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Nook Color: Tips, Tricks and Hints

Nook Color: Tips, Tricks and Hints

Below are some of the questions I’m commonly asked by users about the Nook Color along with their answers.


How do I take a screenshot?
Hold down the n (Home) button and then hold the volume down button for a very short time.  A little camera icon will appear in the bottom status bar telling you a screenshot was taken. The screenshot will be saved in the Screenshots folder and can be saved to your computer via USB.  They can also be viewed on the Nook by using the Gallery.


My computer isn’t recognizing the Nook Color, help!
Be sure the device is out of sleep mode and is unlocked as these can cause the Nook Color to not be recognized on some systems.


How do I add different wallpapers to my device?
Connect the Nook Color to your computer with the USB cable and place the wallpaper image(s) in the My FilesWallpaper directory.

One source for wallpapers is


Can I change my books margins?
Most people I know like little to no margin on their readers screen, thankfully the NC’s margins are adjustable.

Touch anywhere on the page and a menu bar will pop up on the bottom. Select the text option and another window will appear. On the right are three rectangle icons with various sized rectangle inside. These specify the amount of the screen covered by the text. From this same menu you can adjust line spacing and allow you to enable night mode.


How do I bookmark a page (and remove a bookmark)?
Pages can be bookmarked by tapping the upper right corner of a page, a little bookmark ‘ribbon’ will appear.  The bookmark can be removed by tapping the upper right corner again or all bookmarks in a book may be cleared by tapping the center of a page and selecting ‘content’ and then the bookmarks tab and using the ‘clear all’ button.


How do I look up words in the dictionary?
Simply tap and hold on a word and a menu will pop up where you can do a look up, you can also make notes and highlights from the same menu.


Is there a quick way to navigate backwards without going ‘Home’?
You can swipe to the left in the small black status bar at the bottom of a page and it will act like a back button would.  Be careful not to hit any of the status indicators on that bar or it won’t work and you’ll have other things popping up on your screen.  I’ve found it best to get a kind of “running start” at it and just barely brush the screen as my finger goes by.


Is there a shortcut to common settings like brightness instead of using the settings menu?
Simply tap the battery icon in the lower right corner and a quick settings menu will appear.


How do I create playlists for my music?
The create a playlist tap and hold on a song in the music app instead of just tapping to play it.  A menu will pop up where you can choose ‘add to playlist’ which will then bring up a menu to either add the song to an existing playlist or create a new one.  You can change the song order in the playlist by dragging the up/down icon next to the name of each song.  You can remove songs from a playlist by tapping and holding on the song and selecting remove from playlist (be careful you don’t select delete instead).


How do I do a factory reset?
Hold down Home (n button) + Power + Vol up at the same time or go to ‘settings’ then tap ‘Device Info’ then tap ‘Erase & Deregister Device’.  Note: Both methods will reset the NC to factory defaults, erase the content from your device and deregister it.


A factory reset didn’t fix things, what else can I do?
You can try a complete wipe which will cause the Nook Color to “reflash” it’s system partition to whatever version it was when you first bought it.  Note: you shouldn’t need to do this unless you’ve been messing around with rooting or a custom ROM.  If your NC is stock you’ll likely have contacted B&N support before you ever get this far and if you haven’t I’d recommend you do that first.

To do a wipe…

1.      Turn off your Nook Color if it is currently on.

2.      Turn it on by pressing the Power button.

3.      When you see the welcome message appear on screen, hold the power button down to interrupt the boot process.

4.      If the boot animation (nook color by Barnes & Noble animation) does not appear and the device turns off you’ve successfully interrupted boot, go to step 6.

5.      If the boot animation appears you’ve failed to interrupt boot, go back to step 3 and try again.

6.      Repeat from step 3 until your interrupted boot count reaches 8. At this point, the nook will re-flash its system partition.


What is rooting anyway?
This isn’t an official techies explanation, but basically rooting is similar to giving yourself full access rights to parts of the Android operating system (which is based on Linux) that are usually not allowed for general users.  Specific to the NC, folks root because it gives them access to the Android Market and the thousands of apps there (you can also load the Amazon Appstore), including other reading apps like Kindle, Kobo and Aldiko. Basically you’re still using the basic stock B&N interface with a few “extras”.


How do I root?
Instead of providing instructions here I’ll simply give you links to the original XDA thread and also a YouTube video so you can see the process.  Note: rooting does void your warranty and while it’s hard to completely brick/ruin a nook color do it at your own risk.


What about a custom ROM, what is that?
A custom ROM is a customized, third party, version of Android which replaces the stock B&N interface.  This basically makes the NC into a full Android tablet.  One interesting thing is that since the NC looks to the microSD card first when booting you can use a custom ROM without altering the stock NC at all.  To stop using the custom ROM you simply remove the SD card and the NC will boot up as a stock reader.  Custom ROMs can also be flashed to the NC’s main memory replacing the Nook’s stock OS and interface all together, but most readers I know have found the SD card version runs great without risking altering the actual device.

