Obsidian Fixed Unlinked Mentions for ZK IDs!

zettelkasten icon

I’m exploring zettelkasten-esque Creativity Systems. I am attempting to “own” my own data by building out the networked notes in markdown. I’m a vim fan, but I’m looking at other tools too.

I have been working on the migration script to move my plaintext notes to a format that Obsidian and other applications will like.

I determined that it seemed more applications had adopted YAML syntax for their frontmatter1 Adopting this format would be as app-compatible as possible. With my previous recommendation of using multimarkdown-style frontmatter, you were locked to MMD, but by using YAML I could use multimarkdown, github-markdown, common mark, or just plain markdown.

With the #hashtag style tags and YAML markdown, pretty much everything in Obsidian worked 100% with SMZ style zettels except the incredible useful “Unlinked Mentions.”

Until yesterday. 🤷

Obsidian is moving very fast, and each new build update the team posts to Discord brings wonderful toys. I bought the Insider Access to try out the feature I was interested in… they rolled it out to the general public around four hours afterward. I am not sorry at all… they are making an amazing application.

Obsidian v0.9.16 brought the ability to define an aliases attribute in the frontmatter of a note. That means if you have a note named “Artificial Intelligence” with the file name Artificial Intelligence.md, you can set up aliases like:

---
title: "Artificial Intelligence"
aliases: ['AI', 'Expert Systems']
tags: ['#futurism', '#technology']
---

Artificial Intelligence broadly covers a number of technologies ranging from […]

Now… any time in your notes there is the string “AI”, “Artificial Intelligence”, or “Expert Systems,” Obsidian will show it as an unlinked mention, ready to be linked up.

This works for filenames containing a Zettelkasten ID! If your filename is 202011280902-obsidian.md you can define your alias simply as:

---
title: "Obsidian"
aliases: ['Obsidian']
tags: ['#knowledge_management']
---

I'm really starting to like Obsidian[…]

Suddenly, Unlinked Mentions work perfectly! 🥳 This closes a feature-request I that has been floating around for a long while, and really excites me to get the last 10 years of notes into a place where Obsidian can find it. Suddenly I can be working on a note on “Leadership”, and find journal entries and project logs that cross reference “leadership” and draw new conclusions.

I included this idea of aliases in my migration script, and I am having a blast re-discovering all my notes (especially book notes!) and seeing all the new ways that they relate.

The only hitch here is that when I create a new note, it would be nice for Obsidian to make it really easy to have a note with the ZK ID and automatically add the title and alias. I have seen a templating system in Obsidian and I’ll dig into it, but I don’t think it has the simple syncing smarts that I’m looking for… so I may add Obsidian scripting to my todo list right after I finish fixing my Drafts workflows.

Honestly thinking out loud… I’d probably be just as happy using Drafts to write all my zettel and use actions to send them to Obsidian, treating Obsidian as a research tool and Drafts as a capture tool… I think I will definitely prioritize my Drafts actions soon. 👍


  1. I’ll eventually fix the table in the original article and link it here. 


Changelog
  • 2020-11-28 23:24:15 +0000

    Remove extra h1

  • 2020-11-28 22:38:04 +0000

    Fix typos

  • 2020-11-28 22:21:21 +0000

    New article: Unlinked mentions