To sleep, perchance to screen

When your Kindle goes to sleep, it displays a picture. A lot of people find them charming, other people don’t like them (Emily Dickinson is noted as especially creepy by some folks).

One of the most frequently asked Kindle questions is how to change the so-called DAP (Dead Author Pictures). Oh, they don’t usually call them that. The most common term used is “screensaver“.

Technically, they aren’t screensavers, because the e-ink screens don’t need saving…not from burn-in, anyway.   The problem of  an image permanently altering a screen really dates from an earlier generation of technology.   True screensavers all have one thing in common: they move.  Since the original goal was to keep from having a static image for a long period time, they would keep things moving.   The DAPs just sit there.

Oh, e-ink screens can certainly glitch, and may even show an “after image” of something that was displayed previously, but usually just until the next “screen draw”.  You can force that with Alt+G

Back to the question: can you change the images that come with the Kindle, and replace them with your own?

This is one where Kindle 1 owners have an advantage.  You can change the sleep mode pictures on the K1.   It’s “unsupported”, meaning Amazon won’t help you with it (and doesn’t talk about it).   It does not require you to modify the software, though.

There are “screensaver hacks” for the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX.  These are not made by Amazon and do change the software.   Doing that is against the Terms of Service, and I don’t recommend it.

The Section 4, Paragraph 3 of the Terms of Service says in part:

“You may not, and you will not encourage, assist or authorize any other person to, modify, reverse engineer, decompile or disassemble the Device or the Software, whether in whole or in part, create any derivative works from or of the Software…”

I have read reports of people being told that the screensaver hack would not void the warranty for the device, and that makes some sense to me.  However, violating the Terms of Service could hypothetically be worse.  Your warranty affects one device: the Terms of Service affect all of your devices.  I’ll talk about that more in another post.

Amazon Kindle Community forum member Elizabeth posted a response from Customer Service about a question about the “font hack”, which seems clearly to apply to the screensaver hack as well.  It says in part:

“Using any kind of unofficial software patch to tamper with the Kindle Software is considered a violation of the Terms of Use…”
Font Hack & TOS

Kindle 1

These, then, are instructions just for the Kindle 1.

Your picture should be a .jpg, .gif, or .png.  600 by 800 is good, and I haven’t heard about it being necessary to convert a color picture to grayscale first, although you could. 

1. Connect your Kindle to your computer using the USB cord

2. On your Kindle’s drive, you will see three existing folders (Audible, documents, and music)

3. Create new folder called pictures

4. Create another folder inside that folder and name it what you want (“MyPix”, for example)

5. Put the picture you want to use for your sleep mode picture in that folder.  The picture must be a .jpg, .png, or .gif…a .bmp will not work

6. Disconnect your Kindle

7. Go to home on your Kindle

8. Type Alt+Z

9. Your pictures folder should now appear as an entry, like a book

10. Open the book

11. Type Alt+Shift+0 (zero).  The picture should now be your only sleep mode picture

I haven’t tested it, but you reportedly can also do one more than one picture the same way.  You would open each picture (they would each appear in the home screen), and do Alt+Shift+zero.

You have not deleted the supplied pictures.  If you get rid of your folder, you should have them back.

The List

This is a list of the pictures that come with the Kindle that I’ve seen posted by Bruce S. Woodcock on the Amazon Kindle Community forum:

00 – Kindle definition with falling letters
01 – Lazuli Finch, Crimson-Necked Bull-Finch, Grey-Crowned Linnet, Cow-Pen Bird, Evening Grosbeak, Brown Longspur by John James Audubon
02 – Virginia Woolf
03 – Jules Verne
04 – Unknown illuminated medieval manuscript
05 – Janes Austen
06 – Harriet Beecher Stowe
07 – Emily Dickinson
08 – Illustration of constellations Ophiuchus and Hercules (possibly by Johannes Kepler?)
09 – Oscar Wilde [Bufo’s note: I’ve seen people ask what Oscar is holding: my research indicates it is probably a cane and a pair of gloves]
10 – 17th-century Polish astronomers Johannes and Elisabetha Hevelius using a six-foot brass sextant
11 – James Joyce
12 – Mark Twain
13 – After Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, called Il Guercino, The Samian Sybil, inscribed lower left: Salve Casta / Syon Permv- / Ltaqve Passa / Pvella / Sybilla Samia
14 – John Milton
15 – Lewis Carroll [Bufo’s note: people also ask what Lewis Carroll has: it’s a camera lens, from what I’ve read]
16 – John Steinbeck
17 – Edgar Allan Poe
18 – Erasmus of Rotterdam by Hans Holbein
19 – St. Jerome dans sa cellule by Albrecht Dürer
20 – Portrait of Albert of Brandenburg by Albrecht Dürer
21 – Charlotte Brontë
22 – Villa Almerico-Capra (aka Villa Capra, Villa La Rotonda, or The Rotunda) by Andrea Palladio
23 – Agatha Christie
24 – Alexandre Dumas
25 – Kindle 2 feedback request with old adding machine

Pictures on the Sleep Mode


One reason people have raised for wanting different sleep mode pictures is a concern about a perceived lack of diversity in the authors.

At this point, the pictures all appear to be in the public domain (not under copyright protection), and that does limit the options.  However, there certainly could be pictures of Lao Tse, for example: there are many images of him (some somewhat fanciful), and he is a popular author in the Kindle store.

