FAQ: First steps with SuperMemo


SuperMemo FAQs use a couple of simple conventions that you may need to learn
(sanju, Apr 21, 2005, 00:53:41)
Question:
I got a response from you suggesting that I use Search : Search and Replace. What does it mean?
Answer:
Names separated by colons are used to indicate how to find an option on the menu. In this case, you need to click Search on the main menu and then click Search and Replace on the Search menu


You can start learning English with English SuperMemo even if your English is not very strong
(pro_hoziy, Russian Federation, Apr 07, 2005, 12:48:15)
Question:
Sorry for my English. I have studied it for a short while. I tried to understand how SuperMemo works but I could not do that. Please help
Answer:
This is how you can use SuperMemo to learn English (even if your English is not strong): 

  1. Add new word pairs with Alt+A (e.g. question in Russian, answer in English) 
  2. Everyday press Learn and answer all questions 
  3. Once you learn more English, explore other options in SuperMemo

You can edit elements during repetitions
(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 context menus available with a right button click over a given component


You can see what items will be repeated on a given day
(Matt Cassidy, New Zealand, Aug 18, 1997)
Question:
How to review elements to be repeated on a given day?
Answer:
Use Ctrl+W (Tools : Workload) and double-click the day of interest


You can easily delete an element
Question:

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


Proceed slowly to SuperMemo mastery
(Arthur Norsworthy, Saturday, September 11, 2004 2:37 AM)
Question:
I find SuperMemo a fascinating program but difficult to use beyond the simplest level. There are so many things I want to learn, but it takes too much time to figure out how to do anything
Answer:
Your opinion is not unique. Many users feel overwhelmed at the beginning. SuperMemo seems counter-intuitive in the way it approaches learning. However, the consensus seems to be, that the longer you persist with the program, the more satisfied you are likely to be. Two factors are vital in this process: 

  • finding simple ways for things that seem complex today (studying the documentation takes time but is a recommended investment) 
  • bridging the gap between what is intuitive and what SuperMemo recommends 

You could start with learning simple questions and answers for a couple of days to better understand the core learning process

Then you could slowly proceed with 25 Steps to SuperMemo Mastery 

It is important you do not hurry this process. Missed steps and gaps in understanding may lead to frustration, while meticulous study is bound to produce rich rewards in learning. The most rewarding part of SuperMemo is incremental reading. However, the mastery of this skill may take months to develop. If you persist in this process, your learning will never be the same


You can install an icon representing SuperMemo on your Windows desktop
(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. Do I get a nice icon on my desktop?
Answer:
If you installed manually (installer shall create icons for you), you can
add the desktop icon with File : Installation : Install icons. To begin your work with SuperMemo see: SuperMemo ABC


With SuperMemo you can tackle any exam
(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 is 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 Alt+A (i.e. Add new) you get the core 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. To learn more about effectively structuring knowledge in SuperMemo you might want to read 20 rules of formulating knowledge


You can search for substrings with Ctrl+F
Question:

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

Answer:
Press Ctrl+F and type in the string


You can edit the font used with your elements
(Joe Fosnot, USA, Nov 23, 1998)
Question:
How can I quickly increase the size of the font used in questions and answers?
Answer:
Here are some methods:

  1. Try Ctrl+] on the whole element
  2. To change the size of the font in a single component, select the text and press Ctrl+] (this will only work in richly formatted text components)
  3. To change the size of the font used when creating new plain text and RTF components, choose Tools : Options : Fonts : Question font and/or Answer font
  4. If you want to use different fonts in question and answer fields, use the Classic template. Use Text : Font : New font on a plain text component menu to define a new template font. See: Using templates

You can use View in the contents window to see an element in the element window
(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. If you select the Synchronize button at the top of the contents window (Edit toolbar), you should also be able to view elements with a single click


In SuperMemo, Memorized<>Remembered
(jj, UK, Sunday, December 24, 2000 1:54 AM)

Question:
I have noticed in the Statistics that the number of elements memorized increases even when I enter Fail when answering incorrectly. For instance, in the collection of US States Capitals, it was showing 100% memorized when I was still getting many of them wrong
Answer:
Parameter Memorized indicates the number of elements in the learning process; not the number of elements you are able to recall correctly. If you make regular repetitions in the long run (i.e. over weeks and months), the number of remembered elements can be estimated with Memorized*Retention


You can set question and answer fonts
(Paul R Taubr, Wed, May 22, 2002 0:41)
Question:
I try to create a default template which is just a font and font size (Arial 14) to use with all my items (questions and answers)
Answer:
This is the fastest way: 

  1. Add an item (Alt+A
  2. Choose Text : Font : Edit font on the component menu for both the question and the answer (right click)
  3. Use Template : Save as default (Ctrl+Alt+M) on the element menu

If you want to set the same font for all your items, choose Tools : Options : Fonts : Question font and/or Answer font


SuperMemo in other languages
(Nuno Freitas, Portugal, Thu, Jun 21, 2001 13:39)

Question:
I'm Portuguese and I'd like to learn English with SuperMemo. Are the words translated to Portuguese? If not, how can I learn?
Answer:
Collections in SuperMemo Library do not provide foreign language translations. You have only three options:

  1. Use English language collections
  2. Create your own learning material in Portuguese
  3. Use the translation mechanism in SuperMemo to translate the most difficult portions of English collections to Portuguese

List of shortcuts
(kensweet21, Nov 25, 2000)
Question:
Do you have a reference list of shortcuts?
Answer:
Yes. See: Keyboard shortcuts in SuperMemo


You can easily copy SuperMemo to a disc
(Jack B., Sun, Jun 24, 2001 2:20)
Question:
After getting the program downloaded, may I simply pay for a backup disc sent to me?
Answer:
You can create your own backup disc in a minute by simply copying the downloaded file onto a blank disc.

Refer to MS Windows help files for the basics of file copying


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


Use Element Parameters dialog box to view element's category
(Steve Brown, Tuesday, August 21, 2001 4:01 PM)
Question:
Is there a way to tell what category an element (e.g. Q/A pair) belongs to without going to other windows?
Answer:
The simplest way is to press Ctrl+Shift+P (Category combo in the Element Parameters dialog box). If you would like to quickly see the location of an element in the contents, choose Shift+Ctrl+X (Ancestors window)


If Add New does not create needed components, you can redefine the template
(noam-at, Israel, Aug 04, 2001)
Question:
When I click Add New, I get a new item, but SuperMemo doesn't create two editing fields for the question and answer. Instead, I see the gray screen of SuperMemo without any fields
Answer:
Add New
uses the default template to create new items. If you delete all components (e.g. question and answer fields) from the default template, Add New will add new elements that look empty. If you want to restore your question and answer components, you need to redefine the template. If you are not very fluent with templates, locate an element in your collection that looks ok and choose Template : Save as default (Ctrl+Alt+M) on the element menu. This will save the look of the selected element in the default template. Add New will then replicate this look


