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How to Make the Kindle Fire Silk Browser *Actually* Fast!

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Not that long ago, we reviewed the Kindle Fire, and one of our biggest complaints was how lousy the browser is—but we’ve discovered the trick to making it actually fast. Here’s how to fix it.

What’s the problem?

The browser, in the default settings, is essentially attempting to be a desktop browser on a little 7” screen that doesn’t exactly use your screen space very well. As part of this silliness, the browser is set to “Desktop” mode, and Flash is enabled by default. Because of this, the browser stutters, dies, chokes, skips, and is generally a pain to deal with. Oh yeah, and there’s that “Silk” optimization that hasn’t lived up to the hype.

That’s all a thing of the past.

How to Make the Kindle Browser Actually Fast

Here’s what we’re going to do, and as usual, it’s a matter of disabling Flash. While we’re at it, we’re going to disable the page “accelerate” feature, and change the browser to mobile mode. There’s no reason to access sites in the desktop interface when it’s a little 7” screen—you just end up trying to zoom on every single page load, so what’s the point? Finally, the optimization is hardly necessary when you’re on a fast home Wi-Fi connection, so we’re going to turn that off too. I’m sure it’s useful for some people on some networks, but in our testing it was slow.

To do this, just open up the browser, hit the menu button at the bottom of the screen, hit the Settings button, and then find the following options:

  • Enable plug-ins: off
  • Accelerate page loading: Unchecked
  • Desktop or mobile view: Mobile

You don’t have to change the browser into Mobile view, though we do recommend it. Just disabling Flash and the “accelerate page loading” made a big difference while browsing. You can also change the plug-ins to allow them on demand, but that usually ends up with a lot of annoying prompts, so it’s not usually worth it—it’s worth noting that YouTube still works just fine without the Flash plugin enabled.

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Once you make these changes, your browser will suddenly be very fast. You’ll start seeing the mobile versions of most sites, which is not a bad thing, since everything will be speedy.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/17/11

Comments (42)

  1. KatsumeBlisk

    I’m debating this and the Nook Tablet. Leaning towards the Kindle Fire because of the Amazon ecosystem, but I’m seeing too much bad in both. What do I expect for ~$200 though?

    Anyway with this fix, the Kindle Fire looks slightly better because this worried me.

  2. The Geek

    Yeah, I actually figured this out after playing with the Nook Tablet – it’s set to mobile mode by default, which makes the browser fast. So I thought… why not check the Fire settings? Sure enough, problem solved.

    I’m hoping that Amazon releases an update to tweak the touchscreen sensitivity, because that’s still one of my two remaining annoyances with the device.

  3. Charmaine

    Hi,

    Can we load stuff to the Kindle Fire via USB? If not , how can I read tonnes of PDFs gathering dust ? Thanks

  4. Charmaine

    Have you tried to upgrade the firmware ?

  5. The Geek

    Yes, you can copy files to the Fire via USB, it’s extremely simple – just plug it in, copy the files.

    Works for music and video files as well – the video files show up in the Gallery app, which is a little weird, but it works. You have to make sure they are in a compatible format, of course.

  6. BobbyPhoenix

    Wow. So my little 4.5 inch screen on my GSII is apparently better than this “silk” browser. You have to dumb down the browser to use it? Crazy. I use Firefox nightly with flash enabled, adblocker, and a bunch of other extension in “desktop” mode, and it is buttery smooth. I love to full desktop experience on my phone. Can’t imagine not having it on a bigger screen.

  7. John

    Here are the things I love and hate about my kindle fire:

    Love:
    Ease of getting docs on it via email, just send them to your kindle email. It will also convert docs.
    Ability to side-load non-amazon AppStore apps via email or browser. This requires a setting change to allow just like all android devices.
    The kindle app. There is no better ereader out there.
    All the other cool abilities, video, music, apps, etc.
    The keyboard. This I very close to swiftkey with just a few differences.

    Hate:
    The fact that the keyboard doesn’t have a return key at all times. Some apps need one when one is not there.
    Can’t use swiftkey. It loads, but won’t complete install. I may try swype.
    Stupid screen sensitivity/alignment is off.
    Not enough memory.
    Doesn’t seem to charge battery when plugged into my Linux box using standard USB cable.
    Only includes USB power cord and not sync cable.
    It is too heavy and slippery.

