The Amazon Fire TV Stick is the cheapest streaming device made by the online retailer. It will let you watch all the movies and TV shows on Amazon, as well as use apps like Netflix, HBO Now, and Hulu.
Here’s the start-to-end guide to help you set up your Amazon Fire TV Stick, find out what you can do with it, and troubleshoot common Fire TV Stick issues. The device costs just $40 and is an excellent streaming device for first-timers. Check out our Fire Stick introduction to get acquainted first.
1. What’s In the Box
The Amazon Fire TV Stick ships with the following items:
- The Amazon Fire TV Stick
- Alexa Voice Remote Control
- Power adapter for Fire Stick
- 2 AAA Amazon Basics batteries for the remote control
- An HDMI Extender cable
The HDMI extender cable is a nice touch, since the Fire TV Stick’s dongle is wider than the HDMI connector port. Because of this, the Stick might block other ports. However, if you use the extender cable, there shouldn’t be any obstruction.
2. What Else You Will Need
- 1080p Screen: The Fire TV Stick works with any TV or screen that has an HDMI port, including computer monitors. You’ll need one of those, and it’s best if you have a 1080p Full HD TV. The Fire TV Stick does not support 4K output.
- 10 Mbps Wireless internet: You will need an active internet connection of 8 Mbps to stream video in 1080p. You can stream 720p HD video in 4 Mbps, and 480p SD video in 2 Mbps. And it needs to be through Wi-Fi, since the Fire TV Stick does not have a wired Ethernet port.
- An Amazon Account (preferably with Amazon Prime): Since you bought the Fire TV Stick off Amazon, it’s safe to assume you have an Amazon account. In case you don’t, you will need to make one before you set up and launch the device. The Fire TV Stick is also best used with Amazon Prime and its additional benefits, like the full catalogs for movies, TV shows, and music.
3. Set Up Your Amazon Fire TV Stick
Once you have everything you need, the first step is pretty straightforward. Connect your Fire TV Stick to your TV, and to the power adapter. Switch it on, and navigate to the appropriate HDMI port with your TV’s remote.
Note: If you don’t have enough spare HDMI ports, unplug a device you don’t use often or purchase an HDMI splitter.
3a. Pair Your Remote
The first step is to pair the Alexa Remote with the Fire TV Stick.
- Make sure the Alexa Remote is loaded with the batteries oriented correctly. Unlike most remotes, both the batteries face the same direction in this one.
- Hold the remote near the Fire TV Stick (within a distance of five meters).
- Press and hold the Home button the remote for 10 seconds till the Fire TV Stick finds it.
Once the remote is paired, you will see this screen:
Press the Play/Pause button to continue. Here’s a labelled diagram of the Alexa Remote to understand what each button is called:
3b. Choose Your Language
The next screen will ask you to choose your preferred language.
Go Up or Down using the navigation trackpad to highlight your preferred language in yellow. Click Select to choose it.
3c. Connect To Your Network
The next screen is all about connecting to your wireless network.
Go Left or Right using the navigation trackpad to highlight your preferred network in grey. Click Select to choose it.
You will see an on-screen virtual keyboard, which you have to use to enter the password. Again, use the trackpad to go to a letter or character, and press Select to choose it. Repeat the process till you spell out your full password. Once you finish typing, press Play/Pause to connect.
Pro Tip: The Rewind button acts as a Backspace, in case you need to use it.
3d. Register Your Fire TV Stick
Remember when we asked you to keep an Amazon account ready? Now is when it pays off. The next screen is about registering your Fire TV Stick with your Amazon account.
When Register | I already have an Amazon account is highlighted in grey, click Select. Key in the registered email for your Amazon account, and press Play/Pause. Then key in the password and press Play/Pause.
The Fire TV Stick will recognize and register your account. There is one final confirmation screen, showing your account name. If it’s right, press Select to continue.
3e. Save Wi-Fi Passwords to Amazon?
Next, a pop-up screen will ask you if you want to save the Wi-Fi password entered on the Fire TV Stick to your Amazon cloud. This way, any other Amazon device with your account will automatically connect to that Wi-Fi network.
