FAQ: Archive 2009-2011

You need Internet Explorer 6.0
(Beta, Oli, Feb 13, 2002)
Ctrl+Alt+N results in: Access violation at address 0062ee8f in module 'sm2002.exe'. Read of address 000000305
This is a typical problem with HTML templates if you are using an older version of Internet Explorer. To use HTML-based incremental reading, you need to install Internet Explorer 6.0 (free). Alternatively, you could reverse your default reading template to use RTF components, but this will throw your SM2002 functionality back to SM2000 level

Core XML exchange serves only inter-platform communication
(Edele'nyi Gyula, Hungary, Aug 02, 2004, 01:00:14)
I imported some formatted Word docs into SuperMemo, then exported as XML. Then tried to import it as XML into another collection. The simple Q&A XML export-import worked, but the Word docs hadn't come back well
SuperMemo 2004 through 2008 implements only Core XML data. The core specification was intended for data exchange between various SuperMemos. Only SuperMemo for Windows uses non-folder topics and incremental reading. For this reason, topic articles are not part of Core XML. Use XML to exchange data between platforms. To exchange data between collections created with SuperMemo for Windows, you can still use the old text transfer methods (e.g. Export : Transfer elements in the browser)

What is the quantity discount on Advanced English 97 CD-ROMs?

The pricing is as follows:

2 pairs $40
3-5 pairs $35
6-9 pairs $30
10-49 pairs $25
50-99 pairs $20
100 pairs and more $15

Internationalization support for SuperMemo is limited
(Eli Liang, Russian Federation, Fri, Sep 21, 2001 9:20)
How can I use Cyrillic letters in SuperMemo in File name input dialog?
SuperMemo is best adapted for English Windows and for European languages. Support for translation of the interface and the learning material is limited. In particular, only the Beginner and Basic level interfaces are translatable. The file dialog interface cannot be customized. It is therefore recommended that you use Latin alphabet for naming your collections

No minimize button
(Tomas K, Czech Republic, 3.5. 2002)
There is no button to minimize the whole SuperMemo application. There was such a button in SuperMemo 2000
You will need to use right-click and Minimize to minimize the application with the docking toolbar on

Technical details: This strange feature comes from a series of window style dependencies in SuperMemo. What seems like a simple collection of windows in SuperMemo is actually a far going compromise resolving a number of border style, parenthood, ownership, window style and Z-order conflicts. These conflicts have been magnified by the use of the web browser Active X which is notoriously badly behaved when encapsulated as a Delphi component (see: source code). To improve the "behavior" of other windows, for reasons too complex for a simple FAQ, the main docking toolbar had to be changed to bsSizeToolWin border style. This style precludes the minimize button. This painful compromise allowed of resolving a number of other issues pestering SuperMemo

Ctrl+Alt shortcut problem
(RD, beta, Poland, 02-03-12 11:59:18)
SuperMemo seems not to see the difference between Alt Gr (right Alt) and Ctrl+Alt, which makes it difficult to enter Polish "a" and "e"
This is a problem that affects many Windows applications (not only SuperMemo). SuperMemo solves this by switching off offending shortcuts with Tools : Options : SuperMemo : Trim Shortcuts. It is also possible to enter these diacritical characters by pressing ~a or ~e in a sequence

Keyboard use is optimized for English
(Michal Szklanowski, Poland, Monday, January 20, 2003 12:43 PM)
When I use Trim Shortcuts option, SuperMemo is unfriendly for keyboard freaks, because you don't have shortcuts to Add new or Learn. Why did you choose Alt keys instead of good old Ctrl keys, which work for all keyboard layouts?
The shortcut table is quite crowded. For that reasons, it is optimized for mnemonic use with a bias towards English. As Ctrl+Alt combinations misbehave in some localized versions of Windows, the option Trim Shortcuts is vital for those who need to use AltGr in their local language. The shortcut Ctrl+A was voted out by users of SuperMemo who prefer to use it for standard Select All in texts. However, you can still use Ctrl+L to execute Learn. In most context, Enter will also execute Learn. With SuperMemo 2002, the emphasis shifts from adding your own items to incremental reading. This means that instead of using Add new, you will rather paste texts to SuperMemo and process then with incremental reading tools