  8. kevalin

    *Sigh*. I’m no great fan of the Kindle in general, but I can’t believe how thoroughly Amazon has bollixed this deal by giving the Fire so little to recommend it power-wise. Disable Flash? Eliminate plugins? Avoid desktop view? Then you’ll have a 7″ browser that “works” as well as the one on your 4″ phone? Sure, sounds good.

    This is by no means exclusive to the Fire, but has anyone noticed that the irony of “mobile view” is that anyone with vision issues can’t actually *see* what they’re viewing, especially if it’s the written word, because you can enlarge and auto-fit typeface as you can in desktop view?

    That’s utterly ridiculous, especially when you consider the fact that you are, by definition, dealing with a smaller than usual physical viewing area if you’re dealing with mobile–at least until some bright bulb invents a foldable 14-17″ tablet.

    I think I’ll wait and see what the Nook Tablet has to offer before making the leap to a 7″ tab–if I make the leap. The Fire just doesn’t seem robust enough to blow a couple hundred bucks on.

  9. The Geek

    I really don’t think desktop sites work well on a 7″ screen – it’s simply too small. That’s why I recommended mobile – which is usually blazing fast.

  10. Jim

    The Lenovo Ideapad A1 Tablet seems to be a better choice than either the Kindle Fire or Nook Tablet at the same or lower price point.

  11. Art Kennedy

    I just got my Fire and I can’t find that setting screen.
    Can you tell me how to get there?

  12. Macca

    Mine won’t let me uncheck the acc. page loading box. Any ideas?

  13. kevalin

    Re: mobile vs desktop views: “blazing fast” doesn’t mean much if you can’t read what’s on the page. I love using my mobile devices to surf (for instance, I’m writing this reply via my phone while lying in bed at 7:18 AM… try *that* with a 17″ laptop!), but some mobile sites’ type is so tiny that making sense of it is impossible. Those sites that don’t at least give me the option of going to desktop view, be it”optimal” or not, lose my money, because I’m going to take my business somewhere that’s more accessible, if you will.

    If a website is solely about the pictures, ala, say, YouTube, then mobile view is workable. But if it is also about the written information on the sure, then having the option of going to desktop view (or better yet, having the ability to pinch up the type as one can in desktop view) is not just nice, but could prove to be useful to one’s ability to increase the site’s traffic–with all that that means in terms of popularity and/or increased revenue.

  14. Krieger

    Thanks that was helpful, I think Flash was giving me some issues. I haven’t noticed any problems with the mobile view yet, but if I do I’ll switch back. TBH, I wasn’t really noticing any issues except with Flash. I guess maybe Jobs what right on that one, bit I do prefer having the option on the Fire.

    I’ve got an iPad 2 and a Kindle Fire. If I was on a tighter budget I think I’d just go with the Fire. Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad and it’s a better device in most situations, but at this point I’m not seeing an extra $500 of value over the Fire.

    And I absolutely despise iTunes… =)

  15. mkate

    I LOVE my Fire and this suggestion rocks thank you.

  16. Ryan

    To anyone debating whether or not to get a Fire: just get one, they are great.

    I read all of the reviews as well, and I understand and agree with some of the negative points. But I think reviewers are just trying to point out what could be improved, and a lot of them are comparing it to a iPad. And the Kindle fire isn’t attempting to copy Apple’s products, and it doesn’t need to.

    Yep, Apple’s App store has more apps. It’s also virtually impossible for find any new apps in Apple’s app store, because the top 100 slots are filled with floating titles like Angry Birds, etc., and the other 80,000 apps below that are essentially invisible. There are more interesting and innovative apps available in the Amazon app store, and all of the major titles are available for both platforms.

    Yep. Apple’s iPad’s design looks more like an Apple product than Amazon’s. But I don’t want another Apple product, or a copy-cat Apple product. I’m glad the Kindle Fire looks like a Kindle Fire.

    Indeed, some people don’t like the carousel. You can replace it though. Just google it. It’s really no big deal.

    It’s also true that the kindle fire only has enough battery life to watch like 3 movies, and the iPad can watch maybe 4. I could care less. It’s a tablet, not a mobile phone. I’ll use it in the living room and when I’m traveling. In both cases, I can just charge it.

    Speaking of mobility, the Kindle Fire is like a paperback. The iPad is like a hardcover. There’s a reason why some people prefer paperbacks over hardcovers: they are just plain easier to use. I don’t need a magic origami case to prop up my Kindle Fire at a coffee shop. I can just hold it.

