Debloat Your Kindle Fire!

Do you long for the perfect e-reader? The perfect e-reader would have exactly what you want. Mine would have no bloatware at all. It would not give me recommendations. It would have no ads of any kind. It would open directly to my library and treat all books, regardless of where I bought them, the same.

I can hear the indignant chorus of readers out there screaming at me: you get what you pay for! If you want an Amazon tablet for $50.00, you will have to put up with the ads and proprietary programing which wants you to buy all things Amazon.

However, that is not the case. You can spend $250.00 on a brand-new, state-of-the-art device and still have all the bloatware the cheap one has. Changing companies just exchanges one company brand for another. Getting an Android-based tablet or reader just gets you Google’s control rather than Amazon’s. I was contemplating a Kobo reader hoping for a more streamlined experience, but I believe there is little difference.

There is an alternative, but it was one I was loath to try. One can root a device or use third-party apps to customize it. I went that route a few days ago. Let me tell you about my experience. I used the Fire Toolbox, an app freely available on the internet and designed to do various tasks for the Kindle tablet.

I own an iPad 2019 which I use for surfing the web, playing games, and all else. It’s a wonderful device. However, using the iPad to read is inconvenient because of its size, folio cover, and the attached Bluetooth keyboard.

To read, I have used the Kindle Fire tablet for years. It is way cheaper than the Kindle e-readers, super sturdy, and I can send any book to it using the Send-to-Kindle app. My latest has the 7-inch screen and is the perfect size for me. I find anything bigger is clumsy to hold and inconvenient to carry in my purse.

I downloaded the Fire toolbox and followed directions carefully. Your tablet must be connected to the pc. My first stumbling block was the failure of my PC to see the Kindle Fire. After trying different fixes, it turned out I was using the wrong USB cable. My cable was for charging only and not data transfer. I had to purchase one which was good for data transfer. No problem.

I followed instructions on setting my Kindle Fire to developer options. It’s the only way to make intrinsic changes to the tablet. This was not hard to do. Then, I got to the meat of the issue. The Fire Toolbox offers a lot of options, some of which made little sense to me. Some, however, were pretty clear. The option to change the launcher and the one to remove all bloatware were the ones I was after.

I followed directions and removed all bloatware. Sure enough, the result was a Kindle Fire with a bare desktop. However, it was too bare! Along with Alexa, Smart Home page, and all the Prime stuff, I’d lost my Kindle icon, access to my kindle library, and basically most functionality.  

This would be great for those readers who want to install Google services and the Google store, and Chrome browser.  I did not wish to turn my Amazon sales generator into a Google sales generator. I want my Kindle books, my Kindle app, and my Kindle library. I just do not want all the other crap which gets in the way.

Thankfully, the Fire Toolbox is designed to undo everything you don’t like and restore the Fire back to its “before” state. I did exactly that. Then, I opted for individual removal of items. I clicked on all the things I wanted gone and hit debloat.

Once again, I lost my Kindle apps. I began to think that maybe what I wanted was impossible. I restored everything again. I got to thinking about the system. It must be some apps are co-dependent and necessary for the Kindle library. So, I tried again. This time, removing each item I did not want individually.

It’s important to note that as Fire Toolbox removes an item, its icon disappears from your tablet’s desktop instantly and the other icons rearrange themselves. I removed Alexa and observed that the Kindle app did not disappear. Obviously, Kindle app did not need Alexa.

I then continued, one app at a time: Import Photos went, All the Prime apps went, Weather, Music, blah, blah, blah. Finally, I was left with the Clock, Calendar, Camera, Help, Files, Silk Browser, and Appstore.

I realized that if you remove Appstore, you lose Kindle Apps! I took these few apps, placed them all in a folder I labeled “Utilities” and left my desktop uncluttered. Only three items sit on my desktop: Kindle App, Settings, and the Utilities folder. Above these sits the “New Items” carousel. It cannot be removed unless you debloat the Fire entirely as I did the first time.

My “For You” screen still shows recent items and mostly book and video recommendations, but I seldom visit that screen. My “Library” screen shows just that: items I have in my library. All in all, I am pretty happy with the results. My Fire Tablet is exactly what I want it to be, a dedicated e-reader.

If you decide to use the Fire Toolbox, pay meticulous attention to the directions and warnings. Amazon’s automatic updates will try to re-install all the bloatware, so you must turn them off.  If you decide you want the entire system back, you easily can revert the process and get back all the extraneous apps.

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