Anki: Proper Deck Organization

Anki allows users to easily download shared decks which other users have made. This is great, but importing them can cause a mess. If you import too many, you may even see this warning:

Anki Deck Count Warning

Even if you don’t have this warning, it’s still important to properly organize your Anki decks. In this post, I’ll show how to group subjects (like Japanese or Math) into common decks, while retaining the ability to study specific topics (like Japanese Grammar or Multiplication).

Importing Anki Deck

If starting from scratch, click Get Shared to navigate to the Anki Shared Deck page. From here, chose a deck you’d like to download. For this example, I’ll be using a three part Japanese Core2k/6k deck, as well as seperate Kanji and Grammar decks. I’ve also downloaded Korean Grammar and Vocabulary decks, as well as two Math decks to add some variety. Click Import File at the bottom to add the new decks to your collection.

Too Many Anki Decks

Setting Tags

Tags are like keywords used to organize your cards. It makes grouping and searching cards easier. Because we’ll be merging decks together later, make sure to set up your tags while the decks are still seperate. Some Anki shared decks come with a few tags already. Mine came with quite a lot. Make sure to look at whats already included, and add any additional tags you think you may need.

To do this, click Browse from the top menu. This will open the Anki card browser, which looks like this:

Anki Card Browser

On the left sidebar, you’ll see a list of your decks, their note types, and any tags that are already assigned. If you don’t see this menu, click Go > Sidebar from the top menu.

From the sidebar, select one of the decks you just added. Next click Edit > Select All. This will highlight all cards in the deck.

Card Browser All Cards

With all cards in that deck selected, click Notes > Add Tags. Use this prompt to add relevent and specific tags to the current deck. These tags should be space seperated, not comma seperated.

Anki Add Tags

The first deck I’m fixing is the Japanese Core2k/6k Part 01 deck, so I’m adding japanese vocabulary core2k_6k core2k_6k_pt01. You should use tags that make sense for your deck.

After clicking okay, the tags are listed alphabetically as selectors in the left pane, as well as being listed on the bottom of each card in the Tags field.

Anki Cards with New Tags

Afterwards I selected the Part 02 deck, and added the tags japanese vocabulary core2k_6k core2k_6k_pt02. Notice how I mentioned the change to core2k_6k_pt02. Once the decks are merged, this will allow the parts to still be distinguished. Not really necessary, since the parts are meant to be studied as a whole, but if for whatever reason I needed to split the decks, it will be a heck of a lot easier with a seperate tag.

Afterwards double check the tags. If you messed them up, reselect the cards, go to Notes > Delete Tags. Here you can delete individual tags, or all of them.

I’m going to go ahead and add tags to the rest of my decks. Here are some of the decks and the additional tags I added:

Deck Tags
All in one Kanji - RTK order (new edition) japanese kanji AiO_Kanji
Core 2k/6k Optimized Japanese Vocabulary with Sound Part XX japanese vocabulary core2k_6k core2k_6k_ptXX
Jtest4you » N3 japanese Jtest4you grammar N3
Korean Vocabulary by Evita korean vocabulary evita
Korean Grammar by Evita korean grammar evita
Math » 1. Derivatives » 1.2 Trigonometric math derivatives trig
Multiplication Table 2x1 through 20x20. 100% Spreadsheet-built (Error-free)” math multiplication

Personally, I like to add the subject (Japanese/Korean/Math), topic (Vocabulary/Grammar/Trig), and name of the original deck. If the author chose to split the deck into subdecks, I’ll add the subdecks as tags too.

Deck Consolidation

Now that proper tags are set, the final thing to do is to rename and merge the decks. Hold Shift and select all the decks you are going to merge. Once again go to Edit > Select All. Scroll through the card browser to ensure you’ve selected the correct decks. Then select Cards > Change Decks > Add. Type an appropriate name for the new deck and hit OK. For my first deck, I’m naming it Japanese.

Anki New Deck

All your cards should now be in the new deck, with no cards in any of the old decks. If you missed a deck, click the remaining associated decks, and again select Cards > Change Decks. This time select the newly created deck instead of Add, and select Move Cards.

I’ve gone ahead and finished making the Japanese, Korean, and Math decks.


Back on the deck menu, the new decks should be available, but the old decks are also still there.

Anki Delete Deck

Let’s delete the old, empty decks, by selecting the gear symbol to the right of each deck, and selecting Delete. If you did the move correctly, the decks will delete right away. If not, it will warn that you are deleting cards. Afterwards, we’ll have a nice clean list of decks, and the warning went away.

Anki Clean Decks

Now, when adding additional decks, make sure to merge into these new common decks.


So what if you only want to study grammar, and not vocabulary? Maybe you want to stick to part 2 of the Core deck, and skip part 1. Perhaps you want to study both Japanese and Korean vocabulary, but only cards with a certain difficulty, added within the last 2 weeks, while the moon is high in the night sky.

That’s where filtering comes into place. Filtering allows us to study only a portion of the larger common deck. Honestly, Anki filtering can be an entire article on its own, but I’ll give the basics here.

Head back into the card browser.

The list in the sidebar can be used to filter your decks. Pressing an item will cause the browser to only show cards that match that criteria.

Note the Filter button next to the search bar. Clicking it shows the same selectors as the sidebar, with a few extra. Play around with the different options, noticing how the search bar changes.

Anki Filtering

Multiple search terms can be combined with the words and or or. If neither is supplied, and is assumed. Advanced logic can be achieved using paranthesis such as: ( A and B) or C

Once you’re done, copy the query that appears in the search bar.

I’ll be using this query I built, which makes a list of Trigonmetry and Japanese grammar cards, which is totally normal…

Anki Filtered Example

Exit back to the deck browser and select Tools > Create Filtered Deck. Paste the search query you made into the box labeled Search.

Anki Create Filtered Deck

Make sure cards are selected by Order due, and Reschedule cards based on my answers in this deck is checked.

After hitting build, your filtered deck will appear with the others. From here, the gear symbol allows renaming and deleting of the filtered deck. Deleteing the filtered deck will not delete any cards that are within it. They will still be available from their main decks.

Anki Clean Decks

You can review the filtered deck just like your others, and progress will be merged back into the main decks.

Anki Filtered Deck After reviewing all the cards in the filtered deck, the Rebuild button can be used to repopulate the deck, based off the provided query. The Empty button removes cards from the filtered deck, though they’ll still be available in the main deck. The Options menu allows you to rebuild the query, as well as change the other initial options.


And that’s it. This technique will help declutter your decks, and bring some much needed sanity back to your study. Hopefully I helped demistify one of the more confusing parts of Anki.