Obsidian vs Notion: Which tool is better?

Galina Vasiljcuk

Last updated on: May 17, 2023

There are many tools on the market to help you organize your thoughts, work, notes, etc. With such a wealth of options, it’s difficult to decide which one would suit you best. 

In this article, we are putting Obsidian and Notion under the spotlight to compare their:

  • Pricing,
  • User interface, 
  • Linking,
  • Publishing, 
  • Team collaboration,
  • Integrations and plugins, 
  • Support, and 
  • Security. 

So, read on and find out which tool will score more points and take the victory.

Obsidian vs Notion - cover

Obsidian vs Notion overview

Obsidian is an offline note-taking tool that uses Markdown language — a simple markup language used for creating formatted text. You can download it on macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS

Obsidian provides you with a tool for taking notes and creating a knowledge base, without any excess features. 

Obsidian’s homepage
Obsidian’s homepage, source: Obsidian.so

Notion is a cloud-based platform that’s available for macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS

While note-taking is at the heart of Notion, it’s a more robust tool than Obsidian. You can also use it for team collaboration, progress tracking, and task management.

Notion’s homepage
Notion’s homepage, source: Notion.so

Here’s an overview of Obsidian’s and Notion’s features:

FeatureObsidian Notion
Pricing Free plan
Starting price: $25 (one-time payment)
Free plan
Starting price: $8 per user per month
User interfaceWell-organizedCustomizable, clear
LinksInternal links
Embedded links
Synced blocks
Publishing Obsidian Publish add-on Sharing Notion pages to the web
Team collaborationCollaboration through Obsidian PublishCollaboration on docs
Integrations and pluginsCore plugins
Community plugins
Public API
Synced databases
Dedicated success manager 

Obsidian vs Notion pricing 1:0

Whether you are looking for a tool for personal use or for your business, budget is always an important factor. So, how much would you have to set aside for each of these 2 tools?

Obsidian has a free Personal plan that doesn’t require an account or signup and offers all the essential features. It includes:

  • Access to plugins, and
  • Community support.

There are also 2 paid plans:

  • Catalyst — $25 one-time payment, and
  • Commercial — $50 per user per year. 

Apart from these pricing plans, Obsidian offers 2 add-ons:

  • Sync — $8 per month when billed annually, and 
  • Publish — $8 per site per month when billed annually. 

Obsidian offers a full refund for Sync, Publish, and the Commercial plan within 7 days of the purchase. 

It also offers a 40% discount to:

  • Non-profit organizations, and
  • Students and faculty members of educational institutions. 
Obsidian pricing
Obsidian pricing, source: obsidian.md

Notion has a free plan for individuals that includes: 

  • Unlimited blocks, 
  • Up to 10 guests, 
  • 7-day history, and more. 

Aside from a free plan, there are 3 paid plans:

  • Plus — $8 per user per month, 
  • Business — $15 per user per month, and 
  • Enterprise — contact sales. 

Notion has a very useful add-on — Notion AI. It costs $8 per user per month when billed annually, or $10 when billed monthly or when you’re on the Free plan.

If you are a student or an educator, you can get the Plus plan for free (but only for 1 person, not a team).

And if you are a startup with under 50 employees and a new Notion customer, Notion offers 3 or 6 months of free Plus plan with Notion AI. To get 3 months free, you need to have raised $50,000 to $10 million in funding. And for 6 months you need to have under $10 million raised funding and be affiliated with one of Notion’s startup partners.

You can get a full refund from Notion, as long as you change your mind up to 72 hours after you signed a monthly subscription or up to 30 days after you signed an annual subscription. 

Notion pricing
Notion pricing, source: Notion.so

Obsidian vs Notion pricing verdict 

Both Obsidian and Notion have a good free plan for individuals, but Obsidian is overall cheaper, so it snatches the point from Notion. 

Free plan✔️✔️ 
Starting price$25 one-time payment $8 per user per month
Discounts for nonprofits✔️✔️
Overall impression⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Obsidian vs Notion user interface 1:1

The user interface is a major factor when choosing an app or a tool, regardless of its function. The more user-friendly a tool, the better. 

