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Obsidian and Notion are both apps that can be used to create and organize notes and wikis, but they each take a fundamentally different approach to this task.

Obsidian is a note-taking app that stores files locally on your devices instead of in the cloud, so you must download an app to use it. Obsidian uses Markdown files and language to create and format your notes, and it uses a knowledge graph structure to connect notes through bi-directional thinking instead of a more traditional and hierarchical database structure.

Notion is a cloud-based productivity app that lets you track projects and create and organize notes. It can be accessed via a web browser, desktop apps for Windows and Mac or mobile apps for iOS and Android. A Notion widget is available for both iPhone and Android, so you can access it right from your home screen.

In this guide, we’ll compare and contrast Obsidian and Notion to help you figure out which one is best for your needs.

Obsidian vs. Notion: Comparison

Obsidian
Notion
Linked thinking visualization
Yes
No
Free syncing and publishing
No
Yes
Project management features
No
Yes
Team collaboration
Limited
Yes
Free forever
Yes (for personal use)
Yes (invite up to 10 guests)
Starting price (per user per month, billed monthly)
N/A
$10
Starting price (per user billed annually)
$50
$8 per user per month

Obsidian vs. Notion: Pricing

Obsidian pricing

Obsidian follows a somewhat unusual pricing scheme. If you just want to download the app for personal use on a single device, it’s free to use forever: no file upload limits, no limits on the number of notes you can have — nothing. If you want to use Obsidian for work, it costs $50 per user per year to get the commercial license. You get a 14-day trial before you pay, and this tier comes with priority support.

The catch is that you have to pay extra if you want to sync between devices or publish your Obsidian pages to the web. It costs $4 per person per month billed annually for Obsidian Sync and another $8 per month per site billed annually for Obsidian Publish. Since most note-taking services offer free syncing and publishing for all accounts, this is a bit of a drawback. While Obsidian may appear more cost-effective at first glance, these additional fees can quickly add up.

There is also the option for all users to pay a one-time $25 fee for Obsidian Catalyst, which gets you early access to the beta version and the VIP channel, as well as special community badges. The Obsidian Catalyst is a way to keep Obsidian’s development 100% user-supported.

See the Obsidian pricing breakdown below.

  • Free: For personal use.
  • Commercial use: $50 per user per year.

Add-ons

  • Sync: $4 per user per month, billed annually, or $5 per user per month, billed monthly.
  • Publish: $8 per user per month, billed annually, or $10 per user per month, billed monthly.

Early Access

  • Catalyst: A $25+ one-time payment for early access to beta versions, special community badges, access to the VIP channel and support development.

For more information, read our full Obsidian review.

Notion pricing

Notion offers four pricing tiers and does not charge extra for syncing or publishing functionality. The four pricing tiers offered by Notion are:

  • Free: This forever free plan allows you to invite up to 10 guests and upload files up to 5 MB.
  • Plus: This plan costs $8 per user per month, billed annually, or $10 per user per month, billed monthly. It allows you to invite up to 100 guests and features unlimited blocks and file uploads.
  • Business: This plan costs $15 per user per month, billed annually, or $18 per user per month, billed monthly. It allows you to invite up to 250 guests and features SAML single sign-on and advanced page analytics.
  • Enterprise: This plan requires a custom pricing quote and includes extra features such as unlimited workspaces and unlimited extensions.

You can also choose to add the optional Notion AI to any paid plan for $8 per user per month, billed annually. Notion AI can be used to generate summaries, rewrite documents and brainstorm ideas.

You can request a trial of the Business plan and a demo or a trial of the Enterprise plan, but you’ll need to contact the sales team to do both — you can’t sign up for either directly.

For more information, read our full Notion review. You can also see how Notion stacks up in our comparison of Notion vs. Asana, Notion vs. Trello, Coda vs. Notion and ClickUp vs. Notion.

Feature comparison: Obsidian vs. Notion

Notes management

Both Obsidian and Notion can be used to create personal notes and wikis for either personal or team use. In addition to creating text, you can add pictures, videos and links to make your notes more interactive.

Obsidian takes a slightly different approach since it is designed to be used as a second brain, a.k.a., a searchable repository of an individual’s thoughts and knowledge. You categorize each note with different hashtags and then explore the many different ways they are linked together in the open graph view. You can view multiple notes at a time using a split window and format the content visually with the Canvas feature. Obsidian uses Markdown to create and format notes, which can be a learning curve if you’re not already familiar with it.

Obsidian apps.
Figure A: Obsidian apps. Image: Obsidian

Notion does not offer this kind of interconnected organization — it takes a more traditional database approach to organizing notes and pages in a hierarchical structure, which will be familiar to people who have used other note-taking apps. Notion does not require markdown knowledge to create and format notes using the included toolbar, presenting a lower learning curve and making it much more user-friendly. If you’re not committed to building a second brain with bi-directional thinking connection and just want to keep track of your notes, Notion will probably be a better fit for your needs.

Notion notes list.
Figure B: Notion notes list. Image: Notion

Project management

Obsidian does not offer any native project management features. However, the extensive library of more than 1,000 plug-ins does allow you to add certain project management functionality, such as kanban boards and time tracking. That being said, it will take a lot of plug-ins and tinkering around to get Obsidian anywhere close to the level of functionality of a dedicated project management app, since that’s not what it’s meant for. If you need a project management solution, it will be easier to choose a platform that is designed for that.

