Themes are important. A new theme revitalizes a stale vault.
Whenever I feel bored or overwhelmed with my vault, I change themes.
It seems too simple to work, but it does work.
None of the content changes, but a new coat of paint tricks your brain into thinking you’re working on a new project.
And new projects are always more fun than old ones, right?
So let’s talk about one of my favorite themes for Obsidian: the Minimal Theme.
Table of Contents
- Plugin integrations
- Color schemes
- Using cards in Minimal
- Progress bars
- Image galleries
- Focus mode
In our Beginners Guide to Obsidian, we recommended installing and using the Minimal theme. It’s a great theme for beginners, because it helps simplify the Obsidian interface, and makes it less overwhelming.
But the Minimal theme isn’t as simple as it looks. It also has a number of advanced features that can help you to organize and clarify your files.
I used the Minimal theme for years before I found out about many of these. They are often overlooked, and can be extremely useful.
So without further ado, let’s dive in!
First of all, you should know about the plugins.
The Minimal theme integrates with several plugins that are helpful if you want to customize your Obsidian vault. They aren’t required, but they are recommended if you want to take advantage of everything Minimal has to offer.
Style Settings Plugin
This is a great plugin to use to adjust the look and feel of Obsidian. This plugin allows you to change virtually any font or color in Obsidian. You can also hide icons and toolbars, adjust table layouts, adjust the sidebars, adjust spacing, change PDF styling, and so much more!
Style Settings isn’t magic though: theme authors have to specifically support the plugin in order for it to work. Some themes don’t support Style Settings, which makes it much harder to customize a theme.
Fortunately Minimal has exceptional support for Style Settings, allowing you to customize virtually anything you want.
The problem with Style Settings is that it only allows you to customize how your theme looks. What if you want to change how the theme functions?
Minimal has another plugin for that: the Minimal Theme Settings plugin.
Minimal Theme Settings Plugin
The Minimal Theme Settings, like Style Settings, isn’t required. But it does give you even more control over your vault, and many more settings to play with.
MTS allows you to add or remove features that you like or dislike in Minimal. For example, if you like Minimal but wish it was a little more colorful, you can fix that with MTS. Turn on Colorful Headers and Colorful Toolbar, and you’ll be able to enjoy little pops of color throughout your files.
Here are a few more features that are controllable with the MTS plugin:
- Change the contrast levels of the app
- Text labels in navigation
- Colorful active states
- Minimal status bar
- Focus mode
- Underline internal and external links
For a full list of features, see the official documentation.
In addition to that, the Minimal Theme Settings plugin gives you access to additional themes.
Did you know that Minimal supports multiple themes?
It sounds strange to say that a theme supports themes, but it does. If you don’t like the default Minimal styling, you can choose between a handful of other color schemes.
This is one of my favorite features, because it allows you to get “a fresh coat of paint” without changing to a different theme.
At the time of writing, Minimal supports a dozen different popular color schemes (in both light and dark modes):
- Rosé Pine
You can swap to a different scheme using the command pallette or the Minimal Theme Settings plugin.
Using cards in Minimal
This is one of my favorite “hidden features” of Minimal. Cards are a special feature that Minimal adds that can be applied to any table within your vault. Cards allow you to take a table that looks like this:
And turn it into a table that looks like this:
Isn’t that great?
There is a trick to using these though, Minimal doesn’t automatically convert all Dataview tables to cards. In order to use cards within a file, you have to add this code to the top of your file:
cssClasses: cards cards-1-1 table-wide
These three classes tend to work the best for me, but there are more options if you want to customize them even more.
These cards also support images and progress bars, so you can use them to report on project progress (more on this below):
Or even create your own movie database:
It’s a pretty nice addition if you ask me.
Speaking of progress bars, Minimal supports those out-of-the-box as well. You can use this code to manually create a progress bar:
<progress value="50" max="100"></progress>
Or you can use a Dataview script to generate one based on the number of tasks in the current file:
= "<progress value='" + (length(filter(this.file.tasks.completed, (t) => t = true)) / length(this.file.tasks)) * 100 + "' max='100'></progress>" + "<br>" + round((length(filter(this.file.tasks.completed, (t) => t = true)) / length(this.file.tasks)) * 100) + "% completed"
If Obsidian has a weak spot where text editing is concerned, then it would have to do with images. Images are hard to handle using Markdown compared to other modern text editors. Obsidian doesn’t give you as much control as you may be used to.
Minimal tries to help with that. Using Minimal Theme Settings, you can set global styles for images that help you to display images in your vault exactly how you want. You can also break images out of Obsidian’s main column, allowing them to take up as much space as they need. The same is true of videos and other types of media: large media files are generally much easier to manage with the Minimal theme, especially on small screens.
Additionally, if you have a bunch of images in one file, Minimal can display them as a grid:
This gallery view can be applied to your whole vault, or on a file-by-file basis using helper classes.
Focus mode is another useful feature provided by the Minimal Theme Settings plugin. If you have trouble writing in Obsidian due to the amount of stuff shown on the screen, such as sidebars and other notes, then Focus mode might help. Focus mode hides everything above and below your main note (the title bar and status bar) so that you can focus just on your work.
If you want only your note to show up then you can combine this with the Hider plugin for a completely clean look.
If your vault is starting to feel a little stale, and you don’t already use the Minimal theme, I suggest trying it out! It has so many wonderful features that might encourage you to change your vault for the better.
For more information on any of these features, I recommend reading through the official documentation.
If you want to know how to get started with Obsidian generally, see Getting Started with Obsidian.