FAQ: SuperMemo 99

This file has been compiled from questions asked by users of SuperMemo 98 and new questions about SuperMemo 99. The table of contents below includes only the most typical questions. For specific and detailed questions search the whole body of this file

Last modified:

First steps

SuperMemo is not difficult!
You can learn your own material
You can edit elements during repetitions
You can see what items will be repeated on a given day
You can easily delete an element
You can install a SuperMemo icon on your Windows desktop
With SuperMemo you can tackle any exam
You can search for substrings with Ctrl+F
You can edit the font used with your elements
You can use View to see a contents element in the element window

Learning

You can learn this item later
You can locate most difficult items
You do not have to interrupt repetitions to forget or dismiss an element
SuperMemo can be merciful after a vacation break!
Grades are not important at final drill
Completing the final drill is not critical
You can always delete the final drill
Press F5 to quickly view the statistics
There is learning material available for download
You can easily repeat sounds, display translation or phonetic transcription
You can change the sequence of learning particular elements
You can remove all information about the learning process
You can backup learning in large collections
Knowledge tree does not play a role in learning
You can see the exact history of repetitions of a given item
You can view all pending elements in a given branch
Show answer stage may be skipped
The timer should not make you hurry during repetitions
More questions about learning and memory

Interface

You can make SuperMemo remember the size of its windows
You can quickly translate the interface of SuperMemo to your language
You can install a foreign keyboard in Windows
You need Internet Explorer to view CHM files
You can customize grades
You can turn off hints or hide the status bar
You can prevent your students from editing their collections
You cannot change the font used for titles in the element window

Creating your own learning material

You can keep different font for questions and for answers
You can change the position of the question window
There is an important difference between items and topics
You can quickly change items into topics
You can learn English in your own language (e.g. Japanese)
You can center texts in text components
Pictures can serve as answers
Knowledge tree is like a family tree
You can underline important words
You can import text files as questions and answers
You can display structural formulas in chemistry
You can add mathematical formulas
You can quickly duplicate elements
You can copy components via the ClipBox
Creating a hyperlink is simple
Keep only one collection!
If you have many collections, you can merge them in one
Categories help you organize material in groups
To use a category template you need to select the category
Delete texts from a template before saving it
After choosing a category, last added element is displayed
Components are displayed in the same order they were added to an element
You can delete all occurrences of 'zzzz'
Secondary storage is used to tell SuperMemo where your CD-ROM is
You can add new phonetic transcription entries
You should delete texts before saving a template
You can see the number of the current element
More questions about formulating knowledge in SuperMemo

Advanced collection authoring

Writing collections such as Advanced English is easy!
You can determine the priority of elements

You can import sound files directly to the sound registry
You can import many GIF files at once
You can search for an image
You can swap questions with answers in the entire collection
You can transfer a template from one collection to another
You can add a sound recorder
It is possible to change the element background color in many elements at once
You and your wife can jointly expand the same collection
You can memorize chess positions with chess font
You can globally change the layout of components
Title may differ from the question text
Component order may determine how the titles are generated

Troubles and bugs

There is no millennium bug in SuperMemo!
Remember to make a backup!
Your collection can suddenly appear empty!
You can restore an empty backup

Use Copy or Move instead of File : Save as
You can backup learning in large collections
There is a chance you can recover from a virus attack!
If SuperMemo is unstable ... check your computer first
Use Merge with template to reshape elements (not Apply template)
You may have problems displaying MS Equation formulas in SuperMemo
SuperMemo can be getting slower!
Wrong A-Factor distribution

Other

SuperMemo can keep a billion items
Identical texts get stored only once
The source code of SuperMemo 99 is 76,000 lines long (Delphi 4.0)
You can quickly import SuperMemo 8 collections to SuperMemo 99
You can find here the contents of files used by SuperMemo
SuperMemo will not shed its authoring features in the future
What is the size of SuperMemo collections?


Question:
How many lines of code are there in different versions of SuperMemo? What language was it written in?
Answer:


(Peter Rasmussen, Denmark, May 20, 1999)
Question:
I created a couple of collections and would like to put them all into one. How can I do it?
Answer:
In each collection go to the root node in the contents window and select Tools : Transfer node from the pop-up menu (right-click). Always select the same collection as the target of the transfer. Please note that unregistered objects do not get transferred (e.g. script images, global background image, global default font, etc.). You will have to set those manually and resolve possible conflicts (e.g. you can use only one global background image but you can set images individually for all elements if necessary)


(David Mckenzie, New Zealand, Apr 8, 1998)
Question:
How to make a hyperlink?
Answer:

Choose Link : Hyperlink on the component pop-up menu and click the element that is to be hyperlinked in the contents window


(David Seagull, USA, Jul 10, 1998)
Question:
How can I define French keyboard for use with SuperMemo in Windows?
Answer:
In Control Panel use Keyboard and add French on the Language tab (e.g. French - Canadian). Set French as default


(Joe Fosnot, USA, Nov 23, 1998)
Question:
How can I quickly increase the size of the font used in questions and answers?
Answer:
The simplest way is to choose Tools : Options : SuperMemo : Default font and select the most appropriate font.
If you want to define a different font for the question and a different font for the answer, use Text : New font after right-clicking on the question or answer (or Text : Edit font). If you want to make sure these fonts are later reused, press Ctrl+Alt+s to define the default template for adding new elements (it is recommended that you delete all texts before pressing Ctrl+Alt+s; otherwise the text will be reused each time you add new elements)


(Jim Ivy, USA, June 4, 1997)
Question:
What is the difference between a topic and an item?
Answer:
Topics are used to present knowledge (like chapters in a book), while items are used to test knowledge by means of repetitions (e.g. they have the question-and-answer structure). The main difference is that topics do not take part in repetitions but are only presented before learning a sequence of items. This helps to approach the subject as a whole before repetitions begin. See also: Topics vs. items


(Bonnie Smithson, USA, Feb 24, 1998)
Question:
How do I put pictures into the answer part?
Answer:

After adding an image component to your item, check Answer on the image component pop-up menu


(Charles Maggio, USA, July 7, 1997)
Question:
I use ChemDraw to create structured formulas of organic substances. How can I paste them to an image component?
Answer:
You can use your ChemDraw formulas and formulas generated with other applications as long as they support OLE 2.0. Do not use the image component here, use the OLE component. This will make it easier to edit your formulas once you decide to change them


(Vidar Garlie, Norway, Mar 18, 1999)
Question:
When I go to the contents window, select a category branch and click Ctrl+A, the template of this category is not used! Can you help?
Answer:
To select a category, you have to choose it in the category combo box on the main toolbar. Selecting branches in the contents window does not affect the current category selection


(Ryszard Kosowicz, Krakow, Poland, May 16, 1997)
Question:
How can I quickly copy the text of an item to another item without using clipboard twice (for question and for answer)?
Answer:
Use Duplicate on the element pop-up menu (or press Ctrl+Alt+U on the copied element)


(Eryk Horloza, Poland, June 3, 1997)
Question:
How can I keep different fonts for the question and the answer component in SuperMemo?
Answer:
The fastest way is:

  1. Add a new item with Ctrl+A
  2. On the pop-up menu of the question component choose Text : New font (or Links : Font if you have already defined the font)
  3. Select the appropriate question font
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the answer components
  5. On the element pop-up menu choose Template : Save as default template (or simple press Ctrl+Alt+s)
  6. Choose Ctrl+A again to see if your new template has been applied correctly

Now your new template with new fonts will be used each time you add a new item


Question:
How can I change the position of the question window on the screen?
Answer:
Alt-click the window twice. It will become draggable. Alternatively, you can choose Dragging mode on the question's pop-up menu or on the element pop-up menu (in the latter case, all components will become draggable). If you want to change this position permanently, you should use templates. See: Using templates


(Crizeldo  G.  Cariaso, MD, Philippines, Dec 17, 1997)

Question:
Your software looks very time consuming ... is the learning curve very steep?
Answer:
Your opinion is not unusual. However, SuperMemo is much simpler than it looks. Try this:

  1. choose Add new (Ctrl+A) and type in question and answer in the editing fields
  2. choose Learn (Ctrl+L) to learn the collected material

You do not really need much more to make good use of SuperMemo!!! After some time you will yet need to know how to make a back up copy with File : Organize : Copy. For more see: ABC of SuperMemo


Question:
Can I learn my own material with SuperMemo or do I have to buy it from SuperMemo World?
Answer:
You can learn your own material. It is very easy to add your own questions and answers with Ctrl+A. You can also build more complex elements, e.g. with pictures or with sound


(Deron Isaac, USA, May 21, 1997)
Question:
How can I edit texts of items during repetitions without backing out of the test mode?
Answer:
Choose Q to edit the question, A to edit the answer, E to edit all text components or Ctrl+E to switch all components to the editing mode. You can also edit all properties of all components by using pop-up menus available with right button click on a component in question


(Matt Cassidy, New Zealand, Aug 18, 1997)
Question:
How to review items to be repeated on a given day?
Answer:
Use Tools : Workload and double-click the day of interest.


(Grzegorz Malewski, Poland, Dec 10, 1997)
Question:
Do grades at final drill affect the learning process?
Answer:
No. They are only used to eliminate items from the final drill queue.


