How to Change the Home Page on a Kindle
By Ken Burnside
Amazon's Kindle Fire HD is one of the top-selling Android tablets, in large part due to its seamless integration with Amazon's entire content purchase ecosystem. This integration includes putting a purchase carousel and "you might be interested in…" advertising on the Home screen of the device, and making the homepage of the browser go directly to Amazon. While both of these can be changed, in the case of the Home screen of the device, that change isn't easily accomplished.
Changing the Browser's Homepage
Prior to the August 2013 browser update, Amazon's Web browser, Silk, defaulted to a start page that led to your Amazon account. After the update, which Amazon has rolled out to all available devices, Silk shows a set of links to the most commonly opened pages on the device. This starts with a set of pre-populated bookmarks from Amazon. You can clear these links by swiping in from the left edge of the screen and selecting "History", then "Clear History." This menu will also let you visit your bookmarks. Clearing your browser history restores the initial set of links Amazon provided when the device was first used, and Amazon recommends doing this periodically to maintain performance. Amazon has not enabled the ability to set a page as your homepage on the Silk browser, but you can leave the browser open with a specific Web page up.
Amazon's Web store includes Opera Mobile 13 and Opera Mobile 14; Opera changed their browser engine in Opera 14, and are still re-implementing features, so for now, stick with Opera 13. Opera 13 allows you to set a default start page, but requires that you tap the app to launch it, rather than use the "Web" link off of the devices Home screen. To set the homepage in Opera 13, type "opera:config" in the address bar, and scroll through the menu; you'll find an option called "User Prefs" and can enter a homepage URL there. Click "Save" and that URL will be the one Opera loads when the program opens. As of December 2013, the "opera:config" settings menu doesn't work in Opera Mobile 14.
Changing the Home Screen
The Kindle Fire HD's Home screen uses a carousel display that shows everything you've looked at recently, front and center on the screen. To remove an item from the carousel, you need to tap-and-hold the item and select "Remove from Carousel." This removes the item up until you read the content or start the app again. There is no way to prevent your Kindle from adding the item back to the carousel. Amazon doesn't permit applications that replace the carousel interface in the Amazon Web Store. While side-loading these types of applications (downloading them from other app stores and installing them) can work, every time the device accepts an operating system upgrade, there's a good chance that it will break the alternate app launcher. If you want to experiment with this, see the link in Resources.
Using the Favorites Bar as an App Launcher
The Kindle Fire "Favorites" bar opens when you tap the "Star" icon, which is one of the main user interface controls on the screen of the device. The Favorites bar acts like a conventional Android app launcher with rows of icons. In the standard Kindle Fire interface, touch-and-hold any app or content, and select "Add to Favorites Bar" to add it to this interface. You can tap and hold icons on the bar to remove them or drag them around to arrange them as you see fit. While it doesn't completely replace the carousel interface, it does provide a more conventional alternative.
Ken Burnside has been writing freelance since 1990, contributing to publications as diverse as "Pyramid" and "Training & Simulations Journal." A Microsoft MVP in Excel, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Alaska. He won the Origins Award for Attack Vector: Tactical, a board game about space combat.