To check system integrity use File : Repair collection
(rocky eversman, Sunday, July 08, 2001 7:35 PM)
Question:
I encountered a message that stated there were problems terminating recent session and that I should use system recovery to check system integrity. How do I do it?
Answer:
Use File : Repair collection to verify collection integrity and repair file errors (if possible). Historically, this option has been called Recover, but users suggested a change to more meaningful Repair


You can join SuperMemo eGroup for community self-help
(Tami Laughlin, Monday, October 16, 2000 6:55 AM)
Question:
Other than reading the material and keeping at working with it, is there anything else you could suggest to learn it? Is there a discussion group somewhere maybe?
Answer:
Yahoo eGroup has been created for SuperMemo at: http://supermemopedia.com/wiki/What_happened_to_SuperMemo_Yahoo_Group%3F 


We no longer produce printed manuals
(
Neville Bailey, Australia, Dec 5, 1998)

Question:
I have previously used SuperMemo 6 and SuperMemo 7. There was always a printable manual file with the software. I cannot find anything like that on your website. Is there a manual to download or order?
Answer:
No. As of 1997, all our documentation is provided as hypertext that does not have a structure that can be printed and/or processed linearly (i.e. page by page). We are proud to adopt the environmentally-friendly electronic publishing.

Last but not least, we believe that the only rational and effective way of reading and learning is: incremental reading. Incremental reading requires that your learning material be submitted in electronic form


Add New and Learn stand for 90% of value of SuperMemo for most people
(Tosh B., Saturday, August 04, 2001 10:50 PM)
Question:
I am unable to see any collection. Although I can access the 2 dialog boxes for the Add New question-answer formats, I can not do much more
Answer:
Once you are able to create questions and answers with Add New, all you have to do to begin your work with SuperMemo is to click Learn. You have to do it regularly. Preferably once per day, until you see the message: "Nothing more to learn". Then you can add more questions and answers. Remember that you will not experience the benefits of SuperMemo earlier than in 1-2 weeks. As the first optimum intervals in learning last up to a week, your first week will bring no better results than traditional learning. The power of spaced repetition will show and increase in weeks, months and years. If you want to use more advanced functions of SuperMemo, you can later venture into this Guide. In addition, do not miss the concept of incremental reading


You can easily install SuperMemo on two PCs
(Steve Brown, Wed, Aug 15, 2001 14:00)
Question:
I just recently purchased SuperMemo and have successfully downloaded to my home PC. I would also like to load it on my work PC. How can I get another download going?
Answer:
You can simply copy the downloaded file onto a disc or USB drive and transfer it to another PC. Please note that it is not easy to synchronize large collections. The simplest method is to use File : Copy collection and copy entire collections between the two PCs


Good answers should be scored Pass or higher
(
Frank Gaval, USA, Oct 16, 2000)

Question:
What is the meaning of grade buttons: Bright, Good, Pass, Fail, etc.
Answer:

Bright, Good and Pass are used to indicate that you remember. Fail or less indicates forgetting.
For more details, pause the mouse button over each button. For more details see: Repetitions in SuperMemo


Writing advanced collections is easy!
(Boris Milikic, Slovenia, Nov 27, 1999)
Question:
Is there a quick guide to building collections such as Advanced English? I have the knowledge tree and the contents on paper
Answer:

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

  1. How to build a knowledge tree in the contents window. You will need to understand operations such as Add, Insert, etc. and how to modify the tree with drag&drop operations. See: Building knowledge tree
  2. How to fill out elements with components, and how to modify component attributes with component menu and element attributes with element menu. See: Using templates

You can change the size of the question and answer windows
Question:
How can I change the position of the question field on the screen?
Answer:
Alt-click the question twice. It will become draggable. Alternatively, you can choose Mode : Dragging mode on the question's menu or Components : Mode : Dragging mode on the element menu (in the latter case, all components will become draggable). If your element uses a template, this change will be global. See: Using templates


You can add chemical formulas to SuperMemo
(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 copy your ChemDraw formulas to the clipboard in the picture format and just paste them to your elements (e.g. with Ctrl+V). You can also try to use OLE components to keep your formulas in SuperMemo. This way, you will be able to modify the formulas with ChemDraw from within SuperMemo.
Use image components (the first method) if you do not need to modify the formulas (simplicity, disk space, etc.). Use OLE components, if you constantly need to rework your formulas


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


Memorized material always comes back for repetition
(Leitnick, David, Monday, December 17, 2001 10:56 PM)
Question:
I created my first list of 100 peg words in a file I call "Mnemonics". I scored Bright or Good on everything until I got to the end of the list. It's been 2 weeks and SuperMemo never gave me a review for that file when I select it. Shouldn't I still be prompted for a review at some point in time?
Answer:
You should have already been prompted for review. It is not enough to open your Mnemonics collection. You need to choose Learn to execute repetitions. Use Tools : Workload (Ctrl+W) to see on which date the repetitions have been scheduled. Make sure you do not manipulate the date in the computer, do not input "dummy" grades and do not trick SuperMemo in any other way to overestimate your memory


You can use categories to influence where new elements are added with Add new
(R.K., Sun, Jun 17, 2001 17:54)
Question:
I would expect SuperMemo to add a new item as a straight neighbor of the previously added element in the contents window. Why isn't it so?
Answer:
Selection in the contents window is too transient to be the basis of choosing the insertion point for new material. This would require constant user attention as to the present selection. As a remedy, the concept of a category has been introduced. Each category, such as biology or geography, has its own insertion point called a hook. Now, all you have to do is to select a category, and Add new will add new elements to that category. Added elements will be listed sequentially as neighbors


Keep your collections in one piece
(
David Mckenzie, New Zealand, Apr 8, 1998)

Question:
Is there any point in keeping collections separate?
Answer:

No. Once you master categoriestemplates and Postpone, 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: SuperMemo Algorithm). 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


You can check the element number with Ctrl+G
(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 or look at the caption of the element data window


Swapping the question with the answer
(Eric Chen, Japan, Thu, Jun 21, 2001 12:09)

Question:
I would like to swap questions with answers during learning. The closest hint I found in your website is to create a duplicate and then swap the components. But this would require me to do this duplicate-and-swap procedure for each item, which seems to take a lot of time and labor (not to mention that the knowledge base would be doubled in size).
Answer:
Duplicate-and-swap approach is indeed the recommended solution here. These are two keystrokes that should take much less time than the time needed to recall individual pairs over months. Moreover, pure word-pair solution rarely works (there are various one-to-many semantic associations between words which should be reflected in the question, e.g. via contextual examples). Each decision related to the swap and reformulating the question and/or the answer should be conscious, deliberate, and will pay in the long run. As for doubling the size, pure swap does not duplicate the texts. Only when you reformulate the question, the unique texts will be stored separately


Collections self-restore
(
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 creates an empty new collection of the same name. This is why it is more convenient to delete collections from within SuperMemo


You can see the function of menu items by enabling hints and the status bar
(Glണia, Brazil, Monday, July 16, 2001 9:04 PM)
Question:
How can you see the function of a given menu item in SuperMemo? I want to see its description on the status bar
Answer:
You must select Window : Hints to enable displaying hints and select Window : Status bar to make sure the status bar is shown


