Essential Kindle Fire Hacks For The Modern Reader

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I’ve been a Kindle user for the past five or six years, although sometimes, it seems a lot longer. Part of that has to do with the fact that my very first Kindle was from the second generation — back when they still had an actual keyboard attached to them. After I upgraded to a Fire a few years ago, though, I began discovering a wide variety of Kindle Fire hacks, tricks, and tips that show exactly how versatile the device is. Sure, I still use it primarily for reading — but it’s capable of a whole lot more than just that.

By “hacks,” of course, I mean it in the colloquial sense; they’re more like life pro tips highlighting features you may not know about or settings you may not have realized exist. The more advanced our technology gets, the more I realize how much I barely scratch the surface of what all of my devices can do — and the Kindle is no exception. So, I’m consciously making an attempt to broaden my horizons, since the worst thing we can do with all of the astonishing things we have at our fingertips is to become complacent about it all. While I’m at it, I figured I’d share my findings with you, Gentle Readers, since I’m sure at least some of you are in this wacky digital boat with me, too.

Here are seven of my favorite little Kindle Fire tricks illustrated by cat GIFs, because there is nothing better than curling up with a good book and a purring cat.

1. View The Desktop Version Of A Website Instead Of The Mobile One

The Kindle Fire’s default browser, Silk, automatically loads websites in mobile view (if a mobile view exists for that particular site). But while I don’t mind viewing mobile versions of sites on tiny screens like my phone, the Kindle’s screen is big enough that I’d really rather view full desktop versions on it. Luckily, it’s easy to do so: After you’ve loaded the mobile version of a page in Silk (this step is very important — you won't be able to pull off the rest of the trick if you just do it from the browser's home screen), tap the menu icon in the upper right — it looks like three dots stacked on top of each other. Then, select “Request desktop site,” and the browser will go ahead and bring you to the full version of whichever site you were just looking at in mobile view.

2. Easily Free Up Storage Space With A Single Tap

I know, I know; clearing up storage space on any device is tedious, no matter what it is. At least the Kindle Fire’s OS has a nifty little feature that makes it relatively painless, though: 1-Tap Archive, which identifies apps and services you haven’t used within the past seven days archives them with… well, not exactly a single tap, but just a few of them, at least.

To access it, just pull down the menu from the top of the screen and select “Settings”; then go into “Device Options,” then “Storage.” At the top of the menu, you’ll see “1-Tap Archive.” Tap it, and it’ll bring up a list of apps, books, and other files stored on your Kindle that you haven’t used in over a week. Each item will have a little box with a check next to it; tapping the box will uncheck it. Check the box on anything you want to archive, then hit the “Archive” button at the bottom of the screen. Voila! The items will be cleared from your device’s memory — but they’ll still be available in Cloud storage, so you can re-download them whenever you want.

3. Clear Out Your Carousel

This one might seem like Basic Kindle Usage 101 — but I seriously didn’t know you could remove items from the home screen carousel on a Kindle Fire for literally the first two and a half years I owned one. I also didn’t know you could close iPhone programs by double tapping the home button and then swiping up for… oh… maybe five years, so maybe this is just me; however, if there’s anyone else out there in my proverbial boat, this one’s for you.

If there’s an item hanging out in your carousel, and you’ve decided that you no longer want it there, press it and hold down. A giant check mark should appear in the program’s icon, along with a little menu at the top of the screen. Tap “Remove,” then select “From Carousel.” Voila! That pesky program has been banished from sight, although not from the device entirely.

Yes. I know. The fact that I was not aware you could perform this action for so long is ridiculous. It’s OK. I’m comfortable in my ridiculousness.

4. Embrace The Power Of The Hard Reset

Most electronic devices don’t generally like resetting, but if they freeze up or crash, sometimes it’s a necessary evil. At least the Kindle hard reset doesn’t require you to input and hold any sort of weird button sequence; all you have to do is press and hold the power button for 20 seconds and the device will shut down. Give it a few extra seconds to rest, then turn it back on by holding the power button until the boot-up animation plays.

5. Put Your Profiles To Work

Not unlike Netflix, the Kindle Fire lets you set up multiple profiles — up to two adults and four children. They’re meant to make it easier to share one device with multiple people; everyone can have the home screen and whatnot set up the way they like, with the apps and books they use most often readily accessible and the others tucked away in the background. The kids’ profiles also let you set up Kindle Free Time, which allows parents to control the access their kids have to things like the Internet browser, content stores, location-based services, and social features — basically keeping them from going online if you don’t want them to or buying a whole lot of in-app purchases without realizing it.

But that’s not to say that you can’t use your profiles in different ways, too — if you use your Kindle for both work and play purposes, you can set up profiles meant to cater to each individual type of use; if you’re trying to make an effort to read more books, but keep finding yourself browsing the Internet instead, you can set yourself up a kid’s profile or set it to Free Time to keep you off the web while you read; and so on and so forth.

Each profile will require their own password. To set up a new profile, pull down the menu from the top of the home screen and select “Settings.” Go into “Profiles and Family Library,” tap either “Add Adult” or “Add Child,” and follow the onscreen prompts.

6. Group Your Apps Together Into Collections For A Clutter-Free Home Screen

Don’t like seeing all of your apps laid on your home screen individually? Group ‘em into “Collections” to keep ‘em organized — they’re basically folders you can sort like apps into in order to keep your home screen clutter-free. To create one, select an app and hold down on it; then, when the menu appears, tap the “Add” button with the plus sign in the upper right hand corner and tap “To New Collection.” Type in a name for your collection, hit “Next,” and voila — your Collection is created.

To see your newly-created Collection, go to the Apps screen, tap menu button on the left hand side (it looks like three stacked lines), and select “Collections”; to add it to your home screen, tap and hold the Collection, tap “Add,” and select “To Home.” To add a new app to a Collection that already exists, tap and hold an app, tap “Add,” select “To Collections,” and tap the Collection you want to add it to.

7. Let Calibre Do The Heavy Lifting For You

If you haven’t already downloaded Calibre, I suggest you do so immediately. It’s hands down the best e-book library management software out there — and the best part is, it’s free! Not only can it help you organize your books — kind of like a virtual shelving system — but it can also convert files to e-reader-friendly formats, sync with your device, and more. I actually resisted using yet another piece of software to manage my Kindle library for ages… and when I finally did download it, I was kicking myself for not doing it sooner.

I find it particularly useful for converting books downloaded from other sources, like Project Gutenberg (hi there, loads and loads of free reading material in the public domain!) or Humble Bundle, into something manageable for my device — I’ve found that even if it’s in MOBI format, books not downloaded directly from Amazon tend to get shunted into the “Documents” section of my Kindle, rather than deposited in the “Books” section. Loading the file into Calibre, highlighting it, selecting “Convert Books,” going to “MOBI Output,” getting rid of the “[DOC]” tag in the “Personal Doc tag” field, and then finally selecting “OK” solves the problem — once it’s been re-converted, the [DOC] tag will be gone, allowing the book to appear in the “Books” section of your device.

Images: Star Tribune via Getty Images/Star Tribune/Getty Images; Giphy (6)