Getting Started

Welcome to Cardsmith. We’ve put together this information to help you get a quick and happy start to using Cardsmith. The video below is the best place to start. Keep reading on below the video for more specific information about other features.

Creating Boards and Cards

Creating a New Blank Board

To create a new board and name it, click on the “+” sign on the My Boards screen. A cursor will appear that allows you to create a title for your new board. To change the board’s title from the My Boards screen, choose “Rename Board” from the board’s menu, located in the bottom right corner as you mouse over the board. You can also rename the board when you’re in the board by clicking on the title.

Creating from a Template Board

To create from a template board, click on the “+” sign on the “Create From Template” on the My Boards screen. This will take you to our Template Library where you can filter and choose from a number of familiar templates. Click on a template to read the description and click “Use This Board” to have it copied into your boards.

A few of the templates use a “Background Card” which is an image you can place cards on top of. If you need to display your board on different size screens, you have the option to configure the dimensions of that background card image. Go to the top left board menu and choose Unlock Background Card. Then you can use the sizing handles to change the height or width of the background image to whatever suits your current display. If you want a custom background image you can send an email to, and have it added to your available background images.


Getting to Know Your Menus


When you’re in an open board, you’ve got several useful menus in the upper right. Let’s look at what they do.


  • Zoom: Changes the size of your cards on the board.
  • Board View: Changes your board from Freeform view to Tile view or Grid view.
  • Card View: Changes the information you see when you’re looking at the card faces, anything from a short title, to some labels and values, to an image, and more.
  • Sharing: Here’s where you can see who’s sharing your board currently and what permissions they have. You can add new shared users here, too.
  • Board Comments: Leave comments for other board users to read. Premium accounts will always see Board Comments; Basic accounts will see Board Comments when someone has shared a board with them. Everyone can leave comments as well as delete their own, but the board owner can delete anyone’s comment.
  • Your account: Your log in name, account information, and the log out button.

Card Terminology

  • The Card Face is the virtual front of the card. What you see on the face depends on what Card View you’ve chosen for your board.
  • When you’re looking at the card face, you’re also seeing a card in Closed Card View.
  • To get to Open Card View, click on a card face and now you have an expanded view of the card. Click the “X” in the top corner or anywhere outside of the card to close that view.
  • Every card has a Title and a Card Menu. You can see and edit the Title on the Card Face in Closed Card View, or in Open Card View. You can also access the Card Menu using the icon on the lower right of the card, in both Closed or Open View.
  • Each card has the potential for many Fields, and each field has a label and a value. Entering in text for Label is optional.
  • For text fields, the value is some string of text.
  • For checklists, the values are the items in our checklist.
  • And for image fields, the value is the image itself.

Adding Cards

To add cards, click on a board to open it. On a new board, which starts in Freeform view, click and hold anywhere in the board to add a new card.

In Tile or Grid view, click on the ‘+’ button and you’ve created a card. You can create any number of cards this way, just keep clicking on the + sign.

An alternative method to use if you’re adding several cards at once is when you’re finished entering a title for a new card, simply hit the ENTER key. A new card will be created for you with a flashing cursor prompting you to enter the newest card’s title.

Copying Cards

Cards can be copied with or without data. This is a handy feature because sometimes you’ve got a set of labels that are the same across multiple cards, but you don’t want to add the values to the new card, especially when you’re in Grid view and you want to total number values.

To copy a card, choose either ‘Copy Card’ or ‘Copy Card with Data’ from the Card’s menu. This will create a new card in the same board you’re working on. Copy Card will copy the labels and the card’s color only, while Copy Card With Data copies labels and their values, after which you’re free to change anything on the new card, from the card title to any labels or values.

If you find yourself copying cards a little too often, check out how to use default cards.

Moving Cards

Inside a board:

Cards are meant to be free. When you’re on a board in tile view, you can drag cards to sort their order. As you drag, you’ll see a preview image that will show you where the card will show up if you drop it there. Keep dragging until the card is where you want it, then drop.

To a different board:

You can also move cards to another one of your boards. From the menu of the card you want to move, choose “Move To”. A window will pop up asking you for the destination board. The card will be removed from the current board and added to the board you designate.

Adding More Information to Cards

It’s completely up to you what you want to add to a card: you can add just values, or give those values names by adding a label. To add values to a card, click on the “T” icon to add text data (words, numbers, dates, anything you type!). If you’re adding a Text field, just start typing the value. If you want, you can label this value by clicking on the word “Label” above the value, but you don’t have to. Labels are important, though, if you’re going to be totaling number fields using the Grid Totals function in a Grid board.