If you paste an image, image component size will be adjusted (#5767)
(Patrik Nilsson, Monday, July 16, 2001 3:36 PM)
Question:
How can I simplify the following sequence: 1) Create an image component 2) Paste a picture (from the clipboard) 3) Make the picture the answer 4) Stretch the image or move the sides of the rectangle to adjust the size
Answer:
Instead of creating the image component, paste the picture. This way you will save on creating the component and adjusting its size. All you will need to do is to select Answer and moving the component to the desired location


SuperMemo does not interrupt learning new material (#8121)
(Leitnick, David, Monday, December 17, 2001 10:56 PM)
Question:
I downloaded the GRE vocabulary off of the freeware section of your site. It was overloading me with information, like it was going to show me all 1,000+ words before it stopped. I was getting information overload
Answer:
In SuperMemo you need to distinguish two phases: 1. Learning new material 2. Reviewing old material. SuperMemo will schedule repetitions of the old material for you. However, it is up to you to decide how much new material you want to learn. It all depends on your time or patience. Once your time is up, you feel tired, or you predict you will not be able to cope with future repetitions, you can stop learning. SuperMemo will not interrupt learning new material


Upgrading SuperMemo is easy
(tdepoty, Mon, May 20, 2002 23:01)
Question:
Can I upgrade to SuperMemo 2000-15 and still retain all the items I have stored in SuperMemo 99?
Answer:
Yes. Choose File : Open collection and the upgrade will be executed automatically. The upgrade is irreversible. If you want to go back to SuperMemo 99, you will need to create a backup beforehand


You should never manually modify files or folders created by SuperMemo
(Jean Adelia R, Tuesday, February 19, 2002 2:49 AM)
Question:
I have just accidentally deleted all the info I put into your program - hours of work. Here is how it happened. Your program put icons on my desktop for Bins and Systems. To unclutter my desktop I put them all in one folder in my desktop along with other info I downloaded on how to use this software. However, after awhile new bins and systems folders appeared on my desktop. When I moved those to the same folder all my work vanished
Answer:
You should not move or delete files handled by software applications unless with a clear understanding of their function!
This rule is universal and applies not only to SuperMemo. If you move files in Windows folders, you can crash the whole system. Most applications use various DLL, INI or data files that will render software unusable if you move them out of the designed locations. Similarly, if you move MS Word data folder with your documents, your data will appear lost once you try File : Open. The same happened in your case. You moved data away from SuperMemo's view. Your learning material should still be visible in the SYSTEMS folder you have moved. Before you restore it though, please read: How to backup your learning material. This is to make sure you do not miss files or folders that SuperMemo will later try to recreate adding to confusion


You can search a given branch
(T. Moore, Oct 03, 2001)
Question:
How can I search for some text in a single branch?
Answer:
Select this branch in the contents window and choose Ctrl+F


You cannot use the same collection with two instances of SuperMemo
(Herman Van Cauwelaert, Belgium, 16/05/2002 23:03:52)
Question:
SuperMemo has just displayed the following error: 
"Access denied! 
System locked by another SuperMemo: 
c:\sm2000\systems\003 spieren.Kno
"
Answer:
This is a harmless warning which indicates that you could not open your "003 spieren" collection due to the fact that another copy of SuperMemo has already opened the same collection. One collection cannot be used by two instances of SuperMemo (even if they are running on different computers)


You can start your learning all over again
(tdepoty, Mon, May 20, 2002 23:01)
Question:
I stopped using SuperMemo a few months ago. How can I now reset the program to start again at the beginning with the items I already have created
Answer:
Choose File : Tools : Reset collection (you may need to choose File : Level : Professional first)


Plain text and font size
(Jan Gorski, Poland, Thu, May 23, 2002 16:20)
Question:
Converting to plain text has some bad side effect: the text is made very small
Answer:
You need to set Tools : Options : Fonts : Question font and Answer font to adjust the size of font in components that do not define their own font. If you disallow font changes to HTML components in Options, you can change the default size of the font as used by Internet Explorer


In reporting problems, please list the error messages you receive
(maura trevino, Mexico, Sunday, October 28, 2001 1:03 AM )
Question:
SuperMemo does not work. I try to install on a new laptop and it does not work
Answer:
It is very important you include the error messages or other symptoms that could help diagnose the problem. It is also important to indicate which stages have been successful (order, download, unzipping, running the exe file, etc.). Please send as detailed a description as possible. You do not need to use technical terminology but details are vital for diagnosis


Your backup strategy will depend on the value of your material
(Don Frankel, Sunday, October 07, 2001 8:05 PM)
Question:
Do you recommend several collection backups on the C:\ drive in different directories?
Answer:
It depends on the value of your material. If you have invested a lot of time in your collection, you should spare no effort to provide multiple and versatile backups. For example, for your main body of knowledge, you could do a daily backup on your hard disk. You could also change your backup drive if you have more than one physical disk to reduce the likelihood of disaster in case your hard drive fails. Then you should do some less frequent backups on other computers via the network, on a CDR drive, or at some Internet location. If neither is an option, you should seriously consider investing in a backup device (e.g. a ZIP drive). Once you lose your learning material, your learning investment will be eaten away quickly by the power of forgetting. Backups in different directories are not much safer than backups to the same directory unless the directory in question is in danger of being accidentally deleted (e.g. on a family computer)


If you learn vocabulary, adding your own material may be a good strategy
(Ricardo Romero dominicana, Venezuela, Sunday, June 02, 2002 6:36 PM)
Question:
I wish to use SuperMemo to expand vocabulary. Do I need additional moduli to accomplish this?
Answer:
No. Your best strategy might be to manually add the vocabulary you want to remember.


You can paste Chinese pictures with Shift+Ins
(Leitnick, David, Fri, Dec 07, 2001 1:51 AM)
Question:
I've found a good Chinese/English dictionary at http://www.ok88.com/go/svc/ecdict.html. It displays the Chinese characters as .gif pictures. How do I paste these pictures to SuperMemo
Answer:
First copy the picture to the clipboard. Then you paste it with Shift+Ins or with Ctrl+V. Be sure that no text component is in the editing mode. That would attempt to paste text. If you are not sure what editing mode is, simply press Esc 2-3 times (this will take you to the display mode)


Stop button is equivalent to Esc
(Leitnick, David, Monday, December 17, 2001 10:56 PM)
Question:
What does the Stop button do? And when do I use it?
Answer:
You can use Stop to stop repetitions. You rarely need to use Stop as you can achieve a similar effect by quitting SuperMemo or simply navigating to another element. Stop will complete the repetition cycle of the currently executed element. In addition, it will ask you if you will like to proceed with the final drill if there are any elements in the final drill queue. Stop is equivalent to using Esc


Feedback from users is vital to improving the documentation
(Safecity Training Academy, Australia, Sat, Dec 29, 2001 5:59 PM)
Question:
SuperMemo documentation needs to be better organized. Even a simple feature such as changing the default background colour is still a mystery after reading volumes and volumes of explanations which lead to more explanations and no solution at all
Answer:

