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10 Kindle Tricks and Tweaks

I use my Kindle daily and am pretty proficient with working with the device.  Angie James emailed me and asked if I knew about the free.kindle.com feature and I said yes.  She told me that she wasn’t aware of it and that I should put together a blog post about it. I pretty much do whatever Angie tells me to.

I am not familiar with the nook so Brian will be posting his top 10 nook tricks later this month and I’ll also be posting an essential app guide for iPad users. Today’s post is for the Kindle users.

First, a quick review of the keyboard on the Kindle:

Kindle 3 keyboard

1. Send documents to your Kindle for free. Every Kindle device owner gets an email address. This is so you can send things to your Kindle via email. It is also the only ereading device that allows this. Sending yourself books costs money UNLESS you use the free version: free.kindle.com.

If you would like to download your personal documents for free, you can send attachments to “name”@free.kindle.com to be converted and e-mailed to your computer at the e-mail address associated with your Amazon.com account log-in. You can then transfer the document to your Kindle (1st Generation) using your USB connection.

For example, if your Kindle email address is Jay@Kindle.com, send your attachments to Jay@free.kindle.com.

wifi blueIf you have a wifi unit, you can simply turn on your wifi and your free documents will be downloaded.  If you are out of wifi range, you will receive an email that your Amazon Kindle documents are ready to be downloaded and a notice will show up on your 3g Kindle homescreen:

documents waiting alert Kindle

As commenter Li notes, if you set your “Max Charge Limit” to 0, all your emailed books will be sent to the free address.

2. Easier access to the browser. Kinstart.com is the brain child of Sherwood Stranieri and is a home page designed specifically for the Kindle browser. From the About Us section:

The Kindle includes a built-in web browser, but most websites are not easily viewed on the Kindle’s grayscale e-Ink screen. Kinstant helps Kindle owners get more mileage out of their devices: by connecting them to Kindle-compatible websites, and by filtering sites to achieve faster download speeds.

You can customize your own Kindle Start page at Book Monk.

starDon’t forget to save either Kinstant.com or Bookmonk.com as a bookmark so you don’t have to enter the address more than once.

3. How to read ePubs There are three types of epubs out there. There is the unsecured or DRM free ePub, the regular DRM’ed ePub, and the Nook book which is an epub file sold by Barnes & Noble but with a special proprietary DRM that does not work on anything other than the nook app or nook devices.

For all types of ePubs, you will need to use a 3d party program like Calibre to convert the ePub into mobi or azw so that your Kindle can read the file.  Think of Calibre as the intrepreter between the ePubs and the Kindle.

There are plugins out there that can help you remove the DRM if it is not illegal.

4. Optimizing PDFs. Get rid of those margins on your PDFs using a program like BRISS or learn a little reg expression to make clean conversions.

5.  The @ function. From the home page, you can access some shortcuts using the @ command. From the home page, hit DEL to bring up the search box. Hit SYM and then select the @ command

@dict + term and it will bring up the definition of the word
@help (lists the @ functions)
@print + word opens the Kindle store and searches for @print + the term. It is a strange and useless command right now
@store + term will open the Amazon Kindle store and search for the term(s) entered (ALT + HOME will bring up the Kindle store as well)
@url + URL will open that URL in the browser
@web + term will search google for the word or words entered
@wiki + term will search Wikipedia for the word or words entered
@wikipedia (same as wiki)

6. Deleting books. The quickest way to delete a book is to move the cursor under the book and then pressing the rocker to the left.  The longer way is to move the cursor under a book, press ok (the rocker middle).  The book details come up. Scroll down to select delete.

If you want to delete books purchased at the Kindle store for good, you must go to Amazon.com and go to your Account Settings and then the “Manage My Kindle” page.  Toward the bottom is a list of all your recent book purchases.  Search for the book you want to delete.

Delete book Kindle

7.  Calculator.  On the Home page, you can access the search bar by pressing the DEL key.  In the search bar, you can do some simple math calculations such as 10.50 * .15 and then press ENTER (the bent arrow)  to find out the tip.

  • Simple Functions: (+ – * /)
  • Advanced: power (^) and square root (sqrt)
  • Parenthesis
  • Trigonometry: sin, cos, tan, atan
  • Division by zero yields infinity result (?)

