Kindle trouble-shooting #1

Kindles are pretty reliable devices.  However, like any other complicated device (or, you know, relationship or person),  😉 things do go wrong from time to time.

When that happens, there are some things you can try.  They may fix the problem, they may not.  That information in and of itself is a useful diagnostic.

When something goes wrong, you may want to just directly contact Amazon Kindle Customer Service.  They are highly rated, and I’ve had some good experiences with them myself.  They can’t always solve your problem, but they may just offer to give you a new Kindle instead.  I have even heard about them helping people after a Kindle was out of warranty.  You contact them starting here:

Kindle Customer Service 

A lot of people like using the “Call Me” feature…Amazon will call you back.  If you prefer, you can call them:

Inside the US 1-866-321-8851

Outside the US:  1-206-266-0927

Another option is to search the Kindle Help pages:

Kindle Help 

Make sure you put your search terms where it says Search Help, rather than in the main search box. 

That said, here are some things I’ve found useful:



When in doubt, try pressing Home.  Your Kindle will normally respond to that.

If your Kindle is behaving oddly in other ways, but you can get to Home, try this:

Unplug your Kindle from any power sources (wall or USB).  Then…


Give your Kindle time to restart (a minute or so).

If your Kindle can not go to home, or you otherwise can’t get to the Restart menu choice, hold your power button to your right as you face the screen for a good twenty seconds.  This should force a restart.   This should be done with the Kindle disconnected from any power sources.  If that doesn’t work, try it again.  If that doesn’t work, try it with the Kindle plugged into the wall.   If that doesn’t work, contact Customer Service as above.

KINDLE 1 OWNERS: To do a “hard restart” on your device, do leave it plugged into the wall.  Take the plastic cover off the back…it will come off very easily.  Use something like a paperclip, and insert it into the pinhole in the back.  The Kindle will restart itself.

KINDLE 1 OWNERS:  One part of troubleshooting is always to remove the SD card (turn the Kindle off first, if you can).  The SD cards cause quite a few problems.

Connection issues

Your Kindle connects to the internet the same way a cellphone gets calls…by connecting to a local cell tower.  How strong your signal is will depend largely on that tower.  As you physically move different places, you’ll have different strength signals.

The two current Kindles (both the 6″ and the 9.7″) use AT&T.  The older Kindles used Sprint.  The change was in part to enable the Kindles to use international wireless.

If you have been able to connect before and you can’t now, there are a few things you can try:

1. Clear your cookies, cache, and history.  Start your browser, and then hit Menu…you’ll see your choices

2. On an AT&T based Kindle, try this: Home-Menu-Settings, type 311.  You may see a series of provider choices.  Try some different ones

3. On a Sprint based Kindle, try this: Home-Menu-Settings, type 611, back, type 411, Home…then try to connect again

Clearing your cookies, cache, and history may also help you get a blog delivered again if it stops coming.

Playing MP3s

The Kindles can only play MP3s, in terms of music.  The most common problem I encounter is that people have put music in other formats on the Kindle…for example, directly from iTunes.  To play the music as background, you also need to put it in the music folder on the Kindle.

Text-to-speech issues

You can only start text-to-speech while you are in a document that can do text-to-speech.  You can not start it (or even select the option) from the Experimental menu, and some publishers have blocked the access.  You also can not use text-to-speech on unconverted pdfs (although you can on converted ones).

Open a document with text-to-speech enabled.  When you have the document open, you can check by hitting the Aa button…if it has been blocked, you won’t have the option.

I normally start it playing with Shift+Sym (Shift is the Up arrow). 

If you can’t hear it, check the volume control on the right edge of the Kindle.

Text-to-speech is not available on the Kindle 1.

Setting the clock

You can’t set the clock manually…it has to get the time from a cell tower.

Books missing from the homescreen

When your Kindle resets, it may not show you any books on the homescreen and tell you that you have zero archived items.  If you do Home-Menu-Sync and Check for Items, that should restore it (if you can connect to the Whispernet).  You can check to see if the books are actually on the Kindle by connecting the to your computer using your USB cable.  You should see the books in the documents folder.

Kindle not remembering your page

There are a couple of common causes for this.  First, you should go back to the Home page after you finish reading each time.  That’s apparently when your “last page” information is sent to Amazon.  Of course, it also needs to connect to the Whispernet to do that.  It’s also possible that you have Whispersync enabled, and that someone else is reading the same book on one of your other devices.  To check that, go to

and go to the bottom of the page.