Question:
How can I postpone memorizing an element when I am learning new material?
Answer:
Choose Forget on the element pop-up menu (Ctrl+R). This will put the item at the end of the pending queue. You will learn only after you memorize the entire pending queue (unless you sort the pending queue before that happens)


(Roger Dykes, USA, May 20, 1998)
Question:
What collections are available for SuperMemo 99?
Answer:
See SuperMemo Library.
Note that all collections for SuperMemo 8 or SuperMemo 98 can be upgraded to SuperMemo 99 format by simply opening them (with File : Open)


(Josef Holubik, Czech Republic, Sep 13, 1998)
Question:
When I make repetitions, I would sometimes like to use Forget or Remember but I only have grade buttons available. Do I have to stop the repetition cycle?
Answer:
No. You can use Ctrl+R for Forget and Ctrl+M for Remember. In both cases, you will continue with the next item in the repetition schedule as soon as resetting or recommitting an item is completed


Question:
How do I delete an element in SuperMemo?
Answer:
Choose one of the following:


(Ryszard Siwczyk, Poland, Nov 4, 1997)
Question:
Does the response time at repetitions influence the next interval?
Answer:
No


(Gabor Schmera, USA, Dec 13, 1997)

Question:
How do I add a recorder component to my items (as it is done in Advanced English 97)?
Answer:
Add a sound component and check Sound : Panel : Recorder on this pop-up menu.


Question:
I left for vacation, and my learning process is in mess. What should I do?
Answer:
Use Tools : Mercy


(Gabor Schmera, USA, Dec 13, 1997)
Question:
I would like to add mathematical formulas to my items. What is the best way? I have equations ready with MS Word 97.
Answer:
Use OLE component to display files generated with other applications (if they support OLE 2.0)


Question:
My computer was hit by a virus and SuperMemo reports integrity problems. What shall I do?
Answer:
Try File : Repair collection


(Peter Cool, The Netherlands, Nov 9, 1998)
Question:
I have installed the help for SuperMemo but it wouldn't work. After installing the help file and hhupd.exe I see after calling help the hourglass-icon (for a short time). After that nothing happens.
Answer:

You need to install the HTML viewer (hhupd.exe) over Internet Explorer 3.0. CHM format has been developed by Microsoft and it requires Internet Explorer to be installed on your computer. Unfortunately, Microsoft does not allow of subset installation (as for November 1998)


(Marcin Piekarniak, Poland, Dec 2, 1997)
Question:
How can I easily back up Advanced English 97? In Advanced English 94 the entire system could be compressed to a 1.4 MB file!
Answer:
It is possible to back up the learning process without backing up the contents of Advanced English (the contents is backed up on your original Advanced English CD-ROM). This way only the data pertaining to items in the learning process will be stored (not items themselves). Use File : Tools : Export : Learning process to export the data. Later, upon reinstalling Advanced English 97, you can restore the learning process with File : Tools : Import : Learning process


(Mariusz Szepietowski, Poland, Dec 7, 1997)
Question:
How can I remove information about the learning process from a collection? I would like to start learning all over again from scratch?
Answer:
Use File : Tools : Reset collection. At the end of this process choose sorting the pending queue either by hierarchy or by ordinals (e.g. in Advanced English 97)


(Boris Milikic, Slovenia, Nov 27, 1999)
Question:
Is there a quick guide to build collections such as Advanced English? I have the hierarchy and contents on paper
Answer:

See: User's Guide. The most important things to learn in the beginning are:

  1. How to build a knowledge hierarchy in the contents window. You will need to understand operations such as Add, Insert, Sibling, etc. and how to modifiy the hierarchy with drag&drop operations in various modes (e.g. Add as last child, Replace target, etc.). See: Building knowledge tree
  2. How to fill out elements with components, and how to modify component attributes with component pop-up menu and element attributes with element pop-up menu
  3. It would also be very useful if you learned how to use templates 

Question:
I keep material of different learning priority in my collection. Can SuperMemo help me pay more attention to high priority material?
Answer:

Yes. You should reduce the value of the forgetting index for high-priority material (forgetting index is a proportion of items not remembered during repetitions). In the contents window select the item or node that you want to have higher priority and choose Process branch : Forgetting index : Set forgetting index on the pop-up menu. Forgetting index is 10% by default and can be set to 3-5% for high-priority material or only to 20% for least important branches of the knowledge tree. You can also set the forgetting index in a subset of elements with Process browser : Forgetting index : Set forgetting index on browser's pop-up menu. Read: Using forgetting index


Question:
What is the purpose of the category registry (Search : Categories)?
Answer:
SuperMemo introduces the concept of a category to help you keep items related to different subjects in different branches of the knowledge tree (contents window). It also makes it possible to give different item groups different appearance (e.g. size of text components, screen layout, font, color, and many more). Read more: Using categories


(Manfred Kremer, Germany, Sep 7, 1998)
Question:
I noticed that frequently I get Optimum Interval in Element Data window shorter than the last interval displayed as Interval. Is it a bug in SuperMemo?
Answer:
No. If your forgetting index is very low, e.g. 3%, SuperMemo will often conclude that you will stand 97% chance of remembering a given element only if your next interval is shorter than the presently used one. In such cases, it will not accept the new value and the new interval will be at least 5% longer than the previous interval. Please note that the forgetting index equal 3% should only be used for selected high-priority items. Keeping the forgetting index at this level throughout the collection will make repetitions annoying frequent and ineffective


(David Mckenzie, New Zealand, Apr 8, 1998)
Question:
Is there any point in keeping collections separate?
Answer:

No. Once you master contents categories and templates, there is no point. You gain global search, global registries, global repetitions, global optimization, etc. This would not be advisable back in SuperMemo 7 as item difficulty measure (E-factor) was dependent on the average difficulty of items in the collection. Presently, the item difficulty measure (A-Factor, or absolute difficulty factor) is absolute and does not depend on the context in which an item is placed (see: Algorithm SM-8). Only the length of the first interval will significantly be affected by the average difficulty of items in the collection. However, this shall not bear dramatically on the speed of learning. Especially that variable forgetting index for individual items makes it possible to set different first intervals for whole contents categories or branches of the knowledge tree


(Volker Goretzki, Germany, May 6, 1997)
Question:
I would like to remove all occurrences of a string 'zzzz' from a collection. What is the simplest way?
Answer:
(1) Choose Search : Text, (2) choose Find and replace on the menu, e.g. by pressing Ctrl+R, (3) type in 'zzzz' in Find what field, (4) leave Replace with empty, and (5) choose Replace All


(Doug Edmunds, USA, Nov 4, 1997)
Question:
What is the fastest way of checking the number of the currently displayed element?
Answer:
press Ctrl+G


(Noel Clary, USA, Sep 18, 1998)
Question:
When I double click an element without children, I get to view it in the element window. However, when it has children, its branch opens or closes. How can I easily view contents elements with children in the element window?
Answer:
Click View at the bottom of the contents window


(Brian Canova, USA, Aug 28, 1998)
Question:
Me and my wife use Medical Biology collection. How can we both add new elements and synchronize our efforts so that we both get the elements introduced by one another?
Answer:
SuperMemo does not have any nice mechanisms for real-time sharing data between students. However, there is a rather complex algorithm you might use. Please try this out only if you are an advanced user of SuperMemo:

  1. Keep four separate collections:
    1. BRIAN - your original Medical Biology collection
    2. WIFE - copy of Medical Biology for your wife (e.g. created with File : Copy collection or Ctrl+Shift+C)
    3. BRIAN-NEW - new collection for you to add new learning material (created with File : New collection or Ctrl+N)
    4. WIFE-NEW - new collection for your wife to add new learning material
  2. Make repetitions only in BRIAN and WIFE
  3. Periodically transfer newly created elements from BRIAN-NEW to BRIAN and to WIFE, as well as from WIFE-NEW to BRIAN and to WIFE

You can transfer whole collections or individual branches with Tools : Transfer branch on the contents pop-up menu in the contents window


(Piotr Wysocki, Poland, May 14, 1997)
Question:
How can I change an item to a topic and vice versa without using branch operations in the contents window?
Answer:
Check Type : Item or Type : Topic on the element pop-up menu (available with right-click over empty element area). See also: Topics vs. items


(Judy Citron, UK, May 26, 1998)
Question:
Your programme has been highly recommended to me so I've downloaded SuperMemo from the web. But when I execute it I seem to get thrown into the deep end - I don't have an overview of what it does or how I work with it. Have I lost a phase somewhere? Do I get a nice icon on my desktop?
Answer:
It is one of the most difficult tasks ahead of our company to make sure that people like you can sit down to SuperMemo and grasp it in 5 minutes. It has already been four years that we constantly experiment with various approaches. Perhaps SuperMemo 99 with four difficulty levels will make some difference. SuperMemo has some new values to offer and those have to be understood before you can make a good use of it. Hence the difficulty. The two key operations you have to learn are:

The rest is optional!

As for the icon: choose File : Registration : Install icons


Question:
How can I quickly see how many memorized items I have in my collection?

Answer:
Press F5 and see Memorized


Question:
How can I search for a given string of characters in the collection?

