Nathan W. Bingham
Connecting in a Hyper-Connected World

Amazon Kindle Tips, Tricks, & Resources

Amazon Kindle Tips, Tricks, and Resources
Early 2011 I bought an Amazon Kindle 3G (Free 3G + Wi-Fi) and to my surprise I absolutely loved it. I say surprise as I had previously ridiculed the Kindle. I put my ridicule down to two reasons; firstly ignorance, and secondly I was comparing it to an iPad. The Kindle isn’t an iPad, and when judged as a stand-alone reading device I believe the Kindle wins hands down.

Here’s a list of some miscellaneous tips, tricks, and resources I discovered since owning my Kindle. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments and I’ll update the post accordingly.

Tips & Tricks

Configure Your Kindle Email Address

Your Kindle has an email address. Unfortunately, the default address given is usually unhelpful and difficult to remember.

Visit Manage Your Kindle > Manage Your Devices and click ‘edit’ next to your current Kindle Email Address. Set it to something you can easily remember. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be secretive either as only authorised email addresses can send emails to it.

Configure Your Maximum Personal Document Charge

If your Kindle has 3G it is free to receive book purchases (and use the Kindle Browser) when you’re outside of WiFi range. However, Amazon will charge you if you send “personal documents” to your Kindle while you’re connected via 3G.

If you want to avoid any unsuspected charges, visit Manage Your Kindle > Personal Document Settings and change your Maximum Personal Document Charge. I have mine set to $0.00.

Configure Your Approved Personal Document E-mail List

Who can send documents to your Kindle? Whoever you allow.

Visit Manage Your Kindle > Personal Document Settings and click ‘Add a new approved e-mail address’ to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List.

You can add a single personal email address [eg. add 'email@gmail.com'] or if you own your own personal domain name or have a corporate domain, you can allow any email address associated with that domain access [eg. add '@mypersonaldomain.com'].

Force WiFi When Emailing Personal Documents

Your Kindle Email Address defaults to this format: [username]@kindle.com.

If your Personal Document Charge allows for it, the documents you send to this address will arrive even when you’re connected to 3G and you’ll incur charges. However, you can force the document to arrive the next time you’re connected to WiFi and therefore avoid all charges.

Simply use this format for your email address: [username]@free.kindle.com

Supported Personal Document Formats

Will be converted…

The following file types can be emailed to your Kindle and will be converted for use on the Kindle.

Won’t be converted…

The following file types can be emailed to your Kindle but they will not be converted. You can still view them on your Kindle.

Get Amazon To Convert Your Adobe PDF

If you email an Adobe PDF to your Kindle it will remain a static PDF. However, if you want Amazon to attempt to convert it into their format simply set the subject line of your email to ‘Convert’.

There are reasons why you would or wouldn’t want this to occur. You’ll see an example when I discuss using your Kindle to display your speaking / preaching notes.

View / Print All Your Highlights & Notes

It is easy to highlight sections of your books. You can even share your highlights if you desire. See a list of the Top 10 Most Highlighted Bible Verses.

If you want to view all your highlights and possibly cut and paste them to print them, visit http://kindle.amazon.com, log-in and click ‘Your Highlights’. Voilà.

Add Custom Screensavers & Fonts

Don’t like the gallery of dead writers that appear as screensavers (book covers) when your Kindle goes to sleep? Maybe you do like them but wish you could add your own images. Well, if you jailbreak your Kindle you can.

Do you have an obsession with a font not included with your Kindle? Again, if you jailbreak your Kindle you can add your own custom fonts.

This is a more advanced trick, so do it at your own risk. However, if you follow the instructions it should be safe. Here is a thread with all the information you will need.

You can find a gallery of Kindle Screensavers here, or simply use Google.

Play Minesweeper

Need another distraction from reading and other productive activities? If you press Shift+ALT+M from the home screen you can activate Minesweeper.

Game controls: M or enter to mark, R to restart game, and 5-way controller to move cursor.

If you press G while in Minesweeper you will activate another game, GoMoku.

Use Twitter on Your Kindle

Using the web browser built into the Kindle you can use Twitter. Twitter does have its own mobile friendly version, but it isn’t brilliant on a Kindle.

To use a Kindle-friendly version of Twitter click Menu > Experimental > Launch Browser and visit the web address http://kintweet.com

You can watch a helpful video tutorial of Kintweet here.

Use Facebook on Your Kindle

There isn’t a specially designed Kindle-friendly version of Facebook, but Facebook’s smartphone site works well.

Click Menu > Experimental > Launch Browser and visit the web address http://touch.facebook.com

Take A Screenshot of Your Kindle

If you press Shift+ALT+G a screenshot will be taken of your Kindle screen.

The screenshot will be saved as a .PNG file accessible by connecting your Kindle to your computer and looking in the documents folder.

Activate Hidden Image Viewer

Amazon does not advertise there is an image viewer built into their Kindle software. This is probably because it isn’t that good. However, if you want to try it out you can.