From http://blogkindle.com/2009/06/kindle-dx-is-a-calculator/#ixzz1Lj8Sw1ur

8.   Time and Date.  By pressing the MENU key inside a book or on the home screen, you can quickly check the time as well as the battery level and whether you are connected to the wifi network.

9. Delete a highlight or note.

  • To delete a highlight simply, move the cursor to the area of the highlight and press DELD.
  • A note is depicted by a small number in a box [1], position your cursor close to the box and then press DEL.
  • You can also use “View Notes & Marks” via the Menu. Move the cursor under the note you want to delete and then press DEL.

10. Navigating around the home screen. Your home screen books can be browsed in four ways “most recent, by collection, by author, by title”.

  • You can quickly jump to a page on the home screen by pressing ALT + a number key (top row) and then the MIDDLE of the ROCKER.
  • If you are browsing your books by “author” or by “Title” you can quickly move through an alphabetic index of your books by typing a LETTER and then MIDDLE of the ROCKER.  For example if you are browsing by TItle, pressing “m” and then the MIDDLE of the ROCKER, will take you to the M titles.

Do you have a tip or hint or tweak for Kindle users?

Commenter Hugh has a tip about navigating inside a book.  To advance a chapter, press the right arrow button on your directional rocker or d-pad.  To go back a chapter, press the left arrow.  This only works if the book you have purchased utilizes chapters.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

38 Comments

  1. Darlene Marshall
    May 08, 2011 @ 07:57:12

    I have a Kindle question: I own a Sony Pocket (PRS 350) and I’ve never bought an ebook from Amazon because I wasn’t sure if they came in other than Kindle editions. I do have Calibre if I need to convert a file. Can I buy a Kindle edition and read it on my Sony?

    ReplyReply

  2. Jane
    May 08, 2011 @ 08:14:40

    @Darlene Marshall

    Can I buy a Kindle edition and read it on my Sony?

    Only if you strip the DRM.

    ReplyReply

  3. Meredith
    May 08, 2011 @ 08:43:24

    Is there a way to download one’s notes so they can be edited in a word doc? I googled for this but couldn’t figure it out.

    ReplyReply

  4. Jane
    May 08, 2011 @ 08:48:51

    @Meredith: Yes. Plug in your Kindle via the USB cable.

    Look in the DOCUMENTS folder on your Kindle for the “Myclippings.txt” file. It will contain all your highlights and notes. You can open this in Word.

    ReplyReply

  5. Meredith
    May 08, 2011 @ 08:50:18

    Thank you, Jane! This is so brilliant.

    ReplyReply

  6. karen wester newton
    May 08, 2011 @ 09:24:22

    I have two tips. First, because I carry my Kindle in my purse every day, I sent my Rolodex file with friends’ and relatives’ names, addresses, and phone numbers to my Kindle. I have most of the numbers in my cell phone, but not the ones I don’t call very often. And every now and then I will need an address.

    Second, I use the read aloud feature to help me proof manuscripts. I find that hearing the document read really helps spot missing words, extraneous words, and similar errors. No matter how many times I read on screen or even on paper, my brain just edits for me, and I don’t notice the error but hearing the words makes the mistakes obvious. It’s also good for some misspellings like breath and breathe. I have tried read-aloud programs from Word itself, but I find them more cumbersome. What works best for me is to have the manuscript file open in Word and to follow along as the Kindle reads it to me. When I hear or see a mistake, I press the space bar on the Kindle to pause the read-aloud function, and correct the error. Then I space bar again to resume reading. It works great.

    Loved your tips, BTW.

    ReplyReply

  7. karen wester newton
    May 08, 2011 @ 09:29:33

    Oops, one more thing! I really miss the number row on my Kindle 3, especially when I have to type a web key, or to jump to a specific page on my home screen when sorted by “Most recent.” Alt+(top row of letter keys) works for typing numbers, but I got tired of always counting over to figure out which letter was 6, so I bought some number stickers to put above the top row. I don’t understand why Amazon didn’t just print them there! If you have a graphite Kindle, these numbers are white on black circles: http://www.markitdots.com/viewitem.asp?ID=126&Rtn=dots&Desc=Numbered

    ReplyReply

  8. Hugh
    May 08, 2011 @ 09:30:47

    You can use the d-pad to skip from one chapter to the next, but only from the first page of a chapter.

    I discovered this by accident. Maybe it’s in the manual, but I never read those things.

