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Your Kindle Is More Than an eReader: 5 Hidden Kindle Features

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It’s easy to think of a Kindle as just an eBook reader, but it’s so much more than that. It’s an MP3 player, portable web browser (with free Wikipedia access over 3G), gaming device, and image viewer.

Some of these features only work on the Kindle Keyboard (also known as the Kindle 3G), while some also work on the Kindle Touch. Free 3G browsing is restricted to specific websites on the Kindle Touch.

Image Credit: kodomut on Flickr

Music Player

Your Kindle includes sound capabilities (a headphone jack and speakers) for listening to audio books and using text-to-speech with eBooks. However, the Kindle also includes an MP3 player – you can copy MP3 files to your Kindle and use your Kindle to play music or podcasts. Music plays in the background while you read, so this feature can provide background music while reading.

To copy MP3 files to your Kindle, connect it to your computer with its included USB cable. Access the Kindle in Windows Explorer and place MP3 files in the music folder.

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Eject (or Safely Remove) your Kindle afterwards. On your Kindle, press the Menu button on the home screen and select Experimental.

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Select the Play Music option next to Play MP3 on the Experimental page.

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Press Alt+Space keys pause or resume MP3 playback. To skip to the next song, press Alt+F. On a Kindle Touch, a music player will appear at the bottom of your screen.

Included Games

Want to play some games on your Kindle? Kindle Keyboards include two hidden games: Mine Sweeper and GoMoku.

To access Mine Sweeper, press Alt+Shift+M on the home screen.

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To access GoMoku, also known as “Five in a Row,” press the G key on the Mine Sweeper screen. You and your Kindle take turns placing X’s and O’s on a board — the goal is to place five marks in a row before your Kindle does!

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Free 3G Browsing

Your Kindle includes a web browser, so you can browse the web without switching devices. Of course, the black-and-white E-Ink screen doesn’t provide the ideal experience for web pages.

If you have a 3G Kindle Keyboard, you can browse the web from anywhere over the 3G cellular network – free! Amazon has recently instituted a 50MB monthly limit, but you can continue to access Wikipedia and the Amazon Kindle store from everywhere after hitting this limit.

The Kindle Touch can access Wikipedia and the Kindle store from anywhere over 3G, but must be on Wi-Fi to browse other websites.

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To launch the Kindle’s browser, press the Menu button on the home screen, select Experimental, and select Launch Browser.

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You can also select the Search option in the menu to search Wikipedia, Google, or the Kindle store.

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Image Gallery

On a Kindle Keyboard, you can add image files to your Kindle’s storage and use your Kindle as an image viewer. The Kindle supports images in JPEG, GIF, and PNG formats. The images will be in black and white, so you can first convert them to black and white to shrink their file size, if you like.

The Kindle Touch doesn’t support this feature – on a Kindle Touch, image files you want to view must first be converted to eBook format.

Connect your Kindle to your computer and create a new folder named pictures in its root directory.

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Inside the pictures folder, create one or more image gallery folders. Place your image files into these subfolders.

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After disconnecting your Kindle from your computer, press Alt+Z to rescan the files on your Kindle’s storage. You’ll see a new option in your library for each image gallery you created.

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Open one of the image galleries and use these keyboard shortcuts:

  • f – Toggle Full-Screen Mode
  • q – Zoom In
  • w – Zoom Out
  • e – Default Zoom
  • c – Actual Image Size
  • r – Rotate Image
  • 5-way Directional Pad – Pan

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Take Screenshots

Press Alt+Shift+G to take a screenshot of your Kindle’s screen. (The Shift key is the up arrow on your keyboard.) The screen will flash.

On a Kindle Touch without a keyboard, press the Home button and hold it down, tap the screen once without releasing the home button, wait a few more seconds, and then release the home button.

The screenshots are saved in GIF format and appear in the documents folder on your Kindle.

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Check out Get More From Your Kindle: Tips, Tricks, Hacks, and Free Books for more great Kindle tips!

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 08/16/12

Comments (15)

  1. Chester H.

    Very nice tips. I’ll have to try these.

  2. Angela

    Do these features work in Canada? I have an older Kindle, the DX. It is gathering dust on my shelf, and I am using the Kindle app for IOS. These and other things were promised with the Kindle when I purchased it, and I later found, when trying to use them, that they don’t work internationally. The only thing I miss not using the actual device is the text-to-speech option. I could never get the music to work.

    I can’t speak to the newer models.

  3. Phyllis

    You sound like me, Angela. My DX is taking up room in a drawer. I would trade it right now for a smaller Kindle. I can’t believe I paid $400 for that thing. It’s too big and bulky just to use as a reader. I love, love, love my Kindle books. I just read them on my iPad and my Android.

  4. Jim

    Text to Speech (TTS) for Kindle is currently only available on the Kindle Touch, Kindle Touch 3G, and the Kindle DX.

  5. Nancy

    Can you do a similar review for the Nook? Are there similar features with it?

  6. Amy

    Don’t forget about the Text-to-Speech feature!

  7. Errol in Florida

    I use the Kindle Fire as my instant web browser while the laptop is trying to gather itself and link up with wifi.
    For Drudgereport, Yahoo Mail, local news and weather…it’s fantastic. Photo viewing is great and watching Netflix while everyone else is watching their favorite tv program makes it worth twice the price. I love it and take it everywhere.

  8. Whisker

    Not much for a Kindle Touch, sadly :(

  9. fermier

    I “did” past tense try it (vs above, announcing intention to) and would not work?

  10. Tim

    Regarding screen shots, on a Fire, you cannot pull up a keyboard at will to take a screen shot, so this tip is practically worthless. On a touch, the home button is not always available whenever you wish to take a screen shot. There needs to be a non-rooted app developed for this purpose on all Android devices. Why isn’t it a native application as it is on IOS? Goofy.

  11. Kathy

    Is there any way to put your own screensavers on the kindle touch? I have it on my kindle with keypad but can you jailbreak the touch?

  12. jthelw

    Web browsing is torturous on the b&w Kindle; gets a little better on the Kindle Fire.

  13. Capn_g

    Kathy, how did you get your own screensavers on the Kindle with keypad???

  14. echir

    lol, i have a Kindle 4 wifi. It doesn’t have: touchscreen, keyboard, audio or 3g. I can only read books :(

  15. Beverly Margolis, Ph.D.

    When both the Kindle Fire and the Nook came out, I couldn’t make up my mind which to use so I bought both. The Nook is now in my brother’s hands as a gift.

    The most important thing to me is being able to save the books I download. With Nook, you’re limited as to the size of the micro SD card you have. With Kindle, OTOH, when you’re finished reading something or just want to read it later, send it to the cloud!

    I had one of the original Kindles with the keyboard but gifted that one to my doctor’s nurse (single mom, loves to read but couldn’t afford one) when I got the Fire.

    I used to use the Fire as my MP3 player in the car, now I just use my Android phone’s player instead.

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