Farewell, SuperMemo; Hello, Anki.

I’ve finally given up on SuperMemo, the beefed up flashcard program I’ve been using for vocabulary acquisition. After having used it for a few months, I had become accustomed to its idiosyncrasies, if not having fallen in love with them. However, I was poking around in the forums at How To Learn Any Language, and came across a thread about SuperMemo alternatives. In it, there was a link to Anki – and there, I found true love (at least in regards to a piece of spaced repetition software).

Anki does everything that I used in SuperMemo. What it doesn’t do is cause me to pull out what little hair I have. Whereas SuperMemo was bloated beyond belief, with menus, sub-menus, and sub-sub-menus (I’m serious), Anki is pure simplicity. You add cards; you repeat them, grading how you did on remembering the answers; and Anki does the rest. There’s some basic customization available in the cards, such as bold, italics, and underlining, but there aren’t complex template registries; there are no branches; there are no leeches; in short, most of the “extra” stuff that’s in SuperMemo isn’t in Anki, and the program is better because of it.

Anki also has a quite useful feature that SuperMemo doesn’t have: you can sync up your data with an online version of the program. This will solve a problem I’ve had for a while now: how do I handle vocabulary that I want to put into SuperMemo when I can’t access SuperMemo? Between classes at the university, I often read foreign language articles. When I see vocabulary that I don’t know, I typically want to record it and learn it. However, not being able to access SuperMemo from home, I’ve been, up until now, saving the sentences and vocabulary into a Google Docs file, and then transferring them into SuperMemo at home. In essence, I’ve been doubling my work. Being able to add stuff into the online version and have it all sync up at home solves this problem wonderfully. By the way, even the online aspect of the program is free; it isn’t subscription based or anything like that.

My experiences with SuperMemo (and now Anki) highlight an important aspect of language learning: the tools you use. If you don’t like the tools you’re using, your language learning will suffer from it, guaranteed. I know that I’ve slacked on entering vocabulary lately, specifically because I’ve grown to dislike the clunky SuperMemo so much.

A new age has arrived. The age of Anki. Bye, SuperMemo. I won’t miss you.

By |2007-11-03T18:37:46+00:00November 3rd, 2007|Language Learning, Software, Vocabulary|56 Comments


  1. thomas (babelhut.com) November 4, 2007 at 6:58 am - Reply

    I use Anki for my Japanese vocabulary and it works great since it automatically changes the kanji to hiragana for the reading field. For Pali, I’ve been using Mnemosyne and I like it a lot better. Anki does have good analysis tools though with all their graphs.

  2. Josh November 4, 2007 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    @Thomas: I tried Mnemosyne, and I liked it well enough, except for the fact that in its current incarnation, there’s no easy way to format your cards. I like to highlight what it is in a card that I’m wanting to remember, and for that, I like to use bold / underline formatting. Mnemosyne supports HTML formatting (as I understand it), but typing in HTML code by hand for every card? Not going to happen. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Other than that, it seemed a fine program.

    You mentioning Pali lead me to poking around some more on your site. Do I gather correctly from the About page that you’re Buddhist? Or are you simply interested in it in a non-religious sort of way?

    I’m Buddhist, which is what draws me to asking. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. thomas (babelhut.com) November 5, 2007 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Good point on the formatting. I didn’t use that feature too often, so that could be why I don’t mind its absence in Mnemosyne. Anki is a great program, but it started to annoy me when my card list got really big (1300 sentences). My wife and I had a baby and I had to miss a bunch of days and I came back to Anki and it said I had 1000 cards due that day. Mnemosyne is a little nicer when it comes to missed days. Still, I am in no way discouraging the use of Anki. It’s awesome.

    And yes, I’m Buddhist ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Hitsu November 17, 2007 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    My first spaced repetition software was Supermemo, and I felt a lot the same way that you did, Josh — pretty powerful software, but a hopelessly inept implementation. If they’d license out the engine to competent interface designers there’d be no stopping it.

