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Get the most from your new Kindle Fire tablet computer

Updated on October 7, 2014

Kindle Fire Help Desk

A collection of tips and tricks for setting up and using the Amazon Kindle Fire, the next generation tablet computer from Amazon. Troubleshooting and basic information about the Kindle for new owners, with access to tutorials and shortcuts to experience the best of this revolutionary tablet computer.

Learn how to use the preloaded apps and the Kindle Fire Gallery for photographs and sketches. Fill your new Kindle with a personalized selection of your favorite magazines and ebooks, the most popular games, and download plenty of free apps directly from the Amazon Free App a Day.

You'll see the welcome screen when you first turn on your new Kindle Fire, with all the menu headings across the top of the screen. Then, you'll be prompted to add your Amazon account information to activate the computer and begin using it. Finally, go through a brief tutorial with an introduction to all the menus. This article is arranged with the same menu headings.

Help Desk Topics

  1. General Settings

    Turning on the Kindle for the first time and optimizing the main settings

  2. Newsstand

    Popular magazines, newspapers and interactive content

  3. Amazon eBooks and library books

    Sources for free ebooks on Amazon and from your local public library

  4. Music with Amazon Cloud Drive

    Import all your music with Cloud Player in high-quality audio

  5. Streaming Video

    Get thousands of free videos with Amazon Prime

  6. Documents and Image Gallery

    Storing and editing your personal documents and images on the road

  7. Apps for Kindle Fire

    Apps in dozens of categories for games and productivity

  8. Web Browser

    Amazon Silk and Dolphin web browsers for Kindle Fire

Much more than an e-book reader, the New Kindle Fire HDX gives you all the benefits of a tablet computer by leveraging the power of fast, cloud computing with ready access to the complete line of digital products from Amazon, subsidized by the low base-price of the machine.


1. General settings

The Basics - There are two requirements for using a Kindle Fire under warranty

1. All payments made with the Kindle use the Amazon 1-Click Payment system which requires a credit card or Gift Card.Note: Register a gift card to your account before you place the order.

2. If you're registered to an Amazon.com account, but live outside the United States, Amazon may have some limits on media available.Note: Kindle Fire HD is currently available in over 170 countries and territories.

Settings menu

Adjusting the factory default settings is one of the first steps to take when you boot up a new Kindle. Getting the settings right can help to keep your machine secure and running fast, using all the advanced features of this powerful, paperback book-sized tablet computer.

Sideloading apps vs. Rooting

Simply stated, "sideloading" apps onto your Kindle is permitted by Amazon and has no effect on the standard warrantee. Amazon even gives you a way to allow sideloaded apps in Settings > More > Device > Allow Installation of Applications From Unknown Sources. The default setting is to restrict sideloading to protect the computer from potentially malicious software from "unknown sources". Make sure the software you load comes from a trusted source.

"Rooting" the Kindle Fire will void the Amazon warrantee. The operating system is removed from the internal memory when a device is rooted, and then a different operating system is installed. Amazon created their own custom version of the Android operating system for Kindle Fire. Experienced users can replace this version with the latest version of Android or any other tablet operating system.

Security and Privacy on Kindles

Parental controls

Set the wi-fi security restrictions on the Kindle to control surfing the web. This is an effective way of preventing unauthorized purchases on your account and to protect your information if the computer is lost.

Enable password protected Wi-fi in the Settings > More ... > Restrictions menu. After setting your new password, a key icon will appear on the top of the screen. Be sure to check that the wifi is turned off before giving the Kindle to your kids.

In-app purchasing is turned on by default, which means that buying new game levels and upgrades, for example, will be automatically charged to your account. You can opt-out of this completely in the main settings menu. Parental controls can be enabled in the settings menu for password protected in-app Purchasing. These settings can be different for each device connected to the Appstore.

Message on apps which allow purchases:

PLEASE NOTE: This app lets you purchase digital content using actual money. You can configure parental controls for in-app purchases, which will require your Amazon account password or a 4-digit PIN, by tapping the Menu icon and then Settings.

