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15 handy Amazon Fire tablet tips and tricks

amazon fire tablet tips and tricks hd 8 2017 2
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Amazon offers a range of tablets, from the entry-level Fire Tablet, which starts at $50, up to the Fire HD 10 for $230. They all run Amazon’s Fire Operating System, which is based on Android. If you’ve never used it before, then you might not be aware of the possibilities it offers. That’s why we’ve put together this roundup of Amazon Fire tips and tricks. We’ve got simple tips for beginners and more advanced pointers for those looking to get a bit more out of your Amazon Fire tablet, whether it be the new Amazon Fire HD 8 or a dated Fire HD 10.

How to name your Fire tablet

If you use a number of different devices with your Amazon account, then things can quickly get confusing. Why not pick a descriptive name for your Fire tablet, rather than sticking with “Mr’s 3rd Fire”? All you have to do to change the name of your Fire tablet is pull down the notification shade from the top and tap Settings > Device Options > Change Your Device Name.

How to uninstall apps

You generally tap and hold on an app, or another piece of content, if you want to remove it from your Fire tablet. If you’re in the carousel, then you should get the pop-up option to remove or uninstall whatever you’ve long pressed on.

If you’re on the home screen, then you can tap and hold on an app icon to get the Uninstall option to appear in the top right. Now, you can tap to select multiple apps and then tap Uninstall to get rid of all of them at once.

You can also uninstall apps or games one by one by going to Settings > Apps & Games > Manage All Applications. Tap on the app you want to get rid of, and then tap Uninstall in the top right.

How to change your wallpaper

If you’d like to change the background image on your home screen, then you need to choose a new wallpaper. To do so, go to Settings > Display > Wallpaper. You’ll see a few options here, but you can also tap Pick image to use one of your own photos as your wallpaper.

How to manage notifications

Some apps on your Fire tablet will send you notifications that pop up in the notification shade. That can be useful when you have an incoming email or there’s an update worth downloading, but sometimes you’ll get notifications that you simply have no interest in receiving.

If you find that a particular app or game is sending you too many pointless notifications, then you should turn them off. You can do so by going to Settings > Sound & Notification > App Notifications. Tap on the app in question and you can block notifications completely. Conversely, if there’s an app you always want to hear from, toggle Priority on and the app’s notifications will always appear at the top of your notification shade.

How to free up storage space

You may find that you run short on storage space after having your Fire tablet for a while, especially if you use it to take photos or shoot video. If you want to check on how much storage you have, go to Settings > Storage.

If you tap on Internal Storage, you’ll get a detailed breakdown of what’s on your tablet. You can go into each category, and choose to delete files to free up additional space. We’ll look at how to automatically upload photos and videos to the cloud in the next tip.

You can also free up some space by offloading items you haven’t used in a while under the 1-Tap Archive option. Tap View Content to review the candidates for archiving and Archive Now to go ahead and do it. If you need to get the items back, you can always tap on them to download them again from the cloud.

How to back up photos and videos

To preserve your memories and keep the photos and videos you take with your Fire tablet safe, you can automatically back them up to Amazon Drive. Every customer gets 5GB for free, but Prime members also enjoy free unlimited photo storage.

If you want to turn on the automatic backup option, then go to the Photos app, tap to expand the menu via the three horizontal lines in the top left, and choose Settings. You’ll see separate options to turn Auto-Save on for Photos and Videos. You can also choose which files you’d like to back up, choose to only back up when your Fire tablet is plugged in and charging, and manage the backup for your child’s profile if you have one set up on the device.

When a photo or video has not been backed up, it will have a wee icon of a cloud with a line through it in the bottom-right corner. If there’s an arrow, then the file is currently uploading. When photos and videos have been backed up, you can access them in any browser by visiting Amazon Cloud Drive and signing in with your Amazon account.

How to filter out blue light

There’s evidence that blue light can keep you up at night, but Amazon has included a handy feature called Blue Shade that filters out the blue light from your Fire Tablet display. To enable the feature, swipe down from the top and tap the Blue Shade icon. You’ll see a notification that it’s turned on, and your screen color will change. Tap the notification to adjust the color. There’s also an option to set up Automatic Activation, so that Blue Shade turns on by itself when it’s late at night, and turns off again during the day.