    I’ve been using iFlash on my Mac for a while, and I like it a lot, though the lack of a true per-card spacing algorithm is annoying (the cards tend to stay together in packs based on when they were entered), but the seamless integration of images and audio is really nice.

    I’ve played around with Anki but I wasn’t grabbed by it. I think its still installed… maybe I should give it another shot.

  5. Josh November 19, 2007 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    Thomas: Yeah, I really rely on formatting to make certain aspects of sentences stick out. Without easy formatting in a flashcard program, I basically won’t touch it.

    To be fair, when I used SuperMemo, it was equally brutal when it came to missed days. How does Mnemosyne handle missed days?

    Hitsu: Yeah, if they’d let SuperMemo out into the wild, it’d quickly turn into an awesome application. However, I think it’s safe to say that sadly, that won’t be happening.

    iFlash isn’t an option for me; I don’t have a Mac. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I just checked out the website for it, and it sounds like a pretty nice app. Too bad there isn’t a PC version.

    Regarding Anki, after using it for a few weeks, I’m still liking it just fine. It works, and it’s simple – and after using SuperMemo, I prize simplicity in my SRS. The ability to study my cards via the Anki website, with synchronization, has proven to be quite nice.

  6. Clayton December 12, 2007 at 7:30 am - Reply


    Would you consider supplying me with your Anki German deck? I’m going to start my own, of course, however, it may be useful to see how another organises their own.

    Peace and Regards,


  7. Josh December 13, 2007 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    Clayton: I can give you my deck, but it’s not just German; there are some French and Russian cards mixed in as well. I’m also not sure that my deck is a good example of how to set up things; a lot of my items are sentence items, with no information on the “reverse side.” However, I’ll send it your way.

  8. Clayton December 13, 2007 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    I’m sure I’ll find it to be of some use, and it can’t hurt to be exposed to other languages, especially those which I’m interested in learning. I had an impression that you used sentence items and that’s what sparked my interest. I’d like to use sentence examples, in conjunction with an individual translation of single words on the other side, perhaps.



  9. Josh January 21, 2008 at 12:13 am - Reply

    Clayton: Sent! Sorry it took me a bit to send it to you.

  10. Katie February 2, 2008 at 1:59 am - Reply

    Hi Josh,

    Do you know if it’s possible to import SuperMemo collections to Anki? That’s what generally keeps me from switching. My collections are too vast!

    I am really enjoying your blog.


  11. Josh February 2, 2008 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    Hi Katie,

    Well, yes and no. Anki supports importing colon /semicolon / tab-separated text files which, if I recall correctly, SuperMemo can generate – so moving all of the data you’ve entered from SuperMemo to Anki wouldn’t be a problem. The problem is, the learning data from SuperMemo will not go over to Anki, so you’ll basically be starting over from scratch. Brand new cards can be marked with a grade of 4, “knew very easily”, which makes them show up in 7-9 days. Anki works similarly to SuperMemo, in that if you remember it very easily again when it shows up (or even just “knew it after thinking a while”, 3), the time between repetitions will become larger.

    You’re certainly going to be seeing a lot of your SuperMemo stuff before you’re “supposed to”, so it really is up to you: do you dislike SuperMemo enough to go over to Anki, even with the downsides to it?

    Glad you’re enjoying the blog; I enjoy writing it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Bill Butler February 8, 2008 at 5:22 am - Reply

    By chance does anyone know of a spaced interval flashcard program “for dummies”. As a complete computer illiterate I’m way over my head trying to integrate anki into my english curriculum for Chinese students. Most of my decks have cards that simply never show up….whats with that?
    And is their a audio tutorial? Sorry if this sounds so lame.

  13. Josh February 8, 2008 at 7:56 am - Reply

    Hi Bill,

    In regards to cards not showing up: If you’re making recognition and production cards (i.e., for each word and translation you enter, it makes a card set going both ways), it won’t show them back to back. You’ll get say, the Chinese to English one, and then at a later time, English to Chinese. That’s intentional. If you’re talking about something else, I’m not sure what might be the cause. You could ask at the Anki forums, where the developer is highly active and helpful. You also might check out the Anki FAQ.

