It seems like everyone owns a Fire.
Amazon's e-reader tablets are extremely popular because they're affordable and easy to use. It's no wonder that everyone from your kid to your mother has one - heck, you might own one yourself. However, no matter how simple these devices appear to be, there are tonnes of hidden tips and tricks out there, which you've probably never used, but you should still leverage in order to maximise your experience.
In fact, we've rounded up a few here. We're sure you'll be sharing this tips and tricks guide with your mom or wife or father or brother or best friend or anyone else around you who happens to own a Fire too. But let us know in the comments if we missed something worth adding.
Fire tablet tips and tricks
Note: These tips and tricks were tested on an Amazon Fire HD 8 (2016) but should work across the latest Fire tablets.
Hard reset your tablet
If your tablet freezes or seems to crash, all you have to do is press and hold the power button for 20 seconds and the device will really shut down. Once you give it a few moments of rest, turn it back on by holding the power button. You'll get the boot-up animation and all should be well.
Access Quick Settings and notifications
The easiest way to change settings on your Fire is via Quick Settings. Go to your home screen and swipe down from the top. You will see a menu that lets you adjust the Screen Brightness, enable Blue Shade, set the device to Do Not Disturb, or open the full Settings menu, etc. The area below the Quick Settings menu also serves as your notifications shade, where you can see and dismiss notifications.
Name your Fire
You may have several devices hooked up to your Amazon account, which can make things confusing, so it's best to pick a specific, identifiable name for your Fire tablet. Instead of using “Joe's 3rd Fire”, the default name, change the name of your Fire tablet. Simply pull down the notification shade from the top, and then tap Settings > Device Options > Change Your Device Name.
Set up profiles
Before sharing your Fire tablet with a spouse or child, set up individual profiles under Settings > Profiles & Family Library.
You can add two adult profiles and up to four child profiles. Doing this allows you to share tablet but your personalised content will only be accessible when you log into the Fire tablet. It's worth noting that once you have created a child’s profile, it will appear at the bottom of Profiles & Family Library and you can tap the profile to manage the parental controls, such as daily time limits, schedule times.
With children's profiles, you can also pick the content that’s available to them, and there are smart filters for web access. You can also review what your child has accessed or attempted to access. The profile management page also offers the options to subscribe to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited (Fire for Kids Unlimited in the UK) to get access to more than 10,000 children's books, movies, TV shows, games, etc.
You can buy Fire tablets that don't offer “special offers” on your lock screen. But if you didn't do that and bought the cheaper, ad-based version, you can still remove them. But it will cost you $15.
Go to Amazon in your browser and sign into your account. Click Your Account > Your Apps and Devices and choose Your Devices from the menu on the left. From there, click on Actions next to your Fire and then Manage Your Content and Devices. You'll then need to select Your Devices. Special Offers will be listed with Subscribed next to it. Click on Edit to get the option to Unsubscribe for $15.
- Go to Amazon's Help hub to learn more about "special offers".
Install apps non-Amazon Appstore apps
By default, you can only install apps from the Amazon Appstore. Obviously, there are more apps in the Play Store and other Android app stores. To get apps from other sources, you'll need to do something known as sideloading. More specifically, you need to find the APK file and get it onto your tablet to install it. First, enable the option under Settings > Security and turn on Apps from Unknown Sources.
You can find APK files from a lot of websites, such as APK Mirror, but you be cautious of malware. You’ll also need to download an app like ES File Explorer. From there, download the APK file to your computer, plug in your tablet to transfer it (or download the file directly to your tablet via the browser), then use the file explorer to find the APK file on your Fire tablet. Once you've found it, tap on it to start the install.
FYap and hold on an app or piece of content to remove it from a Fire tablet. If you're in the carousel, you will see a pop-up option to remove or uninstall whatever you’ve long pressed on, and if you’re on the home screen, you need to tap and hold on an app icon to get the Uninstall option. From there, you can tap to select multiple apps and then tap Uninstall to get remove them all at once.
You can also uninstall apps or games from Settings > Apps & Games > Manage All Applications. Then, tap on the app you want to get rid of - one by one - and then tap Uninstall in the top right.
Group your apps in collections
Don’t like seeing your apps all over your home screen. Group them into Collections (aka folders).
To create one, select an app and hold down on it. When the menu appears, tap the Add button with the plus sign in the corner and then tap To New Collection. Enter a name for your collection and then hit Next. To see your collection, go to the Apps screen, tap the menu button on the left hand side (looks like three stacked lines), and select Collections. To add it to your home screen, tap and hold the Collection, then tap Add, and select To Home. To add a new app to a collection, tap and hold an app, tap Add, select To Collections, and tap the collection.
Clean up your carousel
You can remove items from the home screen carousel. Simply press it and hold down. A giant check mark should appear in the program’s icon, along with a menu at the top of the screen. Tap Remove and then select From Carousel. That's it.
