The Absolute Best Kindle Tips (plus a few others)

This page is about learning how to use the Kindle better. Using various tips, tricks, and hacks, it is possible to get an even more enjoyable experience from the Kindle than ever thought possible!

Tip #1 A New Internet Start Page For The Kindle
Tip #2 Edit Or Delete Internet Bookmarks On The Kindle
Tip #3 Check Out An eBook From The Library, Read It On Your Kindle!
Tip #4 Free Books
Tip #5 Calibre
Tip #6 Change Your ScreenSaver Pictures
Tip #7 Add A Picture Book
Tip #8 Blank Page
Tip #9 A New Kindle OS
Tip #10 Reset Your Kindle 3
Tip #11 Turn The Page Automatically
Tip #12 Shortcuts
Tip #13 UnStick Your Kindle
Tip #14 Save your Battery Life
Tip #15 Borrow / Lend Kindle Books bought from Amazon
Tip #16 InstaPaper
Tip #17 Why My eReader Is Better Than Your eReader
Tip #18 A Kindle Collection Manager
Tip #19 Free Games
Tip #20 Quick Bookmarking
Tip #21 Quick Word Search

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Tip #1 A New Internet Start Page For The Kindle

If you use the Internet on your Kindle, this is the best tip on this page. There is a web page you should point your Kindle to, the ONLY Internet bookmark I have on my Kindle. It takes too long to use the dang Kindle bookmarks. This bookmark page is formatted to 1 page on the Kindle, pretty good for how many links are on the page!

http://kindlelinks.slickferret.com

This web page is specifically formatted for the Kindle, and it has links to many, many websites that are more or less Kindle Friendly. Let’s face it, the bookmarking feature on the Kindle is, well, rather lacking. Just the few bookmarks that came with the Kindle go to several pages, and when you add your own, the list of bookmarks you need to traverse gets longer and longer. This page remembers the last catagory you choose, so if Google is your email, then you don’t have to select it from the drop down list each time. And no more page up or down, all the links fit on one page!

Choosing you location on the Craigslist page is the same, choose it once, it remembers. What could be more easy?

Since all the bookmarks that came with your Kindle are already on this page, the best thing to do is to clear out your bookmarks on your Kindle so that you start out with this as the only one. Then if you add a bookmark on the Kindle itself, it’s just below this bookmark, easy to get to. And if you find a useful link I don’t have on the page, contact me, and I’ll can add it for everyone else to use!

And if you don’t know yet how to delete the prepopulated bookmarks from the built in Kindle, here is Tip #2 to get you started!

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Tip #2 Edit Or Delete Internet Bookmarks On The Kindle

When looking at the Kindles’ built in bookmark page, you can edit what each link says by moving the 5 way controller to the link, then moving it to the right, then pushing down on the controller to choose to edit it. You can only edit what it says, not where the hyperlink goes to. To delete the bookmark entirely, move the 5 way controller to the left, and push down to choose the delete option.

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Tip #3 Check Out An eBook From The Library, And Read It On Your Kindle!

Many people choose other reading devices instead of the Kindle solely because you can’t check out an ebook from the library to read on a Kindle. Or can you? Well, I did, and I didn’t break the DRM to do it. So can you. You will need the following 2 items:

1) A library card to a library that carries .mobi books. I used the King County Library System, KCLS.ORG, in Seattle. They have a decent collection of mobi ebooks available.

2) A program downloaded from here:

mobipocket-to-kindle-format-converter The instructions are also there.

The jist of the whole operation is, install the program mobiKindle to your Windows PC. You may need to install a .net update from Microsoft, it start that process for you. If you do need the update, you need to run the install program again, because it just quits after the update.

After installing the program, you run it. It has a spot to input your Kindle serial number. You either get that off the box, get it off the back of your Kindle, or hit ‘Home’, ‘Menu’, then ‘Settings’ and you should find it in there. The MobiKindle program will get your Kindle PID for you. You need to give that to the library in order to check out a book. Once you have an ebook checked out and downloaded to your PC, you browse to it in the MobiKindle program, and it will insert the PID into the ebook, and give it a new extention. After that you copy it to the Kindle, and read. It will time out when it’s due, if you haven’t finished reading it, you will need to check it out again.

Other libraries where you might find mobi books (Just go to advanced search, and under formats, pick mobi):
Northridge
Singapore
Loqui

A list of libraries by state (not all have mobi books):
A list of libraries by state (not all have mobi books):

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Tip #4 Free Books

Project Gutenberg has tons of public domain books for downloading directly to your Kindle.