  1. Such documentation holes can only be fixed if we receive feedback from customers. Changing the background color is not part of the step-by-step guide as this derives from the understanding of context menus which are documented on their own as a separate conceptual step (see: element menu). To remedy this difficulty, you would need to describe where and how you searched for the answer and where you would expect to find help. However, the degree of hyperlinking between individual documents and the number of "side notes" and explanation is so confusing for precisely that reason: trying to patch all individual "search path holes" of individuals customers trying to find individual pieces of information. This is a universal problem typical of all extensive pieces of documentation. It seems to grow endlessly 
  2. You can change the background color by choosing Color on the element menu (right click over the element area)

Answer should only show at answer time
(Raquel Keshishian, Uruguay, Thu, Jun 20, 2002 8:52)
Question:
I created three categories with my first template. When I choose Learn, I can see two components (question and answer) at the same time
Answer:
Please check two things: 

  1. if your answer component has Answer checked on its menu (without it it is not treated as an answer)
  2. if your element is indeed an item instead of a topic (topics are not graded and do not show answers)

Community forum for support questions
(Jon Lawrance, Mon, Jun 17, 2002 19:47)
Question:
How about a forum? It is much better for support questions and lets me read the support issues others are facing
Answer:
A user from Germany has set up a Yahoo eGroup that might serve this function. See also: SuperMemopedia


Introducing equations to SuperMemo
(Adam Kumiszcza, Sat, Jun 08, 2002 20:40)
Question:
I am preparing for an exam and produce lots of SuperMemo elements with many equations. The problem is I don't know how to introduce them efficiently to SuperMemo
Answer:
The fastest and most popular method is: 

  1. prepare your equations in a tool of your choice 
  2. copy the equation as a bitmapped image to the clipboard 
  3. paste it to your elements with Shift+Ins (or Ctrl+V

Other alternatives: OLE (not very stable), HTML (limited formatting), LaTEX notation (text only), binary component (any file format visible on button click).


You can easily move collections between computers
(JaM, USA Educational, Monday, January 21, 2002 4:33 AM)
Question:
It appears that SuperMemo uses various absolute links. For example, in the collection.ini file: 
Image=C:\MY DOCUMENTS\JAM\SM2000\SYSTEMS\WORK\temp\
 
Does it mean that my collection will malfunction if I move it to another computer?
Answer:
No. The path you quote is the default image import path. If you try to import an image on the new computer, SuperMemo will notice that this path does not exist and substitute the default directory path instead. It will act similarly in many other cases. However, you may experience some problems with external links from SuperMemo to other files. For example: 

  • if you use a CD-ROM as your secondary storage, you may need to change the secondary storage letter in Options
  • if you use Link external to save space, you will need to transfer external files with the collection or internalize them with registry Internalize. Otherwise, these external files will become unavailable (e.g. images will become empty, etc.) 
  • if you use links from within HTML files, scripts, etc. they also can get broken 

Using external link is rare, complex, and is generally not recommended. With typical use of SuperMemo, all it takes to move your collections between computers is to copy them with File : Copy collection (or manually). The same refers to SuperMemo itself. You can copy SM15.exe to another computer and it should work fine


You can easily see the number of outstanding repetitions
(Verona, Brazil, Tue, May 29, 2001 16:33)
Question:
How can I see the number of outstanding repetitions for today?
Answer:
You can see the number of outstanding repetitions on the status bar (second field). If the status bar is not visible, check Window : Status bar. Alternatively, you can press F5 to display the Statistics window. You can also open this window and save it permanently in your layout with Ctrl+Shift+F5. If you would like to see repetitions scheduled for other days, choose Tools : Workload (or press Ctrl+W)


You decide how many items to learn from a given branch or category
(Fernando Chapa, Sunday, September 01, 2002 1:12 AM)
Question:
I currently switched from supermemo.net to SuperMemo for Windows. In supermemo.net, you can control how many items are introduced per day from each category. How do I do this in SuperMemo for Windows?
Answer:
There is no such automatic option in SuperMemo for Windows. You can only select a given category, learn as many items as you feel you need, then select another category and learn as much as need and so on. You can also use subset operations to construct a repetition queue that will dish the material from different branches in your chosen proportions


You can drill yourself on a subset of elements
(Michael Passmore, Canada, Thursday, September 19, 2002 12:15 AM)
Question:
Is there a possibility in SuperMemo to drill myself on a subset of elements from my collection?
Answer:
Yes. Open the subset in a browser and select one of the following:

  • Process browser : Learning : Learn - to review only the elements that are scheduled for repetition today
  • Process browser : Learning : Review - to review all elements in the subset (except those already reviewed today)

You can merge two or more collections into one body of knowledge
(Joanna Symonowicz, Poland, Monday, September 30, 2002 12:04 AM)
Question:
I have just purchased the Quotations, Quips, & Proverbs collection. How could I import it to my master collection?
Answer:
Open your new collection and use File : Merge collection to merge it with your main collection


You can learn elements that belong to a given branch or category
(Magdalena R., Poland, Friday, October 04, 2002 11:37 AM)
Question:
I have recently purchased Advanced English. I am mostly interested in business English. How could I learn the vocabulary related to business?
Answer:
In Advanced English, all specialist terminology is organized in categories. The category for business English is called Business and Economics. If you would like to learn from this category, do what follows:

  1. Press the Contents button in the element window (or press Alt+C)
  2. Expand Advanced English 2002, Advanced English, Economics, Law, and Political Sciences categories in turn
  3. Select the Business and Economics category
  4. Press the Learn button at the bottom of the contents window (the second from the left)

Hints option must be checked for hints to be displayed (#310)
(Malcolm Macgregor, Saturday, October 05, 2002 7:24 PM)
Question:
I have turned on the status bar, however, no hints are displayed no matter which button or menu item I select?
Answer:
Check if Window : Hints is checked. 

Alternatively, you could also check if the Hints checkbox on the Actions toolbar is checked (you can access the Actions toolbar by selecting Window : Toolbars : Actions from the main menu)


Many options are not available in the Basic and Beginner difficulty levels
(sargeguy, Sunday, October 06, 2002 4:20 AM)
Question:
I have been advised to access the Options dialog box via Tools : Options. However, there is no Tools menu in my version of the software. Do I need a different copy of the program?
Answer:
No. You are probably in the Basic or Beginner difficulty level where the Tools menu is not available. You can switch to another level with File : Level


Increasing search speed
(Richard King, Nov 06, 2002)
Question:
My collection is 500MB text and it used to be searched in a second. Recently it takes 2 minutes! Repair does not help. Is it related to SuperMemo. Have I passed any magic limit?
Answer:
You could begin with defragmenting your hard disk (it helps in most cases). See also if you have not reduced the size of virtual memory or other important Windows parameters. See the list of processes in Windows Task Manager to make sure no stealth process is slowing down your computer (e.g. a virus or spyware). If it used to take 1 second to search 500 MB of text, it should roughly take 2 seconds to search 1 GB. There is nothing in SuperMemo that could slow it down with size. The problem must be with your Windows