Connect your Kindle to your computer and create a folder called ‘pictures’. Within that folder create one or more sub-folders (these will be the name of each collection of images). Copy and paste your images into those newly created sub-folders. After disconnecting your Kindle, press ALT+Z from the home screen. The sub-folders containing your images will now appear among your books.

Get A Digest Delivered Featuring All Your Unread Articles

Every day there are articles and blog posts published online that I would like to read. Most if it, if I had the choice, I’d prefer to read comfortably away from the glare of my computer screen. With Kindle’s e-ink and Instapaper this is now possible. Here’s how:

Sign-up for a free Instapaper account and grab their ‘Read Later’ bookmarklet, placing it in the bookmarks bar of your web browser. When you come across an article you want to read later, click the ‘Read Later’ button in your bookmarks bar and it will be saved to Instapaper for you.

Configure how & when you would like to receive your digest and remember two important things:

Make sure your Kindle email address is set to @free.kindle.com, and be sure to add the unique email address they assigned you on the configuration page to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List in Amazon’s Manage Your Kindle > Personal Document Settings section.

Now, as per your custom settings, you’ll wirelessly receive an easy to read digest filled with all the unread articles and blog posts you’ve saved to Instapaper. I close my Macbook and read mine in bed or on the couch.

Use Your Kindle for Speaking / Preaching Notes

I’ve used my Kindle to display notes when I’ve given talks and preached sermons. Despite its small screen size I’ve found it to be very practical and discreet.

The main teething problem I had was learning how to control exactly what text appeared on each page / screen. I personally like to format my paper notes in such a way as to not have dot points running over two pages. I want to avoid forgetting a sub-point, verbally close off a point, and then discover the dreaded extra sub-point when I turn over.

Here is my solution to page perfect notes for use on the Kindle when public speaking:

Create a new A5 (5.8 x 8.3 inches) document in Word or Pages. For metric users A5 is close enough to the size of the Kindle screen and it has saved me having to pull out a ruler and measure it.

Type your notes using 15pt, making use of bold, underline, and shades of grey. You may want to increase that type size depending on what your eyes are comfortable with.

Save the document as a PDF. This feature should be available to most users via the print function, but if not a quick Google search will return several free software or online alternatives.

Email or USB transfer this PDF to your Kindle.

Once it has arrived, open it, press the Aa button and set the contrast to ‘darkest’.

That’s it. Remember, once you wake your Kindle you will have ten minutes before it goes to sleep again if you don’t change pages. This should be long enough for you to get to the next page, but if not I suggest you space out your notes more when you first type them.

Resources

Online Forums

If you have questions regarding your Kindle and are looking for an online community to find answers and ask questions, then I’d suggest the very popular MobileRead Forums. If you’ve found a good community of Kindle users, leave a comment and let us know.

Get Free and Cheap Books

One of the most appealing factors of any e-Reader is the possibility of growing a library of books very cheaply, if not for free. I use several of the below sites, and some of them were suggested by you when I asked on Twitter and Facebook.

eReaderIQ

This site is amazing and really helpful. It will display the latest free books on Amazon, let you know when a specific book has dropped in price, or when a title you’re after becomes available in Kindle format.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg had made a massive collection of public domain books available in a variety of eBook formats.

Baen Books

Baen Books offer a significant number of free books in the pulp sci-fi genre.

Bring The Books

For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you’ll be familiar with the eBooks provided by Bring the Books. Browse the ‘Free Kindle Book’ tag and you’ll find lots of public domain books that have been carefully edited, table of contents added, ready for you to email or USB transfer to your Kindle.

Gospel eBooks

Not all the Christian books at Gospel eBooks are worth reading, but occasionally you’ll find a bargain.

Amazon Kindle Store

Visit the Christian section of the Amazon Kindle Store. If you sort by ‘Bestselling’ you often find some great books that have been heavily reduced, and if you sort by ‘Price: Low to High’ you find their current free offerings.

Tim Challies suggested last week that you narrow your Amazon search by publisher. For example, search for “Crossway Books”, sort by ‘Price: Low to High’, and you’ll find their current discounted offerings.

Puritan Library

The Puritan Library offer a huge collection of free puritan eBooks available in multiple formats.

CBD Reformed

Again, thanks to Tim Challies I’ve discovered CBD Reformed. Visit their less than $5 section and you might find a bargain.

Software

Aside from the Free Kindle Reading Apps, the most significant software the advanced user will need is Calibre. Calibre works on Windows, OS X, and Linux, and is perfect for converting documents and eBooks from one format to another.

Calibre is simple to use, but it also has many advanced features. If you’re interested in digging deeper, Google search and you’ll find heaps of information out there.

Over To You…

I hope you’ve found these Amazon Kindle tips, tricks, and resources useful.

If you’re a Kindle user already:

Leave a comment, discuss it on Facebook, or send me on a tweet on Twitter.

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