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+.