Obsidian may seem daunting at first since it relies on Markdown, but it’s pretty straightforward once you get used to it.

A basic unit of Obsidian is a note. Notes are organized into vaults — folders located on your device. You can keep all your notes in one vault or create multiple vaults. For example, if you are using Obsidian for taking notes in college, you can create a new vault for each course. 

Obsidian stores your notes on your device instead of in the cloud. This means that your notes are always available to you, even if you have no internet connection. But the downside is that you can’t access it from other devices. 

If you want to be able to access your notes on multiple devices, you’ll have to buy Obsidian Sync. This way, you get a remote vault on Obsidian servers, which can be connected to your local vaults, allowing you to edit the same notes on your phone and computer, for example. 

Note in Obsidian
Note in Obsidian, source: Obsidian.md

Notion is a highly customizable tool with a lot of features, so it might take you a bit to get the hang of it. But once you do, you will be able to adjust it to your needs and easily organize your work using Notion.

Notion’s pages consist of blocks. Everything you add to a page is a block — text, picture, table, video, etc. You can combine these blocks however you want, and if you change your mind, you can rearrange them with a simple drag and drop. 

All writing you do in Notion is made easier with Notion AI, whether it’s an email, report, or meeting notes. It helps you:

  • Summarize,
  • Translate,
  • Fix spelling and grammar mistakes,
  • Change the tone of your writing, 
  • Make the text shorter or longer, and more. 
Notion AI
Notion AI, source: Notion.so

Obsidian vs Notion user interface verdict

Obsidian and Notion both have a clean interface that doesn’t require too much time to get used to. So, they both score a point in this round. 

Obsidian vs Notion linking 1:1

Your thoughts and ideas are never isolated. There are always connections between them, so it’s important to have a way of connecting them once they are transferred to digital notes and docs. 

Both Obsidian and Notion have developed systems to keep your files linked, so let’s check out your linking options in both apps. 

Obsidian doesn’t organize notes linearly. Instead, they are connected through links and backlinks to create a web of notes. You can see how notes in your vault are connected in the Graph view.

 You can easily link to other files or notes in Obsidian using:

  • Internal links, and
  • Embedded files

Internal links are made simply by typing “[[“ and the name of the note or by opening the Command Palette and choosing “Add internal link”. 

If you want to create an embedded file, all you have to do is type an exclamation mark (!) in front of the internal link. 

You can also create a link to a heading inside a note.

For every link you make, a backlink is created. You can see all the backlinks from any note neatly organized in a backlinks pane in the right sidebar. 

Aside from linked mentions, you can also find unlinked mentions here — these are all instances of notes you mention without linking them. 

Obsidian graph
Obsidian graph, source: Obsidian.md

Similar to Obsidian, Notion uses links and backlinks to connect pages and projects across its platform. You can create a link by typing “@” or “[[“ followed by the name of the note, and the link and the backlink will be automatically created. When you go to the linked page, you can find all the backlinks under the title. 

You can also create links to blocks if you want to have quick access to certain information that might be at the end of a page. 

In Notion, you can also sync blocks to have the same content on several pages, without having to click on links. You can copy a block on one page, then just paste it to another and sync them. 

When blocks are synced, whenever you make a change on one page, all the other copies of the block are changed automatically. 

Synced blocks in Notion
Synced blocks in Notion, source: Notion.so

Obsidian vs Notion links verdict

Both apps offer an easy way to link your files and a clear overview of backlinks. They also both offer an additional feature — Obsidian has embedded files, while Notion has synced blocks. Therefore, they both leave this round with a well-earned point. 

Obsidian vs Notion publishing 1:1

If you want to share your notes or docs with other people, it would be useful to have a tool that allows you to directly publish content on the web. This way, you don’t need to know how to create and configure websites, you can just publish directly from the tool you are already using. 