Adding components of various type
(Michael Smith, Canada, Tue, Jun 04, 2002 21:09)
Question:
Is there any tutorial on how to produce different types of components (e.g. graphics, etc.)
Answer:
All components are added in the same way (by using the Compose toolbar). They also use a uniform set of properties available with the right click over the component. Once you learn to add one type of components, it is easy to add other types


All versions of SuperMemo are suitable for learning vocabulary
(EDGAR QUEVEDO, Colombia, Sun, Jun 30, 2002 3:29)
Question:
I have Advanced English. I want to be able to create my own vocabulary data base to study French. What SuperMemo product would you advise me to get for this purpose?
Answer:
All versions of SuperMemo should work well for the purpose of building your own vocabulary and/or grammar material. Once you start learning, see the limitations of your present version (SuperMemo 8) to consider an upgrade (or platform change). It may appear that your present SuperMemo will entirely meet your needs


Global Search and Replace
(mikecondron, Friday, July 26, 2002 7:13 PM)
Question:
Is there a way to do a global search/replace text?
Answer:
Do the following: 

  1. search for strings with Ctrl+S (Search : Find texts)
  2. replace strings with Ctrl+R (Search and replace : Find and replace on the registry menu)

Backing up on CDR
(Dave, Saturday, July 13, 2002 9:40 PM)
Question:
I need to know how to backup SuperMemo 15 on a CDR. Is it difficult?
Answer:
It is enough you back up the file you download from the Internet. The hardest part is handling CDR software itself. If you lose your file, you can always download again from supermemo.com. It is more important (and slightly more complex) to back up your learning material. Here are the instructions: Backup


Incremental reading tools provide for fastest conversion of electronic material to learning material (#11772)
(Robert Bailey, Wednesday, July 10, 2002 6:27 PM)
Question:
I have several word lists and databases to memorize. Can I convert these to SuperMemo learning material?
Answer:
Yes. Paste it with Ctrl+Alt+N, use Extract (Alt+X) to extract individual pieces of information, and use Cloze to generate questions and answer (Alt+Z). See also: Incremental reading 

You may also convert your material to a question-answer format importable directly to SuperMemo; however, once you try extract and cloze tools, you will know that this is the most efficient method in which you learn while processing and prioritizing your file


Incremental reading may be a remedy against the monotony of repetitions
(Roel Camorro, Philippines, Tuesday, June 18, 2002 3:54 PM)
Question:
SuperMemo has helped me a lot in systematically memorizing definitions in my legal studies. But can we find a way to make it more attractive say, by adding more graphics, etc?
Answer:
If you have not tried incremental reading yet, you could try and see if this can add to "attractiveness". Incremental reading is by far more challenging and colorful than typical repetitions. Naturally, you can also import there graphic rich material to make learning more enjoyable


There is no point at which an item is memorized "for good" (#16401)
(Desmond Sin, SatMar1,2003 11:10 am)
Question:
If you answer Bright every time, after how many repetitions and what period of time will that question be dismissed?
Answer:
Elements are never dismissed automatically! Memories are always subject to forgetting. The more repetitions you make, the slower the forgetting process (for well-formulated knowledge). However, forgetting never stops. Theoretically, you might dismiss an element if you are sure you will die before the next repetition. SuperMemo will always schedule the next repetition, even if the interval is to grow beyond several decades. You can use Dismiss for the following purposes:

  • Removing parenting articles from incremental reading while keeping them as reference 
  • Keeping searchable archive of knowledge that became outdated 
  • Converting topics to tasks (e.g. for prioritized entry into incremental reading), etc.

Remember button is grayed on memorized items (#18384)
(pulpdoctor2000, TueAug12,2003 5:31 pm)
Question:
After I press Alt+A to add an item, the Remember button is grayed out. Why?
Answer:
As of SuperMemo 2002, SuperMemo for Windows automatically introduces newly added items into the learning process. This change comes from the fact that incremental reading makes the concept of the pending queue outdated for collections created by the user. Prioritization tools provided by incremental reading are far superior to the simple first-come-first-served mechanism of the pending queue. Pending queue is still useful in large ready-made collections (e.g. Advanced English), where it determines the optimum sequence for memorizing the learning material. Technically speaking, the button Remember is enabled only if the following three conditions are all true:

  1. current element is not memorized (i.e. is pending or dismissed) 
  2. the collection is not in the read-only mode (full-access is the default mode) 
  3. current element is not the root element (i.e. Element #1) 

See Tools : Workload (or Ctrl+W) to inspect the schedule of repetitions and thus verify that the said elements are indeed memorized. See also: SuperMemo ABC


Why does not SuperMemo stop asking questions?
(Robyn, May 27, 2004, 09:21:35)
Question:
I bought Basic Spanish. SuperMemo is just firing question after question. How does one just work with 10 questions until they are mastered? The software seems to want to go through the entire list before anything is reviewed, clearly impossible
Answer:
If you want to master only 10 questions at a time, stop repetitions after the 10th question. Optimally, you will not review these questions for some time (e.g. 3-4 days). When the time comes, these questions will be presented for review. In the meantime, SuperMemo is trying to fill up your free time by introducing more material into the process. It is up to you to decide how much you are ready to take on


Where are those advanced menu options?
(Serguei Koureda, Sunday, October 20, 2002 11:08 PM)
Question:
Why is there no option Categories in Search menu?
Answer:
You need to be in Professional level (File : Level) and you need full access on (Tools : Options : Access). If you use different levels and mode settings, some menu options may be turned off


Certain shortcuts do not work in the editing mode
(JP, Monday, December 02, 2002 9:32 PM)
Question:
The Ctrl+Alt+C shortcut key responsible for selecting a category from the category combo box available in the Tools toolbar doesn't work when I review elements, which use HTML components.
Answer:
The shortcut key will work once you exit the editing mode (e.g. by pressing Esc)


Learning a subset of knowledge
(Wladimir Nossel, Thursday, April 04, 2002 11:04 PM)
Question:
I would like to tell SuperMemo that currently, I need to be tested only on countries whose language is Spanish
Answer:
If you do not have relevant elements stored in the same branch or category, you can best use unique string labeling for such purposes. For example, precede your questions with "Lang: Spanish". You will then be able to use search combined with subset learning: Ctrl+F (search for "Lang: Spanish") and Ctrl+Alt+L (Learn the browser subset)


Problems with shortcuts in HTML component
(MM, Netherlands, 10-07-2002)
Question:
I use Language "Nederlands" with some words on the navigation toolbar such as Next = &Volgende and Search = &Zoeken. Editing text in a HTML-component is problematic. When I want to type a "z" the search window appears. When I want to type a "v" SuperMemo shows the next element
Answer:
This problem occurs mostly in some older Windows installation. Updating to the newest Internet Explorer is likely to resolve this problem. If it does not help, however, you may need to remove the shortcuts from interface translations (&Volgende would become Volgende). You can change translations in Tools : Options : Language

Advanced: This problem comes from an incompatibility in Microsoft's WebBrowser control and Borland Delphi VCL component model. SuperMemo goes around this incompatibility, but the workaround does not work with some earlier WebBrowser controls