If you are reading the same book on more than one device, it’s better to have it on.

If two people are reading the same book on different devices, it is better to have it off.

It’s also possible the book is in the Topaz format..there are lots of problems reported with those.  You can check that: connect your Kindle to your computer using your USB cord.  Look at the file names.  If it ends in AZW, you are okay.  If it is AZW1 or TPZ, that’s a Topaz file.

Amazon not backing up your annotations

Amazon only backs up annotations for Kindle store items.  If you got the book somewhere else, they don’t back it up.  You can see if it has your notes by going to

It’s also possible that you have turned off the back-up of the annotations.  You can check by going to Home-Menu-Settings-Menu.  You can turn it on and off there. 

Battery draining too quickly

This seems to most commonly be due to the Kindle indexing the books you’ve bought.  It needs to do that, and that does take some battery…not much does take much power on the Kindle, but that’s one of them.  Sometimes, you’ll have a book file that is corrupted, or for other reasons can’t be indexed.  That doesn’t mean that the Kindle will stop trying, though, and that drains the battery. 

You can check this.  Search for a nonsense word, like XYZZ.  The Kindle will then tell you if there are unindexed items.  If any of them have been on there for awhile, considering removing them from the Kindle.  On anything except a K1, go to the title in the homescreen and flick left.  On a K1, instead of flicking, you use the backspace (backward pointing arrow).

Kindle running slowly

First, the more you have on there, the slower it is going to do some things.  Consider removing titles you aren’t currently reading.

Second, Kindle Customer Service gave me instructions some time back on forcing a reindex:


Please follow the instructions below to re-index your Kindle.

Removing the index files on both the internal memory and on the SD card. Steps for removal –

** Connect the Kindle to AC power before connecting to the computer **

On a Windows PC:
1. In Windows Explorer, Select Tools – Folder Options
2. In Folder Options, select the View Tab
3. In the View List, select the radio button to Show Hidden Files and Folders
4. Deselect the checkbox to Hide protected operating system files (the customer
may wish to re-enable after removing the index files from the Kindle)
5. Connect the Kindle to the PC
6. Open the Kindle internal memory on the PC
7. Open the System folder on the Kindle disk
8. Open the Search Indexes folder inside the System folder
9. Select all files inside the System Indexes folder and move them to the
Recycle Bin
10. Open the Kindle’s SD card on the PC – repeat steps 7-9 to remove the index
11. Safely eject the Kindle and the Kindle’s SD card from the PC
12. Disconnect the Kindle from the computer

On a Mac running OS X:
1. Connect the Kindle to the Mac
2. Open the Kindle internal memory on the Mac
3. Open the System folder on the Kindle disk
4. Open the Search Indexes folder inside the System folder
5. Select all files inside the System Indexes folder and move them to the Trash
6. Open the Kindle’s SD card on the PC – repeat steps 7-9 to remove the index
7. Eject the Kindle and the Kindle’s SD card from the Desktop
8. Disconnect the Kindle from the computer

PLEASE NOTE: Once the indexes are removed from the device, the Kindle will start
re-indexing all content.

It is highly recommended the user keep the device connected to power while the Kindle re-indexes the content. Indexing of all content should complete within 24 hours, at which time the increased power usage from heavy indexing will subside.
After this point, the device should behave as expected.

One other thing: there is a reset to factory defaults option, but you are only supposed to do that when directed to do so by Kindle Customer Service, so I’ll let them talk you through that.

I’ll probably do another post like this in the future.  If you have questions, feel free to let me know.

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

21 Responses to “Kindle trouble-shooting #1”

  1. Andrea Says:

    Hey! I’ve been getting your blog on my Kindle since I first got it a few months ago. Thanks so much for all the tips and freebie updates. 🙂

    Just wanted to leave a quick reply regarding volume control. I was listening to text-to-speech on a long car ride and was frustrated with the volume. It was too quiet when sitting on my lap, but too loud when using headphones. I looked and looked and looked for how to change the volume. I thought that it must be possible. It would just be silly if it wasn’t, but I couldn’t find any sort of volume control on the thing. I looked through the user manual. Nothing about volume control in there. (I bet its on the page with the picture and arrows to all the buttons, but its not in the text anywhere.)

    Anyway, I was just reading the post about the new IREX and how it doesn’t play music and was reminded of this issue. So, I came to the blog on my computer searched for “volume” and AHA!

