Top Ten Kindle Tipsby Micah McDunnigan
When you buy an Amazon's Kindle eReader, be it a classic model with an E Ink screen or the new Kindle Fire, you are probably more concerned with tearing into books or multimedia content than with spending hours reading about how your new device works. To keep your nose out of the instruction manual and into your latest Kindle book, here are ten quick tips for getting the most out of your new device.
Install non-Amazon Apps
You don't have to limit yourself to the apps in Amazon's app store on your Kindle Fire. By downloading a file manager from the Amazon app store and connecting your device to a computer, you can install any Android application that comes in an APK package. After downloading a file manager, enable "Allow Installation of Applications" in your device's settings, copy the application's APK file from your computer to the device and then open the APK file from within the file manager. Select "Yes" when you see a dialogue box asking you if you want to install the software in the package, and your Kindle will install your sideloaded app.
The Kindle Fire's Wi-Fi connectivity and Silk Web browser are among the device's major selling points. But, if you plan on letting your children read on the device, you may not want them roaming freely on the Internet or subjecting your credit card to an e-book buying spree. To put your mind at ease, password protect your Kindle's Wi-Fi connection. When you tap the "Quick Settings" icon and scroll until you see the "Restrictions" menu item, you will see an option for "Password Protected Wi-Fi." Enabling this option causes your Kindle to require your password before the device will connect to the Internet.
ITunes Music Through Amazon
If you have a large music library with iTunes, Apple's software will not let you sync your songs with the Kindle the same way it does for Apple devices. This is not a problem, as you can stream these songs to your Kindle Fire through your Amazon Cloud Drive. Download Amazon's MP3 uploader and use the software's map of your iTunes library to pick which songs you want to upload to your cloud drive, then press the “Music” icon on your Kindle Fire to start streaming any of the songs you uploaded.
Secret Caps Lock
The Kindle Fire's on-screen keyboard comes with a "Shift" key, but not a caps lock. This implies that if you want to type a string of capital letters in a row, you have to keep pressing shift before each letter. This is not the case. Double-tapping the “Shift” key engages caps lock mode, so you can keep typing in capital letters. When you want to go back to lower-case letters, press the “Shift” button once.
Be Wary of Your Private Browsing
Normally, when you establish a secure connection with a website all the data is encrypted between your computer and the website's server. This is not always the case with the Kindle Fire. As part of its effort to boost the speed of its Silk browser, Amazon at times uses its own servers as an intermediary between your Kindle and the website you are visiting. In the context of secure connections, this means that Amazon's servers will be processing unencrypted versions of your data before re-encrypting it and sending it back to your Kindle Fire. Keep this in mind before sending particularly sensitive data over a secure connection with your Kindle Fire.
Personal Documents Service
If you want to put a document on your Kindle and don't mind Amazon's servers processing it, you can save yourself the time of connecting and manually sideloading it from your computer by emailing it to your device through Amazon's Kindle Personal Documents Service. After you log in to Amazon's "Manage Your Kindle" page, click "Personal Document Settings," then make sure your email account is listed under the "Approved Document E-mail List." After that, you can email documents to "firstname.lastname@example.org" and Amazon will load them onto your Kindle at no cost the next time your device has a Wi-Fi connection. You can also have this service convert your document into a Kindle e-book by setting the email's subject field to "translate."
Text to Speech in The Car
If you have a long daily commute in your car, audio books can be a nice way to keep up on your reading and pass the time during your drive. The Kindle's text-to-speech function enables you to turn any English language e-book or document into an audio book. If your car's stereo has an audio jack, you can run a 3.5mm male-to-male cable from the jack to your Kindle and listen to the book through your car's sound system. The text-to-voice will not sound as good as a voice actor, but it is cheaper than buying an audio book.
Pay For No Ads
Amazon gives you the option to buy its E Ink screen readers at a discount if you agree to let Amazon put advertisements, which it calls "Special Offers," on your screen saver and homepage. If you've decided that it’s worth paying the money you saved to get rid of the advertisements, you can unsubscribe to the Special Offers program and your device will no longer display the ads. You can do this through Amazon's "Manage Your Kindle" page by clicking on the "Edit" button under the Special Offers column. After you follow the on-screen directions to unsubscribe, Amazon will charge your credit card the difference in price between your model's Special Offers price and its regular price.
Selecting Long Passages
The Kindle Fire gives you an easy touch screen interface for selecting passages of text to copy or highlight, but sometimes the passage you are trying to select goes beyond the device's current page. If you are viewing the page in portrait orientation, you can solve this problem by turning it so the device will switch to the landscape orientation. This reorientation will display text that goes beyond the bottom of your portrait orientation page, without clearing your selection. You can then continue to drag the selection arrow from where it left off across the remainder of the desired passage.
The Kindle Fire lets you play music from your library while you are reading or working in other apps, but does not have any buttons to pause your current track or skip to a new one while you are outside the music app. Luckily, you don't have to leave what you're doing and switch over to the audio app to control your music. When you press the gear icon on the Kindle Fire's menu bar, you will see the current track, a slider bar for the song's progress and pause and skip buttons below the standard settings menu items. After you pause or skip to a different track, press the gear icon again to get back to what you were doing.
- photo_camera Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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