I have been using Anki for YEARS and I have compiled a series of not-so-well-known Anki tips and tricks that have helped me get the most out of this program.
Anki is a powerful and versatile spaced repetition software that has helped many learners improve their memory retention and knowledge acquisition.
However many of Anki’s capabilities are not immediately obvious or require some level of experience to unlock their full potential. In this article, I will share some well-known and not-so-well-known Anki tips and tricks that have been compiled by me, a long-time user of the program.
Whether you are a newcomer to Anki or a seasoned user looking to improve your workflow, these tips are sure to help you get the most out of this powerful learning tool.
Let’s get into some of these Anki techniques.
1. Add Context to Your Cards
One super helpful Anki tip is to add some context to your cards.
When you create cards directly from your material sometimes the cards can feel a bit disconnected from the bigger picture. In other words, when actually doing these cards, you feel like you don’t know how the information fits in or where it came from. This is a big issue with Anki, but one small way to address it is by adding some context to your cards.
You can do this by adding a screenshot of the material you used to create the card. Some cards have additional fields for contextual information.
Here are some card types with additional fields that you can use like this:
- Cloze cards have the field “extra”
- Image occlusion cards “sources” and many “extra” fields.
These are the field most Anki users will be able to use out of the gate. But, you can also add fields to other cards.
How to add an extra field to any Anki card
For instance, you can add a field to a basic card. To do this, click add → select “fields” → hit “add” → type in “context” → click “ok”.
Now you can see that I have this context field added to my basic cards. In this field, you can put a lot of other information that will help you keep the big picture in mind. You could simply add an additional explanation.
But you could also list out a series of other relevant ideas and explain how they relate to this card to yourself when you do the card. I love this technique because it incorporates some higher-level learning into Anki beyond just basic retrieval.
That’s the basics of adding context to your Anki cards. But I have a whole other tip that is related to adding context to your cards coming up. It’s about creating cards that are related to each other around a larger topic.
2. Create Overlapping Anki Cards
In order to really maximize your coverage of a topic within Anki it’s best to create cards that overlap on the same topic. This allows you to study a topic from many angles.
You can do this by taking a key term from a textbook chapter and creating cards that cover different aspects of it.
To create these overlapping cards, you can do them yourself, but you can also use ChatGPT to do this topical coverage for you in a very efficient way.
Here’s what you can input into ChatGPT to create overlapping Anki cards. Note that you can have ChatGPT create far more than just 3 flashcards and you can paste in some specific information for it to work with as well, such as a textbook.
Basically, what I’m showing here is only the tip of the iceberg. Here are the results and the prompt I used to get there.
Create [Number of cards] flashcards that cover the topic of [your topic here]
That’s how you can efficiently create overlapping Anki cards!
3. Make Image Occlusion Cards Searchable
Image occlusion cards are great but they don’t have any text, which can make searching for them challenging. To solve this, you can use the “remarks” section of these cards to add a description to the card to say what it’s about.
By adding remarks to your image occlusion cards, you can make these cards searchable in the card browser because now there are more than just images on these cards.
To do this, when you are creating your image occlusion cards, add information into the “remarks” field.
Now you can see when I search in the browser, that this card is the first one that shows up for the search “brain” because I added that keyword into the sources field.
4. Use Cloze Card Hints/Clues
Did you know Anki has a hint function for cloze cards?
This is a convenient little Anki trick, and it’s probably the best way to use Mnemonics in Anki.
To add a hint, create a regular cloze card and then add “::” after the answer with the hint coming afterward. Now instead of just seeing a cloze on the card, you will see the text you put after the “::”.
Here’s an example of using Anki’s hint feature for a mnemonic.
Pretty useful right?
5. Use The Forget Function
If you keep encountering a card and you still don’t have it down, it might just be time to start over. In this case, you can forget the card to reset it.
Unfortunately, you need to be in the browser for this to work, I can’t see that it’s possible to forget cards on the fly. To forget a card in Anki simply open the browser, find the card you need, right-click it, and click “forget”. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl/Cmd+Alt+N.
This effectively allows you to reset a single card.
6. Eliminate Cards That Take Too Long
Anki can take up a lot of your time. If you have a lot of cards and spend a bit too much time on them it might be worth filtering out some of the extra-long cards.
For this, you are going to need the Advanced browser Anki add-on. You can also install it using the code 874215009.
As you can see my cards aren’t too bad, but these are still too long. Ideally, I wouldn’t spend more than 1 minute per card in Anki.
If you are spending too much time it might be because you aren’t following the best practices when creating these cards. Keep your Anki cards simple and focused.
