open its settings.
  6. Tap “Add to Homescreen.”
  7. Call it whatever you’d like and choose an icon.
  8. 🎉

Install the Log shortcut


Timber: Create a new blank note and start writing right away

An icon for a Timber (new draft via Lumberjack) button.An icon for a Timber (new draft via Lumberjack) button.

Foreground icon from Flaticon/Freepik. Background illustration created by me.

⚠️ Note: Lumberjack 🪓🪵 is not yet publicly available, sorry. Soon! I will remove this note when it is out.

Requirements

  • The Lumberjack plugin must be installed and enabled on every device you wish to use the shortcut on.

Explanation

Same as the Log shortcut above.

Timber uses the new obsidian://timber command from Lumberjack 🪓🪵.

When you launch that URL, the plugin will immediately create a new blank note in edit mode in a specified folder with the cursor ready and waiting for your new and shiny thoughts.

Instructions

  1. Install the Lumberjack 🪓🪵 plugin from the Obsidian Community Plugins gallery.
  2. Configure the plugin’s settings to your heart’s content in Preferences → Lumberjack 🪓🪵.
  3. Install the Timber shortcut.
  4. Open the Shortcut.
  5. Open its settings.
  6. Tap “Add to Homescreen.”
  7. Call it whatever you’d like and choose an icon.
  8. 🎉

Install the Timber shortcut


  1. In the video, I mistakenly said “right-click.” That won’t do anything. I regret the error. 😬↩︎

  2. At least, Widgetpack uses Photos. Other widget-makers might use Files for image widgets. If that’s the case,↩︎

  3. Native apps definitely still have more widget-power than Obsidian on iOS and iPadOS. Maybe someday we’ll get some native widgets from the Obsidian devs…↩︎

  4. It should be possible to make this work, I just haven’t had the need. There are two approaches to take. (1) Easy mode: for each task item found in the text file, split the item by |, then take the first item in the resulting split text. This will grab only the note name and get rid of anything after the |. Add this to the project list variable. (Do the same for # and #^.) (2) Hard mode: do the same as I’ve just described, only put in a “get the last item” action for the resulting split lists, URL encode them, and add them to an Obsidian Advanced URI URL.↩︎

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