Answer:
Press Ctrl+F and type in the string


(David Mckenzie, New Zealand, Sep 3, 1998)
Question:
What should you do if you don't complete the final drill for the day? Thoughts are: 1. Delete it, 2. Complete it first thing next day, 3. Complete it the next day, but with other final drill items. (I usually do 3.)
Answer:
It would be best to go through the final drill every day. Second best would probably be to delete final drill (Learn : Cut drills). This comes from the fact that all repetitions made on dates different from the original schedule interfere with computations made by SuperMemo. You can simply fool SuperMemo into believing that you know an element better than it is indicated by the history of repetitions. Finally, it would be worst to go through final drill before repetitions on the next day (for the same reason as above). The picture gets more complicated when your first interval for forgotten items is relatively long (e.g. over 5 days). In these circumstances doing the final drill on the next day might be more profitable than not doing it at all


(Anatolyi Lipatov, Ukraine, Aug 28, 1998)
Question:
When I add new elements in the contents window, it happens that the repetition cycle skips showing the answer even if the answer component is marked as Answer. Is it a bug?
Answer:
No. This is a standard behavior for topics. You must uncheck Type : Topic on the element pop-up menu (check Type : Item instead). Topics are considered a synthetic overview of knowledge and do not respect the Answer attribute on the component pop-up menu. They are just shown as they are and expect you to click Next repetition (i.e. skip Show answer and grading) (see also: Topics vs. items)


(Matt Cassidy, New Zealand, Oct 2, 1997)
Question:
Is there a limit to the number of elements that a collection can have?
Answer:
SuperMemo 99 has been designed to be able to theoretically accommodate over 1 billion elements; however, for various reasons (e.g. speed) it probably does not make sense to go beyond 100,000. The largest system tested at SuperMemo World by September 1999: 70,000 items (users reported systems of around 120,000 elements). You can greatly increase the speed of the program with a large number of long texts by unchecking Tools : Options : Data access : Compile lexicon on-the-fly


(Shaun Hoffland, UK, Jul 15, 1997)
Question:
If I add an identical text component to each item in a given branch in the contents window, does the text get duplicated and increase the size of the collection?
Answer:
No. All texts are stored in the registry only once. Each item references the same entry without increasing the size of the collection


(Jake White, USA, May 14, 1997)
Question:
I learn Romanian vocabulary. How can I center the word in the question component?
Answer:
Check Text : Center text on the question component pop-up menu (available with right-click).


(Zoran Maximovic, Yugoslavia, May 29, 1997)
Question:
How can I independently turn off hints and hide the status bar?
Answer:
To turn off hints uncheck the Hints checkbox on the toolbar. For the same purpose (also at the beginner and basic levels), you can double-click the hints area on the status bar. To hide the status bar, uncheck Window : Status bar on the main menu


(Lloyd M. Uhler Jr, Jun 12, 1998)
Question:
I have fonts for Chess and might want to use SuperMemo to remember Chess Positions. Can I import material created in MS Word?
Answer:
Try using the OLE component


(Ryszard Kosowicz, Krakow, Poland, May 16, 1997)
Question:
Why does not SuperMemo automatically change the title when I edit the question part of the item?
Answer:
It does it only if both texts are identical. Sometimes the author of the collection might wish to keep the too different. To update the title press Alt+T and Enter (this will select Title window, generate a new title from the first text component and store the new title in the collection)


(Doug Edmunds, USA, Nov 4, 1997)
Question:
How can I globally change the layout of question, answer, font, background color, etc.
Answer:
Do as follows:

  1. Create a new template with your new layout (make sure the number and the order of components are the same as in the original template).
  2. Save the template with Template : Save as template (on the element pop-up menu)
  3. In the contents window, choose the branch that should be changed
  4. On the contents pop-up menu choose Process branch : Template : Merge template and select the new template
  5. Only text, images, sound files, etc. will be retain in the merging operation. All the rest will be taken from the new template

Warning! Make a back-up copy of your collection beforehand. If you miss a component in the new template, it will be removed from all elements in the branch! There is no undo operation here


(Doug Edmunds, USA, Nov 4, 1997)
Question:
How do I paste the contents of a Component ClipBox on a new element?
Answer:
Drag it


(Keith Gibson, USA, Sep 3, 1997)
Question:
How can I introduce a sound file directly into the sound registry?
Answer:
Choose Import files on sound registry pop-up menu


(Richard Hardstein, USA, June 5, 1997)
Question:
From an American-centric point of view, I’d like to be able to label the quality of the response (i.e. bright, good, pass…) buttons A, B, C, D & F to match the universal (American) grading system. Is it possible in SuperMemo?
Answer:
You can change the names of grades by choosing Tools : Options : Language : Localization table. Just replace Bright with A, Good with B, etc. After choosing OK, SuperMemo will start using the new naming


(Christian Roessel, Germany, July 21, 1998)
Question:
In my collection I have a template that consists of two image components. And I have a large number of GIFs, numbered 1.gif, 2.gif, 3.gif, etc. Is it possible to import 1.gif to the first image component, 2.gif two the second, 3.gif to the first of the next item on and so on?
Answer:
Not exactly. You will have to rename your images to a1.gif, b1.gif, a2.gif, b2.gif. Then go to the first item to which you want to add those files and choose File : Tools : Import : Multimedia files. All elements that do not have corresponding images will be ignored and relevant files will be skipped


(John Gibney, Australia, Sep 1, 1998)
Question:
What is the difference between children and descendants in the knowledge tree?
Answer:
Children of a given element are those elements that are shown when you click the plus sign to the left of the element. They are all connected with the parent element and are shifted one level to the right. The descendants of a given element are all children of all children of all children, etc. If you take an analogy with a family, the descendants of an individual include children, grand children, grand grand children and so on. For more see: Creating the knowledge tree


(Tomasz Chudy, Poland, Oct 17, 1998)
Question:
How can I globally change the color of element background in the whole collection?
Answer:
You could accomplish that by defining a one-color background image (Tools : Options : SuperMemo : Default background image).

If you use question-and-answer templates throughout your collection or if you use other uniform templates, you can also try the following algorithm (note that you can make your collection useless if your templates are not uniform!):

  1. Create a new element (e.g. with Ctrl+A)
  2. Change the color of element background with Color (available from the element pop-up menu in the element window)
  3. Save the newly created element as a template with Template : Save as template (available on the element pop-up menu in the element window)
  4. Merge all elements in the collection with the new template by means of Process branch : Template : Merge with template (available on the contents pop-up menu in the contents window)

Important: create a backup copy before you proceed. Merge with template is irreversible!


(Peter J. Cool, The Netherlands, Oct 7, 1998)
Question:
I would like to interchange all question and answer pairs of my collection. How can I do it?
Answer:
You should do the following (only if you use question-and-answer templates throughout your collection or a given branch):

  1. Create a new element (e.g. with Ctrl+A)
  2. Change the order of the element components with Components : Component order (available from the element pop-up menu in the element window)
  3. Save the newly created element as a template with Template : Save as template (available from the element pop-up menu in the element window)
  4. Merge all elements in the collection with the new template by means of Process branch : Template : Merge with template (available from the contents pop-up menu in the contents window)

Important: create a backup copy before you proceed. Merge with template is irreversible!


(Marcin Piekarniak, Poland, Dec 2, 1997)
Question:
Why after choosing a contents category the last item in the category is displayed; not first?
Answer:
When you add new items you want to know which one was added last. You can easily navigate to the root by using the parent button on the navigation toolbar (or press Ctrl+Alt+Up)


(David Mckenzie, New Zealand, Apr 8, 1998)
Question:
How to search for an element that contains no text (only an image)?
Answer:
Use Search : Image. With Ctrl+F or Ctrl+S you can search for the image name or you can simply scroll to the image in question. Then press Ctrl+B to list all elements using the selected image


(Noel Clary, USA, Aug 17, 1998)
Question:
I have created my own database on plumbing and air conditioning. My forgetting index is quite high. Are there any tools in SuperMemo which could help me remedy this situation?
Answer:

You might want to use View : Leeches and locate the elements that cause most problems in learning. You must then go into your own mind to answer the question why these elements are hard to recall. Usually these are too complex, too long, too boring or too similar to other elements in the same collection. You can also send 3-4 most difficult items to us for review to receive some suggestions. Read more: Leeches. You could also have a look at: 20 rules of formulating knowledge in SuperMemo


Question:
Are SuperMemo 99 collections compatible with SuperMemo 8 and SuperMemo 98?
Answer:
Yes. It is enough to open old collections (choose *.kno file in File : Open) and the whole upgrade process will proceed automatically. For large collections such as Advanced English, this process may even take 20-30 minutes!