Use Postpone to Recover from a weekend
(Bohdan Vanek, Czech Republic, Friday, August 09, 2002 1:04 PM)
I almost never run the program on the weekends. This causes accumulation of repetitions not only for Monday but for succeeding days as well
This would work best in your case: 

  1. On Monday randomize repetitions with Learn : Random : Randomize repetitions (Ctrl+Shift+F11
  2. Once you run out of time on Monday (i.e. before completing outstanding repetitions), execute Postpone 

You can adjust Postpone parameters to minimize damage to most important branches of knowledge, and to ensure that repetitions do not get predominantly scheduled on Tuesday or Wednesday

Postpone can be executed after a break from learning (#2112)
(Dustin Darcy, USA Educational, Sunday, October 10, 2004 8:03 AM)
If I disappear for a month, because I'm busy working on a project that demands 24/7 attention I'm not going home to run SuperMemo to key in postpone dates
Once you resume learning, you can execute a single Postpone on all the outstanding material. Depending on the postpone parameters, you may not even need Mercy to re-portion the material. A heavy Postpone, will disperse the outstanding material well into the future in a single step

Skipping days on which you do not have time for learning
(Bohdan Vanek, Czech Republic, Friday, August 09, 2002 1:04 PM)
Is it possible to make such settings in SuperMemo that the program will automatically skip given days in the learning plan?
No. However, for all purposes, rescheduling tools will do the trick for you. You may use Postpone if you want to delay lower priority material after a break. You may also use Mercy to spread the outstanding material over a couple of days, or if you want to execute repetitions in advance of a break

You can use Mercy in the future to review material before an exam (#7004)
(Dimi Linde, Thursday, September 20, 2001 6:46 PM)
I have a test next week and I want to maximize the retention. All my outstanding items have been repeated. What can I do more?
Use Tools : Mercy and check Consider future repetitions. Then collect all material from as far into the future as you wish. You will be able to schedule all these repetitions for today. Unfortunately, due to the spacing effect and the nature of the spaced repetition algorithm, SuperMemo will not return the length of your interval to previous values after the repetitions are done successfully. Consequently, you will increase your retention for the exam but will also have more work with the same material in the future

Using time-stamped quick backup files may result in confusion
(Daniel McCarthy, Apr 20, 2004, 20:28:03)
When I try to do a Quick back-up, I am given the following: 
   Error! Window: Invalid Destination: Error #206, 
  Path: C:\SM2002\systems\back-up\FRENCH (2004-03-30 21-01-13)... 
and 9 more brackets that seem to represent each of the times I have backed up the collection
When you execute a Quick Backup, SuperMemo creates a copy of your collection and adds a time-stamp to its name. You should continue using your original collection and come back to backup files only in emergency. Instead, you seem to use the backup instead of the original. If you backup the backup, a new time stamp will be added and the filename will get progressively longer. When the filename reaches beyond the legal limit, you will receive an error. In your case, you should always use the collection named French. It is also recommended that you periodically copy 2-3 backup files to a CDR. You could then delete backup files from the hard disk to avoid confusion and save space. Remember to use File : Delete collection in SuperMemo to avoid mistakenly deleting files used by your original collection

Learning Japanese or Hebrew
(Guy Z, Israel, Saturday, November 09, 2002 10:20 AM)
I'm using a plain text component. I've set the font script to Japanese or Hebrew. Whatever I type now shows in English. Even when I paste some Japanese text I get question marks instead.
Plain text component is limited in the way it displays fonts (e.g. displaying ASCII beyond #128 as question marks). You could better use HTML components for the same purpose. You could also use a dedicated font (e.g. such as the one included in Hiragana/Katakana collections)

You can easily search for Unicode texts in HTML
(Danielle Kugler, Saturday, October 02, 2004 7:10 AM)
I use Search : Find Unicode (actually the bottom OEM dialog) to search for Chinese characters. Is there any way for me to make this the default search method? (i.e. so I don't have to go find it in the menu every time)
Find Unicode
cannot be made default, but you can access it very fast with Alt+S and U. With regular use, you will hardly see any difference in access speed

Captions cannot use a customized font
(Adam, Australia, Mon, May 14, 2001 4:04)

I noticed that when I use a pinyin font (romanized Chinese) it is not recognized in the element title. It shows ASCII codes in place of special characters
It is not possible the change Windows system font used in captions programmatically. You can either ignore caption titles (they do not take part in the learning process) or use an appropriate national version of Windows.
For SuperMemo to utilize the appropriate font, you have to choose it for display in Contents (use Font on the contents menu). SuperMemo will use this font throughout wherever applicable

