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Jan 26, 2013

Six Reasons to Upgrade to Anki 2

So I finally made the jump over to Anki 2.0, and it was a surprisingly easy transition. They've given us a new interface and some fancy deck options that make creating cards, doing reps, and learning much easier. So here are some reasons for why you should make the switch too...

6. Deck Size and Saving Optimized

Anki decks are now compiled into a single “collection” of cards. This means that all of the cards in all of your decks are stored in a single file, but are separated into different categories. Decks can also be placed as a subset of a larger subject, so you can make individual grammar, sentence, and vocabulary decks that will all fall into a larger Japanese deck. This allows you to focus your studying on any one deck or study the entire Japanese deck type at once.

Anki now also saves your decks automatically every five minutes or after certain tasks. This means less risk of losing the cards that you've been reviewing or adding. Along with this, deck sizes have been reduced to allow for faster loading.

5. Learn New Cards Faster

In the new version of Anki, new cards are shown at least twice before they become review cards. This means that when you first see a card and pass it, you will see it again in about ten minutes to check that you really know it. Once you've passed it a second time, it will become a review card and show up at later and later intervals. Whenever you fail a card, it becomes a “new” card again, so you'll see it a couple times before it goes back into the stack.

4. New Shared Decks

Back in the old days, you had to navigate the in-program Shared Deck list to find Anki decks that other people had made. Those days are no more! By going to the Anki site you can browse through decks by subject to find the ones that you want. Each deck can now have a long description and comments to help you find the best ones.

(Once a deck has been downloaded, click File => Import... and load it into Anki.)

3. Set Review Limits

Anki reps are scary. If you've ever missed a day or two of reps and come back to see TEN THOUSAND REVIEWS awaiting you, then you know what I mean. In Anki 2, the default number of reviews per day is capped at 100, so you can keep your daily reviews manageable. This number isn't set in stone, so you can still change it to accommodate any number of reviews per day, but it does allow you to get in, do your reviews, and get out without seeing a daunting number of cards still waiting for you.

(This can be changed by going to the Review tab of the Deck Options.)

2. Easy Forward/Reverse Card Creation

In the past I always had to make two cards for each word if I wanted both Kanji to Reading and Reading to Kanji. With the new card creation options, you can set Anki to create two cards at once with the click of a button. I think the old Anki had this option as well, but I never bothered to learn how to work it. Now there's no need to search! Just click the Type selector on card creation and choose “Basic (and reversed card).”

1. Native Media Support

If you've only been using Anki for learning Japanese, then you might have never included media in your cards. But with native media support, you might want to consider giving it a try. Whenever you add images or audio to a card, it will now sync with your deck in Anki and allow you to use it on multiple devices. This could lead to some amazing decks that combine audio with text.

To sync with AnkiWeb, go to Tools => Maintenance => Full Sync. Enter your account info and you can choose to download your decks onto your computer. If it's your first time syncing, you can instead upload all data to AnkiWeb.
I'd considered making guides for how to use the new Anki, but there's actually no need. If you take a look at the extensive Anki 2 Manual, you'll be able to find the solution to any questions you may have. You can also check out the Change Log to see what's new in this version.

Making the change to Anki 2.0 was extremely easy. The new interface is so clean and simple, it's hard to feel lost while navigating. The old AnkiWeb is going down in a couple weeks, so go ahead and make the switch now!


  1. I still don't understand how can I learn cards in a precise order.
    Let's say I have in my kanji deck a column for frequency and a column for heisig's order.
    Cards are presented to me in an order that is "as added", right? But if I want to study first more frequent kanji?
    I've seen the manual, but I still can't understand what should I do...

    1. Well, you have to decide which way you're learning them and then use a deck based on that. So any Heisig deck that you download from AnkiWeb will have cards in order based on the Heisig Number. As long as you leave it as "Show new cards in order as added" they'll go in order.

      For kanji by frequency or usage level, a deck like the one linked below would work. You can either review in order as added or select to only study one tag (Grade 1, Grade 2, etc).

      But really, for kanji, I highly recommend that you try out Reviewing the Kanji. It's really the best tool I have ever used for studying kanji.

    2. You can simply add a tab to all the cards to what level they are and then study them in isolation through Anki's new study features.

  2. 6. I don't care much about file size, and having all the decks together is... kind of annoying. I liked it better when they were separate files, because things like the mixed browsing has only created problems for me, and I haven't seen a single benefit for it. Things that took me 2 clicks now often take clicks + key entries + time to make sure I've gotten the right thing.

    Funny thing is, when I DO have to do a full sync, I now have to do a full sync of EVERY SINGLE SET I HAVE instead of the one that's causing trouble. Doesn't do much for data rates (I don't do it over mobile data, though)

    5. This is literally the only feature I've enjoyed about Anki 2, so far.

    4. I liked navigating in the program, as it let me almost instantly narrow my search down. Again, something that took almost no time takes more time. I won't likely be adding new decks any time soon, so this isn't that much of an issue for me, though.

    3. Was this not possible in 1.x at all? I seem to remember it being possible. In fact, customizability is something I think is seriously lacking in Anki 2 compared to 1. Forbidding Latex in templates is one of those things. Lumping all of your decks together also kind of gets in the way of customization, too.

    2. On the old anki, when I was making new cards and wanted forward and reverse (or more than that, in some cases) I had to click in the box that I wanted each type. It was a one time thing I only had to set once and didn't have to mess with again. NOW I have to type "y" in 2 extra fields every single time in order to have the front and back cards. If I don't type y in both of the extra fields (that didn't exist in Anki 1) it won't make ANY cards. That's manual typing in different fields I have to do in order to do what was automatic on Anki 1.

    (Update) I literally just figured it out. Anki created dummy fields on some of my decks because I (I guess?) had latex in my template (I'm not 100% sure what Latex is, so that may have been it, or it may have been a bad deck import), which is a no-no in Anki 2. I synced my deck (just in case what I did ruined it) and deleted the fields, and problem solved. Lame. So, yeah, not only was this possible in Anki 1, you could actually choose NOT to in some cases without switching card types...

    1. I have never gotten media to work properly either in Anki 1 or Anki 2. I got decks that were supposed to be tied to media, and they... they just don't work 90% of the time.

    Something that really annoys me in Anki 2 is the fact I can't sort cards by every field. I click on some fields, to sort, and despite having alphanumeric values to them, they won't sort on those fields. What the crap is up with that?

    So far, I've found Anki 2 really unintuitive, and I think the joy behind many of the new features are sort of diminished when you have people that really put Anki 1 to good use, and it takes them 10x as long to do things on Anki 2.