Tag Archives: Kindle Fire

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.

Is Your Kindle Reader Full?

A friend recently complained that her Kindle reader was full of books, and she was having to store them in her computer. I was surprised she did not realize that her Kindle need never be full, no matter how many books she buys.

Normally, your book is stored both in the reader (once the book is downloaded) and in the Amazon files (cloud). Removing the book from the device does not erase it from the cloud. It’s still your book and there for you to read again at any time.

Removing a book from your Kindle device is easy. I have an old Kindle Fire HDX, but other Kindle readers follow a similar procedure.

A book that is currently being read, shows up in the Kindle Carousel. When I’m done reading a book, I long-press on the book’s cover showing on the Carousel. A check mark pops over the cover, and a panel shows at the top of the screen.

The panel gives you options to “cancel, add, or remove.” I click on “Remove.” The next options that appear are “From Carousel” and “from Device.” I choose “From Device.”

This removes the book from both the Carousel and from the Kindle itself. Your book is no longer stored in your Kindle, but it is safely kept in the Amazon cloud.

You have not lost or erased your book. Any time you want to have it on your reader again, you click on “Books,” then “Cloud,” and select the book you want. It will once again load to your Kindle reader.

You can download your book and remove it from your Kindle as often as you want, as long as you have an Internet connection, of course.

Amazon will store the books you’ve bought from them for FREE. You can have thousands of books in the cloud and keep only those you presently want to read, stored in your Kindle.

If you check the product pages of all Kindle readers and Fire tablets, under the tab “Technical Details,” you will find the following statement: Free cloud storage for all Amazon content.

This means that any book you buy from Amazon will be stored in your cloud whether you’ve bought extra storage or not. The same is true for pictures taken with the device.

Book files are very small, and hundreds of them can be stored in a few gigs if the books have no embedded video, numerous images, or graphics.

Google the question, “How many books can be stored in one gigabyte?” You will get myriad answers. I looked at my Kindle’s storage and calculated that the average book in it takes about 3 Megs. One Gig equals 1024 Megs. Dividing 1024 into the averaged 3 Megs per book, gives me 341 books.

My very simplified method tells me that I can store 341 books in one Gig.  Of course, that’s a hypothetical statement that assumes I am only storing books that take up 3 Megs each. Some take less, and books with a high image content and embedded video take a whole lot more.

Four Gigs of storage space should hold approx. 1,365 hypothetical books at 3 Megs each. If your reader is also a tablet, and you are storing images, music, games, apps in your device, then the situation changes, and your device can get full very easily. The internal programs of the reader also take a big chuck out of the storage.

My Daniel’s Fork novel has 270 pages and takes 2.2 Megs. One could store 465 of them in one Gig or 1,860 in 4 Gigs. At this point, I should remind you that a reader sporting 4 Gigs of internal storage really has a lot less because its own programming takes space.

My Kindle Fire is old. It doesn’t have the option to add a microSD for extra memory. The newer Kindle tablets do, but not the dedicated readers. The Paperwhite has 4 Gigs capacity but no microSD slot.

If your Kindle reader is full, you can take an hour of fiddle time and start removing Amazon content and keeping it on the cloud. This frees reader space for your other content.

You also have other options such as buying cloud space from Amazon or storing in various other services such as a free Dropbox account.

If your only vice is books, and they only come from Amazon, then you need nothing else. To those readers who have thousands of books, I suggest keeping most of the Amazon-bought books in the Amazon cloud, and storing those bought or downloaded somewhere else in the Kindle itself.

For those of you also saving your library to your computer, I suggest that you keep a copy of it on a USB drive and update it often because hard drives do fail.

And yes, you can store books from other sellers in your Kindle, but that is a topic for another post. I imagine many of you know all this already, but for those of you who didn’t, I hope my post helped.