Importing

Anki can import text files, packaged Anki decks created by the export feature, Mnemosyne 2.0 .db files, and SuperMemo .xml files. To import a file, click the File menu and then "Import".

Text Files

Any plain text file that contains fields separated by commas, semicolons or tabs can be imported into Anki, provided some conditions are met.

  • The files must be plain text (myfile.txt). Other formats like myfile.xls, myfile.rtf, myfile.doc must be saved as a plain text file first.

  • The files must be in UTF-8 format (see below).

  • Anki determines the number of fields in the file by looking at the first (non-commented) line. Any lines in the file which have a different number of fields will be ignored.

  • The first line also defines the separating character – if Anki finds a ';' on the first line it will use that, if it finds a comma it’ll use that, etc.

Fields in your text file can be mapped to any field in your notes, including the tags field. You can choose which field in the text file corresponds to which field in the note when you import.

When you import a text file, you can choose what deck to put the cards in. Keep in mind that if you have the deck override option set for one or more of your templates, the cards will go to that deck rather than the one you’ve selected.

This is an example of a valid file:

foo bar; bar baz; baz quux
apple; banana; grape

There are two ways to include newlines in fields.

Escape the multi-lines by placing the contents of the field in quotation marks:

hello; "this is
a two line answer"
two; this is a one line one

Because quotes are used to mark where a field begins and ends, if you wish to include them inside your field, you need to replace a single doublequote with two doublequotes to "escape" them from the regular handling, like so:

field one;"field two with ""escaped quotes"" inside it"

When you use a spreadsheet program like Libreoffice to create the CSV file for you, it will automatically take care of escaping double quotes.

Use HTML new lines:

hello; this is<br>a two line answer
two; this is a one line one

You need to turn on the "allow HTML in fields" checkbox in the import dialog for HTML newlines to work.

Escaped multi-lines will not work correctly if you are using cloze deletions that span multiple lines. In this case, please use HTML newlines instead.

You can also include tags in another field and select it as a tags field in the import dialog:

first field; second field; tags

This is an example of a valid file where the first line is ignored (#):

# this is a comment and is ignored
foo bar; bar baz; baz quux
field1; field2; field3

Spreadsheets and UTF-8

If you have non-Latin characters in your file (such as accents, Japanese and so on), Anki expects files to be saved in a 'UTF-8 encoding'. The easiest way to do this is to use the free LibreOffice spreadsheet program instead of Excel to edit your file, as it supports UTF-8 easily, and also exports multi-line content properly, unlike Excel. If you wish to keep using Excel, please see this forum post for more information.

To save your spreadsheet to a file Anki can read with LibreOffice, go to File>Save As, and then select CSV for the type of file. After accepting the default options, LibreOffice will save the file and you can then import the saved file into Anki.

HTML

Anki can treat text imported from text files as HTML (the language used for web pages). This means that text with bold, italics and other formatting can be exported to a text file and imported again. If you want to include HTML formatting, you can check the "allow HTML in fields" checkbox when importing. You may wish to turn this off if you’re trying to import cards whose content contains angle brackets or other HTML syntax.

If you wish to use HTML for formatting your file but also wish to include angle brackets, you may write them differently:

  • For "<", use "<"

  • For ">", use ">"

Importing Media

If you want to include audio and pictures from a text file import, copy the files into the collection.media folder. Do not put subdirectories in the media folder, or some features will not work.

After you’ve copied the files, change one of the fields in your text file as follows.

<img src="myimage.jpg">

or

[sound:myaudio.mp3]

Alternatively, you can use the find and replace feature in the browse screen to update all the fields at once. If each field contains text like "myaudio", and you wish to make it play a sound, you’d search for (.*) and replace it with "[sound:\1.mp3]", with the 'regular expressions' option enabled.

When importing a text file with these references, you must make sure to enable the "Allow HTML" option.

You might be tempted to do this in a template, like:

<img src="{{field name}}">

Anki doesn’t support this for two reasons: searching for used media is expensive, as each card has to be rendered, and such functionality isn’t obvious to shared deck users. Please use the find & replace technique instead.

Bulk Media

Another option for importing large amounts of media at once is to use the media import add-on. This add-on will automatically create notes for all files in a folder you select, with the filenames on the front (minus the file extension, so if you have a file named apple.jpg, the front would say 'apple') and the images or audio on the back. If you would like a different arrangement of media and filenames, you can change the note type of the created cards afterwards.

Adding Tags

If you want to add 'tag1' and 'tag2' to every line you’re importing, add the following to the top of the text file:

tags:tag1 tag2

Duplicates and Updating

When importing text files, Anki uses the first field to determine if a note is unique. By default, if the file you are importing has a first field that matches one of the existing notes in your collection and that existing note is the same type as the type you’re importing, the existing note’s other fields will be updated based on content of the imported file. A drop-down box in the import screen allows you to change this behaviour, to either ignore duplicates completely, or import them as new notes instead of updating existing ones.

The duplicate check is done for your 'entire collection', not just in the current deck. If Anki is indicating that notes have not changed when you expected them to be imported, please check that the notes are not already in your collection somewhere.

If you have updating turned on and older versions of the notes you’re importing are already in your collection, they will be updated in place (in their current decks) rather than being moved to the deck you have set in the import dialog. If notes are updated in place, the existing scheduling information on all their cards will be preserved.

For info on how duplicates are handled in .apkg files, please see the Deck Packages section.