OLE components do not work well in Scaled elements
(Leitnick, David, Thu, Dec 27, 2001 18:27)
I want to put Chinese characters in the question box. I've put the characters in MS Word and tried adding them via OLE. But the OLE objects get hidden behind the question and answer boxes. When I hit Learn button the question and answer boxes get resized so they are huge
You can try one of the following: 

  1. Turn off the Scaled attribute on the element menu. Depending on the application, OLE component may wrongly interpret its own coordinates in the Scaled mode. Unchecking Scaled makes sure the component does not try to recalculate its size 
  2. Use image components to represent Chinese texts. This is the best method if you do not need to reedit these texts. With GIF or JPG compression, you do not need to worry much about the size of your collection 
  3. Use HTML components with any HTML editor

Searching for Japanese characters
(Chakravarty, Apr 21, 2005, 00:53:41)
I am not able to find Japanese words in my elements
Try using Search : Find Unicode to enter Japanese texts. This option is helpful for texts using Unicode or OEM encoding

You can learn English in your own language (e.g. Japanese)
(Tomoki Takahashi, Japan, Feb 6, 1999)
I would like to learn English with questions asked in Japanese. How can I do it?
You might want to (1) create your own template with the Japanese font in the question field (you can use Text : Font : New Font to change the question font in the template), (2) save the template with Template : Save as default.
After this, each time you choose Add new (or press Alt+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 Q&A).
You can also 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.

SuperMemo will support Unicode
(Marek Minakowski, Poland, Monday, July 16, 2001 6:44 PM)
Do you plan to introduce Unicode support?
SuperMemo 2008 provides Unicode support via HTML components. Some elements of the interface though, cannot display the full Unicode range. Nevertheless, HTML is sufficient to use Unicode in learning  

You can add sounds to your items
(Ron Uebel, Feb 7, 2001)
I just need to know how to paste a wav or audio file as an item. And when I paste it into an item at the top, I want to add text as an answer at the bottom

Try the following:

  1. Add a new item (e.g. Alt+A
  2. Create an audio component by using the Compose toolbar
  3. Use Ctrl+Q to import an audio file (unless the file is already in the sound registry)
  4. Right click on the sound component and choose Play at from the menu to change the behavior of the sound component
  5. Create a text component by using the Compose toolbar
  6. Type in the text in the text component
  7. Right click on the text component and check Answer on the menu

See also: Using templates (there is a predefined Sound template in the template registry)

Swapping question and answer in many elements
(Beta, Tuesday, February 12, 2002 2:55 PM)
You advice to use Duplicate and Swap Q&A on elements to swap questions with answers; however, I have 5000 elements to change
Unless you are authoring a collection for others, in which case, you might resolve to more complex operation on collection's text source, you should note that the cost of Duplicate and Swap Q&A on individual items is negligible if you are trying to learn these items at the same time. You can do those two key-press combinations in parallel with registering the new reverse-order question-answer memory. In addition, it is a rare case where you can do the swap without any editing of the learning material (e.g. as in context-less one-to-one word-pair conversions)

Registries can hold only one member with a given name
(Patrik Nilsson, Friday, November 30, 2001 7:35 PM)
When using search and replace in the text registry browser, errors occur when replacing a text with a text that already exists in the registry. The error is not displayed immediately but when repairing the collection. The duplicated items are replaced and the first character is always "#"
This is a design problem. All registries, except the translation registry, consider two entries with the same name as error. However, duplicates are not made unique when discovered. Instead, they are marked with # on registry rebuild. This makes it easy to locate elements containing the offending members and take appropriate action. On one hand you can rename these member in the registry (e.g. ;'#Clinton' to '#Bill Clinton'). On the other, you can go to elements using member texts and change those texts in the element. If the name is changed back to the offending duplicate (e.g. '#Clinton' to 'Clinton'), the offending member will be deleted and replaced with the original 'Clinton' member. Note that this change must be made inside any text component (i.e. not within the text registry)

