Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special passwords edition

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special passwords edition

Q. Can I password protect my Kindle?

A. Yes, if you have the 2.5 update.

Q. How do I know if I have the update?

A. Go to Home-Menu-Settings.  You’ll see your version number at the bottom of the screen.  You can then hit the Back button to go back to Home.

Q. What if I don’t have 2.5 yet?  How do I get it?

A. You can wait until your Kindle updates (you’ll need to have your Whispernet on), or go to the Kindle Software Updates page.  You can follow instructions there to manually install it.

Q. Is there anything I should do before I update it?

A. If you have a “hack”, you need to uninstall it.  You’ll know if you do.  I would always back up your documents folder (and Audible or music if you are using those) before updating a Kindle (and do it regularly).

Q. How do I back up my files?  Is that really necessary?

A. You connect your Kindle to your computer using your included USB cord, and just drag the folders to your computer.  It’s not necessary, but I recommend regularly backing up that folder, especially if you have files that didn’t come from the Kindle store.

Q. Can anybody with a Kindle get the update?

A. Anybody except people with a Kindle 1.

Q. What do I do if the update isn’t working for me?

A. You can call Kindle Customer service: 1-866-321-8851 in the US, 1-206-266-0927 outside it.   You can also contact them through the Amazon website.

Q. Okay, I have the update and I’m ready.  Why would I want to password protect my Kindle?

A. There are several reasons.  If someone finds your Kindle and does not know the password, they will not be able to see what you have on it.  That could keep family members from seeing embarrassing personal documents.  It may be required by your work that you have a password on a device before putting certain types of documents on it.  It also prevents people from ordering on your Kindle if you leave it lying around.

Q. So, if I order, say, erotica, I can keep my child from knowing I have it?

A. If you put it on your Kindle yourself, yes.  If you order it from the Kindle store, and your child has another device on the account (another Kindle, an iPhone, and so on), they would see the title in your archives.

Q. Can I password protect the archives?

A. No.  The password only protects the specific Kindle.  You have a password on your account that protects certain functions (like adding a device to the account or changing e-mail addresses authorized to send items to your Kindle), but the archives are available to everybody on the account.

Q. Can I password protect just the buying part?

A. No.  If someone doesn’t know the password, they can’t use the Kindle, even just to read the books on it.

Q. Is there anything I should do before I set a password?

A. You  may want to record the password you are going to use somewhere.  If you forget the password, the only way Kindle Customer Service is going to be able to reset it is to do a factory reset.  That will also delete anything you’ve put on the Kindle yourself: personal documents; pictures; periodicals you’ve “kept”; MP3s; and books from Audible.com.  I strongly recommend you regularly back up your Kindle’s documents, music, Audible, and pictures folders. 

Q. They can’t just reset the password?

A. No.

Q. Where do you recommend I keep my password?

A. Some place safe and not dependent on a single device.  Some people and companies keep their passwords in safe deposit boxes.  Others make sure trusted people (family members, lawyers) have them.  It just depends on how careful you want to be.

Q. Anything else I should do?

A. You are going to be asked to enter a “hint” for yourself.  You may want to think of that ahead of time.  For example, some people may use something like a first pet’s name as a password, so putting “pet” as a hint might help.  Also, the password can be up to 12 letters long…you might want to think of it first.

Q. Any suggestions for passwords?

A. Generally, it’s better not to use as a password something you carry with you.  For example, some people like to use their birthdays for passwords.  Since you often have that with you in your wallet (on your driver’s license), that’s not as secure.  It doesn’t appear that the Kindle requires you to use both letters and numbers.  It depends, again, on how secure you want to be.   The most secure thing would be a random string of numbers and letters, but that’s hard to remember.

Q. How do I enter the password?

A. Go to Home, Menu, Settings, and select “turn on” next to Device Password.  You’ll be asked to enter the same password twice (to make sure you didn’t have a typo the first time) and then to enter your hint.  Then, select “submit”.