One of the more popular ROM’s in use is CyanogenMod 7 which is a customized copy of Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

If this is something of interest more info (with videos) can be found on Ana Mardoll’s website…


Dear Author

Nook Color: The 1.2 Update

On Monday Barnes & Noble released a much anticipated update for the Nook Color.  This adds some more tablet like features to the “Readers Tablet” and I’m sure will be well received by many.

So what does this update add?

The NOOK Color Ver1.2.0 update contains new features and enhancements, including:

  • Access to shop a broad collection of popular NOOK Apps™ to enjoy great games, stay up to date on news and weather, and more
  • Full-featured free email to check and send web-based email (i.e., Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL) all from one in-box
  • NOOK Color’s update to Android OS 2.2/Froyo offers system improvements, browser performance and a more complete Web experience giving customers access to enjoy even more video, interactive and animated content. NOOK Color now includes support for Adobe® Flash® Player
  • NOOK Kids™ exciting new Read and Play titles that bring animation, activities and stories together
  • NOOK Books Enhanced offer in-page video and audio in a growing number of titles
  • Enhancements to magazine navigation making it easier to enjoy even more of the growing selection of magazines in NOOK Newsstand
  • NOOK Friends™ (beta) to see your friends’ reading activities, swap books with LendMe™, share recommendations and discover new titles


The Apps…

The selection of apps available at this point is pretty thin (140 when I just checked) and many of the paid apps appear to be more expensive than their counterparts in the Android Market, which unfortunately we don’t get access to.  Buying and installing an app is similar to other Android markets and is pretty self explanatory and once purchased can be shared by any Nook Colors sharing the same account.

A couple of  apps that might be of special interest to Dear Author readers are a GoodReads app (free) and the new Nook Friends app (comes pre installed).  The GoodReads app is fairly basic, but works well and with the popularity of the site is likely to be a hit (an Android app for everyone else is coming soon). Nook Friends is a combo social reading network (like GoodReads, Shelfari, etc.) and a shot at mimicking the Nook Lending sites out there.  You can both discuss books with your friends and see what books they have that are lendable, you can manage your lends and request lends through the app too.  Also available are popular apps like Angry Birds ($2.99), Pulse (free), Quick Office Pro ($7.99) and Epicurious ($4.99).

The email app, while very basic, works pretty well it does the job of letting you send and receive email and also allows multiple email accounts.  One thing I don’t like is it doesn’t remember what email was already sitting in the inbox and keeps alerting me as if all of them were just received.

I would have preferred they include the stock Google/Android apps like Gmail, Calendar and a Calculator (or at least make them available), but at least there is a free Calendar App and a $.99 Calculator app in the app store.

One quick note since I know a lot of people like Angry Birds.  Apparently folks are getting an error when trying to install Angry Birds.  The workaround per B&N is to remove your SD Card and try installing again (you can reinsert the card when you’re done installing).


Improved Web Browsing…

Web browsing has improved in performance and the addition of Flash opens things up even more.  The browser has desktop and mobile mode settings which is nice as you won’t automatically be sent to a sites mobile version. YouTube works pretty well , I tried some other video sites such as Hulu, Amazon, Crunchy Roll and HBO Go too with little success.  Amazon and Crunchyroll will play, but you’ll get a message about the video not being formatted for mobile viewing and things were pixilated and stuttered at times.  Hulu doesn’t work at all (just like on all mobile devices I can think of) and HBO Go’s login overlay popup wouldn’t display to let me login.  Overall I was quite pleased with the browser although there were lag problems sometimes.


Now the important stuff, reading…

All of these above mentioned updates are fine and good, but this is a “Readers Tablet”, what has been done to upgrade the reading experience?  Not much unfortunately.  B&N has added support for ‘page turn animations’ and support for enhanced content (embedded audio/video/animations).  It also appears they’ve added a couple of new fonts.  No landscape mode for reading, no new colors (for those who wanted a true black background night mode) and still no last page read or bookmarking when viewing PDFs.  There is a PDF viewer ($0.99) you can buy in the app store that will give you these features, but only for content on an SD card.  Not that the reading software doesn’t work as is, but in my opinion B&N’s own Nook for Android is better overall and I’m not really sure why they don’t just use that for the Nook Color.

The biggest update to the reading software, which B&N hasn’t mentioned from what I can find, is the update to Adobe RMSDK 9.2 (from 9.1) which is said to improve typography and includes, among other things, a hyphenation engine.  I didn’t notice much/any change, but also didn’t spend the time to read an entire book or anything either.

One very nice addition related to reading that should make lots of people happy is that your sideloaded books are now integrated into your library and can also be placed on the devices home screens.

As far as Enhanced books go, there is a sample Good Housekeeping cookbook installed with this update (which can’t be removed) that does a good job of showing what the Enhanced Nook Books can be like.  I can see this being an interesting feature for things like cookbooks and history books and the like.


All in all this is a pretty good update for those wanting some tablet functionality without rooting or loading a custom ROM like Cyanogen Mod 7.  For folks that are used to running rooted you’ll likely be disappointed in the app store selection and inability to sideload app .apk’s.

This update will be automatically downloaded and applied over the coming weeks, but Nook Color owners who want it now can download it and install it manually by following these instructions from B&N.