Referencing an image from photos app - iOS

How can I do this? With Obsidian it’s a simple as the photo picker popping up. I much prefer drafts for inputting text though.

I have just had a baby and I wanted to start a journal for him. I would like to use obsidian as the back end for the journal, but create the entries in drafts. How can I also add a reference to any photos I may want from the photos app? I mean - I could create the entry, send it to obsidian, go to obsidian and pick the photos. But at that point I may as well do the whole thing there. But I just love drafts, and so would prefer some way of getting the workflow with it.

Any help would be great!


I have a shortcut I created (probably from pieces of other people’s shortcuts) that

  1. lets me pick one or more photos
  2. shows me the photos one by one
  3. after each, I get a text entry field that lets me create a caption or description
  4. uploads the images to a particular folder on a cloud storage service
  5. returns a list of markdown style links to those images, with the descriptions/captions as the alt text: ![caption here](

I have a couple versions: One runs from the share sheet after I have selected one or more photos in Photos, the other opens the image picker and prompts me to choose the photo(s).

At the end, I get a menu that lets me either copy the list of image links to the clipboard, or takes me to Drafts and pastes them in a new draft, perfect forks photo diary entry.

It’s an approach that works reasonably well for me. The main cognitive overhead is that you start it in Photos or Shortcuts (or the Home Screen, from a Shortcuts shortcut shortcut*) rather than from Drafts, where you want to be in the first place.

  • This is getting absurd. In this one post, I have referred to Photos photos, a Shortcuts shortcut and a Drafts draft. And of course, as indicated, if you save a Shortcuts shortcut to the home screen, you get a Shortcuts shortcut shortcut. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Please do not compare Drafts with Obsidian.

Drafts is where all text start

Drafts is a text only app with super automation features.

Consider pushing your data to Obsidian and than adding images.

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With all due respect, a link is text. You can link lots of other things in Drafts, even a photo using some longwinded methods as illustrated above. Why on earth can’t one just reference a photo from the in built photo album natively?

In Obsidian, the file in photos is copied into the Obsidian vault when you select it. Hence it can use a relative reference to the file at that point.

Drafts could easily insert the text content for the image reference, and send that over to Obsidian. The tricky bit however is referencing an image held in the photos app.

As a text-based tool, Drafts does have the capability to do some work with files, but primarily text files, and nothing for interacting with files held within the Apple Photos application - they are not available through the files app.

In a similar Shortcuts-based approach to the one used by @tf2, you could replicate the Obsidian process (not using external hosting), and you can integrate that with an action in Drafts that adds the image reference. But Drafts alone is not currently able to interact directly with Apple Photos.

Hope that helps.


Thank you for that. That’s a shame, because it would be a useful function. I’ll most likely write the journal post in drafts, and then at the end of each day go into obsidian and add the photos refs. It will work well, it’s just a pity I can’t do it all in drafts.

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Sounds like you’ve already reached a point of resolution here, but out of interest, is a shortcut really a dealbreaker for you? Looking at @tf2’s workflow, it shouldn’t be too difficult to create a Drafts action that you invoke when you want to insert an image or set of images in your journal entry. That action might then run a shortcut that allows you to select images, before returning to Drafts to insert the appropriate Markdown URLs in your journal.

In the background, the Shortcut could save your selected image(s) to whichever folder you’re using for Obsidian (if I’m right in thinking that i*OS 15 now has that ability). You might not be able to view those images in a Drafts preview, but it sounds like you’re more interested in the end result being in Obsidian anyway, and if it’s all put together properly, you’d run this from Drafts as part of your process of editing/drafting the journal entry, so Drafts would still be your starting point, and the shortcut would just be a helper.

Just musing here (really I’m just riffing on something @sylumer has already suggested), and I totally appreciate that depending on Shortcuts might not be desirable, but it does feel like there’s a workflow here that works within Drafts’ capabilities while doing something that approximates your request…

Of course, then it would just come down to who would build it… :wink:

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Yes This does seem like a good workaround. I’m spending tomorrow looking into it further. Thank you very much for this perspective!