    Regarding an audio tutorial – do you mean a tutorial to add sound to the cards, or a tutorial that you can listen to?

  14. Artie March 20, 2008 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    I have used Supermemo for Palm OS (PDA) for several years. It is super simple, just the opposite from the desktop version. You would love it. Only bad thing is that it doesn’t support images.

  15. Josh March 20, 2008 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    Hi Artie! Yeah, I’ve seen the Palm OS version at mapletop.com before. Alas, I don’t have a PDA! All of my vocabulary learning via software is done at a desktop computer.

  16. James Skemp April 22, 2008 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Josh, thank you for posting this.

    I found your site on Google while looking for information about using SuperMemo to learn German, and boy am I glad I did.

    Thanks – you’ve made a subscriber out of me!


  17. Josh April 22, 2008 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    James: Glad you found the post useful. Enjoy Anki; it’s far better (in my opinion) than SuperMemo. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Tom April 23, 2008 at 12:39 am - Reply

    I just started today with Mnemosyne, and I absolutely love it. If you haven’t already, check out the WIRED article that explains how they made the algorithm for these programs. Really neat stuff.

    In the past couple hours, I have made 228 cards myself in the past 3 hours in the categories of:
    periodic table
    elementary particles, and
    greek alphabet

    this summer is going to be REALLY fun in terms of memorization/ learning

  19. Josh April 23, 2008 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    Tom: I checked out Mnemosyne previously, and while it worked well, there were a few formatting issues I didn’t like, which led me to using Anki. If I recall correctly, there isn’t any WYSIWYG-type stuff, i.e. you have to use HTML code to style your questions and answers, as well as to put images into your cards. Is it still like this?

    Regardless, though, Mnemosyne is a good program. It’s nice to add a ton of information in and realize that, with a bit of effort on your part, you’ll remember all of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. David April 25, 2008 at 6:17 am - Reply

    I saw the Wired article on Supermemo, and downloaded the Win98 and 2004 versions of it to try. Since the 2006 version was only $45, I said “what the heck,” and was all set to buy it, and pay through PayPal. The guy in Poland insisted on getting a shipping address and phone number, for software that I’m going to be downloading, so I ended up not buying it. I did buy the “Perl” collection for $2, and went through it one time with the 2004 demo. I decided to manually transfer the questions/answers from the 2004 demo to the free ’98 version, and got through about 3 questions and answers before I was googling “supermemo alternatives,” and here I am.

    Honestly, it would be hard for me to imagine a more brain-dead user interface. I’m not trying to do anything fancy, just enter a plain-text question and answer pair. The problem comes in when I want to increase the font size. I can increase the font size of the question with no problem, but when I attempt to increase the font size of the answer, it pops up a “registry reference” window, asks me to confirm a “unique item name,” and delete an “unused member” from the font registry, then doesn’t change the font size of the text I’ve highlighted. If that’s anyone’s idea of useful software, I’d be very surprised. I’d also be surprised if the guy who wrote and released something like that could write something that would be useful on balance, so rather than invest a lot of time twisting myself into pretzels to master its interface, I’m packing it in.

    Many years ago, when I was learning Japanese with physical flash cards, I practiced a form of “spaced repetition” myself. If I knew the answer easily, the card went to the back of the stack. If I didn’t know it, or struggled to recall it, the card went somewhere in the middle (closer to the front for those I didn’t know at all, closer to the back for those I knew somewhat).

    Sorry to ramble. Anyway, I’m off to check out Mnemosyne and Anki. Thanks to Wired for getting me moving on using a computerized flashcard system (I definitely need one), and to this blog for nudging me toward something that will, I’m confident, be both useful and usable.