To add an image to your card, click on the Image icon to the right of the Text icon. You can then either drag an image from your desktop into the card or browse to add an image.

To add a checklist to your card, click on the Checklist icon to the right of the Image icon. You can then add new items to your checklist by clicking the ‘+’ after the last item, or hit the ENTER key while editing the last item.

Card Color and View Options

Change a card’s color and icon:

Cardsmith has a wide variety of colors available for your cards. To change colors for a card, hover over the card to get to the menu, then just choose a different color from the color palette by clicking on a color.

Below the color palette, you will also see card icons. Select an icon and it will show up on the card’s face both when opened or closed. To remove the card icon, open the card’s menu, then select ‘Remove Icon’.

Change the card view:

You can also change the information that you see on the card face when you’re looking at your entire board. There’s a variety of views you can choose by clicking the card view icon in the upper right of your board. As you choose a new view with the menu open, the cards will change to the new view.

And finally, you can zoom and in out of your board, regardless of the card view you choose. Use the slider on the menu, moving to the left to shrink the cards, and right to enlarge them. Though your browser may or may not have the ability to zoom in or out on an entire page, this slider lets you change the size of the cards only, without affecting any other elements on the page, or anything on other browser pages.

Default Cards

If you want a card that will serve as a template, you can create a default card. You have to be the board owner to do this, so you can’t create or edit default cards on boards that are shared with you.

How to Create A Default Card:

In Board View, go to the menu on the upper left and choose ‘Create Default Card’. Add whatever fields you want here, and optionally choose a color or an icon. Anything that you can do with the card menu can be added to your default card.

Now when you create a new card, it will automatically look the same and have the same fields.

How to Edit a Default Card:

Go back to upper left menu and choose Edit Default Card. Add or remove fields as needed. You can even add values to the fields, either as a placeholder or as prompt for the type of information.

Keep in mind that changing the default card structure will only affect new cards created later. The changes you make here won’t affect existing cards that were created from a previous version of your default card.

How to Make an Existing Card into the Default:

You don’t have to start from scratch. If you’ve already got a card that has the fields or values you want, you can go to the card menu and choose to set that one as the default card instead.

Deleting and Archiving

Delete a field:

To delete information from a card, click the card to open it, then hover over the value you want to delete. Click the trash can icon to delete the entire field from the card. This will not affect any values on other cards you might have copied before.

Delete a card:

To delete an entire card from the board, hover over the card and choose ‘Delete Card’ from the menu. The card will be instantly deleted. Keep in mind there’s no going back here. Once you delete a card, it cannot be undone.

Delete a board:

To delete an entire board, go back to the My Boards screen, and choose ‘Delete Board’ from the menu of the board you want to delete. Since we want to make sure you don’t lose information accidentally, you’ll see a popup window asking you if you’re sure you want to delete. Choose OK, and your board is deleted.

Archive a board:

Users with a Premium account can archive boards they no longer want to see on their home board. To archive a board, go back to the My Boards screen, and choose ‘Archive Board’ from the menu of the board you want to archive. An archived board behaves exactly like an unarchived board. If it is public or shared, it will still be in your board archive. To visit your board archive, click the home board menu then select ‘View Archived Boards…’ From there you can unarchive or delete a board.

Using Connectors

If you want to show relationships between your cards, Cardsmith lets you create connectors.

The first step is easy, go to the card menu, choose “Link To…”. The card you’re linking gets a little colored glow, and then the next card you click on will be the one that’s linked.

The default is just a line that links the 2 cards, and if you move the cards, of course, the connector moves with you, and it stays sticky to the most convenient side of the card automatically.

If a straight line isn’t enough, you can also add arrows to either end of the line or both, so this could be to indicate a dependency of some kind, or steps in a process that need to happen in a certain order, or project flow, if you want to get technical. You can also choose to color the connector, which is a great way to be able to differentiate different processes, for example, if you’ve got several sets of connectors.

Optionally you can also give the connector a label to make the relationship type more obvious.

Board Activity

If you’ve got a larger board with a lot of cards, it might be helpful to see what’s been done on the board most recently. This allows you to have a timeline of board activity.

When you’re displaying the board you want, go to the icons on the upper right of the screen for the arrow in a circle. When you click the arrow you’ll see all the activity that’s happened since the board was created, no matter who initiated it.