We recommend choosing No in this. It’s not good security practice to store your Wi-Fi password online.
3f. Parental Controls or Password Protection (Optional)
The next screen lets you apply parental controls to your Fire TV Stick. This will let you set a 5-digit PIN password, which is required every time a user wants to play a video rated Teen or above, or purchase an item.
If you don’t want parental controls or password protection, Select No Parental Controls and skip to the next point.
If you want to control your kids’ access to the streaming device, Select Enable Parental Controls.
The Fire TV Stick will then ask you to set a PIN. It’s a cumbersome, confusing way to do it. The wheels of the trackpad are the digits 1, 2, 3, and 4, in clockwise formation from the top. Press the three-line Options button on the Alexa Remote and they turn into 6, 7, 8, and 9. The Select button, similarly, is 0 or 5. Set your PIN and confirm it to enable parental protection.
Press OK in the follow-up last screen that states Parental Controls Enabled.
3g. Introduction Video
The next screen will play a video, demonstrating how to use the Alexa Remote’s voice commands with the Fire TV Stick. You don’t need to do anything during this video, just sit back and watch.
3h. Manage and Monitor Data Consumption
The next screen lets you manage and monitor how much data the Fire TV Stick can use. This is especially useful for anyone using a limited data plan.
If you don’t care about how much data the Fire TV Stick uses, Select Set Up Later and skip to the next point.
If you want to enforce limits on data consumption, Select Enable Data Monitoring.
In the pop-up screen that follows, choose the quality of video that’s ideal for you.
Next, set how many GB your Amazon Fire TV Stick can use in a month. And then set the date on which your ISP (internet service provider) starts counting your monthly data consumption.
You’re done. Your choices will be displayed on screen, and the Fire TV Stick will give you an on-screen alert when you hit your data limit.
3i. Your Amazon Fire TV Stick Is Now Ready
After a few seconds of setting everything up, the Fire TV Stick will be ready to use. It will transport you to the Home screen, where all the action takes place.
4. Pair the Fire TV Remote App With Fire TV Stick
Before we begin using the Fire TV Stick, there’s one more thing to do. We need to download and pair the Fire TV Remote app.
As good as the Alexa Remote is, the setup procedure must have shown you how annoyingly difficult it is for typing. A better solution is Amazon’s Fire TV Remote app, available for Android and iOS. So download and install it on your smartphone. (And try some other Fire Stick remote apps if you don’t like the official one.)
- First, get the app. Download: Amazon Fire TV Remote for Android (Free) or for iPhone/iPad (Free)
- Make sure your phone is connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Once you run the app, it will detect your Fire TV Stick. Tap to connect it.
- You will see a 4-digit code on the TV. Type it into your phone’s app. Congratulations, you have successfully paired the app with the Fire TV Stick.
- How To Switch Off or Reboot the Amazon Fire Stick
Amazon says that you don’t need to turn off the Fire TV Stick. It automatically goes into Sleep Mode after 30 minutes, conserving energy till you start it again. It also starts a screensaver after five minutes of inactivity, and you can change this time interval in the Settings.
If you want to restart the Fire TV Stick, there’s a shortcut for that. Hold down the Play/Pause button and the Select button simultaneously for five seconds.
5. How to Use the Fire TV Stick
Now that your Fire TV Stick is up and running, it’s time to enjoy all the entertainment it offers. The first stop is the Amazon Prime movies and TV shows that make it worth the money.
5a. How to Navigate the Fire TV Stick Menu
You might find the Home screen and the menu a little difficult to understand at first. But it’s pretty easy once you get used to it. It takes a day or two to learn it, then you’ll be fine.
The most important thing to know: Any text or logo marked in Orange or Yellow is where your cursor is. If you press Select or Play/Pause, it will take action on the orange/yellow highlighted item. For example, in the above screenshot, “Home” is the highlighted item.
To see any item, use the navigational trackpad buttons to go to it and press Select.