(Nita L. Wunderlich, USA, Aug 24, 1998)
Question:
How can I make a good use of knowledge hierarchy in the learning process?
Answer:
Structuring knowledge by means of knowledge hierarchy is not very important for the learning process itself; however, it greatly simplifies managing large bodies of facts pertaining to different subjects. The knowledge hierarchy is best managed by means of knowledge categories. Read more: Knowledge categories


(Michal Grodzki, Poland, Aug 20, 1998)
Question:
You advice the users of Advanced English 97 to make back-up copies with File : Tools : Export : Learning process. However, this does not back up the material introduced by the user. What is the best solution in a case when I want to add lots of my own items to Advanced English?
Answer:
You might try one of the following:

  1. Keep your own material in a separate collection. You can back such a collection by compressing the <collection name>.kno file and the <collection name> folder into a single archive (e.g. with WinZip)
  2. If you prefer to add your items to Advanced English (e.g. in order to be able to search all material in one go), you might back up the contents of a single branch by transferring it into an empty system with Tools : Transfer node on the contents pop-up menu or by exporting it as text with Tools : Export as text (also on the contents menu). You can later restore your back-up after reinstalling Advanced English with Tools : Transfer node in the opposite direction or with File : Tools : Import : Text in the latter case

(Dr Janusz Murakowski, USA, Nov 18, 1997)
Question:
What is the meaning of Full History of Repetitions in Tools : Options : Learning? How can I see the history of repetitions?
Answer:
With Full History of Repetitions, all individual repetitions are recorded in a separate file (\info\reps.dat)). Information about the history of repetitions of a given element can be viewed by double clicking the element data window or choosing History in element parameters dialog box available from element pop-up menu


(Volker Goretzki, Germany, Feb 22, 1998)
Question:
Which rules does the overlapping of components follow?
Answer:

Components are displayed in the order in which they were added to the element. To change this order use Component order on the element window pop-up menu


(Jaroslaw Mekarski, Poland, Apr 15, 1997)
Question:

Using Tools : Options : Language : Localization table, I have defined my national interface for SuperMemo but still some buttons retained their original English names. How can I translate those too?
Answer:
You can define only the interface of SuperMemo for the beginner and basic levels. That is why the list of strings to translate is so short. For SuperMemo on the middle or professional level the list would be over 3000 strings longs instead of the mere 50 strings that are used in simplified SuperMemo


(Marcin Piekarniak, Poland, Dec 2, 1997)
Question:
How to transfer a template between collections?
Answer:
Use Template : Save to file and Template : Load from file on the element pop-up menu. To save the new template in the template registry, use Template : Save as template. Read more: Using templates


(Zoran Maximovic, Yugoslavia, Aug 16, 1998)
Question:
Do you plan to write two version of SuperMemo for developing and viewing collections? Like Acrobat Reader and Adobe Acrobat?
Answer:
No. This would contradict our important claim that all learning material should be highly customized for an individual learner, and enhanced with individual comments and mnemonic clues. We would like all users to know how to change the learning material that is difficult to remember. There is no universal formula for well-structured material. A good item for one student may cause recall problems in another. This is because of knowledge interference that may come from different culture, language or simply different material stored in the same collection. BTW: it is not true that read-only SuperMemo would be visibly faster due to eliminating the editing options. The size of code might be reduced by 30-40% resulting in invisibly reduced loading time. The reading and presentation options would work in the same way as in the full version. Note that apart from read-only and learn-only modes, SuperMemo 99 introduces four levels of difficulty that cover some of the goals accomplished by separating presentation and authoring functions


(Janusz Murakowski, USA, Mar 18, 1999)
Question:
After using Apply template, my texts were deleted. I rather expected changing the look of my item
Answer:
To change the look use Merge with template instead


(Tomoki Takahashi, Japan, Feb 6, 1999)
Question:
I would like to learn English with questions asked in Japanese. How can I do it?
Answer:
You have to (1) create your own template with the Japanese font in the question field (you can use Text : New Font to change the question font in the standard template), (2) save the template with Template : Save as template and (3) set the saved template as the default item template in Tools : Options : Appending : Default item template.
After this, each time you choose Add new (or press Ctrl+A), your questions will be generated in Japanese and answers will retain standard look (you can also swap English with Japanese by using Edit : Swap components).
Although you cannot change the writing direction in SuperMemo text components (from yokogaki to tategaki), you can include texts via OLE from Japanese Word or Ichi Taro word processors. These programs use either Microsoft IME or ATOK utilities to input Japanese text. Microsoft IME is part of Japanese Windows. ATOK is part of the Ichi Taro word processor (Justy System) but can be installed as a separate unit. With ATOK you can change from the English to the Japanese input mode. It is fully compatible with SuperMemo: 1) You type the pronunciation of a word from the keyboard, 2) press Space, and 3) select the appropriate kanji(s) from the list showing those matching the input sounds combination. Ganbatte ne


(Brian DeMio, USA, Jan 10, 1999)
Question:
I changed the template for the questions so that I have a purple background and yellow fonts. Everything is fine with that part.
After I entered in an element (question and answer) I hit Ctrl+A to put in a new one. The question from the previous element keeps popping up in the new elements where you are supposed to input answers. How can I fix this?
Answer:
Please make sure that when you save your template there are no texts in text components. You have to simply override your current template


(Helmut Fritz, Germany, Oct 19, 1998)
Question:
Why do templates store texts used by text components? Each time I use Apply Template I have to delete those texts
Answer:
Occasionally you may need to store texts or pictures in your templates. Save your template again after deleting the texts


(Krzysztof Morawski, Poland, Dec 28, 1998)
Question:
I am learning Norwegian. Until recently, SuperMemo has automatically chosen appropriate titles for my elements; however, for some time now, it has been choosing Norsk as the title for all elements (Norsk is a text included in a text component displayed as a label on each page). How can I make SuperMemo choose the right title (in my case, Polish word used as the question)?
Answer:
SuperMemo will automatically generate the title from the first text component in the component order. Your Norsk component is clearly first in the component order in your template. Choose Component order on the element menu and drag the component with your question text to the first position. Then choose OK and save your element in a new template (choose the same template name as before, i.e. default item template name)


(Jim Ivy, USA, June 4, 1997)
Question:
How can I prevent my students from editing the contents of the collection in SuperMemo?
Answer:
You can turn on read-only or learn-only modes (Tools : Options : Data access : Access mode) and then use SuperMemo in the beginner or basic mode. Naturally, nothing will prevent your students turning the full access back on (if they just know how). There is no passworded option to block it for good


(Armin Werner, Germany)
Question:
What is the contents and function of particular files in SuperMemo directories?
Answer:

See: Files used by SuperMemo


Question:
Why isn't there Save As on the File menu?
Answer:
Because File : Copy collection does exactly what you would expect of Save As. The different name indicates, however, that the collection is not stored in memory but is updated on the hard disk on-the-fly. Therefore, instead of saving it under a new name, you just have to copy it to the new location. Collections are kept on the disk due to their often huge size (for example Advanced English is 700 MB large; of which the primary storage takes nearly 50 MB)


Question:
What should I use Duplicate for? What for do I need the same item in the same collection?
Answer:
You can duplicate an item, if you want to add to the another item which is only slightly different. This way you can spare some time by reediting the old item instead of typing in the new one


(Shaun Hoffland, UK, May 25, 1997)
Question:
How can I view all pending or dismissed elements in a given branch in the knowledge tree?
Answer:
Probably the simplest method is to:

After the above sequence of operations, the browser will contain only the pending or dismissed elements belonging to the selected branch


(Tomas Klinkovsky, Czech Republic, Aug 7, 1998)
Question:
How can I do the following actions using the keyboard in Advanced English:

Answer:
You can repeat sounds with Ctrl+F10. You can also display translations with Alt+U and the phonetic transcription with Alt+Y


Question:
I noticed that File : Repair collection does not recover the final drill queue. What if drill.dat file becomes damaged? Will that make learning impossible?
Answer:
No. drill.dat is a temporary file and can always be removed with Learn : Cut drills with little damage to the learning process. This file can also be deleted manually


(Tomas Klinkovsky, Czech Republic, Aug 7, 1998)
Question:
Why aren't there tool tips over grayed buttons?
Answer:
This is a default behavior of components in Delphi (SuperMemo 99 was written in Delphi 4.0). Some disabled buttons just do not show hints


(Vaclav Losik, Czech Republic, Apr 10, 1997)
Question:

How to complete missing translations reported by File : Repair collection?
Answer:
If at recovery you get messages like Missing translation for Member #186: "virtually every" you can fill out the translation using the following procedure:

  1. choose Search : Text registry
  2. paste in the editing field the text whose translation is missing (e.g. virtually every)
  3. type in the translation in the translation pane of the registry window (bottom-right)

(Tomasz Szynalski, Poland)
Question:
Why should I upgrade from SuperMemo 8.4 to a newer version?
Answer:
Because SuperMemo 98 is faster, can store unlimited length of texts in topics, can import HTML files, etc. Additionally, SuperMemo 99 introduces the concept of a reading list that can be very valuable if you do lots of reading on the web. See: What's new?