    Thanks for this post!

    ReplyReply

  9. Li
    May 08, 2011 @ 10:09:25

    I’m bookmarking this – thank you!

    I don’t want to be charged for emailing books to my Kindle if I accidentally use the “non-free” Kindle email address, so I’ve set the Max Charge Limit to 0 (on the Manage Your Kindle page on Amazon), which forces everything to be sent to the free address instead.

    ReplyReply

  10. Ila
    May 08, 2011 @ 12:03:06

    Loved this and thank you for sharing.

    Is this relevant to all versions of the Kindle or only the most expensive version? Its the only thing I did not see mentioned.

    ReplyReply

  11. Darlene Marshall
    May 08, 2011 @ 12:20:29

    >>strip DRM<<

    That's what I thought. I can't complain too much since the bulk of my ebook sales are Kindle editions, so Kindle's been good to me. However, I'm looking forward to Connie Brockway's new historical and I hope it will come in more than Kindle formats.

    ReplyReply

  12. Janine
    May 08, 2011 @ 12:52:12

    I have a tip. My tip is an app — Notepad by 7 Dragons. It’s a fast note taking app currently priced at 99 cents and easily worth every penny. It’s fast, easy to use and the notes can be transferred to your computer. Totally worth the (dirt cheap) price.

    ReplyReply

  13. Miranda Neville
    May 08, 2011 @ 13:14:37

    Thanks for the tips. There’s some useful stuff here for someone who doesn’t want to wade through the manual. I have a question. How can you tell how long a book is? My Kindle doesn’t seem to have the page number function and 10% of a novella is very different from 10% of War & Peace. I recently bought a self-published book for $5.99 and I swear it was category length. Not such a deal. Is there a word count function? (There was no indication of length on the Amazon page for the book, only a file size and it seems to me they can be deceptive.)

    ReplyReply

  14. Jane
    May 08, 2011 @ 13:43:12

    @karen wester newton: Great tips Karen.

    ReplyReply

  15. Jane
    May 08, 2011 @ 13:44:19

    @Hugh: Thanks for mentioning that. It’s a great feature, but I think you can use it anywhere in the chapter? What I do miss is the ability to fast forward a certain amount in a book. In past Kindles, you would be able to advance in chunks like 20% at a time.

    ReplyReply

  16. Jane
    May 08, 2011 @ 13:44:48

    @Ila: Yes, I believe these tips work for the K3 wifi or K3 3G.

    ReplyReply

  17. Jane
    May 08, 2011 @ 13:45:23

    @Li: I am going to have to edit the post because this is a great tip.

    ReplyReply

  18. Jane
    May 08, 2011 @ 13:50:25

    @Miranda Neville: Unfortunately Amazon doesn’t give word counts and the file size is very misleading. For example, Samhain includes about 20-30 pages of book excerpts (aka ads) at the end of their books and the percentage figure of completion and the file size is very misleading.

    AllRomance eBooks and Fictionwise give the word count of most books on their sites.

    ReplyReply

  19. Janine
    May 08, 2011 @ 13:53:11

    @Jane: You know you can fast forward a chapter at a time by moving the rocker to the right, right?

    ReplyReply

  20. LG
    May 08, 2011 @ 14:11:45

    Is there a post similar to this for the Nook? If there is, or if there’s one in the works, I’d love to read it. I haven’t owned my Nook for long. I’ve figured out how to do a few nifty things with it (I’m interested in anything that doesn’t invalidate the warranty), but I’m sure there’s tons I don’t even know yet.

    ReplyReply

  21. Brian
    May 08, 2011 @ 14:16:25

    Alt+shift+M will pull up a Minesweeper game, pressing G while Minesweeper is active will switch the game to Gomoku.

    Alt+shift+G will take a screenshot of the current screen and save it in the Kindle’s documents folder.

    These others might be obvious, but I get asked about them all the time.

    To see how much space your Kindle has free press menu and look in the upper left corner of the screen.

    To turn the Kindle off, as opposed to sleep, hold the power slider for 7 seconds. I’d only do this if you won’t be using it for days/weeks.

    To reboot/reset the Kindle hold the power slider for 15 seconds.

    ReplyReply

  22. Jane
    May 08, 2011 @ 14:32:50

    @Janine: Yes, that is what Hugh’s comment was pointing out but the advance chapter feature only works if the book is coded correctly to include chapter marks.

