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With eBooks on the rise, eReaders, specifically Amazon’s Kindle, are becoming more and more popular. If you have a Kindle are you aware that you can do more than just reading on it? There are many other features included with the Kindle that you can take advantage of to make your reading experience even more enjoyable.
These are features like taking screenshots, quick bookmarking, translations, sharing to Facebook and Twitter, text-to-speech, integrated Wikipedia access, passcode protection and much more. Let’s dive into exploring the device that entertains more than just our sense of touch.
Getting The Feel
One of the benefits with the Kindle Touch is that you get more screen real estate for reading, but the “drawback” is that you might not know all the tricks to do things. If you’ve had your Kindle long enough, you’ve likely discovered some of these already.
I decided to introduce the ability to take screenshots first, so that as you’re reading the article you’re not wondering how I went about getting the images off my Kindle – that just wouldn’t be fair. I first discovered how to take a screenshot when I was writing my article about saving articles from the Internet to your Kindle (which I highly recommend you read as it has changed the way I surf the web). I was trying to figure out how to take a screenshot, when a simple Google search revealed two simple steps.
- Hold the Home button down and tap the screen.
- Continue to hold the Home button for an additional second or two after the tap.
The screenshots are then saved to the primary Kindle folder that you see when it is plugged into your computer.
At first, it may take a couple tries to get it down. Once in a while I still don’t successfully get the screenshot. There’s no message or indication otherwise that you’ve successfully taken it. However, I have noticed that if it returns to the Home page after you attempt to take a screenshot, it didn’t work.
Skipping Through Chapters
Just like turning pages, the same method works for navigating between chapters. Swipe your finger up and down to go to the previous or next chapter. This is great for navigating quickly through a book if by change you didn’t know the location or page number that you’re looking for. To go to the previous chapter swipe bottom to top. To go to the next chapter swipe top to bottom.
Another great feature on the Kindle is being able to bookmark a page. However, the “traditional” method takes several steps. If you want to bookmark (or remove a bookmark) quickly so you can get back to reading, try tapping the top right corner. You’ll see a “dog-ear” styled indication.
View Images Full Screen
This is a nice little feature to be able to use from time to time. If you ever want to view only an image without text around it, tap the image to select it and a magnifying glass will appear over it.
Tap the image again and it will be displayed full screen. If there are a lot of images that you want to view larger I recommend using Landscape Mode, which I’ll explain how to use later.
Listen To Your Heart… Er… Kindle
Were you aware that you can listen to your Kindle. Well perhaps you were because you noticed the speakers on the back and the headphone jack on the bottom, but what is it really good for? Well, you can play MP3s on it. But it’s obviously not a music player. However, there are two features that do work well in utilizing is audio function.
Play Audio Books
It only makes sense for Kindle to work well with audio books since Amazon now owns Audible.com. Recently I snatched up a free book from there and got a chance to listen to it, and I have to say that I was very pleased. The quality was good as well as the on-screen options. Another great thing is Audible offers Whispersync which syncs your purchases right to your Kindle the way Amazon does.
Text-To-Speech is different from an audiobook in that it’s done within the Kindle. However, I have found that only certain books permit it. I’m not aware of what all goes into books being able to be transmitted through Text-To-Speech, but if you can get past the monotone voice, Anonymous-sounding voice, it’s a pretty useful feature. Especially if you’re trying to fall asleep! Just plug those headphones in and Text-To-Speech away – you’ll be asleep in no time. All kidding aside though, it is a nice feature to have with the Kindle.
See The Benefits Of Highlighting
Highlighting passages in eBooks is great, but did you know there are more features than just highlighting and accessing the dictionary? From there you can select Highlight or More to view other options. If you’ve selected more than one word you’ll see a popup with four boxes: “Share,” “Add Note,” “Highlight” and “More…”
“Hidden” under the more button lies two more neat features in addition to “Share” and “Add Note.” These are Wikipedia access and Translation. This is also the place where you can report an error within the content.
When you select the share field you will post whatever you have selected plus the text that you type. If you have set up your Kindle to post to Facebook and Twitter, it will post to those in addition to sharing the excerpt to your Amazon profile.
Adding a note is also a nice feature, and pretty self explanatory.
Being able to look things up on Wikipedia is excellent. I love it. There’s many ways why, but in its simplest form it’s nice to have an additional dictionary, as the Oxford American Dictionary is slightly out-dated. As you can see below, I have “MP3” selected, but it doesn’t recognize it, so it shows the next best thing.
However, Wikipedia obviously is always up-to-date and pulls up a more-than-detailed definition of “MP3.”
If you tap “Launch Wikipedia” in the popup, it will take you to the page itself formatted for the Kindle.
The last of these features is translation. This is a pretty awesome feature that Amazon didn’t necessarily have to include, but was smart to do so.
Kindle can translate to 16 languages and I’m sure that will continually grow.
Other Great Features For Your Senses (Sorry No Tasting Or Smelling Here)
Earlier I mentioned Landscape Mode and that it can be used to view larger images. It works well, but the format in books sometimes aren’t created for it so there are some small glitches from time to time. Still, it makes a great way to view larger photos in more detail and even read a book in a different way.
To access it, go to the menu while reading a book and tap “Landscape Mode.”
Another awesome feature is locking your Kindle with a passcode which must be entered in order to use it. I set this up for myself to avoid anyone purchasing anything on my Amazon account (either by accident or on purpose). The chance is slim, but in the case that I leave it unattended, I would just rather not have people mess with it.
To enable this go to Menu, then Settings, then Device Options. Device Passcode is the first option. Here you can turn on/off the passcode and change it.
Lastly, the feature of organizing your books into collections. Out of all of them, this is probably my favorite one. You may have seen in the introductory image at the beginning how I have “folders” and underneath those a number which represents how many items are in each one. This is how Collections works.
First when I started to accumulate all my eBooks and web articles on my Kindle, it became a mess. It was hard to navigate. Now, I am able to easily find what I want and the time it takes to scroll through the list is less too.
You can customize this however you want, but I have organized some by book if there’s more than one in the series. Others by type and some are just stuffed in an archived list, such as older Instapaper articles which I have read, but don’t need to have mingled with what I’m currently reading). To utilize your Collections the best way, I recommend sorting your books by Collections.
Just like each book, each Collection also has its own settings.
The Kindle is certainly a full-featured eBook reader and possibly the best available. I will be honest, the one feature that I wish it had was a light which shined from the side (not a backlight). If it had this, I don’t think there would be anything missing from it! If you’d like to make your Kindle even more featured, take a look at some of these hacks, note that they are quite advanced.
What do you think about the Kindle features? Are there any that you wish it had? Did you know about these or are there any that you would like to point out? If so, be sure to do so below in the comments.