(Artur Osadowski, Poland, Sep 5, 1998)
Question:
Does the setting of Access Mode in Tools : Options : Data access affect the accessibility of sounds on CD-ROM?
Answer:
No. To make sure SuperMemo correctly reads sounds from CD-ROM, you only have to provide the correct path in Tools : Options : Data access : Secondary storage


Question:
What should I do if SuperMemo displays strange error messages, aborts frequently, and File : Repair collection does not work?
Answer:
Make sure that your Windows is stable and you have no hardware problems. If the messages are displayed by Windows rather than SuperMemo itself (e.g. modules such as Kernel, User, Ctl3D, etc.), the problem is probably not with SuperMemo. Some hardware problems are a frequent reason for such situations, esp. if similar events happen with other application. Check your memory, hard disk, system setup and the mainboard in the first order.
In case you are sure File : Repair collection is unable to recover your collection for reasons related to SuperMemo, write to SuperMemoMail


(Anatolyi Lipatov, Ukraine, Jul 12, 1998)
Question:
I am using Advanced English to enhance my English and business English.
Now I am registering for CFA examination (that is Chartered Financial Analyst program of Association of Investment Management and Research). There are several organizations developing and distributing methodological stuff for preparing to the exam. A lot of things should be memorized for passing the exam. What do you think the best way to fit SuperMemo for memorization and what approach should I use to prepare my own knowledge base for memorizing the material. Is special programming knowledge needed for it?
Answer:
No specialist knowledge is needed to prepare simple collections in SuperMemo. With Ctrl+A (i.e. Add new item) you get 90% of functionality! All advanced editing options can be worked around by an appropriate questions-and-answer approach. Perhaps it would be useful yet to learn how to add images to your items (see help for details). To learn more about effectively structuring knowledge in SuperMemo you might want to read 20 rules of formulating knowledge; nothing works better as learning on one's own mistakes in formulating knowledge for learning with SuperMemo


(Jan Gromadzki, Poland, Jul 11, 1998)
Question:
I bought Advanced English 97 and I cannot pass through the introduction. There are arrows pointing to icons that ... do not exist. What is wrong?
Answer:
You need a sound board installed in your computer (this is listed among minimum requirements!). Some script commands do not work without a sound board and the introduction part is largely run by scripts. If you want to use Advanced English without sound do the following:


(Zoran Maximovic, Yugoslavia, Aug 16, 1998)
Question:
How can I change the font on window captions in SuperMemo (that is the font on the bar with three buttons on the right side: minimize, maximize and close), and on menus?
Answer:
Those fonts can only be set Windows-wide. For example, right-click the desktop, choose Properties, choose Appearance, and select a Scheme


(Tomasz Szynalski, Poland, Dec 2, 1998)
Question:
When I create an MS Equation formula in the OLE component, the equation is unnaturally large and distorted. How can I go around this bug?
Answer:
Rendering of the OLE object is done by the server application, MS Equation in this case. You have to fix the problem in MS Equation by adjusting display attributes (e.g. reducing the size of fonts in this case)


(Michael Doren, USA, Sep 7, 1998)
Question:
I am writing a collection for learning Windows NT 4.0 for my certification test. I am toying with the idea of using Dragon Naturally Speaking (a speech recognition program) to create my questions and answers in MS Word. Any suggestions on that?
Answer:
Probably the simplest approach is as follows:

1. Use the following text file format:

Q: <text of the first question>
A: <text of the first answer>

Q: <text of the second question>
A: <text of the second answer>, etc.

2. Replace Q: and A: with some easily spelled phrase that you would later replace globally. For example:

elephant Which tool can be used to manage security for domains?
giraffe User Manager for Domains

3. Convert the above text to:

Q: Which tool can be used to manage security for domains?
A: User Manager for Domains

4. Save the file in plain text format

5. Use File : Tools : Import : Q&A text in SuperMemo to import the text file to your collection


(Clarito Dimayuga, MD, USA, Sep 14, 1998)
Question:
Question:
SuperMemo comes with very impressive statistical graphs and charts but how do I use them to my advantage, how are these charts going to help me learn faster?
Answer:
The graphs available from Tools : Statistics : Analysis are not exactly supposed to speed up learning. Their main function is to assist you in understanding the algorithm used in SuperMemo and in monitoring the learning process. Obviously, once you understand the graphs, your enhanced knowledge of your memory and the learning process may appear helpful in better organizing your work. Read more: Analysis of the learning process


(Robert Van Weyenberg, Belgium, Sep 30, 1998)
Question:
I use SuperMemo on a portable machine that is not linked to the Internet. This is why two megabytes of the help file are quite difficult to handle. Any chance for having it sized down?
Answer:
There is now second smaller help file to download. This file only includes the help section of this website (www.supermemo.com/help/) and does not include pictures. NB: Help compiler compression is very efficient and there is little room for improvement


(Dusko Ivanisevic, New Zealand, Oct 1, 1998)
Question:
How can I add phonetic transcription to some words?
Answer:
Press Ctrl+Alt+P and type in the word and its transcription. If the transcription dialog does not appear, you have not chosen phonetic transcription in Options. In such a case do the following:

  1. Choose Tools : Options : Language : Phonetic transcription
  2. Select ready-made transcription file or type in a name for new phonetic transcription registry (in the latter case, you will be building phonetic transcription registry from scratch)
  3. If necessary, choose Font on the left to select phonetic transcription font (e.g. IPA font available from Advanced English)
  4. Once a given word appears on the screen, press Alt+Y to transliterate all texts (or use on-mouse-move transliteration)

Note that SuperMemo Library includes IPA phonetic transcription of English (including the IPA font) with 72,000 transcriptions


(Jeremy Sherman, USA, Oct 12, 1998)
Question:
I am using Filemaker Plus to create a more comprehensive database for quotes, my ideas, etc. of which only a select number of items are the kind I would want to commit to memory. I have not found any reference in the help menu to ways to import a number of elements and test items directly into SuperMemo. Can you suggest a format for importation? I do see the section on Import Q&A but I don't see how to format the fields
Answer:
For File : Tools : Import : Q&A text, it is enough you create a text file in the following format:

q: <text of the question>
a: <text of the answer>

q: <text of the question>
a: <text of the answer>, etc. etc.

For example:

q: What is the name of the Polish king dynasty that ended with Casimir III?
a: Piast dynasty

q: Which Polish king dynasty did Casimir the Great belong to?
a: Piast dynasty, etc. etc.


(Clive Hayden, Poland, Oct 19, 1998)
Question:
How can I best upgrade my SuperMemo 7 files to SuperMemo 99?
Answer:
Use File : Tools : Import : From SuperMemo 7. Note, that you need to have the file sm7imprt.exe in your bin subfolder. This file can be downloaded free from the download page


(David K. Harris, Peking University, Oct 23, 1998)
Question:
I would like to underline important words in my elements, but have not yet figured out how to change the font of individual words within components
Answer:
You should use RTF components instead of text components. In an RTF component, select the text to underline and click the underline icon on the Edit toolbar (or Ctrl+U). If you want all your elements to use RTF components instead of text components, save your RTF components as a default template for your currently used category. Read more: Using templates


(Michael Duggan, Canada, Nov 2, 1998)
Question:
I was cleaning up my harddrive and attempted to move SuperMemo from one folder to another folder. In the process I lost the data for a number of collections. Can I retrieve these data files and place them back in my collection? How do I do that?
Answer:
It is always recommended to move collections with File : Copy collection in SuperMemo. Otherwise, a frequent mistake is to copy the kno file without the folder that contains the actual collection files (see: Files used by SuperMemo).
Some customers also fall victim of the following scenario:

  1. user moves the whole SuperMemo folder to a new location using Windows tools
  2. user starts sm99.exe from the new location
  3. SuperMemo inspects supermemo.ini for the location of most recently used files and looks for them in the old location
  4. SuperMemo displays Cannot find <collection name> at <old location>. Create new files?
  5. User responds with Yes
  6. SuperMemo creates empty files with the old name
  7. User is convinced he lost his data while intact collections are safely stored at the new location

The simplest remedy is to answer No in Step 5 and open collections at the new location with File : Open


(Thomas Clark, USA, Nov 24, 1997)
Question:
Why doesn't SuperMemo remember the size of individual windows? It has to be changed on each running the program!
Answer:
Please save your windows layout with Window : Layout : Save layout : Save as default (Ctrl+Shift+F5)


(John Gibney, Australia, Sep 1, 1998)
Question:
What is the simplest way to determine the order in which elements are memorized?
Answer:
You can sort the pending queue in the order of the element appearance in the knowledge tree by using File : Tools : Sort pending by contents. You can also set individual element ordinal numbers and choose File : Tools : Sort pending by ordinals. Finally, you can search for individual elements and memorize them individually with Ctrl+M


(Pawel Galecki, Poland, Feb 10, 1998)
Question:
I have created my own collection that contains 700 items in the root. The system loads for nearly 60 seconds each time I open it! How can I speed this up?
Answer:
For performance reasons, you should limit the number of elements per branch to 50-100. For this purpose, set a lower value at Tools : Options : SuperMemo : Children limit per hierarchy node. To break up your 700-item category, run Tools : Arrange in folders on the contents window pop-up menu


Question:
How can I empty a ClipBox? In SuperMemo 8, it would empty by a click
Answer:
In new SuperMemo, you have to Ctrl+click. This is a protection from losing the contents of the ClipBox too easily


(Peter Cool, The Netherlands, Nov 6, 1998)
Question:
I started with SuperMemo 70 days ago (your French plus some words added by me; total 1000 words). In the first weeks I made a lot of mistakes so my measured forgetting index was 20%. Although I make very few mistakes now during repetitions the forgetting index decreases very slowly. Is this normal?
Answer:
The measured forgetting index includes the record of all repetitions made since you started learning. That is why it changes at an ever decreasing rate. If your performance is good and you would like to more accurately check your current forgetting index, you might reset the forgetting index measurements with File : Tools : Reset parameters : Forgetting index record. It will not affect the learning process per se


