Getting Started with Obsidian Themes

I’ve long been a proponent of using Obsidian themes.

It’s one of the first things I tell beginners. I find the default theme in Obsidian can be a bit overwhelming, and themes that clean up the interface can be a big help.

With Obsidian themes the rewards are great, and the investment is small.

Changing themes is easy: it only takes a minute or two, and it can breathe new life into your work.

About Obsidian Themes

Themes allow you to fine-tune how Obsidian looks and feels. Installing a theme is simple, but there are a lot of “advanced features” you can use if you know how, depending on the theme.

To browse and install new themes, open settings within Obsidian, and go to the “Appearance” tab. You will see a line that says “themes”, and on the right side there is a button that says “Manage”.

A screenshot of Obsidian appearance settings.

Click “Manage” to browse and install new themes. You will see a screen like this:

A screenshot of the screen that allows you to install Obsidian themes.

From here you can click on any theme you like, and click “install” to download and use it. Once you have themes installed, you can change themes at any time using the dropdown next to the “Manage” button.

A Quick Note on Plugins

In addition to themes, Obsidian also supports community plugins.

Themes in Obsidian don’t require plugins, but many of them can be modified with plugins.

The most popular theme-related plugin is the Style Settings plugin (click to open in Obsidian), which allows you to tweak the visuals of your chosen theme. Not all themes support it, but most do, so if you want to fine-tune your theme, this plugin is a great place to start.

Again you don’t need any plugins to start using themes in Obsidian, but they are there if you want them.

On Maintainability

Obsidian Themes are created and maintained by volunteers. Few are paid for their work, they do it for fun.

Due to that, there are many themes that have fallen into disrepair over the years. Some still work, but many do not. Or if they do work, they don’t support the latest and greatest versions of Obsidian.

All of the themes I talk about here work well with the latest version of Obsidian, and most have been maintained well while they’ve been around. But it’s something to keep in mind, that no theme is guaranteed to always work.

With all of that out of the way, let’s finally talk themes! Here are my five favorite Obsidian themes in 2024.

My Favorite Obsidian Themes in 2024

#5: Things 2

A screenshot of the Things 2 Obsidian theme.
Screenshot from Things 2

One of the most popular Obsidian themes out there, Things is based on a popular task manager app (also called Things). It’s designed to look and feel native on Mac OS, although it looks great on other operating systems as well.

As you might expect, Things is a very task-centric theme. It has custom checkbox styling that allows you to add statuses to your tasks. Both the light and dark themes are easy on the eyes, giving you enough contrast without straining your eyes.

Things also allows for a lot of customization with the Style Settings plugin, including extra features such as custom syntax highlighting, fancy highlighting, and a few other visual tweaks.

I would say Things is a great starter theme. Not a lot of extra features, but a good reliable track record and a good looking default. I personally like more bells and whistles, but if you like a theme that always looks good and requires no extra attention from you, then you should give Things a look.

#4: Encore

A screenshot of the Encore Obsidian theme.
Screenshot from Encore

The first thing I noticed when I started using Encore is the lack of borders. The Encore theme removes almost every border in the app, and I’ve got to say: I don’t miss them.

Encore is a more flamboyant theme than Things. It has big opinions, and either you go along with them or you can find another theme.

That is why I find Encore appealing, and why I go back to it again and again. It’s not a perfect theme—sometimes things look different than you expect them to—but it has a huge personality and great attention to detail.

It also has a crazy level of customization you can do with the Style Settings plugin. Tons of extra customizations, and a good number of different themes as well, allowing you to change how your vault looks without installing another theme.

I also love the full-screen semi-transparent command palette. Super crispy.

A screenshot of the command palette in Obsidian using the Encore theme.

#3: Border

A screenshot of the Border Obsidian theme.
Screenshot from Border

Encore removes borders, and Border adds them back. If you like strict delineation between every different feature in Obsidian, then Border may be the theme for you.

Not only can you add borders, you can add white-space wherever you want it.

Border has to be one of the most customizable themes out there. You can do virtually anything with this theme, including importing and exporting your own (or other people’s) custom settings.

Out of the box, I don’t think Border is all that special. It’s default settings are fine, but they aren’t amazing.

But the level of customization that Border brings to the table is unmatched. If you want to fine tune every detail of your vault, then Border might be the theme for you.

#2: Sanctum

Screenshot from Sanctum

Sanctum is, according to the creator, “A minimalist theme for creating a serene space of retreat, for thought and uninterrupted work”.

I think that’s a good summary, Sanctum feels peaceful to use. Every element exists on a clearly defined grid, the colors are tame and used sparingly, and I love the type in this theme, something about it just feels right.

But despite its stoic background, Sanctum does give you plenty of opportunities to customize as well. It has a whole suite of custom features you can modify using the Style Settings plugin, so if you like the aesthetic of the theme but want to tweak it, you’re fully able to do that.

Sanctum gives you a lot of control around managing basic things, such as callouts, tables, and embeds, which is great to see. A lot of other themes would require CSS to modify basic elements, but Sanctum puts it all under your control.

#1: Minimal Theme

Screenshot from Minimal

Of course, Minimal has to be #1. Several of the above themes are based heavily on Minimal, it is GOAT.

I’ve written a whole article about how to use the Minimal theme. It’s a great place to start, because it’s simple—you don’t need to do anything other than install it if you want—but you can also upgrade it in a myriad of ways.

Minimal supports the Style Settings plugin that we discussed above, and it also has a couple of other companion plugins that were developed to improve the theme.

My favorite feature of Minimal is its ability to change Dataview tables to look like cards. In fact, I liked this feature so much I found a way to use cards with other themes as well.

It also has a whole website with instructions on all of the advanced features that it offers.

Minimal is one of the most polished and versatile themes out there, and for that reason it earns the #1 spot on this list. Minimal does everything you need it to do, and more! If you want a theme that will last you years, even decades, and always have room for you to grow, Minimal is that theme.

Honorable Mentions

There are many other themes that I have used over the years, and I’d like to give honorable mentions to a few noteworthy ones.

Dracula Official

I’ve used the Dracula color scheme in text editors for years, so I’m glad there’s a Dracula theme for Obsidian. There are actually a bunch of Dracula-inspired themes, my favorite is Dracula Official (even though it’s not the most popular). This theme is simple, a lot like Minimal, but I love the gray-blue color palette. Also seems to be well maintained.


Impossible to spell, but a nice theme nontheless. AnuPpuccin was voted a Gem of the Year in 2022, but it is currently on hiatus. It still works, but is no longer receiving updates. For that reason, I couldn’t include it in my list, even though I still enjoy using it from time to time.


This theme grieves me. It was a beautiful theme with incredible attention to detail, but it’s no longer maintained, and hasn’t been for several years now. It was a great theme that I used for a long time, but no more. I mention it as a reminder: no theme is permanent, so it’s a good idea to find a few that you like, just in case one of them goes away in the future.


If your notes ever start to feel a little stale to you, try a new theme! I stand by all of the themes on this list, they perform well and have a good track record. Try them out and let me know what you think.

If you want to learn more about customizing themes with plugins and custom code, let me know. The possibilities there are truly endless.

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