Q. “Submit” usually means you are sending something to a server.  Is my password being stored by Amazon?

A. Apparently not. 

Q. Does that mean it’s stored on my Kindle?  If someone got my Kindle, could they find my password on my device?

A. My guess is that it would be possible, but difficult.  The password is presumably encrypted in some way.  It’s similar to your laptop: it would be difficult for someone to “hack” into your password, but hypothetically possible for very technically sophisticated people.

Q. When will I have to enter the password?

A. Whenever your Kindle “wakes up” or turns on.  If you attach your Kindle to a computer using your USB cable (when it is asleep), it will also ask for the password.

Q. If I forget my password, can I call Amazon and have them give it to me?

A. No.  They’d have to reset, as above.

Q. What if I want to change my password later?

A. Go to Home, Menu, Settings, and you’ll see a choice to “edit” next to “device password”.  You’ll need to enter the old password, then the new password twice, and then a hint.  Then, hit submit.

Q. What if I don’t want to use a password any more?

A. Go to Home, Menu, Settings, and you’ll see a “turn off” choice next to Device Password.  Select it, and then hit submit.

Q. If I turn it back on again, will it remember my old password?

A. Probably not.  You’ll probably need to enter it again, but that is unknown at this time.

Q. Will I be able to use the same password I used before?

A. Probably.  It seems likely, but I have not tested it yet.

Q. Where can I get more official information from Amazon?

A. The Kindle User’s guide has been updated and is available here.  The Amazon Help Page is here.

Q. Do you have similar information on other features of Version 2.5?

A. Yes.  You can see posts in that category here.

Note: I have not been able to test 2.5 myself yet.  I’ll update this page as necessary, and welcome your feedback.

This is one in a series of posts of Frequently Asked Kindle Questions. You may also be interested in my Kindle title with the same name

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog

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5 Responses to “Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: special passwords edition”

  1. Bill Says:

    With a password enabled, is there any way to show the “Personal Info” from settings, in case your Kindle is found by a Good Samaritan who wants to return it?
    I couldn’t find one, so I made my password hint “If found:” and a phone number.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Bill, that’s clever! If you don’t mind, I’ll share that one. :)

      No, they wouldn’t be able to get the Personal Info. I strongly recommend a recovery services sticker…that works even when the power on your Kindle doesn’t.

      • Bill Says:

        I wish I could take credit, but I’ve heard that suggestion before (both for Kindle and other devices). Not sure who first came up with it, but I agree that it’s clever. I would prefer that Amazon include some way to display an “if found” personal info message, but maybe that’ll be in some future update.

  2. Lori Joyce Parker (@BookwormPOV) Says:

    Can I apply a password to the Kindle App for PC? I record numerous book reviews at authors’ requests, and I save the e-versions, in case I need to reference them in the future. I dislike the idea of locking up an entire software program on my computer though, even if I can use the password for the PC app. Why can’t Amazon fix it to allow us to form a “private” folder and just password that folder only? Any .mobi that gets dropped into it would be taken off the “all” sort, saving much embarrassment.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Lori!

      The Kindle for PC app does not have built in password capability. The Kindle Fires do have a lot more options in that regard.

      I see no reason to suppose that Amazon couldn’t “fix” it that way. You can certainly make that suggestion to them:

      kindle-feedback@amazon.com

      I’m not quite clear on the use case, or where the embarrassment happens, though…or how widespread the desire for it would be. Specifically, I’m not sure how many people are sharing the Kindle for PC app with other people on the same device, and then would want to privacy protect one specific set of books.

      I would think you could put those files into a particular folder, use Windows’ native access controls, and instruct Windows to use the Kindle app to open .mobi files. I’d have to try it, but I think that would work.

      You can stop right there, if you like, or if you want to explain it more to me, I’d be curious. Why do those reviews need to be privacy protected within the app? Is it because there are intellectual property issues? I would presume your entire computer is password protected…is it that someone in your house needs to use that installation of Kindle for PC, and you can’t let them see those files?

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