Can a Kindle Charge When Plugged Into a Computer?

By Laurie Swenson

The Kindle can hold a library of books.
i David McNew/Getty Images News/Getty Images

If you own a Kindle, you're likely to occasionally have the experience of picking up the device and seeing the "Your battery is empty" message when you're away from home and don't have access to the power cord. The good news is that if you have a micro USB cable handy, you can restore power. It will take longer than charging with the Kindle's wall charger, but the Amazon e-book reader can charge when plugged into a computer.

Micro USB Cable

Amazon ships its Kindles with a wall charger and micro USB data cable. Amazon neither supports nor recommends using non-proprietary equipment to charge the Kindle, so Kindle owners are advised to charge with the proprietary micro USB cable that ships with the device, or buy an extra one to tuck into a purse, briefcase or desk drawer. However, when explaining how to transfer files via computer, Amazon suggests using a USB cable and states that the device will charge when connected.

Charging via USB

To charge your Kindle on a computer via USB cable, connect the device to a USB port on the computer to indicate it is being charged. Your computer must stay on during the charging process, so you may need to disable sleep mode temporarily, if the computer will not be in use. If the Kindle is charging properly, it should display a USB drive mode screen.

Using the Kindle While Charging

To use the Kindle while it is charging via USB, you'll need to unmount or eject it, so the Kindle is no longer in USB drive mode. In Windows 7 or Windows Vista, click on the "Start" button, select "Computer" from the options listed, right-click on the icon for the Kindle and select "Eject" from the pop-up menu. In Mac OS, click on "Cmd" and on the Kindle icon; choose "Eject." This will cause Kindle to exit USB drive mode and bring up the Home screen. Verify the device is still charging by looking for the lightning bolt on the battery status icon in your computer's system tray. Safely eject the Kindle when it's done charging.

Keep Track of Charge

With wireless turned on, the Kindle will run for up to 10 days without charging. If wireless is turned off, it can go for as long as a month, depending on your level of usage. To turn wireless on or off, press the "Menu" button and scroll to the appropriate setting. The Kindle's charge level is indicated by a battery icon at the top right of the device's display. When the charge level dips below a certain point, the Kindle will display a low power warning. It's wise to keep track of the Kindle's charge, especially when heading out of town on business.