Smartr: Making Studying (Ever So Slightly) Fun

As a student, I know exactly how boring studying is. You spend all day locked in your room, poring over a textbook thick enough to stop a bullet at 30 yards, and trying to concentrate on those printed words while resisting the temptation to let your mind wander.

Sound familiar? I’m sure every student has been in this situation at least once and I can tell you now, it isn’t a fun one to be in. But studying doesn’t have to be a daily slog through endless sheets of notes and lifeless, black-and-white textbooks. There are plenty of ways to rekindle the ever so slight spark of fun in your studies.

Everyone has their own different study techniques, but I find that flash cards are a useful way of memorizing information quickly and easily. However, going down to Staples and buying a pack of note cards is a bit too 20th-century. In this digital age, we want something more modern and “flashy”.

This is where Smartr comes in. It is a small, lightweight flash card application for Mac OS X that helps you easily compile flash cards and test yourself on the computer. This avoids the need for hundreds of note cards lying around everywhere and saves you the time it takes to write them all out by hand.

Let’s take a look at Smartr in a bit more detail to see if it can really make studying less of a chore.


Smartr, from the Swedish developers Barefoot Hackers and Ocean Observations is a small, lightweight application available for the tidy price of £1.99 (around $3.40) in the Mac App Store. Installation takes no time at all, and once the program is up and installed, you are greeted by the nice, uncluttered home screen.

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The home screen of Smartr


Smartr has plenty of features packed into its simple interface.

You can mix the different kinds of flash cards described below in one stack.

Question & Answer Stacks

Stacks are your lists of flash cards. To create one, you simply click on New Stack and type in your question and answer.

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Creating a flash card in the Question/Answer mode

You can create as many question and answer flash cards as you please, entering any extra information you may require in the Notes box.


If you have to learn something about pictures during your study session, Smartr can help you with this as well. You simply drag a picture into the box and add the relevant description as well as any important notes.

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You can create flash cards with pictures as well


Trying to nail that enormous list of French vocabulary? Why not put all your vocabulary lists into Smartr and make it a bit more varied? You can add the word, the relevant translation, a description of the word (e.g. its type or gender), and a sample sentence to make remembering your vocabulary words a little bit easier.

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A vocabulary flash card in Smartr


If you find yourself studying Chinese or Japanese, Smartr can help you as you prepare to learn all of those tricky characters, thanks to its built-in Kanji/Hanzi mode. You can add the Roman version of each word or character along with the meaning, the type, and a short sample sentence.

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The Kanji/Hanzi mode in Smartr

Study Mode

Once you’ve created all your flash cards, you’ll want to start studying of course! To do this, you simply click on Study in the top-right hand corner. The app goes into full-screen mode (to avoid any distractions) and your created flash cards pop up. You then have to enter the correct answer using the keyboard.

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The full-screen study mode of Smartr

If you are not sure of the answer (or you simply want to cheat) you can click on Show Answer which reveals the answer and asks you whether you got it right or not.

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Be honest now...

Unfortunately there is no way of tallying up how many you got right or wrong (you’ll have to do this on a piece of paper) but the app does recognize which cards you have already looked at and revised, which is especially useful if you are constantly adding new ones.

If you have already looked at all your cards, then the app will give you an option to either Cram or take a well-earned break and carry on with your review later (I think I know what most people would say to this).

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The agony of choice


Smartr is a lovely, well-designed program that exhibits absolutely pure functionality in a simple and cheap application. It will prove itself a valuable tool for many students due to its wide range of features, low price tag, and overall design, which can help bring a bit of enjoyment to a normally mundane chore.

Now stop reading this review and get back to studying! Just remember to buy Smartr first.


A lightweight flash card creator for Mac OS X that is designed to help with your studies.