    And at the end of the day, the Kindle Fire is powerful enough to do anything. I’ve heard minor complaints about a bit of lag. I’ve seen a little bit of lag on the device as well, but honestly, it’s not a big deal. It’s really very minor, and only noticable, again, if you are comparing it side-by-side with an iPad. That is, the Kindle Fire isn’t actually laggy at all; it’s just that an iPad is exceptionally smooth when it comes to gestures and scrolling and whatnot. But the extra oiled-down smooth factor just isn’t $300 cooler, if you ask me.

    The point is, if you are coming from an iPad world, you’ll probably notice that the Kindle isn’t an iPad, and you’ll probably be able to come up with a list of how they differ.

    But that doesn’t change the fact that the Kindle Fire is simply amazing, worth $100 more than what they charge for them, and is built on Amazon’s GROWING infrastructure, not Apple’s mature one.

    I’m not even going to compare Apple’s bookstore vs. Amazons. You’d have to live under a rock to not know that Amazon’s services are superior. Amazon’s other services are arguable better as well: you can upload your own files to their cloud player. Netflix is the king of the streaming video, so I don’t really think comparing Amazon prime to iTunes is even relevant. You’ll probably only use those services to rent something that’s not on netflix streaming. Or, in any case, if you *don’t* use netflix, Amazon at least *has* a streaming service. Apple is all rentals and purchases (which Amazon has too).

    Also, if, like me, you already have an iPhone, why would you want yet another iOS device?

    That about covers it. As you can see, I strongly prefer the Kindle Fire–even if the iPad and the Kindle Fire were both $199, I’d still rather have a Kindle Fire, just because it’s an Android-based, commercially supported, infrastructure heavy, AMAZON device that I don’t have to prop up like a keyboard-less laptop. That I can use to read with in bed w/out a third hand to hold it up. That I can do anything on that an iPad can do. That puts wikipedia into a paperback formfactor.

    P.S. I don’t really think flash is a big deal either, but as a side note, Kindle Fire supports it. Apple famously doesn’t. But again, who cares? Flash sucks anyway. But, sometimes it’s nice to know that my device will at least try to show it to me anyway.

  17. Celeste

    How can I add addresses and 3 phone numbers for each of my contacts to the fire ? I tried the edit feature but couldn’t figure it out. It only let me edit the name. I couldn’t scroll to the other fields.

  18. lori

    Can anyone tell me how to load android, non amazon content. I have a wonderful ap I use with laptop and iphone that has aneroid version. Thanks

  19. Manny

    I was able to side load the Opera Mobile browser. I do like the silk browser, but I find that I always have to close about 10 tabs that insist on loading everytime I load the browser.
    Has anybody else had this issue?

  20. lori pollard

    How do u “side-load” an ap?

  21. Dennis German

    I have bee a member of how to geek for several months now and it appears that if you post a negative review almost everyone agrees. I have my kindle fire four days now and I find it better than my iPad. The browser is very fast right out of the box and I am not tied to apple. I will admit I am a rabid amazon fan and buyer. Please let us see more positive reviews.

    Thanks

    Dennis German

  22. Anonymous

    I just got a Kindle Fire yesterday and the “Accelerate page loading” options is NOT there. I looked at Silk > Settings > Advanced (which is referred to as “Advanced Settings” on mine.)

    Have they removed the option in newer firmware or something?

  23. molly

    I dont have the accelerate page loading options. Please help?

  24. molly

    found it

  25. molly

    Thanks it worked. :)

  26. Zamiel

    Answers to all the above questions (or most of them, anyway)…

    YOU CAN SIDELOAD APPS INTO THE KINDLE FIRE.

    That’s all you really need to know. Google it. Get Easy Installer for your Kindle Fire (in the Amazon Kindle Fire App Store) and then install your side-loaded .apk files.

    With that in mind, I’m going to ask: Why bother dumbing-down the built-in browser when you can just get a speedier one and install it? I suggest Opera or Dolphin. I’d also say you’d be doing yourself a favor if you installed GetJar on your Kindle Fire.

    Finally, because you can sideload apps, this means you can also sideload a Launcher and get away from that annoying Carousel. I’ll leave the research up to you, but trust me: There’s a lot of good stuff out there that will make your Kindle Fire behave like a proper Android device, and you don’t need to root or hack it at all.

