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 Supe