(Przemyslaw Glowacki, Poland, Nov 11, 1998)
Question:
I am still using SuperMemo ver. 7.53 and I am quite happy with it. Why should I upgrade? I am generally not interested in hypermedia "bells and whistles" so I will do it only for important reasons like considerably better algorithm or something similar.
Answer:
Even die-hard question-and-answer text-only users will benefit from upgrading to SuperMemo 99. The only downside: the program is bigger, slower and requires significantly more hard disk space. Here are some basic benefits:

  1. you can use reading lists to quickly convert electronic articles into questions and answers in SuperMemo
  2. you can combine all knowledge in one collection without worrying about managing all branches separately (Mercy, forgetting index, dismiss, reset, etc.). You manage it in a healthy way with full control over each branch
  3. you can classify branches of knowledge: computers, English, business, etc. Use separate templates, ordinals, forgetting index, etc.
  4. multicriterial Mercy is unparalleled if you have any delays
  5. breaks in learning used to destroy the learning process in SuperMemo 7. The new algorithm takes all breaks into account
  6. other points: commenting items with unlimited-length text, dismissing reference material, lexicon compiled on-the-fly, element history list, final drill scrambling, simulation of the learning process, browser sorting, and many more

(Natalie Burgess, USA, Nov 10, 1998)
Question:
I am using the Japanese mix but I'm not getting Japanese characters, but English characters. I copied the fonts called hiragana.ttf and katakana.ttf from the sm98\systems\... folders to my d:\Windows\Fonts folder. Is there something else I have to do to have the fonts available in Windows 95?
Answer:
Yes. Instead of copying fonts you should install them. In Windows 95, use Control Panel : Fonts : Install New Font. In the Folders panel, choose the location where your TTF font can be found (sm99\systems\font\hiragana.tff).
Please note that SuperMemo 99 automatically installs true type fonts located in the FONT folder so that the installation is actually not needed (the only exception is Classical Greek from SuperMemo Library which uses non-true-type font)


(Manfred Kremer, Germany, Nov 11, 1998)
Question:
Recently, I have been using SuperMemo to learn economics. This would actually require the inclusion of a lot of mathematical expressions, including integrals, fractions, etc. So far I did not find a good way to do this. It would be nice to have an interface to display either TeX, or postscript, or to have a formula editor included in SuperMemo. But maybe I have overlooked something, and there is a possibility already provided?
Answer:
In SuperMemo 99, you can either (1) use the HTML component and use all HTML extensions that might be useful in displaying expressions or (2) use the OLE component to display expressions edited in your favorite equation editor as long as it supports OLE


(Michael Baerlin, USA, Nov 20, 1998)
Question:
Is there a flashcard mode in which I could randomly display questions and answers for a short period of time (user defined)? I like the idea of sitting there and reviewing the answer without having to touch the keyboard or mouse
Answer:
No. We believe that random reviews are not recommended in the learning process. They interfere with computations made by SuperMemo in reference to optimum repetition spacing. Interference is unavoidable but should be minimized. SuperMemo 99 still includes Tools : Random review (shortcut F11) and a number of other random review options; however, these are intended only for (1) collection authors (to review the material in preparation) and/or (2) for learning new material at random


(Roman Jedrkowiak, Poland, Nov 26, 1998)
Question:
Once I download SuperMemo, can I later install it on another computer? I want to download from work and install it at home
Answer:
Yes. You can move the downloaded file to another computer and repeat the installation. Please note that SuperMemo 99 requires some libraries associated with the Internet


(Tomasz Szynalski, Poland, Oct 18, 1998)
Question:
What value of the forgetting index ensures the optimum ratio of (retention)/(time spent per day)?
Answer:

Paradoxically, the highest speed of learning can be accomplished ... without SuperMemo! In our daily life we pick up lots of facts that stay in our memory for long with few repetitions in lifetime! The problem is that these are usually not exactly the facts or rules that are critical to our goals. In other words, not the speed of acquiring new items counts but the speed of acquiring new items bearing a given content.

It is difficult to determine exactly what forgetting index brings the highest acquisition rate. Simulation experiments have consistently pointed to the value of 25-30%. You can even plot speed-vs.-forgetting graph using your own actual learning material in SuperMemo 98 using Tools : Statistics : Simulation. You will probably also arrive to similar results

As you perhaps know, SuperMemo disallows of the forgetting index above 20%. This comes from the fact that you should aim at achieving high speed of learning combined with high retention of the learned material. Setting the forgetting index above 20% would be like giving up SuperMemo altogether and coming back to remembering only that what is easy to remember. In highly interlinked material where new knowledge depends on the previously acquired knowledge, high forgetting rate can even be more harmful

Nevertheless, if you want to maximize the speed of learning with little control over what actually stays in your memory, set the forgetting index to 20%


(Manfred Kremer, Germany, Nov 27, 1998)
Question:
What is the simplest way to backup a collection in SuperMemo?
Answer:
If your collection's name is, for example, "All my knowledge.kno" then:

  1. use any archiving application (e.g. WinZip)
  2. select (1) "All my knowledge.kno" file and (2) "[All my knowledge]" folder/directory
  3. compress these two into a single archive (remember to use Preserve path option to retain the folder structure)

While restoring a collection from such an archive, remember to use Extract with path to make sure the folder structure is restored as originally archived (otherwise all files will be restored to the same folder and the collection will be unusable).
Note that you can save some space by choosing File : Tools : Garbage before archiving your collection


(Eric Thompson, USA, Dec 15, 1998)
Question:
One important function I cannot find is regarding the contents window. I cannot seem to move elements around for flexible organization. Ideally, I would like to move elements around like I do in Windows Explorer
Answer:
You can drag and drop individual elements with the mouse. However, for more flexibility you will need to enter the professional level by choosing File : Level : Professional. At the top of the contents window you will be able to choose from several dragging modes as well as to open another contents window to drag between windows.
For example, to create a new folder at the place of the current selection, simply press Ins. To drag some elements into this folder choose Add as last child dragging mode (combo box at the top of the contents window), grab individual elements with the mouse, drag them and drop them onto the newly created folder


(Petr Bajer, Czech Republic, Dec 30, 1998)
Question:
I have a couple of separate collections. Does SuperMemo keep a global learning optimization data or data stored in individual collections are independent?
Answer:
All collections keep independent optimization data (\info\sm8opt.dat file). That is why we recommend you keep all your knowledge in one collection. You can freely swap sm8opt.dat files (for example, to speed up the convergence of the learning algorithm in a new collection)


(Robert Szumilo, Poland, Jan 3, 1999)
Question:
What is the optimum approach to making repetitions with SuperMemo: one long session or a few smaller sessions (e.g. main repetitions in the morning and the final drill in the evening)?
Answer:
For psychological reasons, the quality of learning should increase substantially when working in separate sessions, esp. if the number of repetitions surpasses 100 per day. Additionally, a break before final drill is useful due to the spacing effect. The danger of this approach is ... you can easily drive yourself into a situation in which you will spend excessive proportion of your day on repetitions (in the future when your schedule changes you might have problems with keeping up with your present pace)


(Marcin Piekarniak, Poland, Jan 6, 1999)
Question:
I cannot add a JPG file to display as an element background. How can I do it?
Answer:
The background option currently supports only the BMP format. The only solution is to use an image component as the background


(Vladimir Slachta, Czech Republic, Jan 26, 1999)
Question:
I downloaded SuperMemo and the help file from the Internet. Unfortunately Help does not work. It is still giving me information, that I have old version of HHCTRL.OCX. I have system W95 OSR 2 with IE 4.0 on my computer. Please, can you inform me, where is the problem?
Answer:
Seemingly some IE 4.0 installations include an older version of HHCTRL.OCX. You might use the file that ships with Windows 98 or try to download the Microsoft's free update


(Michael Duggan, Canada, Jan 27, 1999)
Question:
I am having difficulty doing my final drill in one of my files. I am down to the last few elements and every time I hit the Next repetition button the same element remains on the screen and the counter doesn't show any movement. Any suggestions?
Answer:
It is hard to diagnose what has actually happened but if you use Learn : Cut drills the problem will definitely go away


(Erik J Hofstee, USA, Jan 28, 1999)
Question:
Why, when I make a topic (for display only) do I always get the standard answer sheet (this time with nothing on it), displayed, and SuperMemo asking for a grade? All I wanted it to do was display the topic, and then move into the testing items?
Answer:
Grading is evoked if one of your components in your topic is marked as the answer. Please right-click over the components and make sure that Answer is unchecked


(Lassi Kaleva, Finland, Feb 1, 1999)
Question:
Is SuperMemo Y2K compliant? Does it work correctly in Windows 98?
Answer:

  1. Millennium bug: See Millennium Bug in SuperMemo
  2. Windows 98: Although we currently develop SuperMemo in Windows NT 4.0, we are not aware of any Windows 98 specific problems

(Lili Belsak, Slovenia, Feb 10, 1999)
Question:
I would like to use Advanced English on two computers. What is the easiest way to keep my learning process updated?
Answer:
This method will probably work best (you need SuperMemo 98 or 99 to use Export/Import: Learning process):

  1. Install Advanced English on both computers
  2. Make repetitions on Computer A
  3. When you want to move to Computer B, use File : Tools : Export : Learning process on Computer A and copy the generated files to Computer B
  4. On Computer B use File : Tools : Import : Learning process and import the file exported in Step 3
  5. Make repetitions on Computer B
  6. When you want to move back to Computer A, use Steps 3 to 5 analogously

Note that this method only transfers the learning process. If you want to edit the material, you would better introduce the corrections only on one of the computers. This way you will be able to avoid the need to copy all collection files between computers


(Tom Scott, Feb 12, 1999)
Question:
I just came across your website. Is it difficult to prepare material for learning with SuperMemo?
Answer:
No. The most popular approach is to create pairs of questions and answers. You just press Ctrl+A (to add a new element) and type in the question and the answer. That's all. Then you just click Learn to start learning.
You can build huge collections and learn effectively for years using only text, questions and answers. Adding images, sounds, video, etc. requires some more hard disk space and 2-3 more steps (such as: add an image component and import an image file, etc.)