In some cases, detach template will not restore the original element
(M.-L. Li , Taiwan, 2003/2/27 05:40:09)
Sometimes Detach template does not work as expected. After detaching a template, my Chinese words became random codes
Unfortunately, there is an exception where Detach template will not work as an ideal Undo. If you apply HTML template to RTF code, the only way for SuperMemo to retain the formatting of the text is to convert RTF text to the HTML format. This operation is irreversible by design (as HTML is the preferred future format for SuperMemo). Once you detach HTML template from RTF texts, RTF components will be unable to use HTML codes of the file, and will pull plain text from the registry. This will help you restore the text as long as your language is English. However, for Asian languages, plain text is useless and you are stuck with the HTML template. Detach template will simply not work

Installing fonts and keyboards specific to a given language
(Mark, Poland, Mar 16, 2001)
How can I use Polish fonts and keyboard in SuperMemo?
To use Polish fonts in SuperMemo:

  1. Install multi-language support in Windows
  2. Install support for Central and Eastern Europe
  3. Install appropriate keyboard (Polish in your case)
  4. For convenience, in your default template use plain-text components and link the appropriate font, for example, Times New Roman with Script set to Central European

Do not forget to set Script to Central European. If you cannot do that, you have to install support for Central and Eastern Europe. If you can already use Polish fonts, for example, in MS Word, you don't need to execute steps 1-3.

You can set a global font size for Japanese
(Alex Quinn, USA Educational, Jul 22, 2005, 13:23:21)
I want to learn Japanese characters. I don't want to have to set the font size for every card individually
Your strategy will depend on the way you create your collection (cf. Using fonts): 

  • if you use plain text components with OEM fonts, use plain text templates to easily change the font; you can also change the font size once the collection is ready 
  • if you type in your texts in HTML, use Tools : Options : Fonts : Question/Answer font, to set the startup font for HTML components (remember to check Use question and answer fonts in HTML in the same dialog box); once you set a font in HTML, you cannot change it globally (unless with search&replace tools operating on HTML files in the ELEMENTS subfolder) 
  • if you use incremental reading, set the correct font size in the entire source article; once you split your text into extracts and clozes, you will not be able to change the font globally

(Jiri P., Czech Republic, Saturday, January 13, 2001 8:38 PM)
In Task Manager : Processes, my Windows NT shows that SuperMemo uses 11MB memory when Advanced English is opened. However, my Actions toolbar shows only 4MB
Memory used on the Actions toolbar shows the amount of memory dynamically allocated by SuperMemo. As Advanced English includes 40,000 elements, this allocation is quite high (around 3.5-4 MB). This number does not include the memory used by the program, its static variables, etc.

Rich text components need special steps to be printed
(Ronn, Tuesday, August 28, 2001 4:26 AM)
I have been trying to print out the questions and answer element. I click on print and all I get is a blank sheet of paper
Rich text components do not get printed along the element content. You can work around this problem in the following ways: 

1. Copying questions and answers via clipboard (e.g. Ctrl+C

2. Using plain text components instead of rich text components (e.g. apply Classic template

All this trouble results from a bug in Delphi VCL library (SuperMemo development tool) that fails to print RTF texts on form printouts

UsedInterval<1 at GetRepetitionData message may be a result of a bug
(Jiri Pik, 12/19/2001 8:07:02 PM)
SuperMemo has just displayed the following error: "UsedInterval<1 at GetRepetitionData[1]"
There were three similar reports. This is probably a still existing bug in SuperMemo 2002. It would occur if you managed to execute the repetition of the same element twice on the same day. It could have resulted from an earlier bug in Topic-Item conversion where you could begin the repetition cycle of an element which was an item, execute the item-2-topic conversion in the middle of the cycle, and complete the repetition with an element already being a topic. Luckily, there is a trap set against this bug that sets UsedInterval back to one. There were a number of changes around this code that could result in this bug being resolved in future releases. The problem is still being studied

Use Esc if the picture does not paste
(George Wu, USA, Dec 2, 2000)
I tried to import an image to SuperMemo. I copied the image, opened SuperMemo, clicked on the answer field, and pressed Shift+Ins but nothing happened
When you click on the answer field, the answer component will become active and ready for editing (editing mode). Shift+Ins will be interpreted as pasting to this component (most likely a rich text component). Unfortunately, rich-text in SuperMemo can only paste text. However, if you press Esc once or twice, you will switch the text component back to display mode. After that, Shift+Ins will be sent to the element window instead and you will be able to paste the image (new image component will be created if you have not added any)

