10 Essential Anki Add-ons for All Medical Students
Here is a list of the best Anki add-ons that all medical students should be using.
If you are in a rush then here is a quick summary of everything I talk about in this article.
Here is a list of the 10 add-ons you should be using:
- Cloze Overlapper
- Better Tags
- Image Occlusion Enhanced
- Pop-Up Dictionary
- More Overview Stats
- Frozen Fields
- Resize Images
- Spell Checker
You should be aware that some of these add-ons may not work on the latest version of Anki while others require a payment to get access to (e.g. Cloze Overlapper, AMBOSS)
To download any add-on, just find the add-on code, typically found on the AnkiWeb add-on page, and insert the code into Anki (Tools -> Add-ons).
If you want to see more add-ons, then have a look at this Anki website where you will find a whole list which is sorted from the highest to lowest rated.
Note that this article assumes some basic knowledge of how Anki works. If you want to learn more then you can see all my articles on Anki here.
Some Important Notes
There are some things that you should know before we get onto the add-ons themselves.
Before getting into the add-ons, there are some things I would like to mention. Please read this section carefully to make sure you aren’t missing out on any important details.
If You’re New to Add-ons
Firstly, if you are not sure how to download an Anki add-on or even what an add-on is, then check out this excellent video by Glutanimate (Anki Add-on Guide: Introduction).
It covers most of what you need to know.
Add-Ons Which Don’t Work
Another important thing to note is that some of the add-ons may not work with the latest release of Anki. This is because the Anki developers are constantly trying to make it better and work smoother, which sometimes involve significant changes to the code.
When this happens, the add-ons need to be updated. However, it can sometimes take months for the add-on creators to update their code, causing the current version of the add-on to not be supported.
I have tried my best to state where this is the case. But, it is unfortunate that depending on when you are reading this article, some of the add-ons that I have mentioned will not be compatible with your version. Try to be patient. Any issues will be resolved sooner than you think.
If you are desperate, you can always downgrade your version of Anki to an earlier release. Just make sure to back up any cards that you have before doing so (you can learn how to do that with this AnKing video).
Anki 2.0 vs 2.1
I also want to talk about the difference between Anki 2.0 and Anki 2.1. That’s because it can be confusing for somebody just starting to know why there is always a mention of these two different versions of Anki.
Note that this is not the same as what I talked about above.
Above I am referring to the small updates that occur. Like when IOS updates from 14.05 to 14.06. These small updates aren’t new versions of Anki, but rather minor updates. Anki 2.0 and 2.1 are two completely different versions of Anki. It’s like going from the IOS 14 to IOS 15.
Anyways, back to the difference between 2.0 and 2.1.
The most important thing to know is that you should only be downloading Anki add-ons that are compatible with Anki 2.1.
Every since Anki 2.1 came out, all of the add-ons which worked for 2.0 could no longer be used for 2.1. The old add-ons never worked with the new ones.
As time has gone on, this has all become a much smaller issue. Developers have been able to update their code as it has been out for over 2 years. However, always check at the top of the add-on page which version of Anki that it is compatible with.
Other Things to Check Before Downloading an Add-on
Here are some things you need to check before downloading any add-on:
- Latest release date – Any add-on which hasn’t been updated in 2 years I would stay away from.
- The number of likes vs dislikes – This is important as it gives you an indication as to how good it is. If an add-on has over 20% of dislikes (e.g. 100 likes and 20 dislikes), then be careful.
- Reviews – The written reviews at the bottom of the Anki add-on page will give an insight into how other people have found the add-on to be.
Note that this article assumes some basic knowledge of how Anki works. Therefore, if you are completely new to Anki, check out this article on What Is Anki and Why Everyone Uses It.
So now let’s discuss some Anki add-ons!
1 – Cloze Overlapper
This add on is made by Glutanimate and is a game-changer for memorising lists.
This is an add-on that I swear by.
In fact, it is the add-on that I am currently using to make a brand new set of Anki flashcards based on the Flashfinals Anki deck (subscribe to my email newsletter for updates).
Here you can see an example of a Cloze Overlapper flashcard:
As you can see, the card is different from a normal cloze flashcard. It covers up the other cloze deletions which means you can’t use them as clues to help you answer the question.
It is an add-on all medical students should be using daily. There are so many lists that need to be memorised in medical school, and this is the perfect add-on for that.
Unfortunately though, you will have to get from Glutanimate’s Patreon as he has not released the latest version for free yet.