  21. Josh April 25, 2008 at 7:42 am - Reply

    David: I’m glad you got away from SuperMemo before you’d spent hours (and hours…) entering cards. I wish I could say the same for myself! ๐Ÿ™‚ Indeed, the user interface is awful. I also struggled with doing simple things like changing temlates, so that all my cards in a certain category (or branch of the tree – whatever the heck that thing was called!) looked the same. Even after I figured out the magical steps to do so, though, problems often cropped up. Why, all of a sudden, do three of my French cards appear to be using the German template? Why are my English cards using the French template? Where did my German template go at all? Why do all of my cards look the same? Ultimately, it was the horrible interface that drove me away from SuperMemo. I kept thinking: is this a program I want to use regularly, for an indefinite amount of time, to remember vocabulary and other information? No way.

    No worries about the “rambling”; I’d ramble (and have done so!) if lamenting about SuperMemo woes. I hope Mnemosyne or Anki suits you better. I found both to be far more pleasant to use than SM, but Anki won the race with its better implementation of bold, italics, images, etc.

  22. David April 25, 2008 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    I’ve been playing with Mnemosyne today, and it’s much easier to use, while still doing everything I want it to do. I’ve only created about 30 cards, based on the Perl stack I got for SM, but changing the font was straightforward and worked the first time. The only problem I’ve run into is that some of the regular expressions I entered with “” pairs in them didn’t display correctly, because they were being “interpreted” as HTML tags. Using “<” and “>” instead took care of that problem, but I guess people who balk at HTML formatting will still prefer Anki to Mnemosyne. I haven’t tried Anki yet, because the website seems to be pushing the PalmPilot version now, and I didn’t spend any time looking for the desktop version. I’ll probably check it out before I’ve entered 100 cards in MS though, because I have a feeling that the HTML formatting will make translating from one system to the other problematic, even though I’ve read it shouldn’t be.

    Anyway, thanks again to those who have developed and publicized these systems. They’re very useful, some moreso than others.

  23. David April 25, 2008 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    Ha ha, the blog has the same problem with the less than/greater than pairs. I trust the original entries are still clear from the context…

  24. David April 26, 2008 at 4:48 am - Reply

    One final note, I downloaded and began using Anki this evening, and I think it’s going to be my software of choice for the time being too. It doesn’t have the “angle brackets” problem, and it does have a couple of other useful features which I don’t see in Mnemosyne. This is the application I wish I had back when I was attempting to learn Japanese. I kind of feel sorry for anyone who is introduced to Super “pain is good” Memo via the same Wired article I read without learning that there are much better alternatives available.

  25. Tomas April 27, 2008 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    Thousands of submenus but thousands of options.

    While in SuperMemo try File > Level > Basic or Middle, for a better GUI.
    There is no point in using Advanced level if you are starting with it.

    I tried Mnemosyne, too simplistic for me. But yes, it’s a good software.

    It all depends on what for features do you want, and how much you care about the scheduling algorithm. For most people really any simple flashcard software will do.

    I’m on Supermemo and Fullrecall myself, running both alongside. Just that I like both (despite of any shortcomings) and can’t part with any.

  26. Josh April 27, 2008 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    David: Glad you find Anki to your liking! Also, just to clarify for anyone else who might come across my post here: The Palm OS version of Anki (here) is NOT the same Anki that is available here.

    Tomas: I tried the different levels, and even then it was clunky and difficult to use. And indeed, I think that is a good sign of just how overly complex SuperMemo is, that it has different levels of usage! ๐Ÿ™ Just not my cup o’tea.

  27. Joe May 8, 2008 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    Looks like I’m one of many. Read the Wired article and thought wouldn’t this be a great way to study my Chinese characters.

    Thing is, I created an Access Database years ago that essentially does the same thing. Actually it was more like what David describes above with Physical cards. If I got a character right I sent it up a level, wrong down a level. Every time I started over I’d be shown the ones I missed first.

    But SuperMemo seemed like one step beyond with it’s clever spacing algorithm. But like the others here I got really frustrated with the interface and the absurd templates. Took me about two days to figure out how to import my 1500 Chinese cards from Access to Supermemo via Excel (and some quickly learned Visual Basic). But once they were in I was driven crazy by what should have been the simple task of changing the font size. Now, undertaking the next task of adding a third component for pinyin scares the hell out of me!