(Cosmo, Germany, Feb 14, 1999)
Question:
Is it possible to learn vocabulary in both directions with one element? When I specify the questionbox as How are you? and the answerbox as C��est౿ can SuperMemo also change the directions of questioning so that I can train my vocabulary in both directions? Or do I have to define two elements?
Answer:
Each question-answer pair is handled independently in the learning process. For this reason, you must define two elements. Usually the active element is repeated more often than the passive element but there are no fixed rules here (leave it up to SuperMemo). Having it all in one element with a single pattern of repetitions would not serve the purpose of learning. You can quickly produce a reverse duplicate by using Duplicate (Ctrl+Alt+U) and Swap components (Ctrl+Shift+S). The former will duplicate the element and the latter will swap the question with the answer (if you have many elements in the pending queue, you will probably want to follow it with Remember or Ctrl+M)


(A.M.V.C.Raju, Malaysia, Feb 15, 1999)
Question:
For some time now, when I start SuperMemo I get a message DZIP32.DLL file is not found. Program seems to work fine. Is it dangerous? I worry about losing my 700 items
Answer:
This message is not generated by SuperMemo. Neither does SuperMemo use such a DLL. Perhaps you should ask an expert to have a look at your computer.
(NB: the user has later confirmed that the same message was also cropping up when MS Word started)


(Said Hussein Yasin, Switzerland, Feb 18, 1999)
Question:
What should I do for different subjects; should I use different categories within one and the same collection or should I create a new collection for each subject?
Answer:
It is highly recommended you keep all your knowledge in just one collection. Categories have been created in order to help you manage different subjects globally. They help you to quickly switch between different branches of the contents tree and keep the same look for all items in a given category


(Marek Futrega, Poland, Feb 25, 1999)
Question:
I upgraded from SuperMemo 8 to SuperMemo 99 and noticed that the Search button does not work. When I select a word on the list and choose Browse, I always get No elements found
Answer:
This is a limitation of the upgrade procedure. Due to a change in the format of the lexicon registry, the registry is deleted during the upgrade. It is enough to choose File : Repair collection and check Rebuild lexicon to create new lexicon registry and restore the previous functionality


(Karl Hillis, Canada, Feb 25, 1999)
Question:
I want to use SuperMemo to learn Spanish. I am having problems however when it comes to the acute accents over the vowels. Could you please give me a solution? I have the standard 101 key North American Keyboard
Answer:
You might try installing Spanish keyboard in Windows. Otherwise, you should remember to turn NumLock on when typing Alt+0 sequences (e.g. Alt+0241 for n)


(Kazimierz Bigus, Poland, Mar 1, 1999)
Question:
How can I quickly change the color of newly added items?
Answer:
Add a new item (Ctrl+A), choose Color on the element menu, select the color and choose Save as default (Ctrl+Alt+S). This will save the item with the changed color as the default template that will be used in adding new items


(Tomasz Szkopek, Nov 8, 1999)
Question:
I upgraded Advanced English 97 to SuperMemo 99 and received the following error: Collection files access error ! Wrong A-Factor distribution. Is it dangerous?

Answer:
No. This is a harmless warning.
After upgrading all collections to SuperMemo 99, you will always need to run File : Repair collection with Basic recovery checked. This is needed to calculate new values of A-Factors as the interpretation of A-Factors has changed slightly in SuperMemo 99


(Kazimierz Bigus, Poland, Mar 1, 1999)
Question:
How can I transfer only a subset of elements from one collection to another?
Answer:
You have to start from placing your subset of elements in the browser (read about subsets to select from a number of options). You could also start from a browser selection and choose Child : Selected in the browser to open a child browser with selected items. Once you have your elements in the browser, choose Tools : Transfer on the browser menu


(Steven Trezise, USA, Apr 20, 1999)
Question:
In my collection, I have items for which I have done between 1 and 8 repetitions. However, when I look at the Cases matrix, there are no entries beyond repetition 3
Answer:
The algorithm used by SuperMemo updates all optimization matrices using repetition categories, not the actual repetition number (you can view the optimization matrices with Tools : Statistics : Analysis : Matrices). A repetition category is an expected number of repetitions needed to reach the currently used interval. Once the matrices change, the estimation of repetition category may change too. If, for example, you score well in repetitions and your intervals become longer, it will take fewer repetitions to get to a given interval. In such a case, you might be at 8-th repetition while your repetition category will be 3. All matrices such as OF matrix, RF matrix, etc. will be updated in the third row (not in the 8-th row)


(Frantisek Kvapil, Czech Republic, Apr 23, 1999)
Question:
I wanted to download the whole website in the CHM format by the link points to SuperMemo Help.
Answer:
Both SuperMemo Help and the rest of the website are integrated in the same file


(Dag Berggren, Sweden, Apr 25, 1999)
Question:
I know how to change the size or style of fonts but I do not know how to make sure I do not have to repeat that with each new item I create.
Answer:
The simplest remedy is to press Ctrl+Alt+s which is a shortcut for Template : Save as default. This will save your current item as the default template in the current category. As this template will be reused each time you add a new item with Ctrl+A, you should create your item the way you want it to look before you fill out the text fields


(Josep Ortega, Andorra, Apr 28, 1999)
Question:
How to change sibling items into child items?
Answer:
Select Add as last child at the top of the contents window and drag sibling items to drop them on those that are to become their parents


(Siow Yew Nam, Singapore, May 12, 1999)
Question:
When I delete a collection in Windows Explorer, it is automatically restored when I return to SuperMemo! How can I go around it?
Answer:
Use File : Delete collection. When you start SuperMemo, it tries to open the last collection used. Even it it has been deleted, SuperMemo create a new collection of the same name. This is why it is more convenient to delete collections from within SuperMemo


Question:
Recently I had to format my hard disk. After restoring my collection back-up from CDR, I get the following error: 'Access denied! System locked by another user'. What is happening?
Answer:
You need to remove the read-only attribute from the collection files


(Luis Gustavo Neves da Silva, Brazil, Sep 17, 1999)
Question:
What is the difference between a reading list and a tasklist?
Answer:
Reading list is a special case of a tasklist. All tasklists are sorted sets of tasks. Each task is composed of: title/description, priority and task body. In reading list, the body of the task has a form of a single article (e.g. imported from the Internet). You can use tasklist in the management of to-do lists. A reading list is your prioritized to-do sequence of most important articles you want to read


(Tomasz Szkopek, Poland, Sep 13, 1999)
Question:
I cannot use Polish diacritical characters, e.g. with Alt+c or Alt+s?
Answer:

Please use Tools : Options : SuperMemo : Trim shortcuts. This will turn off couple of offending shortcuts


(Robert Whitinger, USA, Mar 4, 1999)
Question:
I installed smhelp.chm file in the bin folder but SuperMemo still attempts to connect me with the Internet help!
Answer:
Please make sure that you choose Tools : Options : SuperMemo : Help system : Microsoft Help (CHM). If you choose Optimize instead of Microsoft Help, SuperMemo will always check the date of your chm file, and if it becomes outdated, it will attempt to connect you with the newer version of the same help page on the Internet


Question:
What is the size of SuperMemo collections in KB?
Answer:
For early versions of SuperMemo it used to be (5+0.1*Total) KB, where Total is the number of text elements in the collection (additionally sounds used to contribute 10-20 KB per word and pictures 20 KB per picture).
SuperMemo 8 introduced extensive object indexing in the form of registries and made it possible to add a great deal of multimedia files. Consequently, the size of collections increased substantially to 0.5*Total KB for standard question-and-answer collections (a five-fold increase). For example:

  1. A 1000-element question-and-answer vocabulary collection takes 0.5 MB on average
  2. A reading list collection with 200 average articles from the Internet might already take 10 MB
  3. Advanced English 97 with 40,000 items occupies 30 MB in primary storage (texts) and 600 MB in secondary storage (sounds on CD-ROM), etc.

(Jiri P, Czech Republic, Sep 7, 1999)
Question:
I upgraded my collection from SuperMemo 98 to SuperMemo 99 and encountered the following error: Collection file access error. Wrong A-Factor distribution
Answer:

Please run File : Repair collection with Basic recovery checked. There is a slight difference in interpretation of AFactors in SuperMemo 99. Basic recovery will reassign AFactors to new distribution categories which will solve the problem.