MobileGuide is a book you can download to your Kindle that has links to many public domain books formatted for the Kindle.

ManyBooks.net, more public domain books.

Internet Archive of guess what? Public domain books! Did’ja see that one coming?

RetroRead will take free public domain ebooks from Google Books, make the format Kindle-Friendly, and then let you download them to your Kindle, all for free!

Go to the Kindle store on Amazon.com (make sure your Kindle is set to United States under ‘Manage You Kindle’), and when searching for books, sort by price, low to high.

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Tip #5 Calibre

Download and install Calibre from here and say hello to the ultimate ebook manager. From this program, you can organize you ebooks before sending them to your Kindle. You can also convert from other (non-DRM) formats to Kindle-Friendly formats. And to top it all of, Calibre will even go out to the internet and make magazines and newspapers (there are many to choose from in the program) that you can download to your Kindle each morning. And best of all? It’s a free program. Your lucky day.

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Tip #6 Change Your ScreenSaver Pictures

Not for the faint hearted. But if you really want to put your own stamp on your Kindle, then put your own stamp on the Kindle in the form of your own screen saver pictures.

Instructions are here:
ScreenSaver Hack

A collection of Kindle Screensavers

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Tip #7 Add A Picture Book

Want to have pictures of the kids on your Kindle? Here’s how:

Connect your Kindle to your computer via USB. You should see a ‘kindle’ drive in Windows Explorer (on a Windows computer, of course).

Create a folder on the root of the ‘kindle’ drive called, ‘pictures’. Create a subfolder under the ‘pictures’ folder. Call it whatever your pictures are about, i.e. ‘TheKids’.

Now you have a choice.
1) Either convert the pictures to 4-bit grayscale images:
   600 x 800 for the Kindle 3,
   824 x 1200 pixels for the Kindle DX.

or

2) Copy the pictures as is and hope for the best.

I believe in hope, so I usually just copy the pictures over.

You can add as many folders under the ‘pictures’ folder as you like, so you can group you pictures. When finished, right click on the ‘kindle’ drive, and choose ‘eject’. Then, just to make sure they get read, on the Kindle, hit the ‘home’ button, then the ‘menu’ button, and choose settings. Hit ‘menu’ again, and choose ‘Restart’.

After your Kindle starts up, hit the ‘alt’ and the ‘z’ keys simultaneously.You should see a new ‘book’ for each folder you created under the ‘pictures’ folder.

Now go show off your kids pictures!

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Tip #8 Blank Page

This is a odd ball tip. I saw someone ask for it somewhere, but by the time I found this, I lost where to answer the guy from. But I’m going to add it here anyway.

When you turn off the Kindle, hold the power button off for 5 or 10 seconds. This leaves a blank screen when it turns off. I don’t know exactly what this is useful for, but you read it here first!

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Tip #9 A New Kindle OS

Good news. A group in China is making a replacement OS for the Kindle. Bad news. They seem to have their own interests at heart, not ours.

They seem to really like PDFs, and even non-DRM’ed EPUBs, because if you only had books in that format, this is what OS you’d write yourself. And if you lived in a country that frowned on citizens browsing the Internet, you’d disable it. Which is what we have here. I’m only telling you because, maybe there’s people out there that are like, “That’s what I want!” So here is the link, Right Here. I loaded it to see what it is about, I’m sure you can too if interested. Easy to uninstall, too!

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Tip #10 Reset Your Kindle 3

So your Kindle locked up. Ever notice that it doesn’t have a CTRL key? So how do you give it the 3 fingered salute, CTRL-ALT-DEL? Actually, all you do it hold the power key in for a minimum of 15 seconds, and it will eventually reset itself from there. Don’t freak out because it flashes during the reset, that’s normal.

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Tip #11 Turn The Page Automatically

Ever wished that the Kindle would turn the pages for you? Give that thumb a well needed rest? Well, you lazy son of a gun, this tip is for you! Turn on Text To Speech, turn the volume all the way down, play with the speed until it kinda matches your reading speed (press the Aa button to speed up or slow it down.), and voila! Insta-lazy! Yes, I just made that word up, you read it here first. This tip is also for folks that for one reason or another, i.e. carpal tunnel, really do need to give that thumb a break. It’s also a pretty good tip for those with a broke thumb. Ouch!

This doesn’t work on all books, as some publishers think that someone is going to record the Kindle reading their precious book aloud, then make a zillion dollars selling it on eBay or whatever. Some publishers need a clue.

