Why is there no simple way to flip cards back to front?

I’m being told that to swap fronts and backs, I have to edit each card manually, and that’s unreasonable when you have hundreds of cards. Something more user-friendly and efficient would be very nice. I find it to be a huge oversight that the devs didn’t add something like this by default. This is supposed to digitally mimic physical flashcards, and with physical flashcards, it’s very simple to study with reversed cards. It follows that it should be easy here as well, but it’s not.

  1. Sync all your devices. (Don’t skip this step.)
  2. On desktop, select all the notes you want to switch, then do “change notetype”. (This can be done on mobile too I believe, but it’s easier to select the appropriate notes on desktop.) Browsing - Anki Manual
  3. Change it to the same note type, change the old front field to be the new back field, and the old back field to be the new front field.
  4. Reset all the cards to be new again. (This is optional, but the previous learning information isn’t going to be relevant the other direction, so it’s better to treat them as completely new cards.)
  5. Sync all your devices. Upload your changes from your desktop to ankiweb, then on all your other devices, sync and download from ankiweb to your device.

You can do this for as many notes at a time as you want, as long as they’re all the same notetype that’s not too different from the “Basic” notetype, and if you can select them all you don’t need to do each one individually.

(If your notes you want to change are cloze, then yeah you’ll need to edit them individually.)

If you want to have BOTH front->back and back->front cards available to review at the SAME TIME (each keeping their own scheduling data), the instructions are a little different. If you’re using the “Basic” card type, the simplest version would probably be in step 3 to change it to turn “Basic (and reversed)” card type, and leave the fields the same, but there’s multiple ways to do it depending on the exact result you want.

It’s a little more complicated than physical flashcards, but Anki takes advantage of being completely digital and gives you a lot more flexibility- for example I can very easily have a three-sided digital flashcard in Anki (represented by a note that creates 3-6 different cards, depending on what exact relationships I want to test/review). There is a learning curve, but once I learned it, the added complexity was definitely worth the flexibility.


Is there any GOOD reason it must be this convoluted, though?

Steps 1 and 5 are due to an architecture limitation of Anki’s database, as I understand it. I don’t know all the trade offs that went into that.

Step 4 is because each card has its own scheduling data, and it doesn’t make sense to use the scheduling data from a different factoid (the other direction) for spaced repetition.

Steps 2 and 3 are really the only parts you need to know if your cards are all new and you only have one device. Select your cards, flip the front and back. Not as convoluted when you’re actually doing it as when you have to write out a description of how to do it.

And - I mentioned this in an edit, so I’m not sure if you saw it before you replied - but once your flashcards are completely digital, you’re free of the limitations of physical flashcards, and Anki chose to introduce more complexity in order to give as much freedom and flexibility in your digital flashcard designs as possible, while making it easy to do spaced repetition.

With a physical flashcard, I can only put it in EITHER the 1 day OR the 8 day slot in my Leitner box, even if I want to go front->back and also back->front, but the front->back should be reviewed in 1 day while the back->front should be reviewed in 8 days. Anki lets you separate those cards, so they can have their own scheduling data, while still being connected to the same note, so you can fix a typo in only one spot. With a physical flashcard, I have at most two sides, so at most I can do back->front or fromt->back. Anki allows you to create custom note types, so I can have a multi-sided digital flashcard (in Anki terminology, a note, with multiple cards) that goes (like the Ultimate Geography deck), country->capital, capital->country, map ->country, flag->country, while keeping separate scheduling data and appropriate spaced repetition for each


If you use a Basic note type and want to convert all notes of that type, there’s a simpler way, which is using the Flip button in the Card Types screen:


This seems much less convoluted than the ways I was trying. Thank you, although I’m still disappointed in this app and would probably rather pay for this feature to be more accessible on another app than deal with this frustration for free. Cheers.

Have you not added an Add Reverse field in the Note type?

See Reverse Cards here in the Anki documentation. If you need help, I can point you to one of my decks that uses it and you can see it working.

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