Cannot use File : Merge collection
(Robyn, Monday, May 24, 2004 2:25 PM)
Question:
I have two collections: ABC and the Most Common Spanish Verbs. I would like to merge these into one large collection. Unfortunately the Merge collection option does not appear under the File menu
Answer:
There may be two reasons for which Merge collection does not appear on the File menu: 

  1. You are using an older version of SuperMemo
  2. You are using a level lower than Middle (use File : Level : Middle or File : Level : Professional)

It is possible to import formatted questions and answers
(johndouglas2005, MonJan26,2004 11:03 am)
Question:
Is it possible to import formatted Q and A files? I want to prepare some formatted questions that use bold type or underlined words or maybe even different colored words
Answer:
Yes. You can use HTML in your Q&A text file. You could also use the XML format to produce formatted material importable to SuperMemo. However, the simplest and fastest method is to write the whole formatted text into a single file, paste it into a single topic (e.g. with Ctrl+Alt+N) and then process it easily with incremental reading (Alt+X and Alt+Z)


In SuperMemo "registry" is used to mean a collection of objects
(JTP, May 31, 2004, 05:04:00)
Question:
I receive various registry errors. It is not a surprise to find that the registry files are missing. We have had issues with Trojans and spyware and such. Removing these things sometimes requires changes to the registry. We launch the regedit command and voila! - the computer develops bugs
Answer:
It is important to note that SuperMemo has always used the term "registry" to mean a "collection of objects" (such as pictures, texts, sounds, etc.). The confusion with Windows registry began when Microsoft launched Windows 95. Editing Windows registry is not likely to affect SuperMemo, unless you introduce systemwide errors/problems. However, viruses can indeed inflict damage that can result in loss of files. SuperMemo registry files are kept in each collection's individual folder in the subfolder named "registry". If by any means these files are deleted, emptied, corrupted and/or locked, you can receive "missing registry files" errors


You may find SuperMemo counterintuitive
(R, May 27, 2004, 09:21:35)
Question:
I am supposed to drill earlier elements before adding new ones. Why do new ones keep coming up first? I find this program very awkward and counterintuitive
Answer:
The goal of SuperMemo is to provide a requested retention at minimum time. This goes against a widespread myth that the more you repeat, the better. When you first start learning with SuperMemo, you may be surprised that it waits a couple days before it starts drilling you on the newly added items. However, this is exactly the shortest path to your retention targets. It is no surprise that for many, SuperMemo seems counterintuitive at first. The only thing you can do is to grit your teeth and trust the science behind SuperMemo

Some reading that may help:


Use the HTML component to paste text with embedded images
(schmera, Tuesday, November 12, 2002 4:49 PM)
Question:
How can I paste text with embedded pictures into my SuperMemo element?
Answer:
Use the HTML component for this purpose


Change functionality level to see more advanced options
(Donald Summerton, South Africa, Monday, December 09, 2002 8:27 PM)
Question:
My first impression upon running SuperMemo for the first time is that it seems to be incomplete as I can only get the screen which has the File in the main menu, the Contents, Search, etc. buttons at the top and the Learn and Add new buttons at the bottom of the window. I am sure that there must be more to it than this single screen. What has gone wrong?
Answer:
You are right that SuperMemo offers more than meets the eye at the first. SuperMemo implements four difficulty levels: Beginner, Basic, Middle, and Professional, each displaying a different range of options. What you see is the Beginner level, which is the default difficulty level at the first start-up of the program. To change difficulty level, choose File : Level


You can check the version number of your SuperMemo
(nleric2002, Sweden, Wednesday, December 11, 2002 2:54 PM)
Question:
How can I check which version of SuperMemo I am running?
Answer:
Choose Help : About from the main menu. In the Build field can you check the version number of the program, while the Date field shows the day, on which this version was released. Change File : Level to higher if you do not see Help menu


You can easily copy the learning material for someone else to use it (#12270)
(Veli-Matti Salo, Finland, Monday, August 05, 2002 8:05 AM)
Question:
I bought Basic Spanish. I would like to know is it possible to divide it so that two persons can use it independently. My wife would like to give it a try too
Answer:
All you need to do is to copy your collection (File : Copy collection) and give it a new name (e.g. Wife.kno). If you have already started learning in Spanish.kno, you should yet reset the Wife.kno copy with File : Tools : Reset collection to remove your learning process from Wife.kno.
If you want to log in as a separate user and never see your wife's collection, you can copy the entire SuperMemo folder (instead of just a collection). Once you have separate shortcuts to separate installations on your Windows desktop, you will never need to see your wife's copy and vice versa. You will, naturally, lose 5MB of disk space though on duplicating SuperMemo folders


Swapping questions with answers
(Perseus Missirlis, Canada, Sunday, August 04, 2002 3:08 AM)
Question:
How do I swap questions and answers?
Answer:
Use Edit : Swap Q&A on the element menu (Ctrl+Shift+S)


What if a shortcut does not work?
(KH, Thursday, August 22, 2002 6:58 AM)
Question:
I wanted to add an e-mail to my collection but the shortcut Ctrl+Alt+E does not work!
Answer:
Please check if you do not define this same shortcut in Windows (it will take precedence over SuperMemo).


You can easily paste pictures to an element
(Fl, Sep 27, 2004, 06:09:04)
Question:
I do not like that it takes many keystrokes to add an image to the registry and create an HTML link to it in a component
Answer:
If you copy a picture to the clipboard, it should take only one keystroke to paste it: Ctrl+V or Shift+Ins. This will add the picture to the image registry, create a new image component, link the new component with the picture in the registry and size the component to match the size of the picture. If you happen to be editing HTML, SuperMemo will yet ask you if you would like to (1) paste to HTML as a local image or (2) paste to an image component (as described above)


You can easily increase the size of fonts
(Robert B, Oct 04, 2004, 10:30:34)
Question:
Is it possible to go to a larger font size with the click of a button?
Answer:
Yes. You can click the font size button on the Format toolbar, or just use the standard Ctrl+] shortcut from the keyboard. If you are using HTML, remember to first select the text that is to be enlarged (otherwise the entire text will be affected)


Can SuperMemo Guide be improved?
(fdobfan, Oct 05, 2004, 18:53:32)
Question:
SuperMemo Guide seems more like an FAQ. After all, you wouldn't care about backup if you weren't shown a first round of typical usage
Answer:
The Guide is prioritized on the basis of user feedback. If you believe it should be re-ordered, please write. 