    So I’m off to check out these other options you people have mentioned. Do any of these software come with the option of the questions popping up on the day they’re due without having to go into the program? One of the issues I’ve always had with my database was that it was easy too easy to forget about or ignore. Wouldn’t it be nice to have questions pop up at random intervals throughout the day. OK, of course, sometimes that could be annoying, but that could be alleviated with a Do not disturb button or something.

  28. Josh May 8, 2008 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    Hey Joe,

    Another “get me away from SuperMemo, fast!” user, I see ๐Ÿ˜‰

    While it doesn’t come with the application right-out-of-the-box, there’s a plugin for Anki which, among many other features/options, adds a pop up notifier for when cards are due. You can grab the plugin from the Anki plugin page; scroll down to “RLC Blitzer Plugin.”

    I’ve not used the plugin, and a lot of the stuff it adds doesn’t really interest me, but I assume you can turn on / off features.

  29. Oisรญn May 10, 2008 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    I’m a very happy user of Anki too. It’s updated very often, so users who abandoned it a while ago should really check it out again.

    My first exposure to a SRS learning program was Pauker, which is really a pretty decent system, although unforgiving if you make a minor mistake (card goes back to unlearned pile).
    Then I used Mnemosyne for a while until I got a Mac and the source (well, pyqt iiirc) wouldn’t compile on Leopard, so I moved to Anki which was very nice, if ridiculously large for some reason at over 100 megs. I just checked out the sync functionality after reading your post and am really impressed! I had been emailing myself exported decks, but this is much better!

  30. Josh May 13, 2008 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    Hi Oisรญn! Glad to find there’s yet another happy user of Anki.

    I used Pauker for a long while; it was nice, but I could see that I was being exposed to some cards far too often, and some cards not nearly enough (since Pauker is just the basic Leitner system).

    And yes, the sync function is great. It makes it much more simpler for me; I regularly use 2 different computers at home, and 1 at work.

  31. Joe May 16, 2008 at 12:15 pm - Reply

    I’ve downloaded and started using Anki, and indeed it is excellent. Within 10 minutes I was able to take the Chinese from my database, import it into Anki, and start using it. And that includes the time it took to look up and read the directions.

    Even better, you can actually choose a setup for Mandarin, so that when you paste in the characters it fills in the pinyin (romanization) for you. It uses numbers for the tones instead of diacriticals, which isn’t my preferred method, but still…wow! One issue I’ve noticed, when I do paste in the real pinyin, letters with third tones get corrupted.

    The synching feature is awesome!I’ve already synched home and work. I was wondering if you can synch different decks with separate accounts. I teach a boy Chinese on the weekends and I’d like to create a separate deck for him which I can synch from my computer to his.

    I tried the โ€œRLC Blitzer Plugin” and there are some nice choices, including the option to mix in more new cards with your failed cards. The icon in the tray doesn’t seem to quite do what I had hoped. It just tells you there’s a question being displayed when you mouse-over, but at least it allows you to leave Anki on without ti getting in the way.

    I just now discovered something interesting. Anki doesn’t display my Chinese correctly when my operating language is set to Hebrew. I work in translations and needed to work with some Hebrew text. Funny, it worked when I was in Serbian. Anyway, Hebrew speakers studying Chinese, be warned!

    (Just occurred to me, the issue I had with the 3rd tone happened when I was in Serbian. I better switch my OS back to Chinese before making assumptions.)

  32. Josh May 18, 2008 at 9:43 am - Reply

    Joe: Glad you’re enjoying using Anki. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sorry the plugin didn’t do quite what you were after! If you stop by the Anki forums and post a message about it, I’d say Richard (the maker of the plugin) would perhaps be willing to add in what you’re after. I know he’s done that a few times when people had requests.

  33. Joe May 20, 2008 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    Update: The Serbian was to blame! Now that I’ve assigned Windows to Chinese I can paste in words with 3rd tones. The font looks a little funky but it’s fine.