To publish your notes in Obsidian, you have to pay for an Obsidian Publish add-on. This add-on enables you to publish notes you want to share with others. You can choose the site name and customize the layout of the site to make it your own.

There is a Hover Preview option that can make your site more user-friendly and informative.

You can also set up Google Analytics to keep track of your site’s traffic.  

If you don’t want a note you published to be available to everyone, you can set up a password and control who has access to it.

They claim that the site you publish is automatically optimized for search engines. 

Obsidian Publish
Obsidian Publish, source: Obsidian.md

In Notion, you can simply share a page to the web and anyone with the link can view it. This is especially useful if you want to share some information with people who don’t have a Notion account. 

You can:

  • Add the page to search engines,
  • Customize part of the URL, 
  • Allow edits,
  • Allow comments, and
  • Allow people to duplicate your page.

However, to be able to edit, comment, or duplicate a page, you have to be a Notion user.

Publishing Notion pages
Publishing Notion pages, source: Notion.so

Obsidian vs Notion publishing verdict 

Both tools offer an easy way to create pages on the web and optimize them for search engines. 

Obsidian stands out with its Hover Preview feature, while Notion offers a way for other people to duplicate pages and leave comments. 

Therefore, once again, both tools earn a point. 

Obsidian vs Notion team collaboration 0:1

Obsidian is created primarily for note-taking, so it doesn’t offer many options for team collaboration. 

You can collaborate with other people on the Obsidian Publish site. You have to add them as collaborators on your site, and they’ll be able to edit it. Your collaborators need to have an Obsidian account, but don’t have to purchase Obsidian Publish. 

Obsidian’s publishing platform
Obsidian’s publishing platform, source: Obsidian.md

Team collaboration in Notion is simple and efficient. 

You and your teammates can collaborate on the same document at the same time. You can delete or add content to any part of the page. All the changes other people make are visible to you in real time. You can also see the history of updates — who changed what and when.

Another way to collaborate with your team is through comments. You can leave a comment at the top of a page, or you can comment on a particular block on the page.

Also, if you want to direct your comment to a specific person, you can @mention them, and they will be notified. 

For example, let’s say you are reviewing a business case proposal your subordinate wrote. You might find mistakes you can correct immediately. But there are also sections of the proposal you feel need to be changed but aren’t sure how. You can comment on that block and ask for ideas so other team members can contribute. 

Also, there could be parts that are not completely clear to you. In that case, you can leave a comment and @mention the writer of the business case to clarify further. 

Comments in Notion
Comments in Notion, source: Notion.so

💡 Plaky Pro Tip

If you are interested in how Notion’s team collaboration features fare against a task management tool check out our article:

Obsidian vs Notion team collaboration verdict 

Notion has a much more developed team collaboration system than Obsidian, so it’s an undeniable winner of this round.

Obsidian vs Notion integrations and plugins

Obsidian uses plugins to help improve the functionality of the app. There are core plugins such as backlinks, page preview, slash commands, graph view, etc. 

Aside from them, there are also 927 community plugins enabling you to:

  • Create Kanban boards, 
  • Connect with Google Calendar, 
  • Turn text to speech and hear your notes, and much more. 

You can also create your own Obsidian plugin to make Obsidian more functional for you. 

Obsidian plugins
Obsidian plugins, source: Obsidian.md

Notion offers integrations with apps such as Dropbox, Figma, Zoom, Google Drive, etc. 

You can also sync content from other platforms (such as Jira or GitHub) with Notion databases. One synced database is allowed in the free plan, while you can create an unlimited number of them in any of the paid plans.

But if these integrations are not enough for you, you can always create the integrations you need since Notion has a public API. 

Notion’s integrations
Notion’s integrations, source: Notion.so

Obsidian vs Notion integrations and plugins verdict

Although Obsidian does offer a generous number of plugins, some of them provide you with features that Notion already has without integrations. Plus, Notion integrates with the most popular tools such as Zoom, Slack, Asana, Figma, etc.

This is why Notion secured a point for itself in this round. 

Obsidian vs Notion support 0:1

Obsidian has a help site that is available in 7 languages: English, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Danish, Russian, and Italian. 