As for this particular suggestion, note that the first step of the guide informs the users that Add New and Learn make up most of the value of SuperMemo for most of users. It is vital we insist on regular backup as early as possible in the guide. There were many stories of users adding thousands of questions and answers with Add New, and losing it all due to a virus or another mishap


You will start making repetitions only after a few days
(Uyen Trinh, Wednesday, October 23, 2002 11:34 AM)
Question:
I tried using Add New and Learn. After a few times of repetition, I got the message "Nothing more to learn"
Answer:
That is correct. SuperMemo will schedule your first repetitions in a few days. Only then you will be able to review this material with Learn. Until that time, SuperMemo assumes that you stand a 95% chance of correctly recalling this material. For that reason, it will not bother you with questions. Naturally, in the very beginning, SuperMemo does not know you well and may schedule repetitions in intervals that are too long. That will change. All you need now is some patience for SuperMemo to get to know you. Before your first repetitions come, you can invest your time in adding more material with Add New


Changing background color
(Rorce Lam, Canada, Tuesday, July 27, 2004 11:05 PM)
Question:
Where can I find the command to change the background color?
Answer:
To change the color of the element background use Color on the element menu. To change the color of the SuperMemo background use Window : Layout : Background color on the main menu (for this to work, Window : Background must be checked)


Trouble with terminology, e.g. What is a subset?
(Wayne, Oct 28, 2005, 10:01:16)
Question:
When transferring material between SuperMemo 15 and Pocket PC, I am supposed to use a subset of elements. I have no idea what a "subset" is. I am not a computer wizard
Answer:
A subset is any set of elements in SuperMemo (e.g. your biology material, your most difficult material, your top priority material, or all elements containing the word "virus"). Unfortunately, some functions of SuperMemo work only with subsets (e.g. for performance reasons, they are not practical for large collections). Whenever you encounter a difficult term, you can refer to SuperMemo glossary or to explanatory links. Initially, you may do more link traversal than learning; however, in the end, your investment will pay back. SuperMemo can be used in the ABC mode and learned in a couple of minutes. However, to fully utilize its potential, you will need a few months of practise and study. If you discover particularly difficult paragraphs in the documentation, please write back to suggest improvements


Optimally, you should keep your knowledge in one collection
(Uyen Trinh, Wednesday, October 23, 2002 11:34 AM)
Question:
Before I add new material, do I need to create my own collection?
Answer:
Optimally, you should use only one collection. Beginners might try a few collections for experimental purposes. By default, you will start with ABC.kno collection. It is recommended that you go through this material and add new material to this same collection. However, you can also start a new collection with File : New collection, and focus 100% of material you create for yourself


Reviewing a category
(Dariusz Murakowski, Jan 20, 2006, 03:38:38)
Question:
What's the most efficient way of reviewing a category (e.g. before an exam)?
Answer:

  1. go to the category root (in the contents or element window) 
  2. open the category in the browser (e.g. View : Branch from the contents menu) 
  3. choose Learning : Review all on the subset processing menu

SuperMemo decides which material you learn first
(Jorge Sanchez, Aug 16, 2005, 02:23:54)
Question:
I added new learning material with Alt+A. I also used ALT+Z to do cloze deletions. But when I press Ctrl+L to start the repetitions, I go to the old material instead of the new one. How I can select the text I need to do repetitions?
Answer:
SuperMemo determines the order of learning by choosing first the material that is most likely to be forgotten. In a basic learning mode, it is SuperMemo, not you, who decides what to learn next. However, you can override this process by using subset learning (e.g. when reviewing a portion of material before an exam). For example, you can search for "calculus" with Ctrl+F and then press Ctrl+Alt+L in the browser. This way you will repeat only the outstanding material in the subject of calculus


Circular terminology used to explain SuperMemo
(Elizabeth C. Brown, gru 17, 2005, 08:15:00)
Question:
The help starts to use the lingo of SuperMemo right away without clearly explaining it, and the definitions of terms are very circular
Answer:
Except for some computer-related terminology (e.g. child, sibling, tree), SuperMemo introduces a body of terms that may seem intimidating at first, but soon becomes familiar. You can best use the Glossary for reference. This will help you discover that only a fraction of listed terms are in frequent use. Circularity is always a problem when describing new concepts. This is why in many dictionaries proteins are defined as a string of amino acids, and amino acids as a constituent part of proteins. Only with your help we can resolve such circularities. If you encounter a term that is not defined in the Glossary or whose definition is circular, please forward it via e-mail with an explanation of what caused the difficulty


Merging collections
(Robyn, Jul 09, 2004, 12:50:31)
Question:
I have two collections for learning Spanish. How do I merge these into one collection?
Answer:

  1. Open the first collection with File : Open collection 
  2. Select the second collection with File : Merge collection 
  3. If SuperMemo asks any questions, press Enter to provide the default answer

Adding sounds to sound components
(Arthur Norsworthy, Monday, September 06, 2004 5:33 AM)
Question:
I would like to add sound to the flashcards. I can get the sound component recording box on the screen but I do not know how to add sound
Answer:
The simplest method is to right-click over the sound component and choose Import file (to import a wav or mp3 or midi file). If the sound component is active (e.g. being edited), it is enough you press Ctrl+Q. If you do not care much about the quality of recordings, you could also switch to Sound : Panel : Recorder and click the microphone icon to start recording your own sound (e.g. from a microphone, DVD, sound playing in Sound Recorder, etc.). The click the microphone again to stop recording. To read more about the function of individual menu items in the sound component, read the list of functions available from the component menu


You can use pictures as answers
(Joan Mayberry, Sep 15, 2004, 04:39:28)
Question:
I have been trying to import images into the answer portion of SuperMemo from my scanner without success
Answer:
Here is the procedure: 

  1. Copy the picture to the clipboard 
  2. Paste it to SuperMemo with Ctrl+V or Shift+Ins (do not paste to HTML if SuperMemo gives you such an option)
  3. Check Answer on the image component menu

You can use SuperMemo on the same computer with your kids
(C Andress, Sep 17, 2004, 08:50:14)
Question:
Is it possible to set up SuperMemo for family use, so that it can be used by more than one person? Our family has only one computer
Answer:
Yes. It is enough you create separate learning collections for everyone with File : New collection. You can then create collections named SON.KNO, DAD.KNO, MIKE.KNO, etc. Everyone needs to begin the day with File : Open collection and with choosing his or her own learning material. Be sure you regularly backup all learning data. Apart from rudimentary password protection, you cannot prevent your kids deleting your or everyone's learning material


You can change grade names
(R., Geoffrey K., USA Government, Nov 07, 2006, 18:59:12)
Question:
How can I change the names of grade buttons?
Answer:
Use Tools : Options : Language : Localization language to create a new localization table (e.g. type 'My grades'). Then click the Localization table button, scroll down to grade names and type new names on the right side (in the Translation column)


You can use incremental reading to employ SuperMemo to learn about SuperMemo
(nibalart, Italy, Oct 13, 2004, 22:25:44)
Question:
How to include the help file in SuperMemo and apply to it incremental reading?
Answer:
You could follow this path: 

  1. read carefully the incremental reading article (you cannot employ incremental reading before understanding it) 
  2. open SuperMemo Guide
  3. select the guide text using the mouse from the first paragraph to the last paragraph (do not include the header tables to make the handling of the text easier in incremental reading)
  4. copy the selected guide text to the clipboard (e.g. with Ctrl+C in Internet Explorer) 
  5. paste the guide to SuperMemo (e.g. with Ctrl+Alt+N in SuperMemo) 
  6. employ incremental reading to proceed slowly through the content of the guide text
  7. open and import individual help sections using Open in new window on the HTML component menu