Repetitions do not get mixed randomly
(Beta, Mon, Feb 25, 2002 19:59)
When I click Learn, it appears that SuperMemo always shows me my articles for incremental reading before showing any questions for active recall. I thought that SuperMemo should mix up questions and articles
Reshuffling elements takes time. This is why currently, you need to manually request a reshuffle; e.g. with Learn : Random : Randomize repetitions (Ctrl+Shift+F11) or with Mercy (randomize criterion). Otherwise, you will get short interval elements first. This may give some preference to topics with low A-Factors. Items may quickly reach longer intervals

Marking extract with source references
(Beta, 2/27/02 10:33:56 PM)
How does reference tracking work?
Choose options from the Reference menu in the source article to tag the title, author, date, etc. Those tags will then propagate at the bottom of each extract and cloze. Use Ctrl+Shift+F3 to quickly see the reference in longer extracts. Click reference hyperlinks (only in HTML articles) to go to the source or parent elements

Wikipedia is an excellent source of materials for SuperMemo
(Michael D. Butler, Tuesday, August 09, 2005 6:33 AM)
How can I effectively import articles from Wikipedia to SuperMemo 2004?
To make your life with Wikipedia easy, you will need to learn three simple tricks:

  • never import the  junk on the left of the article (i.e. logo, navigation data, search box, etc.)
  • filter the tables to work around the bugs in Internet Explorer
  • illustrate articles with pictures and references to contextualize all extracts and clozes

See an exemplary procedure below to import material on Martin Luther. All the procedure may seem complex but with practice you will be able to repeat it all in 30-45 seconds, which is a tiny fraction of work needed to process the entire article.


  1. Open the article from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther in Internet Explorer
  2. Select the article in two steps:
    1. click on the point just before the title "Martin Luther"
    2. click on the point before the last section that you care to import (e.g. External links, Bibliography, or See also)
  3. Copy the article to the clipboard (Ctrl+C)
  4. In SuperMemo, paste the article with Ctrl+Alt+N (or click the paste button on the element window toolbar)
  5. Optionally, to illustrate all extracts with a picture of Martin Luther, press Ctrl+F8 (Download Images), check the "Martin Luther" picture, click Download, click Import 
  6. Optionally, to prevent the decomposing of the table data, check for valuable data in the form of tables and extract them into separate articles (e.g. with select and Ctrl+X)
  7. Filter out the HTML junk: press F6 (Edit : Filter), check Flat tables, and press Enter
  8. To edit the article, click it or press E, Q, or Ctrl+E
  9. Optionally rename the title "Martin Luther" to "Martin Luther (1483-1546)" for better time-frame reference
  10. Optionally, mark the title as the reference title: select the title text (e.g. "Martin Luther (1483-1546)"), and press Alt+T. This marks the title as reference and makes it propagate to all extracts
  11. Optionally, select "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia", Alt+Q, Source, OK (to point to Wikipedia as the source of the article). Note that all Wikipedia articles are easily identifiable by their hyperlinks (e.g. move the mouse over the hyperlink and check its address on the status bar)
  12. Optionally, type in the date, select it, press Alt+Q, choose Date, and OK. This will mark the date reference of the article (the date can always be inspected with Repetition History, Ctrl+Shift+H)

see also: SuperMemo Wiki about Import from Wikipedia

How to eliminate colors in incremental reading? (#17508)
(Luke Gordon, South Africa, Jan 12, 2008, 16:45:09)
When I am in the learn mode, I have the questions that I prepared with cloze deletions appear with the answer highlighted in brown. A while later, the real question with the word required (not shown) in yellow is there. There are also times when a blank page comes up and you have to give an answer and then have to rate your answer
Colors in incremental reading are very important for processing the texts. You might remove them by modifying your default stylesheets, but it is not recommended. Incremental reading without section coloring is practically impossible. If colors bother you in items that have already been finished, you can:

  • use Ctrl+Shift+F12 to convert HTML to plain text
  • use Ctrl+Shift+1 to de-HTML-ize selected portions of the text
  • use a plain text template that replaces all formatting with a single color and a single font
  • apply a final item HTML template that uses your own stylesheet that tones down or removes the colors
Blank pages in your collection are likely produced as a result of not filling out empty pages with content (e.g. Alt+A that is not followed with typing in the question and the answer). You can delete them with Del (be sure they do not have any children, or use Done instead of Delete: Ctrl+Shift+Enter)