Updating shared deck in Anki (the complicated but as far as I know only way)

After having used Anki for about two months, primarily for my Chinese studies, I have discovered an annoying inconvenience – decks that are uploaded by one user and downloaded by another can’t be updated  by the downloader without erasing and replacing the deck. In other words – if I update one of my decks (like ”Additional Chinese-English Vocabulary”) with a few additional cards, and upload the new edition to the Anki repository to be used by others, the only way for a user to update his or her ”Additional Chinese-English Vocabulary” deck is to erase it and download a new one. My realisation of this was confirmed by this thread in an Anki help forum, in which the user Damien Elmes adds that ”[s]upport for pulling in updates from shared decks is planned for 2.0. This would pull in the new facts only, as existing users may have customized card templates, study options, and so on.”

Unfortunately Anki v. 2.0 seems to be taking awhile (there is an alpha version I don’t dare to use), but I thankfully found a manual, albeit annoying, solution. Observe that this is for the desktop version, and for the Windows version specifically, but I assume the program looks somewhat similar in Mac OS and Linux.

  1. Download a second version of the deck you want to upload. For example, if you have version 4 of my deck, and want version 5 (the latest), go to the regular download place (where you got version 4 to begin with) and get the new one. Do not erase your old one, just get a second one of the same type (but newer).
  2. Now you have two decks by the same name, except the newer one (version 5) has a string of numbers after the name (for example ”Additional Chinese-English Vocabulary3958259863259”). Your old version still has all your old data – your statistics, your answered cards due in a couple of days, et cetera, while the new one is a brand new deck with no answered cards, but with a larger decks. Go to the version 5 deck. Click ”File” in the top left corner of the screen, and then click ”Export…”.
  3. Let the ”Export format” field remain ”Anki Deck (*.anki)”, and let ”Limit to tags” remain empty. Just click ”Export…”. Choose a convenient place to save the file.
  4. Extract the files in the newly created zip archive with for example WinRAR.
  5. Go to the version 4 deck (your old deck that you want to update with new cards). Click ”File” and ”Import…”. Choose the file called ”shared.anki” which you just extracted from the zip archive.
  6. Your original deck (v. 4) should now include all cards from the newer deck (v. 5), but still have all your statistics and due cards remaining. You can now erase the version 5 deck (the one with all the digits) and start studying.
If there’s a simpler way, please inform me.

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  • Peter VandeHaar

    To anyone coming to this blog now, Anki 2 is out, so you just import the updated deck.