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Tip #12 Shortcuts

Alt + B, Bookmark the page you are on.
Alt + F, skips to the next MP3.
Alt + G, Gets rid of Ghosting. Doesn’t always work, but that’s because there really are ghosts in your Kindle.
Alt + Home, Kindle BookStore.
Alt + Space, Start playing MP3s.
Alt + R, Reloads a web page in the Kindle Browser.

Alt + Shift, Selects the address bar in the Kindle Browser.

Alt + Shift + 1 thru Alt + Shift + 9, Change spacing between words/lines, won’t change the font size. Low numbers = low spacing, high numbers = high spacing.
Alt + Shift + G, Screen shot of your Kindle. To see it, plug the usb into your computer, browse to documents folder’. Pictures begin with, “screen_shot.”
Alt + Shift + M, (from home) Starts Minesweeper game.
Alt + Shift + M, (from home) then G Starts Gomoku game.

Shift + Sym Toggle Text To Speech on and off.

Spacebar Pause and unpause Text-To-Speech, audiobooks, podcasts.

Menu, Check free space, the time, WhisperNet connection speed.

Photo Viewing
C. Actual size.
E. Reset zoom level.
F. Full-screen.
Q. Zoom in.
R. Rotate 90º to the right.
W. Zoom out.

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Tip # 13 UnStick Your Kindle

When you add new books to your Kindle, it indexes them to make searches faster.

Sometimes a particular ebook gets corrupted, and the indexing process gets stuck. If you do a search for some gibberish , i.e., “ngfjksg” while it indexes it will show the status of the indexing. This is helpful to see if the indexing is stuck. If it is, delete the ebook, and resend it to the Kindle.

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Tip #14 Save The Battery Life

From Amazon:
“Kindle’s wireless signal uses low power while in sleep mode so that your subscriptions can download overnight. If you are in a low coverage area, this could cause the device to use more battery power as it continually tries to maintain a signal. Unless you are subscribed to periodicals that you want to receive overnight, we recommend turning wireless off (Press the Menu button and select “Turn Wireless Off” of the menu options) before leaving the device in sleep mode. This will further conserve battery power.”

So, no subsciptions, no wireless!

Also, the Kindle battery does NOT need to be drained before recharging. It doesn’t have the memory effect.

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Tip #15 Borrow / Lend Kindle Books bought from Amazon

Amazon recently started allowing folks to lend out their ebooks they purchased. No, really, they did! This entirely depends on how the author / publisher set it up with Amazon. If you lend out a book, it is for 14 days. You can’t read it until the 14 days expires. Imagine that! No more worrying if you get your book back!

You can read the Amazon book lending FAQ here.

Someone created a Kindle book loaning club. Wow! That didn’t take long! Join up here.

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Tip #16 InstaPaper

Guess what? There is a free service that lets you save the location of an article you are reading in your computer browser, then the service sends the article to your Kindle 3 for free over wi-fi (if you own a previous Kindle version, you may get charged for delivery). No really, it’s true! It’s called ‘Instapaper’, and what you need to do is, create an account on the InstaPaper Website. Then go to Here, and set it up. You will need to be armed with your Kindle’s email address. You do know it, don’t you? No? Then open up a new tab in your browser, log into Amazon.com, and find the ‘Manage Your Kindle’ page, that is where your Kindle’s email is. Don’t log off just yet, you need to do something else in a sec…

Switch back to Here, and fill in your Kindles @free.kindle.com address. Also, notice in the instructions that you need to add an email address in your Amazon Kindle account. This is how you approve InstaPaper to send stuff to your Kindle. Copy the address, switch back to the ‘Manage Your Kindle’ page, and add the Instapaper email address to “Your Kindle Approved E-mail List”. While you’re there, be sure and give some thought to setting your “Your Personal Document Charge Limit ” to $0.00 if you never want Amazon to charge you for sending something to your Kindle via email through Whispernet (Your Kindles 3G).

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Tip #17 Why My eReader Is Better Than Your eReader

Well, I have finally decided to enter the fray of which eReader is better. Why do I want to further stir up that hornets nest? It’s because I see people making arguments that essentially boil down to (for example), “The Nook color is better because it’s in color!”. No kidding, I’ve seen entire articles that went on and on about color LCDs and how they were gonna take over the eBook market. Of course, there was no mention of the 2 most basic reasons why LCDs won’t take over the eBook market, namely:
1) Battery Life: The Kindle gets up to a month. The Nook color gets up to 8 hours.
2) Weight: The Kindle comes in at 8.5 ounces. The Nook color at 15.8 ounces.