Free up storage space
If you think you're running out of storage space on your Fire tablet, you can check how much storage you have left under Settings > Storage. If you select on Internal Storage, you’ll get more information about what's on your tablet. You can go into each category and choose to delete files to free up additional space. You can also offloading items you haven’t used in a while under the 1-Tap Archive option.
It’ll bring up a list of apps and other files stored on your Fire that you haven’t used in over a week. Each item will have a box with a check next to it. Check the box on anything you want to archive, and then hit Archive. These items will be cleared from your device’s memory but still be available in cloud storage. If you need to get those items back, you can tap on them to download them again from Amazon's cloud.
- Go to Amazon's Drive page to learn more about the Amazon cloud.
- Go to Amazon's Help hub to learn more about 1-Tap Archive.
Back up photos and videos
You can automatically back photos and videos to Amazon Drive. Every Fire user gets 5GB for free, but Prime members get free unlimited photo storage. To turn on the automatic backups, go to the Photos app, tap to expand the menu via the three horizontal lines in the top left, and choose Settings. You’ll see options to enable Auto-Save, and you can choose the files you’d like to back up.
You can also specify to back up only when your Fire tablet is charging. All photos or videos that have not been backed up will have an icon of a cloud with a line through it in the bottom corner. If there’s an arrow there, it is currently uploading. And finally, all backed up photos and videos can be accessed in any browser. Just go to Amazon Cloud Drive and sign in with your Amazon account.
- Go to Amazon's Drive page to learn more about backing up and Prime Photo.
Encrypt your data
If you have data on your Fire that you want to keep private, you can encrypt it. You’ll then be required to enter a password in addition to any lock screen password you may have set up. Encrypting your data requires that your Fire be charged at least at 80 percent and be plugged in - and the process takes about an hour. Unfortunately, encryption will be disabled if you reset your Fire to factory settings.
So, here's what you do: swipe down from the top of the Fire screen, then tap Settings > Security & Privacy. In the settings that appear, tap Encryption > Encrypt Tablet. And that's it.
Notifications pop up in the notification shade, such as an incoming email or a system update. However, if you get notifications you simply don't want to see, then you should turn them off under Settings > Sound & Notification > App Notifications. Tap on the app you want to block notifications from - or you can toggle Priority if you always want to hear from a specific app.
Manage your e-book library
Download Calibre. It's a well-rated e-book library management software that's totally free. It can help you organise your books, convert files to e-reader-friendly formats, sync with your device, and more. We really like it for converting books downloaded from other sources, like Project Gutenberg, which has tonnes of free reading material in the public domain, or Humble Bundle.
E-books - even if in the MOBI format - not directly from Amazon tend to end up in the Documents section of a Fire rather than Books. But by loading the file into Calibre, highlighting it, selecting Convert Books and MOBI Output, then getting rid of the “[DOC]” tag in the “Personal Doc tag” field, and selecting “OK”, it'll be converted and should appear in the Books section of your tablet.
Upload your personal music
You can upload your personal music collection to Amazon Cloud Drive and stream it or download it to your tablet. Follow these directions for uploading music. Keep in mind only the first 250 songs are free, then you have to get a $24.99 premium plan to add 250,000 more.
Change the wallpaper
Your Fire lets you change its wallpaper: open Settings > Display > Wallpaper, choose a wallpaper from the default set, or pick your own.
Take a screenshot
This one is easy: hold down the Power button and the volume down button at the same time. You may see an animation and hear a capture sound. To find your screenshot, go to the Photos app.
View desktop websites
The Fire uses Silk as its default web browser, and it automatically loads websites in mobile view. If you'd rather view full desktop versions on it, simply load the mobile version of a page in Silk, tap the menu icon in the upper right (looks like three dots stacked on top of each other), then select Request desktop site. It will then bring you to the full site you were just looking at in mobile view.
Close all browser tabs
Sometimes when you're in Silk browser, you can end up with lots of tabs open. To get rid of them, press on any open tab, and in the menu that appears, tap Close All Tabs (or tap Close Other Tabs to close all tabs - except the one you’re pressed).
Disable screen rotation
You can disable and enable screen rotation by opening the notifications menu (swipe down from top of homescreen) and tapping the screen button to either lock or unlock its ability to automatically rotate.
Check battery percentage
Go to Settings > Device to see how much battery percentage you have left. You can also monitor battery usage with an app like GSam Battery Monitor, which will also conveniently show you the exact battery percentage in the notifications menu so you don’t have to dig to find it.
Set up lock screen password
Under Settings > Security, you'll see an option to set a lock screen password so that other people cannot easily access your Fire.
Want to know more?
Here’s the link to the Fire HD help section at Amazon. It has user guides and help articles on getting started, navigating the user interface, troubleshooting, and plenty more.