It costs $5 to subscribe but you can just unsubscribe after downloading it. I would suggest that you download some of the other add-ons that he has on his Patreon (some of which I mention later).
Another problem is that (as of writing) you won’t be able to use the latest version of Anki with this add-on. Don’t worry though. You can still use it but will have to downgrade to an earlier version of Anki which you can learn how to do here.
2 – Better Tags
This add-on allows you to organise your tags in a more structured way than Anki normally allows you to do.
The best way to organise your Anki cards is via tags. Unfortunately, the default tagging system is a bit messy and not the easiest to use.
That’s why I suggest you use an add-on that will help you stay organised with your tags and keep your mind at peace knowing where all your cards are stored.
The best tag organiser out there is Better Tags.
It is a fantastic add-on that has many different options. It allows you to:
- Put your cards in a hierarchical structure
- Colour-coordinate tag headers
- Pin tags to the top of the menu
- Quickly rename and change the tags of a whole set of cards
You will have to subscribe to Glutanimate’s Patreon to get access to it.
If you want a free version, then you can give the Hierarchical Tags 2 add-on a try. It has all the core features that you need.
See this AnKing video for more about hierarchical tags.
3 – Image Occlusion Enhanced
This add-on can turn any image into a flashcard. A must-have for anatomy.
This is a must-have add-on for those who want to up their anatomy game.
It allows you to cover up parts of an image such as labels of models. See below for an example.
As you can see, you can cover up parts of an image. Anatomy labels of the brain can be covered to help you learn the places that the hippocampus, libus and cortex are located in the skull.
You can therefore learn the different parts of the body extremely well.
Here are some general tips to keep in mind when using this add-on:
- Use different angles – If you are learning about the brain, use several different images that are from different angles. This will prevent you from just memorising the label.
- Mix cartoon and real images – Try not to focus on one type of card. Mix up real anatomy dissections with cartoon images to get the full picture (pun intended).
- Don’t make too many cards – This add-on makes creating new flashcards extremely easy. However, don’t fall into the trap of making hundreds of cards. Pinpoint the topics you find difficult and build your deck around that. There’s no need to go overboard.
Check out this video by Glutanimate that gives an introduction on how to use it.
4 – Pop-Up Dictionary
If you find yourself constantly searching for what words mean in Anki, this is the add-on for you.
You come across a lot of difficult words in medical school. Normally, you would just Google anything that comes up and put it into your notes.
However, if you are using Anki to learn your exam material, this can get tedious very quickly.
That is where the pop-up dictionary add-on comes in.
It allows you to double click any word and a small window pop-up. It gives a brief explanation of the word.
See the below gif to get an understanding of how it works.
If you still aren’t convinced, then watch this short AnKing video. He describes what the add-on is and why it’s so good.
This is definitely one you shouldn’t skip out on.
5 – AMBOSS
If you found the pop-up dictionary too “basic” for you, then maybe you want to try this incredible AMBOSS add-on which takes the pop-up dictionary to the next level.
This is add-on is similar to the pop-up dictionary add-on but it requires an Amboss subscription.
It gives beautiful notes on each medical term that comes up in your decks which the pop-up dictionary couldn’t do.
Have a look at the gif below to see how it works.
The membership is about $10 a month, so it is much more expensive than a Glutanimate one-off subscription. However, you do not only get the add-on. You also get a whole bunch of other stuff that comes with their package. That includes:
- Thousands of peer-reviewed articles
- Use 50 questions a month from their QBank
- USMLE-tailored notes and images
Don’t disregard it straight away. it might be the resource you always wanted to have.
However, if you feel it is too expensive, then stick to the pop-up dictionary add-on.
6 – Frozen Fields
This add-on allows you to save what you have written in the field boxes (e.g. “front” and “back” field) when adding a card.
If you find yourself making a lot of flashcards, then this is the add-on for you.
This add-on is extremely simple but can save you dozens of hours if used properly.
It allows you to freeze the field that you have typed something in and save it for the next card. See this 1-minute explanation by the AnKing.
Even if you are planning on using pre-made decks for the majority of your medical school journey, you will likely find yourself adding the odd card here and there. Therefore, I would still get this add-on if I were you.
7 – More Overview Stats
This add-on shows you more statistics that the Anki provided by default. Perfect for those who prowl through their statistics every day trying to gauge their progress.
If you want to up your statistics game, then this is the add-on for you.