The Board Activity window displays descriptions of changes to the content of cards, the creation or deletion of cards, and anything to do with links. Activity that won’t be shown here is changing your view of the board, or moving the cards around. Browsing board activity gives you an easy, structured way to know how other contributors on your team have been working with the board content. Once you’ve seen the activity in the list, you can click on it to open the associated card. The only exception to this of course would be if the card is marked as deleted.

Using the Grid View

Changing to the Grid View

Use the Board View menu to change your board to a grid. The Board can be changed back to Tile View at any time, and the ordering of your cards will be the same.

When you first change your Board to Grid view, all of your cards will be located in the Hidden Cards (previously known as Unfiled Cards) area at the bottom of the browser window. Drag the cards into a cell to move them on to the grid. You can freely move cards back and forth between the cells in the grid, and the Hidden Cards area.

If you want the Hidden Cards area to take up less space, click the ‘X’ next to the words “Hidden Cards” and the area will collapse. Click the arrow that replaces it to expand it to its original size. You can also change the size of the Hidden Cards area by dragging with your mouse from the top edge of the area when it’s not collapsed.

Using Rows and Columns

To add a row or column, choose an existing row or column, hover over its header, click its menu, then select the appropriate option. For columns, you can insert to the left or right of your chosen column. For rows, insert above or below your chosen row.

To delete a row or column, choose the Delete option from the row or column menu. Any cards in the deleted cells will be automatically sent to the Hidden Cards area.

To change the height of a row, try dragging the row border with your mouse. If it doesn’t respond, you need to choose “Use Adjustable Rows” from the menu at the upper left of the browser window, then drag rows to your chosen size.

To change the width of a row, choose “Use Adjustable Columns” from the same menu, then drag.

To reorder columns or rows, just drag them to their new location by selecting a blank area of the row or column header (Not the name or the menu area). You cannot turn a row into a column this way, because that would just be confusing.

Using Grid Totals

To use Grid Totals, you must be in a Grid view. First, make sure all the fields you want totaled have the same label. Next, go to the Board menu in the upper left corner, and select ‘Grid Totals’. A window will pop up with a list of all the labeled fields in your board. Check the appropriate box to total a field across rows or columns. When you show totals for a field, you can also show its Grand Totals by checking the box at the bottom of the list.

Sharing Boards

Sending an Invitation to Your Board

To share your board, click on the Sharing menu in the upper right.

To invite a new person to your board, enter their email address. If you want to give them Collaborator permission to your board—so they can add cards, edit card information, or delete cards—make sure the pencil icon to the right of the email address is selected and darkened. To give them View Only permission, unselect the pencil icon. You can always change the permission later by going back to their name in the Sharing menu, and selecting or unselecting the pencil icon. You can also remove the person from seeing your board entirely by choosing ‘Remove People’ in the Sharing menu.

Sharing permissions

There are 2 permission levels that a shared board’s owner can give: View Only or Collaborator. View Only permission only lets you see the cards, change the Card and Board View, and zoom in and out. However, the changes are not permanent. Collaborator is essentially an Author and Editor permission. You can create new cards, delete cards, and change information on existing cards.

Sharing a Public Board

To create a public sharing link, choose ‘Share Publicly’ from the Sharing menu. This will create a link that gives View Only access to your board to anyone who knows the link.

Premium account users can share a board as a collaborative public board. This allows anyone with the link to act as a collaborator. To toggle whether or not a board is shared as View Only or Collaborative, open the Sharing menu and select the appropriate option.

Copying a Shared Board

From your Shared Boards area, choose “Copy Board” to make your own copy of a shared board. You are the owner of the new board, and any changes you make locally will not affect the original shared board, regardless of the permissions you were given by the original shared board’s owner.

Using @mentions

Setting up your @username:

If you are a new user, you will be prompted to create a @username when you create your account. If you were a user before we started requiring that, you’ll be greeted with a pop-up window when you log in, asking you to do just that. @usernames are unique across Cardsmith, so you’ll need to pick one that no one else is using. Now you’re ready to be part of board comment threads.

Leaving an @mention:

Share the board with someone or multiple people. The other users you’ve shared a board with make up the universe of users you can leave @ comments for.

Once you’ve shared the board, view the comments by clicking the Board Comments menu in the upper right. When you type an @ sign, you’ll get a list of all your board’s shared users. Choose their @username, leave your comment, and they’ll be notified that you mentioned them.

Getting an @mention:

When you go back to Board View, you’ll see a red circle with a number indicating how many comments are waiting for you on a board. You can go to that board to see the message and respond.