(Zoran Maximovic, Yugoslavia, Sep 24, 1999)
Question:
What is the recommended way to change the element to which new elements will be added as children in a category?
Answer:

  1. Use Search : Categories to open the category registry
  2. Select the category in question
  3. Click Hook (hook is the father of newly added elements in the category)
  4. Select a new hook in the contents window
  5. Click Accept in the contents window

(Vit Usela, Czech Republic, Nov 2, 1999)
Question:
I have separate collections for learning English, German and French. Won't merging these collections as advised in your FAQ not produce excessive confusion? What is the simplest way to merge?
Answer:

  1. If you use language labels to precede each question (e.g. Eng:, Ger:, Fr:) or use different-color templates, the interference is not likely to be greater than in the case when you keep the collections separate. On the other hand, you will gain the mental comfort of working with only one body of material. For example, many users notice that it is much easier to work with the awareness that there are yet 120 items to repeat rather than 50 items to repeat in the present collection and some more in other collections
  2. In SuperMemo 99 you can use branch learning to learn each branch separately
  3. To merge your collections do as follows:
    1. Choose the collection you put most effort into as the mother collection (this one will be used to inherit the learning statistics)
    2. Open the remaining collections one by one
    3. In each collection select the root element in the contents window (it is the element at the top of the knowledge tree)
    4. Choose Tools : Transfer branch on the contents pop-up menu
    5. Choose the mother collection as the target of the branch transfer
    6. Repeat steps 2-5 with all remaining collection

(Steven MacAulay, Austria, Nov 22, 1999)
Question:
All my pages in SuperMemo are grey, is there any way I can change the colour?
Answer:

Yes, please choose Color on the element pop-up menu. If you want to make this change permanent for all newly added items, press Ctrl+Alt+s (for Template : Save as default)


(John Meritt, UK, Nov 26, 1999)
Question:
How can I best learn spelling with  SuperMemo?
Answer:

You should create a template in which the answer will be a Spell-Pad (i.e. text input component). In the question part you should ask about the word that is to be spelled. Because many spelling problems come from the use of double letters (e.g. traveling vs. travelling), you do not need to define the word. It is enough you ask to choose a correct variant. For example, your question might look like this: traveling/travelling or better yet trave(l/ll)ing
It is very important to focus on one problem at a time. This is why instead of o(c/cc)a(s/ss)ion, you should create two items: 

  1. o(c/cc)asion
  2. occa(s/ss)ion

Occasionally, you can make an exception to this rule. For example, you might ask Mi(s/ss)i(s/ss)i(p/pp)i as a request to spell Mississippi. In this case, it is easy to remember that all questionable consonants in this word must appear in double. Once you realize that, you may never experience problems with recalling how to spell Mississippi


(Stefan Schenderlein, Germany, Dec 21, 1999)
Question:

SuperMemo tasklists order articles according to priority. The most practical approach I know is to distinguish between urgency and importance. Sometimes this is called the Eisenhower Principle. Stephen R. Covey has improved this method in his books "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" and "First Things First". To understand it, you can take a pencil and draw a vertical axis called importance. Then another called urgency. Now draw another two lines to distinguish between high and low in both directions. You will get four quadrants. Each has a specific meaning. (compare: www.franklincovey.com). The so-called quadrant B (highly important, less urgent) is of strategic importance. A (highly important, highly urgent) is vital. C are mostly routine tasks and are seen as less important but urgent. D can be forgotten. This is implemented in the Franklin Planner Software. Would it not be more practicable to apply similar principles in handling SuperMemo tasklists?
Answer:
Indeed the quadrant approach is very simple and convincing. However, we would like to promote the approach used in SuperMemo for two reasons:

  1. we believe that learning should always be based on importance. Indeed, SuperMemo by definition defies urgency as it emphasizes long-term learning. The truth is that pen and pencil will often work better than SuperMemo as a cramming tool for an urgent exam
  2. SuperMemo encapsulates the urgency as the function of importance in time! This should help understand the true meaning of urgency and eliminate it from the learning process (and not only)

SuperMemo introduces deadline functions to make tasklists adapt the sorting order to the changes of importance in time. For example, if you need to read an article before a meeting or exam that takes place on January 30, the priority assigned to reading this article will reach its maximum on January 29. If you pick the day on which the priority reaches 50% of its maximum value, you will be able to see how this article gradually climbs up the tasklist from day to day as the deadline approaches (there is no guarantee it would reach the top though). This deadline function illustrates how urgency influences importance. 
There are also other changes in importance possible, for example, if a task makes sense only after a given date, you can use the Post-Date function. On the other hand, if the value of a task gradually decreases in time, you can use Decline function, etc.
Deadline functions can help you keep your tasks sorted without paying much attention to deadlines, value decline, urgency, etc. and without compromising their impact at the same time


(John Daniel, USA, Dec 22, 1999)
Question:
Is it necessary to install Internet Explorer to use your help files off-line? 
Answer:
No. You can also use plain HTML help files. For this purpose you would need to do two things:

  1. copy the contents of www.supermemo.com/help/ folder to <SuperMemo folder>/help/help folder on your hard disk (for example, if your SuperMemo is located at d:\sm9\sm99.exe, you would copy www.supermemo.com/help/index.htm to d:\sm9\help\help\index.htm, etc.)
  2. select Tools : Options : SuperMemo : Help system : HTML Help

You could also copy other folders from www.supermemo.com and place them in <SuperMemo folder>/help/ to retain access to some auxiliary articles such as Six steps to excellent memory, Reading the Internet, etc.


(Prof. Chris Houser, Japan, March 16, 2000)
Question:

In reference to Hot to break free from work overload: It seems to me that the greatest difficulty in the presented approach is in assigning values. For example, in case of SuperMemo features, you could value each feature as the number of email messages requesting the feature. This is comfortingly exact. But it's wildly inaccurate! I believe that Time Management authors have recognized this difficulty of pinning down exact numbers, and so recommend the A B C prioritization scheme
Answer:
The process of assigning values becomes quick and intuitive with a dose of training. If it is not accurate, it is still more accurate than the A B C scheme. For example, in choosing the value of a given feature in SuperMemo, many criteria will be taken into account with the overall intent to maximize the benefit to the user. Very often, new features are introduced without customer requests (e.g. tasklists!). Others, despite significant customer pressure, will not be included (e.g. many repetition rescheduling options have been proposed and rejected due to their potentially harmful effects on the results in learning). An average man in the street often takes similar multicriterial decisions without much effort. For example, if you would like to take a week vacation on Hawaii, you will quickly make an overall valuation of benefits and reject offers that seem too pricey. Valuating tasks, with some training, is equally automatic and straightforward


(Przemek S, Poland, June 8, 2000)
Question:

I used to regularly back up my Advanced English on a second hard disk. Today I tried to restore my backup and ... it looks as it is empty! Only one element inside! Help!!!
Answer:

There is a frequent mistake users make. To backup a collection, you need to copy both the kno file and the associated folder (e.g. file ae.kno and the folder [ae])(see: Collection files). Some inexperienced users copy only the kno file which is just 20KB of data! If you try to open an orphaned kno file, SuperMemo will reconstruct an empty folder structure.

To avoid this problem: Always back up collections with File : Copy collection in SuperMemo. Do not use external tools unless you understand Windows, files, folders and SuperMemo very well!

To resolve the problem: it is possible the original folder associated with the kno file still exists on the hard disk! You can search for some files characteristic for SuperMemo (e.g. burden.dat or sm8opt.dat). Make an inventory of all kno files (search for *.kno) and all SuperMemo collection folders (search for burden.dat) on your hard disk. Once the inventory is made, try to carefully match up knos and folders and copy kno files to match the folders. Chances are that File : Open on one of these files will restore the lost backup. Note that you can easily find empty collections by checking the size of burden.dat. This file contains repetitions and is zero-sized on collections with no learning process


(Alex Lee, Canada, March 20, 2000)
Question:

How do I import gif or jpg files to SuperMemo?
Answer:
This is the simplest procedure:

  1. Choose File : Level : Middle (or Professional)
  2. Choose Edit : Add components : Image (alternatively use the compose toolbar)
  3. Right click the newly added image components, select Import file, and select the file you want to import

Press Ctrl+Alt+s if you would like to import more images using the same template


(Marcos Pereira Rufino, Brazil, July 14, 2000)
Question:

When I tried to restore my backup of the learning process in Advanced English, I get a number of error messages such as: Error decoding learning backup header and Error testing progress time. I cannot use File : Tools : Import : Learning process. How can I solve this problem?
Answer:

SuperMemo 99 contains a bug that makes it fail on some file operation if the target path is very long. Please copy your collection to a less deeply nested folder. This should resolve the problem. All users of SuperMemo 99 can receive a free update by writing to SuperMemoMail 


(Mark Wiatr, Canada, Apr 6, 2000)
Question:

When I use Reading : Queue cloze, SuperMemo ignores my current template and uses a yellow-background template instead. How can this be changed?
Answer:

The background color cannot be customized and is only used to signal unprocessed items that should be reworked (i.e. edited, moved to appropriate category, changed with a template, etc.).
There are two solutions here:

  1. Add an answer component to the element on which Queue cloze is used (this will make SuperMemo reuse this element's template in cloze deletions). Use Compose toolbar to add a text component and mark Answer on the component pop-up menu
  2. Use Template : Merge with template on the yellow-background element (Ctrl+Shift+M) as soon as you encounter it at repetitions (the yellow-background indicates the element may need some editing as it has been generated automatically)