PDF and Visual Learning

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SuperMemo does not support PDF. One of the tools to process PDF incrementally is visual learning.

Use visual learning to convert picture version of PDF pages to learnable knowledge. Some typing or repaste is needed for keyword searchability or for learning very important pieces using cloze deletion.


  • convert PDF pages to pictures (e.g. save as JPG, or use Print Screen)
  • import pictures to SuperMemo (e.g. File : Import : Files and folders, or Copy&Paste)
  • use visual learning to process individual pages

For more see:


Taking snapshots: Using pictures requires taking screen shots, preferably using Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional. You can do incremental reading from within Acrobat Professional, taking snippets by going to Tools > Select & Zoom > Snapshot Tool. Select the area you wish to insert into SuperMemo. The selection treats the PDF file as a picture so any area of the screen can be included (or not included). Paste into SuperMemo as a new component, so you won't have to ever worry about losing it due to broken links or pathnames. For the answer, often you can just switch to the PDF file again and re-select, including the answer this time. Otherwise just use an occlusion. This process is fast and simple, provided you are using Acrobat Professional and aren't taking screen shots and editing in Photoshop. Pictures can also be processed incrementally

Zooming: In Acrobat 8 you can use Tools : Select & Zoom : Marquee Zoom to focus on an important piece of text/picture. Alt+PrintScreen can then be used to quickly transfer the piece to SuperMemo (via Ctrl+V or Shift+Ins in SuperMemo). Further zooming and processing can be done with Alt+click on a picture in SuperMemo (e.g. Ctrl+swipe to trim portions of the picture, and Esc to crop).

See also: Incremental_reading_in_pictures.


If you have a pro pdf program, it will usually allow saving pdf documents as graphic files, e.g. .jpeg files. So, you can save the pdf as a number of such files and incrementally read these graphic files.

Graphic files also have the following disadvantage: they usually take up far more disk space than html files. Therefore, if you decide to use graphic files in incremental reading, your collection will considerably grow in size.


Comment 1

Saving PDF as JPG has the disadvantage of not having the text instantly searchable in SuperMemo. Even article abstracts are useful to paste to HTML in at PDF import for search&review.

Comment #2

There are many free online OCR services (e.g. https://www.onlineocr.net/) that let you upload a PDF or picture, and convert it to a searchable text format