SuperMemo Help does not provide many "How to" techniques (#1851)
(Florian, Sep 27, 2004, 06:09:04)
Question:
Documentation tends to involve detailed programmatic instruction, rather than having the form of "how do I do X" where X is some desired result, followed by detailed instructions
Answer:
SuperMemo for Windows is a relatively complex application where the same thing can be done in a number of ways. The documentation focuses on the tools and actions executed by the tools. Indeed, rarely does it specify step-by-step instructions for accomplishing individual goals. These are left largely to user's inventiveness. The number of possible multi-step sequences is simply too large to document. However, each time a problem arises, we try to enrich FAQs that are jam-packed with specific how-to questions. In the long-term, FAQs influence the documentation in that apart from the description of an action associated with a given option, you will also see a couple of examples of where a given option appears useful. If you believe, a very valuable set of simple steps is difficult to "assemble", you may suggest expanding the Hints&Tips page


Add, Insert and Add New play vitally different functions (#1986)
(Joe C., Friday, October 01, 2004 2:26 PM)
Question:
Why are there Add, Insert and Add New buttons?
Answer:
You will most often use Add New to add many new items to the current category. Add and Insert in the contents window are used far less often. You use them at times when you want to add elements to a specific location in the knowledge tree (i.e. not to the default attachment point, or hook, of the current category). Add adds an element as a child of the selected element, while Insert replaces the selected element. These two operations make it possible to build a complete tree without ever using drag&drop. Without Insert, you could only build the tree if you added all elements in the appropriate order, or if you used drag&drop to reshuffle the elements in the tree


How to create a cloze deletion? (#17942)
(Robyn T., Feb 12, 2008, 15:59:54)
Question:
How do I do cloze deletion on a sentence I type in as a question? I get the word I want to delete highlighted in orange and then I'm stuck. I am not doing incremental reading yet
Answer:
Cloze deletion options convert a sentence into a question-answer pair. This is why you need to start with a sentence (which in SuperMemo must be a topic), not with a question (which in SuperMemo is an item). For example, instead of typing in your sentence after Alt+A (which is used to add items), type it after Alt+N (which is used to add topics). Once you have a sentence typed in, select the keyword and press Alt+Z.

Even though you say you "do not do incremental reading", cloze deletions are part of the incremental reading toolkit, and are best discussed in articles related to incremental reading. Technically, you are using a subset of incremental reading.


Can SuperMemo reduce comprehension?
(Ricardo Gonzalez, Jul 21, 2010, 01:56:25)
Question:
I would like to ask you about something that has worried me since I learned about SuperMemo. If one starts using supermemo and storing information on long term memory, is it possible to lose some of the ability to comprehend? In other words, is there a tradeoff between remember information and comprehension? If you become better at remembering information, will you become worse off at comprehending? I was raised with the belief that I should try to memorize as little as possible, and comprehend most if not all the time except for math tables obviously
Answer:
You should rephrase your comprehension rule from "memorize as little as possible" to "memorize as little as necessary". It is a well known fact that if you understand you learning material well, you will expend less energy on learning it. If you do not know Chinese, it is very hard to memorize a poem in Chinese. The same poem in English may be learned in no time. The reason is that in case of the Chinese poem you need to cram it character by character, including the character structure. In English, you store in memory references to ready-made concepts or entire phrases. After rephrasing your rule, and making sure you understand before you memorize, your comprehension is likely to increase, not drop. For example, if you learn geology, and learn the concepts such as plate tectonics, seismology, fossil, silica, Cambrian, sediment, etc., you will find it easier to read texts in the subject. The key is to build on the basics, and not start cramming complex concepts before it is absolutely necessary. This reassurance should not serve as a warranty. It is still your responsibility to choose your material wisely and formulate it well for long-term learning. It is still possible to waste time with SuperMemo by cramming unnecessary stuff. Needless to say, wasting time will negatively affect the comprehension of things you will not have time to study.


You can drag an element and drop it in between the branches of the tree
(Gussy Villa-Real, Monday, November 01, 2010 18:38)
Question:
There is an option missing in SuperMemo: Modifying the tree using drag&drop operations: Replace target. In this mode, if you drag a branch onto another branch, the dragged branch will replace the target branch and the target branch will move one position down
Answer:
Instead of dropping the element onto a branch, you can achieve the above effect by dragging an element and dropping it in between the branches of the tree


Using SuperMemo once per week will also work nice
(marjur, Wed, 2 May 2012 18:56:53 -0700 (PDT))
Question:
My friend is thinking of using SuperMemo to study. However, due to her work, she says she will only be able to use SM 3-4 days a week. Given this sporadic use, will it still be beneficial for her to use SuperMemo, or is it a waste of time? We're asking because we've read in many places that SM's algorithm is quite sensitive and it's generally harmful when one doesn't do repetitions every day. How harmful for the effectiveness of SM's algorithm would a 3-or-4-day-per-week working schedule be?


Answer:
There are no negative consequences to using SuperMemo once per week only other than less learning. Even older algorithms are pretty resistant to such minor delays in executing repetitions. If the delays exceed the length of the first optimum interval, it may take a bit longer for items to pass that initial barrier to learning. However, delays provide an additional challenge to memory, which may also be beneficial. If you find old FAQs or articles that contradict this statement, please point them out so that they could be clarified.

For someone who can learn only on weekends, using the priority queue, auto-sort and auto-postpone would be recommended to better manage the flow of knowledge in conditions of minor investment of time. The results should still be excellent.


You should keep all your lifetime knowledge in a single collection.
(joao eira, Sat, 2 Jun 2012 19:17:06 +0100)
Question:
Is it better to have multiple collections (1 per discipline) or to have it all in one place?
Answer:
You will get much better results if you keep all knowledge in a single collection. If you learn different branches at the same time, learning will be more fun, your attention will improve, you will better see the priority of individual pieces of knowledge in the whole body of knowledge. You can still keep different subjects in different branches and process these separately in need (e.g. doing subset review, subset prioritization, pre-exam cramming, etc.). Naturally, you can have many collections dedicated to various purposes, e.g. photo album, music collection, experimental collections, tasklists, mail collection, research collections, creativity collections, video collection, project collections, etc. However, for your long-term knowledge you should rather keep all material in one place, easily searchable and easy to prioritize. If you are a beginner, you can experiment with various collections and various learning strategies. You can later merge your experimental collections into a single body of knowledge.


SuperMemo uses sleep cycles to time the review
(gmail, Jan 12, 2011, 16:01:46)
Question:
I like Supermemo very much, but there is one thing I'm missing in it. The learning period in supermemo is 24 hours and can not be changed. I would like to have a learning cycle for example 5 hours long, after each 5 hours supermemo would set all the values as if new day had begun. I know that is doesn't mean much programming for you, and this little change would radically help me in intensive learning for university exams
Answer:
SuperMemo uses days as the minimum unit to express inter-repetition intervals. The main biological reason for this is that our circadian cycle is roughly 24 hours long and we express one long period of sleep in the cycle. Reviewing the same material twice within the same waking period is wasteful. It might be useful in cramming before exams (and you can use some options in SuperMemo to enable this in emergency). However, for long-term learning, you will gain most by reviewing items not more often than once per day. Doing more reviews invokes the spacing effect that wastes time and undermines long term stability of memories.

1.3.21