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.

24 comments

  1. “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.”

    Yes, works until you get a polite email from Amazon asking you to provide proof you live in the USA

    “Dear Mr Alexander the Great,

    I see that you attempted to purchase “Sudoku ” while in a different country than the United States listed on your Amazon account. Certain Kindle titles are not available everywhere. We are reaching out to you to ensure the best possible service for your account.

    If you have moved to a different country, you can easily update your country for your Amazon account at http://www.Amazon.com/manageyourkindle

    If this is not the case, and you would like to share information that you live in the United States, we can be reached by fax at 001-206-266-1838 from outside the US, or 206-266-1838 from within the US. Helpful information includes:
    – Passport
    – Military ID
    – Permanent Resident Card
    – Driver’s License
    – Other state photo identity card

    We want to assure you that we handle this information in a secure manner: these are dedicated fax lines, staffed in an area with limited employee access. The fax is never printed, just converted to an electronic image that is used to check the country, then the image is deleted.

    Best regards,

    Account Specialist
    Amazon.com
    Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.

  2. Once a book has been read how can it be deleted? Does it just stay on the Kindle forever?

  3. here’s a great tip. you can now convert your kindle clipplings into Microsoft Word, Excel and PDF files. check out
    http://www.clippingsconverter.com

    It’s for free too. this site converts your clippings into a very read-able & organized format…just what I’d been waiting for – great for students.

  4. yes, http://www.clippingsconverter.com is a true gem. I also use this site too. it’s pretty simple to use.

    I like to make notes/highlights of my favourite book for future reference. Those clippings get saved in
    “myclippings.txt” in the documents folder of your Kindle. Clippings converter exports these highlights/notes into Word, Excel or PDF files
    for better organization.

    You’ll first need to get the myclippings file from your Kindle’s
    documents folder after connecting the device to your computer. Once you get
    that, you can upload that to the site and download it in your preferred format.

  5.  Got Kindle for Anniversary gift. Imma geek. Partner is great! Loving it and her!

    • it is a type of wireless system that, when you’re in the range of a wi-fi network, let’s you join the network and connect to the internet so you can download books from the amazon.com website on your kindle. however, you can also download the books from amazon.com and then transfer them to your kindle through the USB wire that came with the kindle that plugs into your computer/laptop.  wi-fi networks can be found at Panera bread or some other public places. a lot of people have wi-fi networks in their homes if they have more than one computer that needs to connect to the internet.

      • so basically, you don’t NEED a wi-fi network to put books on your kindle if you have a computer with internet and the USB cord to transfer the books to your kindle, but the wireless certainly does help if you are away from your computer and need a book. also, if you have 3G, you don’t need wifi because it automatically gets to the internet by satellite

  6. You can easily organize your kindle collections with this free web utility.
    http:/www.accwebworks.com/kindle

  7. JUst gone to the Amazon Shuffled Row page. NOwhere is there a doenload or buy button. But I’ve just read a post elsewhere that says such applications cannot be removed once installed. This I like not. Elsewhere someone was talking about a third party app to manage collections. He liked it and called it the iTunes of Kindle. That worried me. I have not and never own an iPhone or iPad. They are far too controlling. They work how they work, which includes deleting stuff you don’t want to delete – I’ve seen it. I demand full control of my machines. So, is this really true that these things cannot be deleted. If so, I’m glad there wasn’t a Download button.

  8. I hate the screensavers, we should have a choice of a picture, i would like it to be of the book cover that i am reading, not random people who are now dead, and as my kindle is new i dont want it to be hacked neither, come on Amazon people dont want these screensavers.

  9. I agree magz, I am getting fed up with the same old pictures….I think I will scream if I see one more of Jane Austen!   It should be easier for kindle to put the front cover of a book on there instead.

  10. You will be even happier if you get Klippings Kollector for your desktop, it has made all the difference in the world for me.  I can not believe more people don’t know about it yet

Comments are closed.

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