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Not sure if there's a canon answer for this or not, but in the Harry Potter books, how would a Remembrall be useful? Does it do more than just turn red when someone forgets something?

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    It's kinda like tying a string to your finger. Often, being reminded that there IS something to remember is all it takes to remember it. Sep 12, 2014 at 20:20
  • OK; I guess in Neville Longbottom's case, it wasn't that helpful, but what about in OotP where students aren't allowed to use them during exams? Doesn't sound like cheating to me? Sep 12, 2014 at 20:26
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    The chief value of the remembrall is to an author who needs an item of some fragility that's about the same size as a golden snitch...
    – msouth
    Sep 13, 2014 at 6:26

2 Answers 2

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Although they seem pretty useless in general (Neville states that he can never remember what he's forgotten) they do seem to have a more specific use as a cheating device for exams.

When the students take their OWLs, Professor McGonagall tells the students that they're banned:

‘Now, I must warn you that the most stringent anti-cheating charms have been applied to your examination papers. Auto-Answer Quills are banned from the examination hall, as are Remembralls, Detachable Cribbing Cuffs and Self-Correcting Ink.
HP & The Order of the Phoenix - Chapter 31 : O.W.L.s

Theoretically, a remembrall could remind you (when writing an answer) that you'd forgotten some important fact. While it wouldn't tell you what you'd forgotten, simply by warning you that "you've missed something!" could certainly be considered an unfair aid.

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    Ah! Thanks; I was wondering how they could be used to cheat. Sep 12, 2014 at 20:28
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    one could be used as a notification device, since they dont have cell phones at xtime you could have a meeting so you needed to remember to leave at y time to get their on time. so at Y time you forget and your rememberall goes off.
    – Himarm
    Sep 12, 2014 at 21:23
  • Why aren't Remembralls permanently red? Every single person on the planet has forgotten something. I've forgotten how to do Laplace Transforms, a good deal of German vocabulary, and what I had for dinner last Tuesday.
    – Wallnut
    Feb 1, 2018 at 9:16
  • @Wallnut - I think the key is that it's that you've notably forgotten something urgent.
    – Valorum
    Feb 1, 2018 at 9:32
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There’s the simple fact that knowing you’ve forgotten something may be enough to jog your memory, which is useful in-and-of itself. If the red smoke clears after you remember, then you have the added benefit of knowing that you haven’t forgotten something else.

If it’s a reliable indicator that you have or haven’t forgotten something (within a certain scope), then you can envision lots of uses. For example, if you’re in charge of the safety regulations at the Quidditch World Cup, then holding the Remembrall and only seeing white smoke might reassure you that you haven’t forgotten anything silly. You probably wouldn’t want to rely on it, but it’s always nice to have an additional check.

It’s also possible that there’s some way of using the Remembrall to retrieve the forgotten information. We know that their use is banned in controlled examinations:

“I must warn you that the most stringent Anti-Cheating Charms have been applied to your examination papers. Auto-Answer Quills are banned from the examination hall, as are Remembralls, Detachable Cribbing Cuffs, and Self-Correcting Ink.”

Order of the Phoenix, chapter 31 (O.W.L.s)

However, the details are never specified. Perhaps you can use it to recall specific facts, or perhaps it’s just a memory jog – either one would be useful.

(I distinctly recall reading about somebody using the Remembrall to recall specific information, but am unable to find a canon reference now.)

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  • +1 for the Health and Safety concept. It presumably could have warned Dumbledore about the vanishing cabinet.
    – Valorum
    Sep 12, 2014 at 20:42
  • @Richard I don't think rememberalls are that advanced. Dumbledore didn't forget about the vanishing cabinet, he just didn't know about it. So how could he remember what he never knew?
    – Philip
    Sep 12, 2014 at 22:42
  • @Philip - It's pure conjecture, but forgetting to check the Room of Requirement (to make sure it doesn't contain any devices that could be used to circumvent their anti-apparation protection) would surely cause the remembrall to go red.
    – Valorum
    Sep 12, 2014 at 23:20
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    @Richard That still seems a very specific idea. I presume in order to remember not having checked that, Dumbledore would have to have at some point considered that a thing that he needed to check. If all you ever know are 4 uses of unicorn hair, but there are actually 5, I don't think the Remebrall would consider you to have 'forgotten' it, if you fail to write 5.
    – Shisa
    Sep 12, 2014 at 23:24
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    @Shisa I agree. Also Richard with that vague of a definition of things to remember, it would always be red. Unless what you're doing all day is dead simple, there are always a ton of things that could go wrong but most likely won't. You could sit there for eternity making up things like "check every room in the castle for anti-apparation defeating devices"
    – Philip
    Sep 13, 2014 at 0:20

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