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Can an Amazon Kindle Read a PDF File

Updated on August 2, 2017
Craftymarie profile image

I've been a Kindle user since the very first one came out. My ereader comes everywhere with me so I can dip into my favorite books anytime.

Can a Kindle Read Adobe PDF Files?

A frequent question from owners that I see is can this portable reading device view PDF files and, if so, how? Yes it can display these files and you've got a variety of methods for being able to transfer them over to your machine.

This guide covers the absolute basics of how to view them and how you can copy a file over to your device, how to send it wirelessly and how you can set up your eink screen for more optimum reading.

Because there are now so many of these electronic items that have been released through the years, I can't guarantee these methods will work with every one. However, if you do have issues with this file format, you can also convert it to a Kindle-friendly format such as .mobi.

Author's Kindle 3 or Keyboard device which she still likes to use for retro fondness even though she now has a paperwhite
Author's Kindle 3 or Keyboard device which she still likes to use for retro fondness even though she now has a paperwhite | Source

Process 1) Copying This File to Your Device

You can simply copy a .pdf file (as long as it is an unprotected one and not locked with a password) from your computer and onto your reading tablet. You need to copy it over to the "Documents" folder.

Here is How to Copy the File Over:

1) Connect your Kindle to your PC with its supplied USB cable. If you do not have one of these little USB leads then you won't be able to use this specific method. Newer versions have the lead actually plugged into the 3 point pin socket and it comes out - this certainly applies to UK readers.

2) After plugging in, the reader should show up as a separate drive on your PC or computer. For instance: drive F, or G, or H or something else. My device is displayed as the F drive but your machine could be assigned to a different drive letter.

3) You should be able to see all your current computer drives (C, D, E, F etc) if you use the Computer (or My Computer) icon on your PC screen. Or the actual drive folder may just open up automatically for you when you plug it in.

4) So open your Kindle device drive and there should be a "documents" folder visible. The "documents" folder contains all your ebooks and this is where you need to copy/drag/place your .pdf file.

5) Once the file is in your "documents" folder, safely remove or eject your ereader from the computer. You should now see your file on the Home page so you can start reading.

How to put eBooks on Your Kindle

How to copy any compatible Kindle-friendly file (including .pdf) on to your Amazon device. This process is explained step-by-step below in the video.

PDFs in Full Color with the Fire Edition

These files are much better on a Kindle Fire where they will display in full color. You will have none of the potential layout or readability issues that you might encounter with trying to view them on a traditional e-ink grayscale screen. I have a Fire HDX and I prefer to read them on it since they are easier to view.

How do you read your PDF files?

How do you currently read your PDF files?

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Process 2) Emailing Files Across Instead of Copying

The really lazy method I love is to just email this file to my device and download it with the WiFi connection - note if you use 3G to download personal (as in not bought from Amazon items) you will be charged a small fee. WiFi downloads of your own items sent this way do not incur a fee.

How you can send files wirelessly by email:

1) Before you can email any files, you need to decide on an email address (or addresses) that you will use to send files to your reader with. This could be a gmail, yahoo email or something else. I like to use an online email account because you can use those from anywhere with an Internet Browser.

* Visit the Amazon Kindle Store, and then log in to the "Manage your Kindle" section which is normally displayed top right

* Scroll down the page to "Your Kindle approved e-mail list," and then enter your email address and choose "Add Address"

* Rinse and repeat for any other email addresses you might use to send documents across

2) While you're on the "Manage Your Kindle" page, make a note of what your actual Kindle email address is. This should be listed under "Your Kindle(s)" and will be in the format:

3) Attach your .pdf document to a new email using an email account that you set up back in step 1. I tend to right-click on my file on my PC and then use the option to Send To / Mail Recipient. This opens up a New Mail Message with the item already attached. Then I just put my Kindle email address (from step 2) into the To section and press send.

4) So long as your ereader has WiFi enabled, you will receive your personal file at no charge. If you have 3G enabled (or perhaps you only have 3G available) there will be a small fee - so be aware of that.

5) NOTE: You can always limit any potential charges on your "Manage Your Kindle" page in the Amazon Kindle Store. Scroll to "Your Personal Document Charge Limit" and you can set this up. Mine is set to zero just so I know I won't get charged for sending myself personal documents. That would then mean you only receive personal documents (books you buy from Amazon are unaffected) when you're connected to a WiFi network. So if you have an older 3G-only ereader, that would mean never!

Can Kindle Read a PDF YouTube Video

Viewing These Files Once on Your eReader

Above is a video which demonstrates the viewing process. This is by Erinath (she does have more videos on this topic) and she will run you through the various options that you have with viewing and reading.

You'll get a good idea of what it all looks like on an eink grayscale screen. The text is pretty sharp although the font size is quite small. There is a reason why many of these files displayed on ereading devices have small text. It's because these are normally designed to be viewed via a large-screen PC or printed onto a standard sheet of paper which is much larger than a standard tablet screen. As the standard screen size is only 6 inches, your reading matter will have to be squashed to fit on the screen.

Some people prefer to purchase the larger DX for the purpose of reading these. The DX has a much larger screen size at almost 10 inches. I would say you'd be better off with a large color iPad unless you are very determined to have the screen be eink.

You can zoom in, by pressing the AA button on an older device - I'm not sure how this would work on a touch screen version. This brings up a menu with options to enlarge the size, enhance the contrast (ie make the text darker or lighter) and also to rotate the screen sideways.

Erinath will show you what everything looks like if you select the "Actual Size" option. This will make the text larger but the trade off is that you will need to scroll across widthways to read an entire sentence which can be quite frustrating. There is a handy tip on using the shift key (up arrow) as well as the right-side of the 5-way controller button to just nudge the screen over a little so you can read the whole sentence.

A far better option, as Erinath shows, is to alter the screen rotation so you're holding and viewing the machine on its side. The fit-to-width option can work very well with this. Just press the AA button to do this.

© 2011 Marie

Your Comments

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    • androidfan profile image

      Rajesh Bhuin 

      5 years ago from India

      Most of the eBooks and guides are in PDFs. So, it would be very convenient to read these in Kindle reader.

    • notsuperstitious1 profile image

      Edith Rose 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for the instructions on adding a PDF file to my Kindle

    • Craftymarie profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      @indigoj: Thank you. The Kindle is one versatile piece of kit - and the one gadget I wouldn't be without :)

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      9 years ago from UK

      Lovely clear instructions.. perfect! I have a Kindle and I would hate to be without it now. Putting PDFs on it just makes it even more versatile.

    • Craftymarie profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      @LisaAuch1: Thanks for your comment, Lisa. Yes with so many millions of Kindle users now it's good to provide material that can be read on one!

    • LisaAuch1 profile image

      Lisa Auch 

      9 years ago from Scotland

      Although I have not got a kindle, I just love what you can do with it! Especially As i have a few PDF downloads for "Help tutorials" , so this is good to know that they can be read on it


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