And of course no mention of how great the near universal access to the web the more expensive Kindle 3G models have. I can download sat images off Google Maps from practically anywhere (look for the link from Tip #1). Or check my email from practically anywhere. I can indeed check out library books on the Kindle, something I constantly read that I can’t do. But seriously, these are reasons I like the Kindle, and you may have reasons why you like Brand X. So this post will be to help decide which is best for you. I won’t declare a winner. The winner for me is the one I purchase, just as the one you purchase is the winner for you. For some folks, rooting the Nook color is all they want.

So here is a comparison of features between the Kindle and the Nook(s):

Kindle 3:

Free Intenet 3G browsing on more expensive version of Kindle
Wifi connection on Kindle 3
Memory: 4GB with Kindle, no additional slot
TouchScreen: No
Battery Life: up to 30 days
Weight: 8.5 ounces
Display: Latest Pearl e-ink display
Display Size: 6 inches
Operating System: Linux – proprietary
Lend Books: Yes
Physical Keyboard: Yes

Nook
3G allows for purchasing books, available only on more expensive Nook. No internet browsing
Memory: 2gb with microSD expansion slot up to 16gb
Wifi: Yes
TouchScreen: Partial
Battery Life: up to 10 days
Weight: 11.6 ounce on Nook Wi-Fi, 12.1 on Nook Wi-Fi & 3G
Display: older e-kink display
Display Size: 6″ diagonal
Operating System: Android
Lend Books: Yes
Physical Keyboard: No

Nook Color
No 3G
Wi-Fi: Yes
Memory: 8gb with microSD expansion up to 32gb
TouchScreen: Yes
Battery Life: up to 8 hours
Weight: 15.8 ounces
Display: LCD
Display Size: 7″ diagonal
Lend Books: Yes
Physical Keyboard: No

I’ll be updating this post occasionally to add more models, so stay tuned!

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Tip #18 A Kindle Collection Manager

Do you find that managing your Kindle book collections from your Kindle is a bit clunky and troublesome, at best?

There is a beta going on for the Kindle Collection Manager, a program that allows you to manage your Kindle ebook collection from your PC. Just register for the beta, and he’ll send you a link to download the program. This is definitely something that should have come with the Kindle! Are you listening, Amazon?

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Tip #19 Free Games

OK, so the Kindle isn’t known as a gaming machine. And for good reason. However, sometimes you just want to goof off a little, so here is a way to find free games for your Kindle.

Go to the Amazon Kindle store, search for ‘game’, and then sort the results by ‘Price: Low To High’. Look through the selection for games until the price goes above $0.00. Free games you can download to your Kindle include:

Video Poker
Every Word
Jumble – 3 Free Puzzles
Shuffled Row
Black Jack
Mine Sweeper

Check back every once in a while, they sometimes add another one.

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Tip #20 Quick Bookmarking

This tip is from reader Mike Arst:

Use the five-way to move the cursor to a spot you want to bookmark. Now press the central button on the five-way twice as if you were double-clicking with a mouse button. This adds a bookmark immediately. It locates the bookmark not just roughly at that location but exactly at that location. It can be confirmed by selecting the bookmark in the “View my notes and marks” menu. When you select the one you created that way, the word that was to the immediate right of the cursor when you double-clicked is the word that appears at the top of the page.

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Tip #21 Quick Word Search

Another Mike Arst trick:

Next: the accidental discovery. I don’t know why it should work, but it always seems to.

The Kindle has no clipboard that I know of. But I found a way to do a search for a word found on a page without having to retype it:

Using the five-way, move the cursor to the start of the word. Press the central button of the five-way to start highlighting. Press the direction button to highlight the word, but don’t press the central button again. That is, leave the word highlighted white-on-black — and not underlined.

Press the space bar. The highlighted word is placed into the search box at once. Normally pressing a letter key puts that letter into the box — but not in this case. So the highlighted word now appears in the box. You might need to use the DEL key to remove, say, a trailing comma or other punctuation mark. With that done, press the down-arrow control on the five-way. The highlight moves to “Save Note.” Press the right-arrow control on the five-way. The highlight moves to the “Find” selection. Now hit the central button to start the search.

This has worked so far with individual words but not with phrases. I suppose that’s just a limitation of the Kindle at the moment — searching works for individual words. If there’s a way to do it with phrases I haven’t found it yet.

The keypad trick I’d love to find: a simple keystroke combo for “jump to next bookmark” — without having to use the menu system. I don’t think it’s possible, though.

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