Saving battery life

Turn off wi-fi at all times when not in use (no ads!)

Turn the brightness down with the main settings.

Read books with white text on a black screen.

Change the settings to check for new email manually.

Battery Doctor
Battery Doctor

Battery Doctoris installed on my Kindle AND iPhone. Recharge the battery completely with a trickle charge at the end of each cycle.

 

Long-term battery life

Keep your battery working efficiently over time

Free app that you can get for all your mobile devices to keep the battery at peak efficiency. Any kind of battery saver application is required to extend the life of the battery. Reminders from the app teach you good charging habits to potentially double the life of the battery.


2. Newsstand

Kindle Newstand

Magazines and newspapers can be delivered in two different ways on the Kindle: with an a separate app, like WIRED magazine for example, or by subscription to the publication using the Kindle Newsstand. Subscribe to your favorite magazines via wi-fi by tapping the Store button in the Kindle Fire Magazine menu. Search through dozens of Magazines, Newspapers, Kindle Books or Interactive Magazines.

Find current magazines in 9 different categories like Arts, Business, Lifestyle and Sports. And just like browsing online at Amazon, when you pick a category, you can refine the selection by Price, Popularity and Average Customer Review. Note that while some of the magazines say they're free, look for the fine print that reads: Subscription may be required.

If you can't find your magazine at the Kindle newsstand, it might be delivered by a separate application stored in the apps menu.

Newspapers delivered daily from the United States, Europe and other international news sources. Publications are arranged by regions at Amazon and all are delivered wirelessly to your device so it's ready to read, first thing in the morning.

Accessing magazine apps

Your subscription to most print magazines entitles you to view the online edition. Some magazines are accessed using a separate app that requires setting up an account and downloading each new issue onto your Kindle. Old issues need to be manually "archived" to free-up space on the internal memory.

It takes some time to download magazine apps which can be as large as 200 Mb. For this reason, it's a good idea to use your settings to keep the Kindle awake for at least 15 minutes to avoid interrupting a magazine download. Settings > Display > Screen Timeout over 15 minutes can affect overall battery life. If the machine does go into standby, the magazine download can be continued when you wake up the Kindle.

Search for "subscriber services" for a magazine to help you reset the password for your account. Use this web page to reset your password for the New Yorker

Print magazine subscribers get free digital versions

The digital version of WIRED magazine is more entertaining than the print version. Fantastic animated images at the beginning of articles, flash movies, cool navigation through the articles, and videos that play seamlessly without a wi-fi connection. Very impressive.

Note: Keep your magazine address label. You need the code on the label to get your magazine subscription delivered to the Kindle. Be sure to keep the mailing label when it's printed on a separate sheet of paper.

Reader Poll: pocket sized computers

Which tablet computer do you have, or want?

See results

3. Finding eBooks

Find free eBooks for Kindle Fire

Convenient way to sort through 16 categories of fiction and non-fiction, including editors' picks of the best free eBooks for Android mobile devices.

Kindle Buffet: Find and download the best free books, magazines and newspapers for your Kindle, iPhone, iPad or Android
Kindle Buffet: Find and download the best free books, magazines and newspapers for your Kindle, iPhone, iPad or Android

Covers of each book are displayed on the page with brief description and price information. Each item has a direct link to download to "Your Apps and Devices".

 
Source

eBooks and public library loans

Amazon is the first word for books on any subject

There is an almost infinite number of free books available to checkout from your local library. Hundreds of current bestsellers can be accessed at Amazon, and all of them can fit into your back pocket with the Kindle Fire or any kind of tablet computer or smartphone.

Amazon has hundreds of "Kindle Free Classics" and enough free e-books online to fill a lifetime of reading. An annual membership to Amazon Prime also gives you access to hundreds of free books and magazines, streaming movies, TV shows and free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime.

