Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, if you want to get the most out of Obsidian, you need to learn how to use the command palette.
What is the command palette? It’s one of the most powerful tools that Obsidian has to offer.
The command palette in Obsidian is essential for both beginners and experts alike. It may seem like an “advanced” tool, but it’s easy to learn and use, and can solve numerous problems you might have while using Obsidian.
Ready to level up your Obsidian game? Great, let’s go!
What is the Command Palette?
The command palette is a tool that allows you to quickly run almost any command available in Obsidian. That includes things like:
- Quickly navigating, opening, creating, and closing notes
- Inserting templates
- Editing properties
- Editing text formatting
- Changing themes
- Advanced plugin functionality
- And SO much more
The command palette in Obsidian is a power feature that not only speeds up your work, but it will also help you to discover new features and functions that you didn’t know Obsidian could do.
If you haven’t used the command palette before, here’s what it looks like:
At the top is a search box, so you can search for and select any command you want from your keyboard.
Once you’re entered your search term, you can use the arrow keys to select an option and press enter to run the command. You can also use your mouse if you prefer.
How to Access the Command Palette
There are two ways to open the Obsidian command palette on desktop.
The first way is to use the ribbon. If you’re using the default theme in Obsidian, you’ll find the icon in the left sidebar:
If you click that icon, Obsidian will open the command palette and focus on it with your keyboard, so you can start typing instantly.
The other method, and the one I recommend, is to use a keyboard shortcut. By default, the shortcut to open the command palette is Ctrl+p (Cmd+p on a Mac). This should be the first keyboard shortcut you learn in Obsidian, because it can help you learn all of the others (more on that below).
On mobile, you can swipe down at any time to access the command palette, or you can use the ribbon (which hides behind a hamburger menu at the bottom right of your screen).
Command Palette Features
Once you open the command palette, you can start typing to search through all the commands offered by Obsidian. These commands include both native commands and plugin commands, so the more plugins you have, the more commands you will have access to.
One reason to use the command palette is for the speed. Other than keyboard shortcuts, there is no faster way to run a command in Obsidian. If you want to open another vault, look at your graph view, or create a canvas, you could use the ribbon, but it’s probably faster to press ctrl+p, type “canvas”, and press enter.
Not only is it faster, but the consistency is a big perk too. Once you learn how to use the command palette, you’ll never again have to wonder “which icon should I click to do what I want”?
The command palette is great for things you do infrequently in Obsidian. Let’s again take canvas as an example: if you create a new canvas once per month, then what’s the easiest way to do that?
- You could use a keyboard shortcut, but you’re likely to forget it
- You could use the ribbon, but you might forget which icon to use, and the ribbon takes up a lot of screen space if you only use it once per month
The answer, of course, is to open the command palette, type “canvas”, and press enter.
Keyboard Shortcuts vs the Command Palette
As a rule of thumb, when you’re running commands in Obsidian:
- If you use a command more than once per day, use a keyboard shortcut (you can create your own shortcuts if one doesn’t exist)
- If you use a command less than once per day, use the command palette
Of course, another handy feature of the command palette is that it can remind you of your keyboard shortcuts. All of the commands in the command palette also display their keyboard shortcuts (if applicable). So if you are trying to learn a new keyboard shortcut, but you forget it from time to time, the command palette can help with that as well.
In the image above, you may also notice little thumbtack icons. Those icons mean that those commands have been pinned, which means they always show up at the top of your command palette.
Pinning commands is helpful, especially on mobile, for commands you use most frequently. Then you don’t need to search at all, you can just use the arrow keys to select one of the top options.
Here’s how you pin a command in the command palette:
- Open Settings
- Under Core Plugins, click “Command Palette”
- Next to “New pinned command” click “Select a command”
- Select the command you want from the list (or type to search)
The hardest thing about the command palette is knowing what you’re able to do with it. Since it’s search-only, you need to know that a command exists in order to use it.
With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite commands in Obsidian. Read through this and, if any of them look useful, consider adding them to your workflow.
Any navigation tasks that you do frequently should have their own keyboard shortcut. But if you forget, or if you, say, rename files infrequently, the command palette may be the best way for you. Here are a few of the navigation tasks available in the command palette:
- Navigate back/forward
- Go to next/previous tab
- Move line up/down
- New tab
- Rename file
- Create new note
- Canvas: Create new canvas
- Open current tab in new window
- Toggle left/right sidebar
- Toggle Live Preview/Source mode
- Toggle pin (for pinned tabs)
Links are the heart and soul of Obsidian. And the command palette can help you manage them with these commands:
- Copy file path
- Copy Obsidian URL
- Add internal link
- Insert Markdown link
- Paste URL into selection
Properties are metadata for your notes. Learn more about them here.
Property views allow you to see global or local properties, and they are only accessible from the command palette. There are a few other helpful tools here as well:
- Add file property
- Clear file properties
- Toggle fold properties in current file
- Properties view: Show all properties
- Opens a view that shows all properties in your vault. Requires enabling the Properties core plugin.
- Properties view: Show file properties
- Opens a view that shows all properties in your active file. Requires enabling the Properties core plugin.
Formatting your text is also a good candidate for keyboard shortcuts (in fact, many of these already have keyboard shortcuts). But in case you need them, these options are available in the command palette:
- Toggle bold
- Toggle code
- Toggle heading
- Toggle italics
- Toggle numbered/bullet list
- Toggle highlight
- Toggle strikethrough
- Toggle spellcheck
If you use the core bookmarks plugin, these commands are available to you:
- Show bookmarks
- Bookmark all tabs
- Bookmark current search
- Bookmark block under cursor
- Bookmark heading under cursor
If you use the sidebars in Obsidian, the command palette can be a huge help to you. Many of the views available in the sidebar are only accessible through the command palette, so if you accidentally close a view, the command palette is essential to open it again. Here are some of the more commonly used views in the sidebar:
- Properties view: Show all/file properties (requires the Properties plugin)
- Bookmarks: Show bookmarks (requires the Bookmarks plugin)
- Tags view: Show tags
- Graph view: Open graph view
- Graph view: Open local graph
- Toggle Live Preview/Source mode
- Toggle reading view
- Numerous plugin views are only available by searching the plugin name
And Much Much MUCH More
The examples above are some of the most useful commands I’ve found, but there’s much more available to you in the command palette. Feel free to explore and find your own favorite commands.
The command palette in Obsidian is a valuable and essential tool, and if you haven’t learned to use it yet, I hope this article gives you the tools to do so.
We’ve only scratched the surface here—there’s so much more that the command palette can do—but if I’ve given you the confidence to get started then I consider it a job well done.
Did I miss anything above? Do you have a favorite command that I missed? Let me know in the comments below!