    @LG: Yes, Brian will be doing a nook post.

    ReplyReply

  23. Brian
    May 08, 2011 @ 15:06:18

    For folks that don’t know, Instapaper works with the Kindle and you can either download the files for USB transfer or set it up to email the files to your Kindle.

    For those that don’t know what Instapaper is/does, it allows you to save web pages for reading later.

    ReplyReply

  24. Brian
    May 08, 2011 @ 15:09:43

    Need a quick translation? Kindlefish is optimized to work with the Kindle…

    http://kindlefish.t15.org/

    ReplyReply

  25. Kaye Dacus
    May 08, 2011 @ 15:21:49

    @Jane:

    Thanks so much for the txt file info for notes/clippings! I did my last galley edit on my Kindle (my publisher sends a PDF file) and made all of my notes with the highlight/note feature. But then when it came time to e-mail all of those notes/changes, I sat there with the Kindle beside the computer and re-typed all of the notes into a Word document to send to them. This will make my next galley edit so much easier.

    ReplyReply

  26. Nas
    May 08, 2011 @ 15:39:36

    This was a very timely post for me as I just bought a Kindle and am reading all tips and tricks re it.

    ReplyReply

  27. Caitlyn Nicholas
    May 08, 2011 @ 16:47:53

    Great post, love the tips. Many thanks :)

    ReplyReply

  28. Gretchen Galway
    May 08, 2011 @ 18:17:28

    I’ve got a Kindle 3 (WiFi) and use the email (free) feature all the time. I didn’t even know it might cost anything…I must have set my preferences correctly (ie. to $0 limit).

    One tip I have to add:

    If the publisher has corrected errors since the version you purchased, you won’t see that version without a specific request (probably because of the notations people can make that would be lost).

    Even if you go to Amazon – Manage my kindle – and “permanently delete” the book, and then even if you repurchase – it will give you the first version that you bought (even months) earlier.

    So if you ever find formatting mistakes on a book that you bought a while earlier, you can email Amazon and ask them for the most recent “edition.”

    They’ll send the most recent (corrected) edition to your Kindle at no charge.

    ReplyReply

  29. VictoriaP
    May 08, 2011 @ 23:13:50

    For highlights and notes, you can also go to http://kindle.amazon.com from any browser. Enter your user name and password, and you’ll be able to access all your highlights since your last sync (if you keep wifi/3G off to save battery life, you may need to turn it on to sync first if something recent isn’t showing). This is INVALUABLE if you need to quote a line or passage, as you can typically copy and paste directly from the browser. Works with any book you’ve highlighted or annotated, whether on a physical Kindle, or apps such as Kindle for iPad.

    ReplyReply

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  33. Jill Sorenson
    May 14, 2011 @ 09:04:44

    Help! I’m trying to read NetGalley ARCs on my kindle. I’ve set the $0 limit and added the kindle@netgalley to my approved email list. But when I go to Manage my Kindle at Amazon, the NG titles, along with some other purchases, are showing on a sidebar as “pending.” I can’t click on them or access the material.

    ReplyReply

  34. Jane
    May 14, 2011 @ 19:16:44

    @Jill Sorenson: Did you change your netgally account information so that the email is kindlename@free.kindle.com?

    ReplyReply

  35. Jill Sorenson
    May 14, 2011 @ 21:32:39

    Thanks! That worked. :)

    ReplyReply

  36. Peter Fogarty
    May 15, 2011 @ 01:24:39

    I would like to point your attention to a new website called http://www.anysubjects.com as it is the very first website designed to be a Kindle – friendly website portal.

    It contains information on around 1000 websites so far. All the websites it links to can be viewed on a Kindle without the user needing to change their text or screen settings, making it much easier to surf using a Kindle.

    The site has been an instant success, with lots of people emailing it to thank the developer for building it, and describing how it had made having 3G on their Kindle all the more worth while.

    I would love you to also find the time to review it and share this site with your readers as I want every Kindle user to get to know this site and what unexpected things it can let them do with a Kindle.

    ReplyReply

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  38. Jim
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 11:49:16

    Great post. I’d also like to let people know there is a site where they can convert their Kindle annotations to Word, Excel and pdf. Check is out at http://www.clippingsconverter.com

    ReplyReply

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