  34. moo June 5, 2008 at 9:59 am - Reply

    The good thing about SuperMemo is that it’s a complete knowledge manager – you don’t just add the Q/A-pairs, but everything you want to know and can proceed it later (scheduled). Did you check out incremental reading?

    If you like an easy flashcard software, try FullRecall (fullrecall.com).

    With SuperMemo, you can export selected items or the ones that are due today to a PPC version of it. FullRecall even saves your whole knowledge database as an XML file which you can transfer to your PPC and proceed with learning on the PPC version …

    I think I’ve tried every flashcard software on the market over the last six years – I’m always coming back to SuperMemo because I miss some features in the new software. If you use it in a simple mode, SM looks like this: http://supermemo.com/images/abc.jpg – but you can do so much more with it: http://www.supermemo.com/images/tree.jpg

    Hm, I should get paid for this …

  35. Josh June 5, 2008 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    @Joe: Glad you figured it out!

    @moo: But I like Anki! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yeah, I tried out incremental reading – too complicated for me. Which is really a one line explanation as to what I hated about SuperMemo: everything was overcomplicated. I shouldn’t need to read a page-long tutorial to figure out how to change a font.

    To each their own, though. If it works for you, I’m sincerely glad for ya’ (seriously).

  36. Ek01 June 7, 2008 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    I use Supermemo 2006. I have yet to fully understand all of its features and I’m pondering if I ever will put in the effort.

    I know Anki uses the SM2 algorithm or something along those lines but is it as up to date with the SM2006 one? If so I may switch to Anki because I’m finding a few bugs here and there that are rather annoying. I always remain in fear I’m going to mess up my collection because I don’t fully understand all the options within options.

    So, is there a difference in the algorithms?


  37. Joe June 9, 2008 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    Ek01, check out this explanation of the algorithm from the Anki FAQ


    Hope it helps.


  38. Ek01 June 18, 2008 at 5:52 am - Reply

    Thanks Joe, that definitely answered my inquiries.

  39. Josh June 18, 2008 at 7:42 am - Reply

    Indeed, thanks for linking to that Joe. I’d seen that before, but when I went to link to it to answer Ek01’s question, the Wiki was down.

    So: thanks again! ๐Ÿ™‚

  40. Johanna June 26, 2008 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    Hi from Germany!
    I’ve been using Anki for learning Japanese Kanji. Now I am looking for a Spanish deck for Anki. Does anybody know where I can get one from? Or do you know anyone who has started one? I don’t really want to start off scratch… Thanks for helping =)

    • Sara January 30, 2012 at 5:33 pm - Reply

      Joanna, just get the latest Anki and install it. Then click on File -> Download -> Shared Deck… -> Wait for a while. If it gives an error, just restart Anki and do again the steps above. Your Internet signal is poor and Anki could not load the Internet download websites. Then type in Spanish or espaรฑol but don’t press on Enter or Return. Then take your pick. There loads under the name of spanish. Don’t write any capital letters as some uploaders forgot the capital letter! And then click on OK once your selection has been made. Check it every day to see if there is not a new deck or flashcard added! Enjoy. If you want to learn a rare language, but need the fonts, then google some same ttf in the required language of your choice and then install then onto the directory of Anki which should be at: (Enabled your hidden files and folders to see it)
      My Computer -> Click on your main Hard Drive -> Program Files -> Click on mpl-data folder -> Click on fonts folder -> Click on ttf folder and paste it there. Then exit. Restart Anki and voilร !

  41. Josh June 30, 2008 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    Hi Johanna,

    I’m not sure if it’s what you’re after, but there’s a Spanish deck on the Anki Wiki Extra Decks page. Description:

    1000 ish Spanish Verbs, Vocab, Phrases, questions, etc. No particular order. Will update when I hit 2500 cards/facts

  42. Nate September 29, 2008 at 9:11 am - Reply

    I’m hoping someone can help me because I’m about ready to lose my mind. I’ve made the decision to switch from SuperMemo 2004 to Anki for a variety of reasons which aren’t important.

