"Damn I Should've Done That Years Ago" (3): Learning SuperMemo Keyboard Shortcuts

Photo by Girl with red hat on Unsplash


In SuperMemo, I have items for memorizing some of the keyboard shortcuts. Here’s the complete keyboard shortcut list. By browsing it, you will probably realize some of the features you didn’t know exist. So you’ll learn some SuperMemo features by browsing this list.

When I first started using SuperMemo, my usual hand placement was left hand on the number row and right hand on the mouse. But over time, I find myself using the mouse less often and replacing it with keyboard shortcuts. There are many mouse actions that could be replaced with keyboard shortcuts. So in this article I will share the keyboard shortcuts that I found to be most useful.

The usual

Ctrl+C - Copy to the clipboard Ctrl+V - Paste from clipboard
Ctrl+X - Cut
Ctrl+Y - Redo last Undo (in HTML text editing)
Ctrl+Z - Undo text editing

Specific Windows Shortcuts

Maximizing the screen: Window key and up-arrow

For some reason, every time after I edit something like applying template, the size of the element window changes, so I have to re-maximize it. My guess is that since I hide the Windows Taskbar, SuperMemo doesn’t extend its full screen to the space occupied by the Taskbar. So this Windows shortcut is handy.

Selecting words with Control + Shift + Left arrow

Difference: Control + Shift + Left arrow: Word by word Shift and Left arrow: Character by character

Specific SuperMemo Shortcuts

Control + L to Focus in the Learning Mode

When editing, the active editing window is in focus. You can either press “ESC” then “Enter” or just press “Ctrl+L” to refocus into the learning mode. Depending on what you do, sometimes, “ESC –> Enter” won’t do it and the only option is “Ctrl+L.” For example, when you’re in the spelling pad component, pressing “ESC” has no effect. Only “Ctrl+L” will take you back to the learning mode.

In focus:


Not in focus:


Prioritizing Elements

Alt+P. For elements that are not important enough or given too high priority, use Alt+P to increase or decrease their priority.

Ctrl+J. You can shorten the interval for a particular element. For example, if the scheduled review date for an article is April 26th, and you want to review it on April 5th, you can press Ctrl+J to choose your desired review schedule. I do this for articles but not items because I don’t manually change the review dates for items.

What If I Don’t Want to Review A Particular Element Now?

Shift+Ctrl+J: Later today

i.e. schedule the review of the element later today. If you think the item is too difficult at the moment or just don’t want to do it, you can postpone it in the Outstanding Queue so it will re-appear a certain number of elements later.

The following means that I will see that particular postponed element 200 elements later.


Ctrl+J: Learning : Reschedule.

For example, if you think the article is too difficult at the moment, you can postpone it to next week or next month with Ctrl+J.

In the following case, I am postponing the article till tomorrow.



The difference between Shift+Ctrl+J and Ctrl+J:

For Shift+Ctrl+J, you’re postponing it to later TODAY, later in the Outstanding Queue. You will still need to review it today. However, for Ctrl+J, you’re rescheduling the element in days. For example, you can postpone it to tomorrow, or a week or a month later. Once rescheduled with Ctrl+J, the element is gone from the Outstanding Queue, meaning that you won’t be able to review it today.

Editing Elements:

A - Edit the first answer

E - Edit texts

Q - Edit the first question

Ctrl+T to cycle between components (e.g. quickly switch between the question and the answer)

Shift+Ctrl+S - in the element window: Swap question with answer

Ctrl+E to enter the editing mode

Ctrl+D - Dismiss the current element

Alt+D - Duplicate an element Note: I don’t know how it affects or calculates the intervals of the duplicated element.

Shift+Enter to get a single-spaced new line (tag <br>)

Enter to get a double-spacing new line (tag <p>)

Ctrl+F9 - Edit the file associated with the component. For example, Ctrl+F9 on image components will start editing your images in Paint Note: I often need to edit the images in MS Paint but this shortcut requires two hands. So I don’t normally use it unless both of my hands are on the keyboard. Otherwise, I just left click on the image component: File –> Edit File

Ctrl+F - Find elements (in the main window) or Find (in other windows)

Alt+F7 - Go to the read-point

Ctrl+F7 - Set a read-point in an article

Shift+Ctrl+F7 - Clear a read-point Note: sometimes, the extracted article will still carry its parent’s read-point. This can be annoying because it means you’re in the edit mode, when you want to stay in review mode. So make sure to clear its read-point if this happens. Otherwise, if you just press ESC and move on, the next time you see this extracted article, it’ll be in edit mode again, unless you clear the read-point.

Alt+G - Cancel grade Note: Sometimes knee-jerk reflex will make you press 4, when you meant 2. This shortcut cancels the grade and let you grade again. Not compatible with my “Next Item Immediately After Grading” AutoHotKey.

Shift+Ctrl+H - Display repetition history for the currently displayed element in the element window

Shift+Ctrl+M - in the element window: Merge element with template Note: Handy for changing templates

Stretch Image From Proportional to Normal

Shift+Ctrl+Q - Change the way in which the picture is stretched in the image component

This is important. When you paste an image, the default stretching is Proportional. However, this always results in terrible image quality. So you’ll need to press Shift+Ctrl+Q two times to stretch it to Normal.




As you can see, the image is too big for the image component. So I will just press Ctrl+F9 to open MS Paint and resize the image.

Moving Between Elements

Alt+Left - in the element window: Back, i.e. revisit a recently visited element

Alt+Right - in the element window: Forward, i.e. move forward on the list of recently visited elements

Alt+PgUp - Previous element in the knowledge tree (in the element window)

Alt+PgDn - Next element in the knowledge tree (in the element window)

The above four shortcuts are very handy because with them, you don’t always need to open up and navigate through the Knowledge Tree. For example, with my “Next Item Immediately After Grading” AutoHotKey, it moves on to the next element automatically. When I want to go back I just need to press Alt+Left.

In Anki, all the sub-cloze cards are all linked, i.e. changing one sub-cloze will change all other associated cloze cards. But this is not the case in SuperMemo where all items (cards) are not linked (In my opinion this is better). So if you want to edit all elements from the same parent element, you have to do it individually. In this case, Alt+PgUp and Alt+PgDn are super handy.

Closing Remarks

When I first read the keyboard shortcut list, I thought, “Why so many keyboard shortcuts?” But now I can appreciate the need and the convenience with all the shortcuts. They make reviewing and editing much more convenient and fluid. With keyboard shortcuts, the time saved isn’t as important as the benefit of staying in “SuperMemo mode.”