    There are some caveats, though: Most launchers screw up launching the Amazon Kindle App, meaning that if you want to read books you need to launch into the native launcher and load from the “Books” tab, as usual. Also, Amazon’s launcher is really stubborn about wallpaper, and so you probably won’t have a lot of luck changing it, even in another launcher.

    Minor quibbles… They’re tolerable if you want to do things like surf the web with Opera, or read email with another app, or load a VOIP app and speak through an external headset plugged into the Kindle Fire’s headphone jack (yes, that works!)

    All I’m saying is: Look around online and study a bit before returning your Kindle Fire. You may find it does everything you want it to, even if it’s not doing it out-of-the-box.

  27. marltonfan

    How can delete a Internet bo

  28. marltonfan

    How can you delete bookmark

  29. MIKE

    Is the kindle fire not fast? I’m on my fire now and my browser runs smoothely and hardly lags.

  30. rangerwolfy

    Doesn’t silk work on a cache based scheme so therefore it would be thought that you would have needed to visit a site first before the cache can be built and since you are always logged in on the fire each persons cache is different? I mean amazon could speed things up by crowdsourcing the database for major sites but if its not a frequently visited site you would need to visit it first

  31. Ken

    the “super slow browser” talk is over hyped. it’s not slow at all. some people are just impatient and can’t stand waiting 10ms vs 2ms, if you’re counting your life in milliseconds there are therapists to help.

  32. ron

    I cannot find any of the settings you write about. Settings is very limited.

  33. Brett Burney

    Just helped my Dad with his new Kindle and these suggestions were excellent – exactly what he needed to curb his complaints about websites being too hard to read. Thank you for the post!

  34. bob_ca

    Just “found” howtogeek, great website, great twitter! Making my Kindle Fire and Windows 7 experience very enjoyable. Love auto-spell too. Happy New Year everybody!

  35. Dirk

    Manny – yes, the browser will “remember” your open tabs upon restart. Just close them when you’re done, then clear your cache before closing the browswer. That fixed it for me.

  36. JB

    “You can also change the plug-ins to allow them on demand, but that usually ends up with a lot of annoying prompts…”

    What prompts? Was this an assumption or do you have a Kindle Fire different from everybody else’s? ;-)

    In reality, changing the plugin setting to prompt simply puts a placeholder on the page where the plugin content would have been. There is a little arrow inside a button in the center of the placeholder. If you want to activate the plugin and run the content, you simply click the button. If you don’t care, then you don’t have to click it.

    I find that to be the best of both worlds. I normally don’t care to enable the content, but for the few sites that I do, I don’t have to go into the settings to toggle anything, I just click the button on those few sites.

  37. Cathy Elaine

    Thank you. I love you. :)

  38. Sarah

    I followed your instructions and now my browser is going very speedy! A lot of the sites I was looking at before look more or less the same, it’s not like I’m sacrificing much. Thank you for the pointers!

    If you’re thinking of purchasing a Kindle Fire, I suggest it. For $199, it surpassed my initial expectations. So long as you don’t order it expecting an iPad, you will be very pleased.

  39. Gail

    I was watching my first movie in Nexflix and the picture at times was not clear and it kept budging. Any suggestions?

  40. Gail

    Sorry….kept buffing.

  41. Mark

    I LOVE KINDLE E PEARL WITH FREE 3G. HOWEVER THE BROWSER SUCKS. I WANT TO BUY A KINDLE FIRE, BUT I AM WAITING UNTIL :

    1. THE BROWSER PROBLEMS ARE FIXED
    2. I WOULD LIKE A SLOT FOR EXTERNAL SD CARD
    3. I WNNT TO BE ABLE TO SWITCH TO E INK PEARL WITH NO BACK LIGHT WHEN READING A BOOK.
    COLOR FOR BROWSING
    E PEARL FOR BOOK READING

  42. colin

    Kindle Fire is the new electric car of the tablet world. If you need quick and easy -though somewhat limited computing its perfect. Don’t try to haul stuff from Home Depot. Also as a supurb media player it beats the phone or ipod hands down. The ability to work from cloud or your own home/site storage is a fantastic plus as well. If I’m going to carry a 10″ tablet i might as well use a netbook or laptop. Just my opinion as a tech guy and consumer. In this case there’s only one size fits all and its a 10″. What do you want for 199 anyway, the world?

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