If you want to contact Obsidian support, you can send them an email. 

Obsidian also has a community on Discord and a forum where you can report incidents and violations of the Obsidian’s Code of Conduct. 

Obsidian’s help vault
Obsidian’s help vault, source: Obsidian.md

On Notion’s website, you can find a collection of:

  • Notion guides,
  • Notion Academy courses, and
  • Webinars.

There is also a Notion Community where you can join an event or a webinar or just share ideas and exchange tips with other members of the community.

However, if you need help with a specific problem, you can contact Notion support:

  • By Email, or
  • Message them through a form on their website. 

If you are paying for more than 100 seats in the Enterprise plan, you can get a dedicated success manager to help you best utilize Notion. 

Notion support
Notion support, source: Notion.so

Obsidian vs Notion support verdict 

Notion has a more developed support system than Obsidian, so it earns a point for customer support.

Obsidian vs Notion security 1:1

You can use Obsidian without providing any personal information. It doesn’t require you to make an account or provide an email address. All the notes you create are stored on your local device, so it’s up to you to ensure their security.  

However, if you have Obsidian Sync, your data is stored on Obsidian servers. Obsidian uses AES-256 encryption to secure your data and it offers:

  • End-to-end encryption — all data is encrypted going in and out of your device, and can be accessed only with your encryption key. 
  • Managed encryption — in this case, Obsidian manages your encryption password, so you don’t have to remember it.

Unlike Obsidian, Notion stores data on a cloud server. To ensure your data is secure, Notion:

  • Encrypts it at rest and in transit,
  • Runs independent security audits,
  • Complies with SOC 2 Type 1 & 2 and GDPR,
  • Notifies you up to 72 hours after a data breach, and more.  

You can export your entire workspace in Notion as a: 

  • CSV file,
  • Markdown file, 
  • HTML file, or 
  • PDF. 

Exporting data as a PDF is available in Business and Enterprise plans only, but other formats are available in all plans.

Obsidian vs Notion security verdict

Both apps take precautionary measures to keep your data safe, so we award them each a point in this category.

End-to-end encryption✔️✔️
Local storage✔️
Relevant certifications✔️
Overall impression⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Obsidian vs Notion verdict 

Now, the time has come for our final verdict. And the winner is — Notion. 

User interface11
Publishing 11
Team collaboration01
Integrations and plugins01

Still, this doesn’t mean that you should immediately discard Obsidian. It can be a good choice for you, depending on what you are looking for. 

Obsidian is a great tool for note-taking and building a knowledge base. But, if you want to collaborate with other people, Notion is a much better choice than Obsidian. 

Looking for a more task-oriented tool than Obsidian and Notion? Try Plaky

If neither Obsidian nor Notion is what you’re looking for — you should give Plaky a try. 

Plaky is a free task management tool with a clear and user-friendly interface. It offers 24/7 customer support via:

  • Email, 
  • Chat, or 
  • Phone. 

Plaky’s robust free plan makes it an ideal collaboration tool for teams on a budget. It’s a great alternative to Notion since its free plan includes:

  • Unlimited users, 
  • Unlimited teams, and
  • 10MB file upload.

You can use Plaky to: 

  • Create public or private boards for your projects,
  • Organize tasks in Table or Kanban view, 
  • Add comments to tasks and @mention your team members,
  • Sort and filter items,
  • Track all changes across the board with activity log,
  • Create custom columns to fit your business needs, and much more. 

✉️ Do you have any experience using Obsidian or Notion? How did you like them? Contact us at blogfeedback@plaky.com and let us know, and we may include your answers in this or some future post. If you found this post useful, share it with someone you think will be interested in it. 

Author: GalinaVasiljcuk

Galina is a project management author and researcher at Plaky. She combines her interest in team collaboration and her natural knack for organization into writing informative and engaging texts that help people better understand project management. When she is not working, she can be found relaxing with a cup of coffee and a TV series or trying out new recipes from Asian cuisine.

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