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@mmmmmm Sorry if my short note upset you.

It is often hard to guess on the question behind the question.

In my opinion because Drafts is crafted to work with text (therefore the tagline “where text starts”)
My native Apple calendar app is also not able to reference photos easily or maybe even at all.
The Contacts App by Apple can only reference ONE image and only in one place. Why not a gallery of photos?

Because it is implemented that way - at least up to now.

Drafts is not and (hopefully) will never be a multimedia tool.

It is though one of the best or THE best application of its kind. I call it a real application in respect to other apps.

Obsidian, DayOne or Pages work nicely with the native photos app because they are implemented and crafted for that. Journaling in DayOne is works like a breeze integrating photos and more.

There would be a point to make that Drafts might implement this but as I argue (and I am only a user and not the developer) every feature brings in a bundle of different aspects that make the app more complex and harder to use.

Greg (the developer) has aimed the app to process text and push it to other places. Many of the users (as myself) are using it as a text database. But some of the features we would really like to see for that use case will never be implemented and that is fine with us.

Other things do heavily depend on Apples idea of the “walled garden”. I say “why on earth” sometimes about this restrictions, but on the other hand: if I hear from Android users about services installed by common used apps and stealing energy from their mobile devices and install notifications like hell I love that wall around every app.

So hopefully we might help you to find a good way to work with Drafts or give you tips about apps that might fit your needs better.

I think I articulated my original question pretty well, but I digress. Thank you for your apology nontheless- I was having a bad day on forums when I responded, having come across a similarly negative response to a similar(ish) question over on the scrivener forums at the same time. Sometimes I wonder if people are so appreciative of a certain use case within a certain app that they don’t want to consider another.

I agree somewhat about your thoughts to apples approach, especially when it comes to ‘self customisation’ as is the case with apps like drafts - however I really do appreciate the security it brings to the os. It’s a two edged sword. I do think, though as time goes by and things mature further, they’ll discover ways to mitigate the issues - it’s come on so far already.

I don’t agree with your summery of it with regards to the comparisons with other apps though. I believe the devs of drafts are doing a fantastic job - don’t get me wrong - it’s a truly ground breaking app for iOS, but images and text have gone hand in hand since forever. There should be steps to make images more compatible with drafts natively - journaling for example is already a key use case of drafts, and images are very much a part of a modern day journal. Disclaimer: I’m likely biased as I’m a photographer.

I’m going to look further into a shortcuts integration as advised and in the meantime I’ll do as you suggested and add my images after.

Yes, I must have warped around your great use case. I take full blame!

That is a really great and specific definition!

As a father of four I definitively want support you.

Let’s sum it up a bit:

  • you are taking photos on iOS devices through the day
  • you taking text notes with drafts (even with the dictation) through the day
  • you want to merge (combine) these two sources to obsidian

Is that it? Because I might have an idea for that…

Yes I think that just about sums it up…

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Similar to a journal entry is a blog post. I write mine in Drafts and separately push the images to my blog first. That way I have a URL to use in my draft.

The down side to that is being offline. I can’t render the graphic in Drafts’ Preview function. But I can live with that.

(Ironically I have a blog post right new held up by not having posted a couple of images.)

ok are then we might have a common property - namely the date. That might be a way to pull them together. I have to investigate a bit …

things to check:

  • shortcuts
  • working copy
  • pyto
  • obsidian plugins (I guess they only work on macos)

No, but not all Obsidian plugins are currently mobile compatible.

For example the Github and Pandoc plugins rely on command line calls to additional software.

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Still investigation.

  • tried with Shortcuts and failed…

I wonder what this hype around Shortcuts/Kurzbefehle is about. It always sticks a stick between my feet.

  • look at the App Pyto - no good interface to Photos … so this fails

We might have to ask the developer for a possible extension of his photos interface

  • still looking at Obsidian …

By any chance, my two “Drafts action and Shortcut combination” may be useful.

I’m sorry for my poor English


Wow. This could be perfect for me. I’ll take a look. Thank you!