Tips and Tricks For Your Shiny New Kindle

I am the proud owner of a brand new Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi (a.k.a. Kindle 3). This sleek graphite device is great when I want to read at home or on the move. The size and weight are just perfect and even after holding it for a few hours I can barely feel it resting on my palm.

Since buying the device last week, I have the chance to play around with the device and I have compiled a short list of tips and tricks that every Kindle user needs to know. These tips generally apply to the latest generation Kindle, however most of them work with the older versions as well.

Search and Indexing

Immediately after adding books to your Kindle you will notice that the battery meter drops very quickly. This is because after your books have been added to the Kindle, it will start indexing the text inside all the books. This is useful when you want to use the search feature. To check if the indexing has completed, search for a random word (e.g. “qwerty”) and you will see the number of items that are yet to be indexed.

kindle-index

In some cases you may notice that the indexing is stuck at a particular book. In this case you will have to reconnect the Kindle and re-transfer that particular book as it may have been corrupted during the earlier transfer.

Third-Party Apps

Calibre

The Kindle’s biggest failing is that it does not come with any companion software. However, Calibre attempts to fill this void by providing a multi-platform, feature-heavy eBook manager. We have already covered Calibre before, so I will not go into detail on what the software is capable of. Suffice to say, Calibre is the iTunes of eBook management.

calibre-main

Kindle Collection Manager

Another problem faced by Kindle users is the fact that the Kindle does not sort by folders. In fact it can only sort by “Author”, “Title”, “Most Recently Read”, and “Collections”. Collections are essentially custom tags that can be assigned to particular books. So, for example, you could have the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” in a Collection called “Crime” and in another Collection called “Fiction”.

While Calibre has a number of sorting methods, it does not have any way to manage the Collections on the Kindle. Fortunately, a member of MobileRead has taken it upon himself to develop the application Kindle Collection Manager. As the name suggests the sole purpose of this application is to sort the books on your Kindle into Collections.

Taking Screenshots on your Kindle

You will have noticed that I have a number of screenshots from my Kindle in this article.

To take screenshots on the Kindle simply hold the buttons “Alt + Shift + G” and the screen will flash momentarily. To retrieve your screenshots browse to the root directory of your Kindle and navigate to the “documents” folder. This folder contains all your saved books and the screenshots will be saved as GIF files.

kindle-screenshots

Changing Your Default Country

Once you have registered your Kindle, you can manage your Kindle account through Amazon’s online portal.

If you live outside the United States you will find that some content (including certain books) which are unavailable to you. To get around this, you can simply change your country to the United States by adding a dummy billing address based in the United States.

kindle-your-country

Note: Erez from Download Squad has reported that Amazon is charging a higher price for its books for International users. Thus, no matter where you are from, it might be a good choice to set your country to United States.

Bonus: Games!

The Kindle is hardly a gaming platform but it does come with a few games and you can even download a couple more.

The Kindle comes built-in with Minesweeper which you can start by holding “Alt + Shift + M”. The controls are as follows:

  • Up/Down/Left/Right: Cursor Keys
  • Mark Mine: M
  • Open Cell: Enter
  • Restart: R

kindle-minesweeper
While in Minesweeper if you press the letter “G” you launch the game GoMoku. This is a variant of tic-tac-toe where you have to create a row of five crosses horizontally, vertically or diagonally. The controls are as follows:

  • Up/Down/Left/Right: Cursor Keys
  • Place X: Enter
  • New Game: N
  • Return to Minesweeper: M

kindle-gomoku
Finally, you can also download Shuffled Row and Every Word for free from Amazon’s store.

Shuffled Row

kindle-shuffled-row

Every Word

kindle-every-word

The above are the current tips and tricks that I have discovered. If you happen to know of any other useful Kindle tips let us know in the comments.

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