    What’s important is that my collection consists of 715 items which I really REALLY don’t want to re-enter by hand into Anki (it’s bad enough that I’ll have to re-enter the memorization factor for them all, but I think it’s worth it to switch).

    Here’s my problem: My only option for importing into Anki is a Tab-separated list. SuperMemo 2004 can export a Q&A file which can easily be converted in Excel. HOWEVER, SM2004’s Q&A export does NOT support Unicode. Therefore, each kana and kanji is saved in the resulting Q&A.txt as ‘?’

    The other options for exporting from SM are:

    a) XML, either trying to convert OEM to Unicode and failing using every code page number I could find even remotely relating to Japanese OR leaving OEM as is and getting a thoroughly unusable raw-spew file of XML code.

    b) HTML, which saves out in quite a few fractured files, which are still no more useful because they are in machine readable format.

    Sorry about the rant; it’s just that after 6 hours of Googling and trying every last thing I can think of in SuperMemo, I’m about ready to throw myself or my computer out the window.


    1. Josh, when you switched over, how did you do it?

    2. Do you know anyone else who may have had a similar situation who might have an idea?

    Again, sorry for the rant. Anything you might know is much appreciated.

  43. Josh September 29, 2008 at 10:35 am - Reply

    Hey Nate,

    When I switched to Anki, I actually didn’t import anything. I largely abandoned my SuperMemo deck. I still have it in HTML form, and occasionally, I’ll re-enter some stuff into Anki, but mostly, I just started over from scratch.

    I’ll see if I can figure out a way for you to get your stuff into Anki, but I’m not sure if it’ll be possible. I recall running into a similar problem when I tried importing SM stuff to Anki; all of my Cyrillic showed up as ???, because SuperMemo doesn’t support Unicode.

  44. Nate September 29, 2008 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    Hi Josh,

    Thanks for such a quick response!

    No worries. I just wasn’t clear if you had done what I’m trying to do or not. If you do spend time on it, please not too much ๐Ÿ™‚

    From the research I did, it looks like I’ll either be transferring by hand (with the help of AutoHotKey, which I was already using to supplement SM’s interface) or I’ll have to bite the bullet and find a way to extract from the OEM XML data or the HTML data.

    At least I’m not up in the thousands or tens of thousands of items! It could always be worse.

  45. KIM TAE HOON October 31, 2008 at 1:35 am - Reply

    Hi, I am come from S.KOREA

    I am really frustrated at SUPERMEMO2006 . I struggle nearly 1 year for using supermemo . Supermemo has a lot of bugs and its interface is bad
    In addition, its statistics is too complicated to understand.However, I agree with their algorithm and I think it works fine …

    When it comes to me, ANKI is the nice and neat flashcard application. It is simple but powerful enough to study my materials..I like it!!

    • Sara January 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm - Reply

      I could not agree more!

  46. Nathan November 19, 2008 at 10:42 am - Reply

    I have used Supermemo for more than 3 years. It has many bugs, it has a poorly designed user interface, and it has been frustrating (I stopped using it twice and started using it again). I have gotten used to it’s weird problems (Which has been QUITE a learning experience), but despite this I am happy beyond belief with it. I have nearly 25,000 flashcards, I can speak, read and write Japanese fluently and I am currently learning Chinese. But beyond just languages, Supermemo has become my “safety net” for anything I want to remember. I would likely have switched to another simpler program by now (Such as anki or the like), but I no longer want such a program for ONLY words, but for ANYTHING I want to remember (Hence why I have 25,000 flashcards) I don’t think other programs have the degree of versatility that I want; even though the GUI is bad, I’m willing to put up with it with the tradeoff in being able to do more stuff. If I find an interesting fact on the ‘net and I think “I want to remember that,” I just put it in my “to remember” text document.

    Supermemo might not be for everyone (That’s for sure), but Supermemo was made for me.

