How to Use a Kindle

By Ashley Poland

Updated September 28, 2017

Amazon is constantly refining and releasing new generations of Kindle devices.
i David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Still one of the top names in the e-book market, as of September 2012, Amazon's family of Kindle devices are designed to work without excess complication. Whether you have the basic Kindle, or the Kindle Fire tablet, adding your books and enjoying your content shouldn't be difficult at all. Once you've gotten the hang of it, using your Kindle will become second-nature. If you have a specific problem, Amazon offers comprehensive Help documents on all of their Kindle models, going all the way back to the first generation of the Kindle.

Kindle Basics

Turn on your Kindle. All Kindle models have the power button along the bottom. Some models, like the Kindle Fire, only require that you press and hold the button; others, like the Kindle Keyboard, use a sliding power button.

Register your Kindle device; this links it to your Amazon account, and allows you to use the device. The first time you use your Kindle, you are prompted to join and a Wi-Fi network and register the device.

Navigate your Kindle menu using either the directional buttons -- also called the five-way controller, referring to the four direction buttons and the "Enter" button in the center -- on the Kindle and Kindle Keyboard models, or by swiping your fingers across the touchscreen on the Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch models. All models of Kindle except the Kindle Fire have a "Home" button to take you back to the main menu.

Choose a book by either clicking the center button of the five-way controller or by tapping on the touch screen. Turn pages by either swiping your fingers on the touch screen, tapping the right or left sides on the touch screen, or using the page turning buttons on the left or right side of the Kindle.

Change your Kindle by plugging the small micro-B USB end into the Kindle, and the normal USB plug end into either a powered-on computer or a wall adapter.

Adding Content

Purchase your Kindle content through Amazon. Anything you purchase on Amazon is saved to your account and sent automatically to your Kindle -- so long as your Kindle has an active Internet connection. If you have a basic Kindle, this only includes books, magazines and newspapers. Kindle Fire users can also access movies, music and games.

Email personal documents to your Kindle, using the Kindle email settings. Go to Amazon's "Manage Your Kindle" page and click "Personal Document Settings" on the sidebar. Your device's email address is listed beside the Kindle's name, usually in the form of Click "Add a New Approved E-mail Address" to add your email address to a whitelist that allows you to email documents to your Kindle.

Add Amazon content manually by connecting your Kindle to your computer via USB. Go to Amazon's "Manage Your Kindle" page and click the "Actions" beside the book you want to transfer. Select "Download & Transfer via USB." Open your Kindle's drive from "My Computer," and copy the downloaded book file to the "Documents" folder on your Kindle.

Other Functions

Browse the Internet using your Kindle's built-in Wi-Fi connection or 3G, if your model supports it. On the Kindle, Kindle Keyboard and Kindle Touch the browser is included along with other experimental features, which you can access from the menu. On the Kindle Fire, select "Web" on the Home screen to open the Amazon Silk browser.

Highlight portions of documents on your Kindle. To highlight on the Kindle and Kindle Keyboard, use the five way controller to move the cursor in the text; click the center button of the controlled to start to highlight the text, move the cursor to the end point you want to highlight, then click the center button again. On the Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire, you can just use your finger to select a portion of your text.

Configure social networks to share notes, text and ratings from your Kindle. On the Kindle and Kindle Keyboard, go to the Settings page and navigate to "Social Networks." On the Kindle Touch, go to the Settings page, click "Reading Options" and choose "Social Networks." On the Kindle Fire, go to "Settings" and choose "My Account."