It shows you the percentage of cards that are learning vs. review and gives you a more thorough understanding of your cards than the standard statistics gives you.
Therefore, it can show you a quick snapshot of how far you are progressing through your deck before you complete it every day.
It is a simple and neat add-on that is great for the nerds among us.
This 2-minute explanation by the AnKing will give you all the information you need.
8 – ReMemorize
This add-on allows you to reschedule cards that you have learnt. If you need to skip a day of Anki (which I would not recommend!), then you need this add-on.
We all know that Anki works best when you do it every day.
Unfortunately, it is easier said than done.
Out of the 200+ days in the academic year, there are inevitably going to be days where you are busy the entire day. This might not be a problem a the beginning of the year when you are doing 20-40 minutes of Anki a day, but it can be a problem when your reviews start to pile up.
If you need to do 90+ minutes of Anki reviews and you also have other commitments, what are your options?
Well, all is not lost. This is where the ReMemorize add-on comes into play.
Watch this video by the AnKing to learn more about how to go about doing this.
This video by the AnKing guides you through how to skip a day in Anki.
9 – Resize Images
If you find images a particular annoyance, then I feel you. I have spent much too long trying to screenshot an image in the right way. Well, this add-on takes all of that hassle out.
Images can be annoying in Anki. They are often either too large or too big for you to properly use them.
That is why you need an image resizer.
See the video below to see how it works.
It is a simple add-on and a must have if you are going to be screenshotting images from the web to use in Anki.
See this video by the AnKing on how to use this add-on.
10 – Spell Checker
It’s as simple as it sounds. An add-on that checks your spelling.
Spelling mistakes are common in Anki due to the lack of in-build spelling checker.
This add-on aims to solve that problem.
Unfortunately, it is behind the paywall of Glutanimate (I know, I am sorry – although if you pay the $5 once then you shouldn’t have to pay for it every again unless there are problems with the add-on).
The below gif shows how the add-on works.
There is a free alternative that you can use which isn’t as good. It is called Spelling Police and can be downloaded here.
Bonus Add-ons and Other Resources
Here are some extra add-ons which are worth a mention.
Here are a few extra add-ons that you can research in your own time.
You probably don’t need this add-on as much as you used to because of a new update which contains essentially the same thing but in the statistics menu.
While some would say this is an essential add-on, I don’t necessarily agree. Yes, you can use the Anki simulator to help get your settings the way you want, but you don’t have to.
You can still get good settings by spending 10 minutes looking at articles and YouTube videos.
However, I am sure there are loads of you out there who would love to play around and tinker with this add-on, and that is why I am mentioning it here.
Custom Background Image and Gear Icon
We all know that Anki has a pretty boring background.
So why spice it up and give it a new lease of life with this great add-on. It can transform your Anki from looking like a Windows 1998 application to a modern and aesthetically pleasing work of art.
As you can see, the options are almost limitless!
This is an extremely simple add-on that turns the button colours at the bottom of the page into green and red colours.
If you are on the quest to make Anki as aesthetically pleasing as possible, you cannot miss out on this add-on.
Progress Graphs and Stats for Learned and Matured Cards
This is a great addition to the other statistics add-on that I mentioned before.
This add-on is slightly controversial. Some people love it while others say it messes with the whole point of Anki.
That is because it changes the days that you see the cards based on when you have more or fewer cards.
For example, if you have a lot of cards due on Monday, it will shift some of the cards to Tuesday ore Wednesday so save you doing too many cards that one day. It is therefore similar to the ReMemorise add-on that I mentioned above.
Here are some other resources that will help you find great add-ons in the future:
- Polar – Must-have Anki Add-ons for Medical Students in 2020
- Physeo – Top 10 Anki Add-ons to Increase Productivity
- Shamim Ahmed – 5 Must-Have Anki Addons for Medical Students (Anki 2.0 and 2.1)
- Matthew Hawkins – Top 20 Anki Add-ons | Best Anki Plugins to Make Yourself Even More Efficient!
- Prerak Juthani – The 5 MUST-HAVE Add Ons for ANYONE Using Anki!
- AnKing – 5 Must Have Add-ons for Anki
- Conaanaa aka Suppy – Top SEVEN Add-ons for Anki!
If you enjoyed this article, then please share it with your friends and colleagues. It takes a lot of effort to make these and as a busy medical student, I can use all the help I can get to make this venture worthwhile.
You can have a look at this article I wrote on the 22 Best Anki Decks of All Time.