As the owner of App Seeker, I have tried my fair share of note taking apps for individuals who don’t do much sharing to spouses or other people of their notes. I have tried Obsidian for a few months and still actively use it to write out all of the pages for my Wiki and App Seeker and will continue using it. I love where the app is headed (as far as development) and how reliable it is to keep my notes safe from prying eyes as well as being lost to the ether due to possible sync issues.
What app do you use then and why?
I use OneNote for my notes. I decided on OneNote instead of Apple Notes, Obsidian, or any of the others because it has the most features out of all of them and my husband knows how to use it.
While I don’t share my notes with him, I am helping him learn math (as he didn’t have good teachers growing up) so he can get his Associate’s Degree (and eventual Bachelor’s Degree). So he uses it to write out problems and such. We don’t use the featuers where it solves it for us (cause he doesn’t learn that way) but we do use my Apple Pencil to write out problems and notes on the problems.
This is something that will never be anywhere near as good in Obsidian. The way it is written the best you are going to get is a plugin called Excalidraw (which you can test and use online with the link provided) which is fine until you need to zoom in or move the canvas anywhere cause that is where the lags and glitches are apparent. You can see what I mean with my video below.
As you can see it works fine less than 500% (bottom left corner you can see the percent) but anything higher the pen tool just looks weird and it is impossible to write with it. This is compared to OneNote below.
One could argue that they both work fine at the same resolutions as it doesn’t seem like you can zoom past 500% (or even close to that) on OneNote. My argument to that effect is that if the app doesn’t work past 500% why are you able to zoom to that percentage? I shouldn’t be able to zoom to a percentage that completely breaks the handwriting process.
If I were to use Excalidraw I’d have to remember to not scroll past 500% and I would have to deal with the lag that happens when you try to scroll around a canvas.
On top of that, OneNote has OCR. Watch me search for the note I wrote above:
Obsidian doesn’t have OCR support and the OCR support it does have requires you to build a cache on a desktop computer (Mac, Linux, or Windows) and then it is able to sync that (however you sync your files) to your tablet. This means if I do these handwritten notes and don’t turn on my desktop for days (unlikely but still could happen) or don’t sync my files over for some reason (more likely) I won’t ever have the cache to search through. That cache is also built by 3rd party plugins like Taskbone so that is something you have to think about (do you want these plugins having access to your files?).
What do you take notes on?
I primarily take notes on what I am doing in video games (for my wiki) and productivity tools (pros and cons lists) as well as notes I need to have to help my husband with his math or learning a new programming language (there is always more to learn!).
Why do you need handwriting?
It has been researched and handwriting helps you learn and retain knowledge better than typing. This is why I rely so much on my Apple Pencil to handwrite notes. I also gravitate more towards doing that because I don’t feel like I write as fast while typing (even at my 60-80wpm typing speed) versus when I handwrite. I also can attest that I retain knowledge better when I handwrite it versus when I am typing it out.
Also, typing out math equations is 1000x harder than handwriting. You have to use convoluted coding-type language when typing when it is 1000x easier when you handwrite them.
I will always praise handwriting 1000x more than typing for this reason.
Does that mean you won’t use Obsidian ever?
No, not at all. Like I said earlier, I use it for App Seeker and my Game Wiki. The typing experience on it is the best I’ve had by far and I love where the developers are taking it. I still highly recommend Obsidian.
Obsidian just isn’t my note-taking app of choice for the reasons listed above.
Plus, it seems like (based on the discord & reddit communities) people use it to make their notes look “pretty” and easy to read without taking into consideration how functional those pages are and if they are retaining the knowledge that is written in them.
The only note-taking like thing I will be doing within Obsidian are my flash cards. There is the Spaced Repetition which works fantastic for creating flash cards. So while I don’t need flash cards often, once I run out of my physical ones (I have tons left so it won’t be for at least 2-3 years) I will move to using the plugin. I prefer the physical ones though for the reasons listed above. Handwriting is always better than typing.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? I’d like to know your thoughts in the comments!