  47. gersapa June 26, 2009 at 11:08 pm - Reply

    The day I say Supermemo for the first time (2005) an immediate knee jerk reaction made run away. But happily I read many articles about expertise and practice makes perfect style, the creators itself say SuperMemo is not for everyone. I personal think that good software design could make this program the ruler of all, for knowledge management, learning and recalling. 2007 I saw again this program, and I’ve regretted not starting to learn how to use it at once. It’s been a long struggle, for sure more then it should be, but overall there is noting more powerful. Currently I have 17,000+ learned flashcards (medicine, neuro-cognitive science, mostly) and have 35,000 pending for this year.
    For vocabulary only, I find anky and fullrecall the best. Anky for its price as well as a little modification on the hard items on short interval repetitions (although, this cramming has not proven a good practice in the long term, a least makes you feel it works) and the sm-2 algorithm is to old and ineffective, it can’t and doesn’t now you’ll forget something, no SRS’s software does.
    Fullrecall is small, portable, simple, online also, and has a better algorithm (neural network based), price is only small contrariety (but not much), I like current implementations, like the clipping function but compare to Supermemo is just a newbie.

    Bottom line, for me supermemo is to complex, but worth learning in order to study anything not only vocabulary. For only vocabulary my love goes to anky (but I have installed three times and never used more than a week).

  48. Nathan March 18, 2010 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    I’m just about to hit 40,000 items, and I’m learning Chinese now. Supermemo rocks!

  49. Stuart Guerin December 10, 2011 at 2:04 am - Reply

    Anyone looking for a good pre-intermediate Anki Spanish Deck should check out ‘Espaรฑol I (corrected)’. Sentences are copied from the Rosetta Stone Latin American Spanish Level 1 course, which slowly introduces grammar like direct & indirect object pronouns and reflexive verbs. It has multiple example sentences of verbs using different pronouns. The best pre-intermediate Spanish flashcard sentence deck in Anki! A pdf of these sentences is here;


  50. Sara January 30, 2012 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    Anki is the best. All the other free flashcards programs have to measure up to it! I am learning Cantonese and Chinese with Anki. There are so many free decks online to download, that it would be a shame not to avail from it!

  51. Ray Lissone February 28, 2012 at 7:21 am - Reply

    downloaded anki…and got kanji with it had to register…for japenese…I see no selection of language on anki…
    with limited access to internet I can not take time to keep reviewing blogs and opinions…I need something that works. How do I find direct info to make anki operate. I see the cards one language..also some connection with kanji…but from there my old eyes fail and I need answers not a hobby to look for things. Any help appreciated. If I am able to make this work..it could go into a mainstream teaching system which of course would help with donations to support it. thanks from Ray in asia.

  52. Ken Maingot March 21, 2012 at 7:39 am - Reply

    Those of you on the fence between SuperMemo and Anki, especially on the topic of incremental reading, might be interested in seeing an incremental reading function in Anki. I agree that SuperMemo could (and should) be the “the ruler of all, for knowledge management, learning and recalling” but that’s not going to happen with its current interface and, more importantly, its lack of a mobile application for leading smartphones and tablets.

    If you love SRS and incremental reading, but want something you can use on the road on your Android or iOS device, vote for an incremental reading implementation in Anki here:


  53. Paul December 13, 2013 at 5:25 am - Reply

    Hi, everybody!
    I am going to use Supermemo, but it has no app for Mac (I actually need a version for my desktop computer and an app for IPhone to sync), so I turned to Anki but I question its scientific base.

    As far as I know Anki repetition intervals are based on NO scientific research in comparison with Supermemo that uses special scientific technique for repetition intervals. From my point of view it is very important and generates at least 40 % of success.
    How do you feel about it?

    • Josh December 13, 2013 at 3:28 pm - Reply

      Hi Paul,

      That’s not entirely true; Anki is actually based upon one of the earlier SuperMemo algorithms, so it does have some research to back up its effectiveness. The algorithm has been altered a bit to address some issues that cropped up over time. You can read about the algorithm that Anki now uses here:

      I’ve personally found Anki to be much better than SuperMemo, largely because I found SuperMemo just stupidly difficult to use. It isn’t user friendly at all, and as far as I can tell by looking at their current product page, that hasn’t changed over the years.

      Good luck!

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