Alphasmart Dana SD Card Tutorial

October 21, 2014

To save a Alphaword document on an SD card:

1. If you have not already inserted an SD card in your Alphasmart Dana, do it now!

  • Your SD card should be 1 GB or smaller, as the Dana only handles text and doesn't need a lot of room to store information. 
    • SD cards larger than 1 GB cannot be used with the Alphasmart Dana.
  • You do not need to fill both slots with SD cards for this to work; one will easily suffice.

2. Open an existing file or create a new one, then tap the file tab bearing the document's name. (It's probably titled "Unnamed.") A horizontal menu bar will appear.

3. Under file, tap "SAVE AS." A small drop-down menu with a black arrow will appear near the space provided to enter a file name. Tap the arrow and select the desired SD card from the list.

4. Enter a file name and tap OK.

5. Congrats—your file has been saved to your SD card!

To open a document saved to an SD card on your Dana:

1. Open a new file. Tap the file tab bearing the document's name. (It's probably titled "Unnamed.") A horizontal menu bar will appear.

2. Tap "Open."

3. On the far upper right-hand corner of the screen, tap on the small black arrow. A drop-down menu will appear.

4. Tap on the name of your SD card.

5. A list of documents stored on your SD card will load. Tap the document you want to open and presto!—there it is.

To access information (memory left, card name, etc) about the SD cards:

1. Press the Home button on your keyboard. (It's on the top far right just above the backspace button.)

2. Tap the "Card Info" button on the home page screen.

3. Tap the small black arrow to alternate between cards.

To Transfer the Contents of your SD Card to your Computer

1. Save your current file and press the "Home" key on your Dana.
2. Press down on the SD card to eject.
3. Use one of the following methods to load the SD drive on your computer:

4. Double-click the SD card's disk image on your computer.

  • Palm>Programs>Alphaword

5. Drag to desktop or right-click the PDB files you want to save to your computer.

To read/convert PDB files on your computer : where I got nothin'.

Unless you have an older computer with PalmOS capabilities, you'll need a mechanism that converts .pdb files to .rtf (rich text format), .txt (plain text), or a similar equivalent. I've looked everywhere for a solution, but there's nothing to my knowledge that can convert a .pdb Wordsmith file which doesn't require some programming knowledge. (Installing the old PalmOS software may be an option depending on your operating system, but it's unfortunately too outdated to run on most computers.) Sites like can't process this particular type of PDB file either, I'm afraid.

My advice is to save your documents to SD cards and plan to use them for only that purpose. All data stored directly on your device will be lost when the Dana's batteries die or are removed, so saving to an SD card is critical.  If you need an SD card, look on Amazon or eBay for cards that are 1 GB or less in size.

To transfer the text to your computer, use a Type A Male to Type B Male USB cable to 'send' the material into an open document that accepts text (Word, Scrivener, PlainText, GoogleDocs, etc). If you've owned several printers, chances are that you have one of these laying around; if not, they're inexpensive on Amazon and eBay and look like this:

[via Amazon]
Cables marked as "2.0" and "3.0" are safe to use with the Dana. Even though they're more recent, they're backward compatible with older devices.

To 'Send' Text to your Computer from your Alphasmart Dana

1. Use the USB cord to connect your Dana to your computer. 

2. Open both a program capable of receiving text (Word, a blank email in Gmail, etc) on your computer as well as the document on your Dana that you want to transfer.

3. By pressing the "send" button on the upper right-hand corner of your Dana, your keystrokes will be re-typed into the open document. (You won't lose the copy that's currently on your Dana once this process is done—you'll need to delete it manually from the Dana itself.)

I'll keep you guys posted on the PDB conversion situation; similarly, let me know if you've found a solution!


  1. Thanks for this! Hadn't used the Dana in years...

  2. Hey Kat! How nice to see some other Dana lovers still out there.
    There is an application alled CardTXT, which I use to store text as .txt on my SD card. Try it, it's still available on the internet. Good luck!

    1. Oh, I have to add, it has a limit of 4 mb it can handle. CardTXT is a free option, but you could also consider looking up old commercial applications, like Documents To Go, QuickOffice or TealDoc.

    2. Thank you for the heads up about CardTXT!

      (I feel dumb for asking this, but how did you install the program on your Dana? I have yet to find any helpful instructions for this online!)

  3. Hey! Thank you for your review of the Dana which led to my purchase of the very same model. Regarding the conversion problem I found this little tool which batch converts pdb into both txt and rtf and seems to work quite well:

    1. That's so cool (and I hope you're enjoying your Dana)! It's too bad they don't have a Mac version...I'd use the hell out of it.

  4. Kat:

    Long-time Dana user -- if you want to move files back and forth without relying on special Windows software, there is an option:

    CardTXT widescreen, placed on your SD card. It is a program for writing plain text files only (you can't do bold, italic, chapter heads, not much in the way of fonts, but you can use Markdown formatting *for italics* **for bold** #for Chapter Heading 1, or using Microsoft Word's formatting _for italic_ *for bold*

    You can write and save files in plain .txt format (plain text), then pop the memory card into a card reader on your PC and move plain text files back and forth at your leisure.

    As always with a Dana, save your files frequently to your memory card so if the batteries die out, you still have the files saved.

    I have used this solution for several years with no data loss and the benefits of a portable word processor -- while I prefer the AlphaSmart neo because of better battery life and the more readable screen, the advantage of CardTXT on the Dana is that you can move plain text files back and forth without needing to rely on a software solution.

    You can get the CardTXT widescreen software at:

    1. Thanks for the info and link, Bill—will definitely check this out! (Fingers crossed it works with Mac computers...)


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