    I feel pretty silly about it, seeing as there is this nice little button there with a plus and a minus on it. But I swear I looked the thing up and down on all sides (and edges) and didn’t see it before. Its like it wasn’t really there until now. Some sort of Kindle version of Schrodinger’s cat. The volume button may or may not be there… we only know when we look for it. 😛

    So thanks! Now I may actually use my Kindle to listen to some music or for another car ride. 🙂

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Andrea, that’s great! I love happy endings. 🙂

      Well, we don’t always look for mechanical solutions on electronic devices…wouldn’t you think they would put a volume control in the Aa menu, along with speed and gender for the voice? I guess one could argue that it isn’t just for text-to-speech (and that is the text button, basically), and there are basically no controls for playing MP3s, but I do think it’s a reasonable place for it.

      I loved many years ago when my offspring was little, and a friend was in the car…maybe six years old? We had an Aerostar minivan, and it had a crank window. The little child asked how to roll down the window, and we indicated the crank. The kid tried pushing the circle where the crank attached to the door, assuming it was a button…had no idea that you had to actually turn the crank. 🙂

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  3. tomas Says:

    i took my kindle out of my luggage on a trip, turned it on and can see only the top half of every page…. the bottom of al,most blank…like someone took an eraser to it. Its a brand new non-3G version. ANy suggestions?

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, tomas!

      Unfortunately, you should contact Kindle Customer Service. Since you say it is new (welcome to the Klub, by the way), they will probably end up sending you a replacement. What you describe sounds like a screen failure.

      With your next Kindle, be careful about pressure on the screen. That may not have been the cause: I’ve had two Kindle 3s fail, and I know I didn’t do anything unusual to them. However, when you describe it being in your luggage, it’s possible that there was extra pressure on the screen, which I think can cause problems. That would only be if you had it really stuffed in there, of course. 🙂 I’m not saying you caused the problem, and Kindle Customer Service is unlikely to think that.

      If you got the Kindle from (as opposed to, go to

      You’ll see a link on your right side of the page that says Contact Us. Talk to them by phone…you can call them or have them call you.

      They do 1-day shipping on the replacements…if you do it today (Saturday), you’ll probably have it Tuesday.

      If you’ve created Collections, don’t deregister it until after you get the new device, so you can import the Collections.

      If you’ve put non-Kindle store books on there or made notes, bookmarks, and so on, back up your Kindle’s Documents folder first.

      Your Kindle store books will be available to the new device at no cost, as long as it is registered to the same account.

  4. Kindle3 upgrades Says:

    Most of the problems aren’t to be seen on the latest version of kindle… by the way, you forgot to cover the Problems With USB Connectivity 🙂

  5. Ashley Says:

    I’m so glad I found this site!! I was freaking out b/c my kindle wouldn’t connect to my internet, and when I went to settings, when I hit “menu” again, nothing happened…. so I couldn’t restart it! But by forcing the restart (by pushing the power slide), it worked!!! So, thanks 🙂

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Ashley!

      I’m glad that helped you…and I’m glad you took the time to let me know. 🙂

      Enjoy reading on your Kindle!

  6. Jeanette Vogl Says:

    How can I permantly delete a book from my Kindle, not just archive it?

  7. Patricia Coleman Says:

    When I toto shop in book store it won’t do anything .Cannot even go to menu.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Patricia!

      All four of your posts indicate that you Kindle is deregistered.

      Has this Kindle been registered on your account before?

      Check to see if it is registered:

      Home-Menu-Settings, Registration

      If “Register” is underlined, you need to do that.

      The Kindle will need to connect wirelessly to Amazon to complete the registration process.

      After it does that, you may want to restart:


      Let me know how it goes…I’ll be thinking about it.

      By the way, you can confirm that the books are still in the archive for the account at

      They just won’t appear in the Archived Items list on a deregistered Kindle.

  8. Patricia Coleman Says:

    When I am on home andI underline any of the books that are in my archives it says removed from ..

  9. Patricia Coleman Says:

    It. Will not go to any of the settings listed under menu

  10. Holly Says:

    thanks so much…the restart worked and I was a bit lost without my kindle and not looking forward to a visit to the shop…thank you

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  12. Linda Dreier Says:

    what if your page font of your book is upside down. The main menu is correct but the book page and font are upside down?

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Linda!

      Was it a book from the Kindle store? It seems odd that your menu would be rightside up and the book upside down, but try this.

      Hit your Aa button. Then, you’ll see how to shift the orientation. You can shift that whenever you want, so if only one book is upside down, you can flip it just for that book.

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