The Best Obsidian Alternatives

Obsidian is a top note-taking and to-do manager that allows non-linear thinkers to create personal knowledge graphs. These mind maps allow users to create a to-do list consisting of cross-linked Wiki-style notes.

The Best Obsidian Alternatives

But there are alternatives to Obsidian that boast different features, applications and a user interface that may be more suited for your note-taking and to-do list needs.

In this article, we explore the top five alternatives to Obsidian, as well as the pros and cons of each app.

Best Alternative to Obsidian

1. Zettlr

Zettlr is an open-source note-taking tool that is popular with university students because it has a reference editor that makes citing sources simple. It also features a real-time text editor and a cross-linked hierarchal note organizer. Like Obsidian, it is open source, free, and compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. Users can organize, share, and edit documents fast with Zettlr, but it does not have Obsidian’s mind maps, knowledge graphs, end-to-end encryption, or as many plug-in options.


  • Free and open-source
  • No registration required
  • Compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • Supports Markdown real-time text-editor
  • Supports syntax highlighting
  • Offers backlinking knowledge base
  • Hierarchical structure file organization
  • File tagging
  • Works in dark mode
  • Ad-free


  • Lacks community plug-ins
  • No knowledge graph

2. Standard Notes

Standard Notes is a free notebook and task list with exceptional end-to-end encryption. Features include outlining and lists, journaling, and password keys. It offers the flexibility of syncing files and notes across iOS, Linux, Windows, and Mac OS. There is also an online version of Standard Notes.


  • End-to-end encryption
  • Encrypted back-up
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Markdown support
  • Offers over 20 community plug-ins
  • Cloud sync
  • Works offline
  • Ad-free


  • Wiki-style note linking costs extra

3. Logseq

Logseq is a note-taking tool that, like Obsidian and Zettlr, comes with a to-do list manager and task management tool. As it is a self-hosted web-based app, it is compatible with more platforms including Mac, Windows, and Linux, as well as Android, iPhone, and iPad. It has support for Markdown and a knowledge graph view that displays parent tasks and subtasks.


  • Work from anywhere on a browser
  • Compatible with many platforms
  • Support for Markdown
  • Support for PDF Annotation
  • Has backlinks and multidirectional links
  • Task manager has parent tasks with subtasks
  • Graph view
  • Creates flashcards and whiteboards
  • Works in offline mode
  • Works in dark mode


  • Privacy friendly, but not encrypted
  • Limits the number of folders you can use

4. Notion

Notion’s selling point is its ability to keep everything in one place. This SaaS (software as a service) app is completely customizable with a choice of roadmaps, timelines, a Kanban view, and over 100 integrations. It also has an AI component to help users create. Like Obsidian, it has a publishing feature for micro-sites but is not as feature-intensive.


  • As an online application, it’s accessible anywhere
  • Also available as an app for Mac, Windows, Android, iPhone, and iPad
  • Supports Markdown with real-time editing collaboration
  • Supports highlighted text syntax
  • Integrates with GitHub, Slack, Latex, and 100 more apps
  • Hierarchal check-list structure
  • Publishes Wiki-style micro-sites
  • Web clipper for saving information from the web


  • Advanced note-taking features are lacking

5. Google Keep

Google Keep is a free online note-taking and to-do list manager that is compatible with almost every platform. It is known for some of its unusual features such as the ability to translate handwritten notes, color-coding, and geo-fencing.


  • Supports multiple platforms including Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iPhone, Android Tablet, iPad, and Google Chrome
  • Converting handwritten notes (with a stylus) to text
  • Supports real-time collaboration through Google Docs
  • Supports and syncs with Google Calendar
  • Reminders based on the parameters you set
  • Supports Sticky Notes
  • Search notes by color
  • Works offline


  • Only integrates with Google
  • No knowledge graphs or mind graphs
  • No backlinking function

6. Simplenote

Simplenotes enables users to create notes and lists and save them in the cloud. Information can then be synced across all of your devices, with no need to update information across each device. It has a simple tag-processed text editor and is free and open-sourced for those who want to collect information without knowledge graphs


  • Free with no ads
  • Simple to use
  • Consumes minimal device resources
  • Works on Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, iPhone, Android Tablet, and iPad
  • Available as an online version
  • Support for Markdown
  • Search-by-tags function
  • Has a distraction-free mode to help you focus
  • Works in Dark Mode
  • Works well with WordPress


  • No knowledge graphs
  • Not as secure

Why Is Obsidian a Top Note-Taking App?

Obsidian earned its reputation as a top note-taking app because it is an open, non-proprietary app with hundreds of plug-ins that can help create and keep track of projects. All of your notes are encrypted end to end, which means no one can see your notes, not even Obsidian, unless you share them.

Obsidian’s Main Features

Obsidian’s main features are also the criteria we used to evaluate the best Obsidian alternatives. These include:

  • Wiki-style links that allow you to connect to everything
  • An engaging and interactive graph that maps your ideas in one place
  • A canvas that allows you to visualize and arrange your ideas
  • Supports Markdown for document formatting
  • Hundreds of plug-ins including Kanban, Data View, and Outliner
  • Secure military-grade AES-256 encryption
  • One year of version history for every note
  • File sharing and collaboration
  • Works offline
  • Has a dark mode
  • Ability to publish your notes as a wiki, pre-optimized for SEO

With these useful, free features is easy to see why other note-taking apps emulate Obsidian. Its only drawback seems to be flexibility, which is also its main virtue. It offers the user so many options, (in terms of layouts and plug-ins), that it can take a lot of time to set up.


What is a Markdown editor?

Markdown can be a stand-alone app or one of the features of a knowledge tool like Obsidian or Zettlr. It allows users to compose, format, and edit a document in distraction-free mode, as well as backlink to information and tag notes.

What is a knowledge graph?

A knowledge graph combines three data management types into one visual. These include;

• Structured queries that can be backlinked or tagged

• A graphic that allows you to see all of your information at once

• A networked style of data links.

Knowledge graphs come in many themes and styles that can accommodate the way your mind works or clarify how information is collected and stored to a team.

What is a hierarchical tree?

A hierarchal tree is a visual representation of a project that breaks it down into a list of tasks and sub-tasks. The resulting graphic resembles a tree with roots and branches and provides you with an omniscient view of all of your ideas at once.

What does Wiki-style mean?

Wiki-style note-taking refers to hypertext notes that are shareable online using a web browser. It allows all users to edit any page and link to any information anywhere.

The Best Obsidian Alternative Suits Your Objectives

All of our choices for best Obsidian alternatives are free and open source. Zettlr is remarkable for its text editor and file management. Logseq, Notion, and Google Keep are good choices for working in a web-based browser. Both Logseq and Standard Notes have stand-out security features. Meanwhile, both Simple Notes and Google Keep offer a simple, efficient note-gathering process with tagging. If you need to brainstorm, then stick with Obsidian or Notion, as both are known for their plug-ins and knowledge graphs.

Have you used Obsidian, Zettlr, or any of the other note-taking apps mentioned in this article? If so tell us all about your experience by leaving a comment in the box below.

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