Amazon Kindle Tips Every Reader Should Know

PCMag
PCMag
Apr 6 · 8 min read

Kindles are pretty easy to use, but a few tips can help you get the most out of Amazon’s ebook reader.

By Chandra Steele

Amazon’s Kindle lineup can put a library in your pocket. Whether you choose the basic Kindle, the highly pocketable Paperwhite, or a the top-of-the-line Oasis, a Kindle holds thousands of books within its sleek black casing, and thousands more can be stored in the cloud.

A Kindle betrays very little from the outside (no subway snooping on what you’re reading), but there’s a lot going on inside. All Kindle models feature adjustable LED lighting so you can see the page while camping under the stars, while the Paperwhite and Oasis are waterproof for blissful beachside reading. And if you want to know how many more hours it will take you to finish a book, they can tell you that, too.

But you can do more with your Kindle. Having trouble seeing, or want more words on the page? Just pinch and zoom to adjust. If you want to save battery life, switch your Kindle to airplane mode when you’re not downloading books. Customize the dictionary for when you’re reading books in other languages. These are just the basics: Read on for more advanced tips that will maximize your Kindle enjoyment.

X-Ray Marks the Spot

Sometimes a book is smarter than you, and sometimes it’s even a genius. The X-Ray feature boosts a book’s IQ by letting you examine its bones (ideas, topics, historical figures, fictional characters, and places) in an instant. When you have a book open, tap the top of the screen, select the three-dot menu and select X-Ray. You’ll be able to search for more information about key people, places, and ideas in the book and to view a timeline of notable sections. X-Ray isn’t available for all books.

Highlights of Your Life

If you miss the days of fat yellow highlighters and notes in the margins, then this might be one of your favorite features on the Kindle. Place your finger on the text you want to highlight or write a note about and drag your finger to include more or less text. It will then be grayed out on your Kindle. Tap it for options that include notes, highlights, and sharing to Goodreads. Your highlights and notes are stored on the Kindle Highlights page and in a book that gets added to your Kindle called Your Clippings.

Put It in Your Pocket

Catching up on all the reading you have stored in the Pocket app can be like trying to get through a towering stack of New Yorker magazines. You intended to read every word, but now it just seems overwhelming. Send some of those articles to your Kindle, and you’ll be more likely to read them. Do that by using Pocket 2 Kindle, which connects your Amazon and Pocket accounts and periodically sends articles you’ve saved to Pocket to your Kindle.

A Series of Fortunate Events

If you’re reading a series of books, you can store them all together in your Kindle. Go to Settings > Device Options > Advanced Options > Home & Library > Group Series in Library, and toggle to turn on.Then, all books that are part of a series will show up on your home screen under the cover of the first in the series with the number of the books in that group appearing on the lower right. If you don’t see the feature, try updating your Kindle software ( Settings > Device Options > Advanced Options > Home & Library > Update Your Kindle). Don’t like it? Toggle it off, and the books will appear independently in your library.

Deal Me In

Kindle posts deals on ebooks daily. The Kindle Daily Deals page is organized by category. If you don’t want to drop in regularly, you can sign up for the newsletter. With Kindle Unlimited, meanwhile, you can read any of the books in the Kindle Unlimited catalog for $9.99 per month.

Book Club

Amazon-owned Goodreads is like a book club that doesn’t require figuring out everyone’s schedule or arguing over what to read. On the Kindle, tap the Goodreads button on the toolbar (the lowercase “g”) and you can sign in to your existing Goodreads account or create one. Books on your Goodreads Want to Read list appear on the Kindle home page for easy access to new titles. You can also see what friends are reading, their opinions on books you’re considering, and read a sample before you commit to a whole book.

Home Library

Set up a Family Library, and you can share books with members of your Amazon Household. On the Kindle, go to Menu > Settings > Household & Family Library > Add a New Person > Add Adult. Enter their email address and password for Amazon and authorize both accounts to share payment information. Now you can choose to share all books or choose which books you’d like to share. To add a child, go to Household & Family Library and select Add Child under Add a New Person. Enter the parental control password, the child’s name, birthday, and gender. Then you can select titles for the child’s library. Tap Next, then Done, and the account is set up.

Book Loan

You can borrow Kindle books for your own Paperwhite and lend Kindle books to your friends, even if they don’t have a Kindle. The lending time is 14 days, during which the lender cannot read the book. To lend a book, log into Amazon.com on the desktop. Navigate to the page for the book you want to lend and there should be an option to “Loan this book” on the top left. Or go to your Manage Your Content and Devices page, and locate the book you need. Click the three-dot menu on the left side and select Loan this title in the pop-up window. Enter the email address of the borrower (you can include a message), and click Send Now.

If a loan option does not appear, that particular book cannot be loaned. Only one of the 40 Kindle books I’d purchased recently could be loaned.

If you’re the borrower, you’ll get an email that someone has loaned you a book. Open it and click Get Your Loaned Book Now. When the browser launches, sign in to your Amazon account. Then select the device where you want the book delivered, and click Accept Loaned Book. To return the book, sign into your Amazon account and select Manage Your Content and Devices, find the title, select the Actions button, select Delete From Library, and click Yes.

Go Into OverDrive

Just because you’ve switched to ebooks doesn’t mean you can’t be a library patron. You can borrow books from your local library through OverDrive with a valid library card or student ID. Borrow a book and then tell OverDrive you want to read it on your Kindle.

Get Into Collecting

Too many apps can clutter your phone’s home screen, and an abundance of books can do the same on your Kindle. To keep things organized, tap Menu on the top right, select Create New Collection, type a name for the collection, and tap OK. Check the box next to each book you want to appear in the collection and select Done.

Your collections will now appear on your Kindle home screen. If you want to add books to the collection later on, press down on the icon for the collection, and a pop-up window will appear. Tap Add/Remove Items. Here, you can also Rename a collection, remove it from your device, or delete it entirely. You can also tap into your collection and select the Menu on the top right, which will produce a drop-down menu with the same options.

Just Browsing

The Kindle has a web browser. It’s a bit rudimentary, but it can be useful in a pinch if you’ve got some Wi-Fi but low battery life on your other devices. Tap the Menu on the top right and select Experimental Browser. That will bring up a (pretty sluggish) browser; type your desired URL in the menu bar up top. If you have a 3G model, don’t think you’ve discovered a way around your smartphone’s data plan. Without Wi-Fi, the browser will only be able to access Amazon and Wikipedia.

For Font Freaks

If you’ve got a real thing about fonts, you don’t have to live with the one that a book came with on the Kindle. When you’re in the book, go to the toolbar at the top of the screen and tap the Aa icon. Tap Font > Font Family, where you can choose from a few fonts and adjust the type size and style.

Take a Page Out of the Book

Save what you see onscreen by taking a shot of it. Simultaneously tap either the upper-right corner and lower-left corner of the screen or vice-versa. You should see a flash, which means the image has been saved. To see it, connect your Kindle to your computer, and you’ll see the image in the root folder (they’ll be PNG files).

Originally published at https://www.pcmag.com.

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