Automate sending a dictionary definition to a flashcards program?
March 27, 2015 8:46 AM   Subscribe

I look up words I don't know as I read and I'd like to make flashcards of them to review later without having to stop reading long enough to make the cards. Ideally, whenever I look up a word in an online or ebook dictionary I'd like to automatically generate a new flashcard in a program like Anki or Mnemosyne. Ideas? Thanks!
posted by Jacqueline to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not committed to a flashcard program yet (I've been using paper cards) so it doesn't have to be Anki or Mnemosyne if there's something that would work better for these purposes.

I do want the dictionary to be pretty good, though, like Merriam-Webster collegiate level or better.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:50 AM on March 27, 2015

It isn't automated but if you use a web dictionary then you could just look back through your browser's history when you are done reading for the day to make your list of new words for the day.
posted by sacrifix at 9:16 AM on March 27, 2015

If you use AnkiDroid on an Android device, you can use the "share" feature in ColorDict, Google Translate, and various other dictionary programs to automatically turn a dictionary entry into an Android card. The AnkiDroid page has a short list of other dictionary programs.

There are also Anki add-ons for some specific online reference sites, like Wikipedia and Rikaisama. Most sites don't seem to be covered, though, so someone would need to write some new code to support each specific site.

If you or someone you know is willing to do the programming yourself, this code might be a useful starting place.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:24 AM on March 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't have a smartphone, just a PC. So I'd need something that could work on that.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:33 AM on March 27, 2015

Automatically seems to imply some browser plugin or lookup program that has lots of smarts to handle all the various places you might go to lookup something. But simple-ish and rather easy for Anki is to create an import file that you manually update and re-import every once in a while. I use a plain text file:

word TAB definition goes here. TAB other TAB info TAB keywords andor tags go here
word TAB definition TAB other TAB info TAB more keywords
(the TAB is a real tab, or a ; (semicolon) if you prefer)

You then import that file into Anki, create your deck (give the fields names and create cards and such). Then just keep adding entries to the text file and re-import it. Anki will key off the first entry ('word') and update existing notes if you made changes in the other fields for the word, or add new notes for new entries in the text file.

So you don't have to lookup the word, open Anki, use Anki to create a new card, ... each time. You just have to tack on a new entry to the end of a text file and re-import the next time you start Anki to study.
posted by zengargoyle at 11:21 PM on March 27, 2015

I found a flashcard app called MentalCase after getting frustrated with Anki's lack of smoothness with creating my own decks. Nice little features like menubar "quick add" option, also screenshot integration.

I think its OS X only however.
posted by disnchntd at 4:42 PM on September 7, 2015

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