I wrote an entire article on how you can create Perfect Anki cards that will save you time and help you learn more if you are interested in becoming even more efficient with Anki.
7. Use Anki to Cram With Custom Study
We all know you probably shouldn’t be cramming, and I especially wouldn’t recommend using Anki for this purpose. However, I also know that you guys will do it anyways, so here’s how to do it effectively, if you must.
First, select the deck you want to cream then lick “Custom Study”. Then select “Review ahead” and enter 999 days to max out the amount of time ahead you are going to review. Lastly, click “ok”.
You can also review fewer days ahead, but entering 999 is the most extreme version of cramming since it will include the whole deck.
Here’s a more visual overview of the steps to doing this.
Now, if you look at the image below, you can see all of the cards have been moved from “new” to “to review”. By the way, don’t review the number of cards I’m showing here all at once. Reviewing this many at once is a bad idea because you could use a much more efficient technique for learning large amounts of material.
Interestingly, there is also an actually dedicated filter/cram button in Anki on the IOS app. To use this function just enter a deck and tap the cog in the lower right corner. Here’s what it looks like below. Using this is pretty self-explanatory.
That’s a quick overview of how you can cram in Anki on both a computer and a mobile device, in just a few clicks. Speaking of using the Anki mobile app, the next tip is about using the Anki app to study on the go.
8. Use Anki Without Wifi on The Go
Anki cards aren’t something I like to sit down and spent a lot of dedicated time doing. This is mostly because I use other studying techniques that cover the material more efficiently with active recall.
If you want my list of active recall techniques that I use apart from Anki, check out my article on 9 proven active recall techniques to ace your exam.
While I don’t solely rely on Anki, I will throw a few cards together for the remaining smaller details and these are great to review on the go. By “on the go”, I mean on the bus, between classes, or even when doing chores, etc. It is about using those in-between times that you wouldn’t usually use for studying to make big progress on your memorization.
You might be wondering, does Anki need wifi for me to use it this way?
Some Anki functions like logging in, syncing information need an internet connection. However, the features that really matter are available offline. You can still review what you have created while creating and editing decks.
Using Anki without wifi is handy because you can use it either on your laptop or your phone without being tied to wifi sources.
9. Use Keyboard Shortcuts
Using keyboard shortcuts can just make Anki a much easier and more pleasant experience. Here’s a list of the most used and basic ones that you can use while studying your decks.
|Keyboard shortcut (Windows/Mac)|
|Space||Flip the card/Reveal the answer|
|1||Choose the “Again” response to a card.|
|2||Choose the “Hard” response to a card.|
|3||Choose the “Good” response to a card.|
|4||Choose the “Easy” response to a card.|
I use these all the time and find them super helpful. I highly recommend using these as they save a lot of time.
10. Turn Off Review Time and Card Count
Doing Anki cards isn’t just about doing your daily cards for the sake of doing them. It’s about memorizing bite-sized pieces of information.
To turn off review time and card count, click tools → Preferences → Scheduling and uncheck the boxes for “show next review time above the answer buttons” and “show remaining ard count during review”.
Now you can stop thinking about how much longer you have left for review and actually focus on recalling the information in your cards.
11. Use ChatGPT to Create Anki Cards For You
One of the best ways to make Anki cards FAST is by using ChatGPT. But when I say fast, I mean crazy fast.
I have an entire article showing how to create Anki cards like this in ChatGPT where I show you all of my prompts for making both basic and cloze cards automatically, including an automatic importing feature.
I’ll share the basic prompt for Anki cards here since I have enough space, but you should check out the other prompts for more detailed info on this.
Create basic anki cards based on this:
Create Flashcards on this:
[Information you want made into flashcards]
However, with great power comes great responsibility. If you overuse this it will not save you anytime, the more cards you create the more work you have. use this technique sparingly.
I also have another article on how you can handcraft your Anki cards faster if you aren’t into making them automatically with ChatGPT.
12. Add Audio to your Anki cards
Hearing something and seeing it at the same time can help with your memorization. You can pretty easily add audio to an Anki card by recording your own voice.
You can either do this when creating the cards or you can add it later as you are doing the cards.
Although another interesting way to add audio is to make your cards in Quizlet and then import these into Anki with Audio. This allows you to automatically add text to speech to a ton of cards at once with very little effort.
I have another article on importing Quizlet cards into Anki if you want to see how to import Quizlet cards into Anki with the audio automatically added.
- Tutorial: Here’s How to Reset Anki Decks - September 10, 2023
- How to Use Anki Custom Study to Create Filtered Decks - September 9, 2023
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