Getting to know your Kindle

In a previous post, I talked about your first steps with your Kindle.

Now that you may have been using it for a few days, I want to give you a sort of “Tour de Kindle”.  In this post, I’m going to give you ways to get familiar with some of the more advanced features of the Kindle.

Note: this information will apply to all currently available Kindles, but not the Kindle 1.  The Kindle 1 is a good device, but operates differently and does not have all of the features of the Kindle 2 international and the Kindle DX.

Enhancing reading

First, let’s get you a book so you can play around with it (or, you know, you can say “practice” if anybody asks you).  😉

Let’s go with Alice in Wonderland.  Don’t worry, it’s a free version from the Kindle store.  I’m picking this one because, well, you’ve probably read it and are familiar with it.  That will help avoid spoilers (I hate those) while you are practicing.  If you want to use a different title, feel free.

You can buy a book directly from your Kindle by doing

Menu-Shop in Kindle Store

Then, just type the title you want using your keyboard, flick to your right, and click with your 5-way (this is on any Kindle but a K1).  I typed in

Alice in Wonderland

I picked the first one, which is a freebie.

If you are reading this blog on your computer, you can use this link: Alice in Wonderland.   If you try that from your Kindle, you may see a message that says, “This mobile site does not currently support the purchase of this item.”   They’ll give you a workaround, but basically, when shopping for Kindle books from your Kindle, they want you to use the Kindle version of the store.

Okay, let’s go beyond just reading.

The dictionary is probably a good place to start.  Use your 5-way (the little joy-stick thingie) to get in front of a word.  You should see the definition at the bottom of the screen (if the Kindle knows the word…it won’t know a Klingon word, for example). 😉   You can hit the enter key to see the definition in the dictionary itself (where you can make it bigger).   For more information on the dictionary, see this earlier post.

Next, let’s bookmark this page so you can find it again easily.  That’s simple: Alt+B will do it.  You’ll see a little “dog ear” triangle in your top right corner of the screen.  You can go to your bookmarks by doing Menu-My Notes & Marks.  You can remove a bookmark by doing Alt+B again on that same page.

Next, let’s highlight a section…this is the same as clipping it.  It will cause the section to be underlined, and make that underlined section available to you outside of the book.  Use your 5-way to get to the beginning of the section you want.  Click (press the 5-way down).  Go forward to the end of the section you want: you’ll see it highlighted.  Click again. 

Since this is a book from the Kindle store, you can get to the clipping on-line at  You can copy and paste from there into an e-mail, for example.

You can only clip a limited amount from each book (the limit varies and is set by the publisher…it could be 100%, but that’s not likely).  If you can’t clip any more, it won’t let you do it.

Next, let’s add a note.  I do this a lot…it may not even have anything to do with the page on which I’m located…it could just be something like a phone number I want to save temporarily.  Move your 5-way to any spot on the page.  Click, like you were going to make a highlight.  Then, just start typing using the keyboard.  You’ll see a choice to save the note.  Again, you can see that by doing Menu-My Notes & Marks or at that page.

Congratulations!  You are annotating.  🙂

As you noticed, we used the Menu a couple of times.  Hitting the menu button is always worth a try…that’s sort of like right-clicking on a Windows PC: what it will do is give you more choices.

We’ve talked about things you may have done in a book before, although not the same way.  Now let’s do something different!  Let’s try the text-to-speech.

You have the book open.  Do


(Shift is the Up arrow…these are the two buttons in the outer edges of the lowest row, which I think is on purpose so they can be found easily)

You should see a circle spinning in your top left corner.  When it finishes, you should hear the voice.  To make changes (such as the speed or the gender), hit the Aa key while it is playing. Shift+Sym again to stop it, spacebar to pause or resume.  For more details on text-to-speech, see this earlier post.

Putting audio on your Kindle

Okay, now we are going to get a lot trickier.  This isn’t too hard, but you are moving up to the next level.  Many people do this, though.

You are going to connect your Kindle to your computer.  Amazon says that you don’t need to do this to use the Kindle, and they are right…if all you want to do is read on it.  If you want to listen to music or audiobooks, though, you will need to connect.

Slide the end off your power cable that goes into the wall: you’ll see the USB connector.  I’m going to give you the really simple version here: you can get more detail in this earlier post.

Plug the big end of the USB cord into your computer.  Plug the small end into the Kindle.  The Kindle should go into USB mode (you’ll see the screen change).

Next, you need an MP3 file.  That’s a common music file.  You can see more detail about this in this earlier post.  Put the music file into your Kindle’s music folder.  Go ahead and put a few in there, if you have them.  If you don’t have any, you can search your computer…you’ll probably find a few.

After doing the transfer, “eject” your Kindle.  Again, see that post under USB if you aren’t sure how to do that.

To play the music, do Alt+Spacebar.  You can skip to another song by doing Alt+F.  You can stop the music by doing Alt+Spacebar again.  You can’t control the order in which the songs play, except by skipping.

Next, let’s try an audiobook.  You can get free audiobooks at Project Gutenberg

Here’s a link to a human-read version of The Return of Sherlock Holmes.  You are going to download this using your computer.  Go to the website version of this blog if you are reading this on your Kindle ( 

Put that file (it’s an MP3) into your Kindle’s Audible folder (not the music folder).  When you eject your Kindle, it should appear as a title in your homescreen.  When you open it up, you’ll see your options on playing it.

So, you’ve gone beyond just simple reading on your Kindle…congratulations!  In a future post, I’ll talk about getting Kindle books from sources other than Amazon.

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

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