There is some diversity in the pictures now.  Oscar Wilde was gay, and Alexandre Dumas had a grandparent of partial African descent.

My intuition is that we’ll eventually be given the opportunity to buy sets of sleep mode pictures: maybe a dollar for a hundred (public domain) science fiction pictures, or Western images, or romances…that kind of thing.  I think we will eventually see licensed images as well: maybe buy a set of books of a famous contemporary author, and get a sleep mode image of that author as well.

It wouldn’t surprise me if they also give us a legitimate way to change the sleep mode pictures on the Kindle 2, Kindle DX, and future models as well.  People really like their pictures: and after all, a picture is worth a thousand words…  🙂

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

21 Responses to “To sleep, perchance to screen”

  1. Robert Says:

    Thanks for this tip! Finally something my Kindle 1 can do that the K2 and DX can’t 🙂 Anyway I made a set of screensavers from John J Audubon’s Bird Of America paintings and thought I would share them if anyone wants to use them.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      I’m glad you liked it! That sets up a different kind of bird watching, hm? 😉 Can’t you just see people with pith helmets and binoculars watching your Kindle each time it goes to sleep, to see the Ivory Billed Woodpecker? 🙂

  2. Robert Says:

    I was looking for a set of images that kept the sort of pseudo-Victorian theme of the original screens and I have a bit of a thing for birds (I have both a real one and a tattoo of one) 🙂 so when I found those it was a pretty obvious choice. You have a very interesting blog, by the way. I’ve had my kindle for about six months now and I’m still being amazed at what it will do. Now if it just had folders 🙂

  3. bufocalvin Says:

    Thanks! There is an alternative to folders, where you “tag” the books. It works pretty well…I’ll write about it in another post, although it is my Frequently Asked Kindle Questions. 🙂

  4. Homescreen Sweet Homescreen « I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] I’m going to gear these instructions to the Kindle 2: the Kindle DX is similar, but the Kindle 1 is pretty different.  Don’t feel slighted, K1 owners: you got the “screensaver” instructions.  […]

  5. phyllis jeanne caron valeriano Says:

    i have a kindle 1. I hate snakes. How do I remove the 2 snake pictures that are screen savers? Also do you have an email address that is affliated with the “I Love My Kindle” blog?

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, phyllis!

      If you follow the instructions in the post on which you commented, you can replace the sleep mode pictures with whatever you want. You can’t go in an delete specific sleep mode pictures while following the Amazon terms of service…at least, that’s my understanding of it.

      As to an e-mail, commenting is the best way to reach me through the blog. I get an e-mail notification every time one of the posts is commented. If you don’t want to link it to a specific post, you can comment on the About page. I’ve been getting to these comments pretty quickly, usually.

  6. Jim Bumgardner Says:

    Since this list was compiled, a portrait of Ralph Ellison has been added, as well as an illustration of fishes.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks, Jim!

      Yes, I don’t have what was added in the update yet…but I will go back and update when I know for sure. I think I’ve only seen Ellison and the fish (sounds like a band name 😉 ).

      Some people think its ironic that Ellison is on the Kindle…and his works aren’t.

  7. sewinggrape Says:

    What does Salve Casta syon permz ltaquella pass pvella mean it was on the book that the girl in sybilla samia was holding. Does it mean anything?

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, sewinggrape!

      I have one relative who is really polyglot, and another who can translate Latin and ancient Greek. Yes, we’re all geeks. 😉 I asked them both.

      My relative who knows Latin hazards:

      “Farewell Syon, chaste girl who has suffered much.” –the Samian Sybil

      A “Sybil” is basically a prophet. The Samian Sybil, specifically, was “…priestess presiding over the Apollonian oracle near Hera’s temple on the Isle of Samos, a Greek colony” according to Wikipedia. 🙂

      Someone may know better, buy Syon seems to clearly be a name associated with Christianity, and quite a few things in England have the name.

      • Jeredward Says:

        I’m not at all fluent in Latin, but I have studied it a bit. From what I remember, “salve” is a greeting. There isn’t a direct translation in English, but I think “Hail” would work best, with the connotation of good health. “Pvella” does mean “girl”. Unfortunately, I only recognized the first and last words. Sorry.

      • Paulina Says:

        I believe that ‘Syon’ is indeed Zion based on this Wikipedia article:

        So it’s: “Hail Zion, chaste girl who has suffered so much.”

  8. Val Says:

    Does anyone know just what the “old adding machine” really is. Who created it? When? Where? Anything? Thank you

  9. HELP Says:


    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, HELP!

      Within your Terms of Service, you can not get rid of sleep mode pictures currently. There is a “screensaver hack” out there, but it voilates your Terms of Service, and I don’t recommend it for that reason. As you probably know, you can just flick the Kindle on and off again, and you’ll get a different picture.

  10. Ohio Annie Says:

    The illiuminated manuscript picture is the first page of the Gospel of John from the Lindesfarne Gospels.

  11. dj mixing software Says:

    dj mixing software…

    […]To sleep, perchance to screen « I Love My Kindle[…]…

  12. Karen Bovenmyer Says:

    salve casta syon permultaque passa pvella sybilla samia

    is translated as

    hello chaste daughter of many things she suffered a pretty girl, Sybil Samia

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