Obsidian plug-ins.
Figure C: Obsidian plug-ins. Image: Obsidian

Notion does offer a good selection of project management features paired with a low learning curve, which is why it made our lists for both the best project management software for startups and the best project management software for freelancers. You can assign tasks to yourself or other people, set deadlines and choose from multiple project views such as kanban boards and Gantt charts (called timelines).

However, Notion is not as robust as other project management solutions like monday work management, and it lacks certain native features such as time tracking. This means that it isn’t the best choice for power users who need a lot of project management features.

Notion project management features.
Figure D: Notion project management features. Image: Notion

Sharing and collaboration

Obsidian was designed for personal note-taking first and foremost, and that shows up in the lack of collaboration features. If you pay for the sync version, you can share your file vault with other people so they can edit it. But to leave comments, you have to use Markdown language, so the comments don’t function the same way they do in other tools. You also can’t tag someone else with an @ mention.

Obsidian share invitation.
Figure E: Obsidian share invitation. Image: Obsidian

On the flip side, Notion allows you to comment on items, tag colleagues in messages, reply to comments directly within the tool and react to comments with emojis to acknowledge them. It doesn’t offer direct messages like Asana or a native video chat option like Teamwork, so you’ll need to move to a different software like Slack or Zoom if you want to have an extended discussion. That being said, Notion does offer way more sharing and collaboration features than Obsidian, so it’s a better choice if you are looking for a tool you can use with teammates.

Comments in Notion.
Figure F: Comments in Notion. Image: Notion

Importing files

Normally, we don’t include importing in our comparisons because most productivity platforms improve built-in tools that automate importing your notes and files from another service. The idea is to make switching platforms as painless as possible, so it’s not an impediment to users.

However, Obsidian requires you to manually export your notes as Markdown files (.md) and then upload them into the tool, which can be time-consuming and tedious if you’re not familiar with the process already.

Meanwhile, Notion lets you upload five different file types: plaintext (.txt), markdown (.md or .markdown), Microsoft Word (.docx), CSV (.csv) and HTML (.html). It also offers import tools for a number of other apps, including Confluence, Asana, Evernote and Trello. As such, it’s much easier to switch to Notion from another service, regardless of how you currently take notes.

Notion import tools.
Figure G: Notion import tools. Image: Notion

Ease of use

Both Obsidian and Notion offer user-friendly interfaces and clear organizational structures. However, in terms of ease of use, some users find Notion to be more straightforward and intuitive. Notion’s interface is highly visual and requires minimal effort to navigate. Its extensive collaboration features, such as real-time editing, commenting and task assignments, make it an excellent choice for team projects.

During my experience with both tools, I found Notion easier to use than Obsidian. Notion tends to be more comprehensible, making it a preferred option for individuals who prioritize simplicity and accessibility in their note-taking and organization tools.

Obsidian vs. Notion on Reddit

I checked Reddit to see what real-world users are saying about Obsidian versus Notion. Here is a summary of their opinions:

Some users prefer Obsidian for its strong focus on text and note-taking capabilities. They appreciate its Markdown support, interconnectedness of notes and plain-text file storage. They also find Obsidian to be more suitable for personal knowledge management and academic research, while Notion is better for project management and team collaboration.

According to ultra_nick, a Reddit user, “Obsidian is better for personal notes and learning.”

Others prefer Notion for its versatility and flexibility in creating different types of content such as databases, task lists, calendars and more. They appreciate its user-friendly interface and the ability to collaborate with others in real-time.

“Notion is a tool that lets you have a structure in your data. You can experiment with the structures to find what fits you, and this experimentation is very easy to do. Also, it has a better typing experience, and it has better-looking text out of the box. And it also has clients for every major platform, + it syncs everything and is free,” 1Soundwave3 said.

Obsidian pros and cons

Pros of Obsidian

  • Great for creating a “second brain” note repository.
  • The desktop app is free to use forever.
  • Offers a unique open graph view to visualize connections between notes.

Cons of Obsidian

  • More difficult to import existing notes.
  • Must pay to sync across devices or publish to the web.
  • No collaboration tools.
  • No native project management tools.

Notion pros and cons

Pros of Notion

  • Excellent note-taking capabilities.
  • Highly customizable layout.
  • Small learning curve, especially compared to Airtable.
  • Less expensive than some competitors.

Cons of Notion

  • No Gantt charts are available.
  • Can become unwieldy as you create more projects.
  • Could use more security features.

Should your organization use Obsidian or Notion?

While they may seem like similar note-taking apps at first glance, Obsidian and Notion were actually designed with two completely different end users in mind.

Obsidian is meant to act like your “second brain,” becoming an entire repository of notes for a single individual. This is why it includes features like open graph visualization but lacks team collaboration and project management functionality.

The desktop app offers full functionality for free, but you’ll have to pay if you want to sync across devices or publish to the web, which means that Obsidian can quickly become more expensive than competitors.

On the other hand, Notion is better suited for those who want to create and share notes and wikis with teammates. It also offers way more project management features and templates than Obsidian does, though it falls short of more robust PM tools such as monday work management.

This combination of notes and project management makes Notion especially well-suited for content creators, marketing departments and other teams that work largely with text. You could also conceivably use Obsidian and Notion together, making your personal notes in Obsidian while using Notion for team collaboration and project management.

Review methodology

To compare Obsidian and Notion, I signed up for free accounts and consulted demo videos, product documentation, user reviews and community resource forums. I considered factors such as pricing, interface design, ease of use and importing, as well as features such as project management, team collaboration and note organization.


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