Websites with free eBooks

Find more free books and mobile documents. Download a curated selection of ebooks that are free for only a few days, when the author takes advantage of this option as a promotion for their book. Some days there are dozens of titles that you can quickly skim through just to see if the book is any good. Convert many popular eBooks to the Kindle format using Calibre -- a free online ebook manager.

Cherubs on the desk
Cherubs on the desk | Source

Download free ebooks - Books in the Public Domain

Public Domain Day! January 1st
Celebrating the books, artwork, magazines and music that becomes freely available in the public domain on New Years Day each year. Complete list of pubic dom...

2013 Public Domain authors and artists
The huge volume of work by L. M. Montgomery who wrote the Anne of Green Gables series, and books by prolific American author A. E. Waite, are the most well-...

Library book reminders

The message below came in the email this morning from Amazon. I need to hurry up and finish my first e-book that I borrowed from my local public library. Amazon sends a reminder message three days before your ebook is due to be returned. Add the email address digital-noreply@amazon.com to your whitelist of approved email senders to receive notifications about your Kindle library books.

To get an ebook, find it at your participating local library using your library card. They can send the ebook to Amazon where you can download it to a Kindle, or choose different formats for many kinds of tablet computers and smartphones.

Your public library loan will expire in 3 days

Hello Kindle Fire user,

Your public library book will expire in 3 days. If you purchase Secrets of The Lost Symbol: The Unauthorized Guide to the Mysteries Behind The Da Vinci Code Sequel from the Kindle Store or borrow it again from your local library, all of your notes and highlights will be preserved.

You can actually read the library book until the next time you connect to wi-fi. Then, the book is automatically "returned" and removed from the memory.

Visit the Public Library Books For Kindle Help Page at Amazon to borrow ebooks from your local library.

4. Amazon Cloud Drive

Amazon uses the Cloud Drive to store your music online. Stream music directly to the Kindle Fire when you have a wi-fi connection. MP3 music files do not live on your tablet, they're in the cloud on Amazon's server farms around the world so they can be delivered on demand to your Kindle for free. This lets you save room on the memory for eBooks and other things.

Easily upload your music library from a computer to the cloud with the Amazon Cloud Player desktop application. The first time I used the player it downloaded the current version of the player software. Launch the Cloud Player from Your Kindle Library online at Amazon using the Manage your MP3s link in the lower left side of the page.

Your music can also be downloaded onto your tablet or smart phone so you can play music without a wi-fi connection. Simply navigate to your Music library and tap the "Cloud" button to see what's stored on your Cloud Drive. Then, long-press the song, album or playlist that you want and select "download". There is a 5 MB limit on the free Cloud Drive storage, with the option to upgrade for more storage space.

The internal memory is the place to keep your Newsstand, Books, Music, and Videos that have been downloaded to the Kindle. Downloading 100 songs from the cloud doesn't even put a dent in the 5.36 GB available memory on the Internal Storage. Check your Setting > Device menu to see the remaining memory and battery life available.

5. Streaming Video

One benefit of my subscription to Amazon Prime is access to thousands of free movies and TV shows. Tap the Video panel on the Kindle and browse through a list of free "Prime Instant Video" movies. Get direct access to your personal Watchlist to save a list of your favorite movies and TV shows to watch. Amazon Prime also gives you free 2-day shipping for qualifying merchandise.

Join Amazon Prime - Watch Over 100,000 Movies and TV shows

A subscription to Amazon Prime is one of the best investments for getting the most from your new Kindle Fire tablet computer. They give you thousands of movies and current TV shows to watch absolutely free. Download movies and watch them on the road, or stream them directly from the "cloud". Borrow free books from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library, and get discounts only available to Prime Subscribers. By far, the best perk is getting unlimited FREE two-day shipping with no minimum order size. This feature has saved me tons of money throughout the year.


6. Documents

Simply email PFD documents and images to the email address listed on the Kindle Fire Docs panel -- usually your name: first.last@kindle.com. Kindle comes with a built-in PDF reader, and you can download the free Adobe Acrobat Reader program.

