The Amazon Kindle is the most popular and most recognizable ereader in the world. If you’ve joined the Kindle club, these tips and tricks will help you make the most of your device.
Sync your reading everywhere you go
If you’ve bought yourself a proper Amazon Kindle then you may have ignored the various apps you can get for phones and computers. That’s a bad call. Get the free Kindle apps installed on your computer or phone, sign in with your Amazon account, and all your ebooks appear almost instantly. Even better, your reading position gets synced across all these devices, including your actual Kindle. Admittedly the best experience is still going to be on your main ereader, but the extra apps let you get through a few chapters on the subway or in the office—anywhere you don’t happen to have your Kindle with you.
Catch up with your web reading
Your Kindle isn’t just for books. You can use it to read the online articles you didn’t have time to skim on your lunch break. The easiest (but not the only) way to do this is through the official Send to Kindle browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. See something you like on the web, click the Send to Kindle icon in your browser, and in a few seconds it’s beamed over to your ereader. Articles turn up as documents in your library, with all those distracting graphics and adverts stripped out. Another option is Instapaper, a popular read-it-later service. It lets you save articles you find on the web, cuts out the unnecessary formatting, then lets you bundle them up and send them over to your Kindle.
Customize the reading interface
Don’t settle for a reading interface you’re not happy with; the Kindle lets you customize it. Tap near the top of the screen, then on the Aa icon to see a variety of options for text formatting. With a few taps you can adjust the font type and size, the line spacing, the page margins, and the orientation of your device (either portrait or landscape). You can also set the reading progress status bar—to show book page, time left in chapter, or time left in book. Or you can switch it off altogether. Finally, tap near the top of the screen then select the brightness button to change how vibrant your screen is. You’ll likely want to adjust this according to the ambient light.
Get as much battery life as possible
Battery life isn’t usually a problem on the Kindle (certainly not compared to a smartphones), but you might find yourself a long way from home without a charger. Turning off Wi-Fi and the Whispernet connection will help, which you can do by tapping near the top of the screen, on the brightness button, and selecting Airplane Mode. Dimming the brightness on the same screen is going to eke out more battery life, too. Another trick: push the power button rather than tapping it, then choose Screen Off from the dialog, so the screen goes completely blank while you’re not using the Kindle, rather than displaying a screensaver.
Increase your word power
Tap and hold on any word on your Kindle to bring up a definition on screen, with boxes to the side showing Wikipedia entries and translations, where applicable. If you tap on the menu button on the front screen of your Kindle (three dots) then choose Vocabulary Builder from the list, you’ll see all of the words you’ve recently looked up. Tap on any to see the definition again, and at that point you can delete a word or tell your Kindle you’ve mastered it. Alternatively, tap Flashcards at the bottom of the screen to quiz yourself on definitions you’ve recently checked. Another option is Word Wise, which shows hints in line with the text for unfamiliar words. Inside a book, tap near the top of the screen, then tap the three dots and pick Word Wise. You can adjust the slider to increase or decrease the number of hints you get.
Check your notes and highlights on the web
Tap and hold and then drag across a section of text and you get three options: Highlight, Note, and Share. All have their uses, but what you might not know is that your highlights and notes appear on the web as well as on the Kindle. Head to this page inside your Amazon account and you can view (and delete) your highlights and notes, sorted by book. To see them on your Kindle, tap near the top of the screen inside a book, then open up the menu (three dots) and choose Notes from the list. The Yours section should be highlighted but you can also tap Popular to see passages highlighted by other people.
Get into the bones of a book
Another Kindle feature you might not have discovered yet is X-Ray, so named because it lets you discover the “bones” of a book. It’s available on all touch models of the Kindle but can only be found on a certain number of ebooks written in English. Tap near the top of the screen when inside a book to see if X-Ray is available: it appears as an option on the toolbar if so. You can then read about characters, themes, locations, and particular terms that appear. X-Ray is especially useful when you find yourself getting lost in a dense tome and need to get your bearings again. It also lets you jump between the images in your ebook, if you want to go back and refer to one.
Pick a case to fit
Now let’s talk cases. Amazon’s official leather case is one to put on your shortlist if you own a Paperwhite Kindle: it looks the part and adds very little bulk to the main device. If you’re rocking an older Voyage model meanwhile, then the Fintie Origami Case is worth a look, effectively protecting your ereader and doubling up as a stand if you want to prop your Kindle up in front of you. It fastens with a magnetic clasp and automatically wakes or sleeps your Kindle as you open and close the cover.