How to browse the web privately

If you’d prefer that a certain browsing session didn’t make its way into your history, then you need to use Silk’s Private Browsing mode. To do so, tap the three vertical dots in the upper-right of the web browser and select Enter Private Browsing. When you’re in Private Browsing mode, the pages you visit are not recorded in your browser history, but remember that your internet provider and the websites you visit can still view your browsing habits. You can tell when you’re in Private Browsing mode at a glance, because the Silk background becomes a darker color.

How to close all tabs at once

You can close tabs one at a time in the Silk browser by tapping the “X” in the upper-right corner, but did you know that if you tap and hold “X” you can bring up an option to Close all tabs simultaneously? This is ideal for cleaning up after a marathon browsing session.

How to get browsing recommendations

The Silk browser has a nifty feature called Instant Recommendations, which serves up related searches and articles based on the webpage you’re currently visiting. Tap the three vertical dots in the upper-right corner to open the menu, where you can then turn Instant Recommendations on. Once activated, suggestions for other content and searches you might want to pursue will appear in this tab.

How to take a screenshot

Amazon Fire Tablet screenshot
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you want to grab a picture of your Fire tablet screen, then all you need to do is hold down the Power button and the Volume down button at the same time. If it works properly, you should see an animation and hear a capture sound. You’ll find your screenshots in the Photos app.

How to set up profiles

If you plan to share your Fire tablet with the rest of the family, then you should set up individual profiles. You can do this via Settings > Profiles & Family Library. You can add a total of two adult profiles, or add up to four child profiles. An additional adult profile will require a separate Amazon account, but it effectively allows you to share content and personalize what you see when you log into the Fire tablet.

How to manage a child’s profile

There are kid-centric editions of Amazon’s Fire tablets, but you can always set up an existing Fire tablet with a child’s profile. To do so, go to Settings > Profiles & Family Library > Add a Child Profile and fill in the details. Once you have created a child’s profile, it will appear at the bottom in Settings > Profiles & Family Library and you can tap the profile to manage it.

Amazon’s parental controls are excellent, too. You can set daily time limits, schedule times when the tablet can’t be used, and handpick the content that’s available to your child. There are also smart filters for web access and you can review what your child has accessed online — or what they’ve attempted to access.

The profile management page also offers the option to Subscribe to Amazon FreeTime Unlimited (listed as Fire for Kids Unlimited in the U.K.). For $5 a month — or $3 a month if you have Prime — the service provides access to more than 10,000 books, movies, TV shows, games, and educational apps suitable for your child’s age group. You can read more about setting up parental controls here.

How to disable adverts

Amazon Fire Tablet special offers
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Amazon lets you buy its Fire tablets for a little less if you’re willing to accept adverts or “special offers” on your lock screen. If you get sick of these ads and decide you want to remove them, then you can, but it’s not very straightforward and it will cost you $15.

This is best done on a laptop or desktop. Go to Amazon in your browser and sign into your account. Click on Your Account > Your Apps and Devices and choose Your Devices from the menu on the left, then click on Actions next to the Fire tablet in question and Manage Your Content and Devices. Click on the Your Devices tab and you’ll see Special Offers listed. It will say Subscribed next to it. Click on Edit and you’ll get the option to Unsubscribe for $15.

How to install apps from outside Amazon Appstore

It’s a shame that Fire tablets are locked into the Amazon Appstore by default because there are many more apps available in the Google Play Store and other Android app stores. Thankfully, you can load apps from other sources in a process that is known as sideloading. You will need to find the APK file, however, and get it onto your Fire tablet to install it.

To turn on the option on your Fire tablet, go to Settings > Security and toggle Apps from Unknown Sources on. We recommend you only do this temporarily to install an app and then toggle it off again once you’re done.

There are lots of websites where you can find APK files, but you should exercise some caution because there’s a lot of malware out there. APK Mirror is a very popular site, but stick to APK files with good reviews that have already been downloaded and used by a lot of other people. You’ll also want to install an app like ES File Explorer. Download the APK file to your computer and plug your Fire tablet in to transfer it, or download the file directly onto your tablet via the browser. Once the download is complete, use your file explorer to find the APK file on your Fire tablet and tap on it to initiate the install.

Update: We’ve added tips for changing the wallpaper, blue light, private browsing, closing all tabs, and instant recommendations.

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Simon Hill
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Simon Hill is an experienced technology journalist and editor who loves all things tech. He is currently the Associate Mobile…
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