I started using Send to Kindle (by Klip.me) because it converts webpages to an attractive PDF format and they are stored as Kindle Docs to read during lunch or sitting on the train.

Documents and spreadsheets

For MS Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and even Powerpoint presentations, there are two programs that allow you to work with documents just like a desktop program. Read the product description to see dozens of file formats a full-featured tools.


Anywhere Spreadsheet
Anywhere Spreadsheet

Specialized program just for spreadsheets including a dozen templates for a Sale Price Calculator, Thank-you note list, Weight Tracker, Running Log, Road Trip Log or Gas Mileage Log.

 
OfficeSuite Professional
OfficeSuite Professional

Very good at working on documents with a mobile device and retaining all the options found in the desktop version like bullets and spreadsheet formulas.

 

7. Kindle Appstore

Appstore

The universal, fix-all solution to many software problems is to remove the application from the device, and then reinstall the app. Be sure to remove the program directly on the device by long-pressing the icon. The "intent menu" pops up and you can select delete. You can reload the app again without having to go through the shopping cart. The application remains in the cloud until you delete it permanently from your account on the Amazon website when you "manage your Kindle".

One benefit of an Amazon Prime subscription is the chance to get credit for free music downloads when you buy other items and select the "take your time and deliver it in four or five days" option. Choose this during the busy Christmas shopping season, or anytime, to get free MP3 songs.

8. Silk Web Browser

Using the web appication

Where are my downloads?

The Kindle Fire browser is designed to load pages quickly in countries around the world using Amazon's global network of computers. After visiting hundreds of pages in a few weeks, I noticed that the internal memory was fulling up on the Kindle. Then one day I looked inside the settings and found the Downloads folder. That was the problem. There were dozens of images in the folder that were not needed anymore. So a simple tap and hold on each image brings up the intent menu so you can delete the images

Leave a question here and return after a few days to see the answers.

Help Desk Questions

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    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 

      4 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi I love my kindle fire, it's a great tablet. I am using it now.

    • dotpattern profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Moire 

      5 years ago from West Village, New York City

      @JeffGilbert: Glad you liked my tips and tricks for Kindle - which is still one of the best deals for a tablet.

    • JeffGilbert profile image

      JeffGilbert 

      5 years ago

      Hi, this is a great collection of tips and resources. Great lens!!

    • dotpattern profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Moire 

      5 years ago from West Village, New York City

      @anonymous: Hi Dave, Powering off the Kindle takes care of many problems. At first, I didn't know how to completely shut off the unit by holding the power button and waiting for the confirmation message "Are you sure you want to shut down?". Then, wait 30 seconds before restarting and little problems like this will correct themselves.

      When the power button is pushed once quickly, the machine only goes into sleep mode. Hold the button to power off.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Kindle Fire doesn't allow me to read unit horizontally. I used to be able to but now when I turn unit nothing happens.

    • dotpattern profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Moire 

      6 years ago from West Village, New York City

      @anonymous: The first thing to do is shut off KF and turn it on again. This fixes many software problems. You can also try to re-enter your Wi-Fi password on the Kindle, or set a new password on the network device, and the Kindle.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I lost my internet for a few days & when it reconnected my Kindle doesn't recognize the settings apparently since I can't get into the wireless at all!! Help please . . . .

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Great tips for those fortunate folks who own a Kindle Fire and always well done by you!...*

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 

      6 years ago

      I've tried this app from a friend and I love it. Now, I'm still deciding whether to buy one. Thanks for the info here. Very helpful. Fantastic lens! Sundae ;-)

    • JK Sterling profile image

      Jim Sterling 

      6 years ago from Franklin, Tennessee

      This lens is very helpful. My wife gave me a Kindle Fire for Christmas. I hope to get it away from her soon.

    • APackageAtTheDoor profile image

      APackageAtTheDoor 

      6 years ago

      Just got my wife one for Christmas. Thanks for the tips!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 

      6 years ago

      You have some really good tips here.

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