The top of the Home screen looks like this:
The first icon is for the Search function. The others (Movies, TV Shows, Apps, and Settings) are self-explanatory. Move Left or Right among these and press Select to go into that.
The Home screen then has a marquee of five featured items. These will scroll automatically, or you can go to the first one and then press Left or Right to see them all.
Go Down in Home to find your recently used apps, and recently watched items. You will also find plenty of other categories and suggestions for you.
If you want to watch any movie or TV show, go to it and press Play/Pause. If you want more details about the movie or TV show, press Select.
5b. How to Navigate a Movie or TV Show’s Menu
Once you’re on a movie’s screen, you’ll find all the information you need. There will be the IMDb rating, the movie’s length, release date, MPAA rating, a short description, a list of the actors and director, and languages for audio and subtitles.
Under that, you’ll usually find a few options:
- Watch Now with Prime / Resume
- Watch Trailer
- Add to Watchlist
- Seasons and Episodes (For TV Shows only)
Not all films have a trailer available through the Fire TV Stick. Any movie that you add to the watchlist will show up in your watchlist in the Home screen.
For TV shows, if you press Select on Watch Now With Prime, it will start with the first episode of the first season. If you have already started the show, it will resume at whichever episode you stopped at.
You can select a particular episode by going to Seasons and Episodes, where you can browse through them all. Each episode comes with a short synopsis, and individual episodes can be added to the watchlist.
Press Down in any movie or TV show’s page to find a list of related items. Here you will get what other customers also watched, and other titles featuring the same director or actors.
5c. How to Fast-Forward and Rewind on Fire TV Stick
Naturally, the Play/Pause, Fast Forward, and Rewind buttons work as you’d expect. Press Rewind or Fast Forward once to skip 10 seconds back or ahead, respectively. Hold the button for a few seconds to see different speeds to rewind or fast forward.
5d. How to Change Subtitles and Language on the Fire TV Stick
Press Options to either restart the movie from the beginning, or to choose subtitle and audio languages. You can also set the style and size of the subtitles, so that they are less distracting or more legible.
5e. How to Use X-Ray on Fire TV Stick
The Alexa Remote and Amazon’s X-Ray combine to offer some cool things you can do with Prime Video. Since Amazon owns IMDb, you can get a lot of information about the scene you are watching.
Press Up at any point to activate basic X-Ray, while the video continues playing. This will show you the actors in the current scene. Press Up again to pause the video and bring up the full X-Ray menu.
Powered by IMDb, you’ll find actors in the scene, the full cast and characters of the movie, music from the soundtrack, and trivia. Some movies and shows will also have a short scene excerpts.
All of these X-Ray options, as well as language and subtitle options, are only available on Prime Videos. Other apps on the Fire TV Stick, like Netflix or HBO GO, won’t show these. There, you will have to use whatever menu each app maker has developed.
5f. How to Set Up and Download Apps on Fire TV Stick
The Fire TV Stick isn’t limited to Amazon’s movies and TV shows alone. You can also watch stuff from other apps like Netflix and Hulu, or subscribe to TV channels like Showtime.
In the Apps Menu, you will find a large collection of popular apps, or you can search for them. To demonstrate, we’ll use Netflix as an example.
- Navigate to the Netflix app and press Select
- Highlight Download and press Select
- Wait for the Netflix app to finish downloading. Once the button changes to Open, press Select
- Navigate to the Sign In button and press Select
- Key in your Netflix username and password, and log in to the service
You can now use Netflix on your Amazon Fire TV Stick. The app can be launched from Home (in Recently Used), Apps, or through an Alexa voice command.
You can follow this procedure to download and install any app you want. Again, we recommend creating an account for the service before you download it on the Fire TV Stick.
Press Home, go to Apps, and press Down once to see three options: Featured, Games, and Categories. The last one, Categories, has a neat grid of apps in all different genres for you to browse. The middle one is where the action lies.
5g. How to Download and Play Games on Fire TV Stick
There is a decent collection of games made specifically for the Fire TV Stick, which work with the Alexa Remote. You can find them by pressing Home, going to Apps, pressing Down, and going to Games. For a demonstration, we’ll use the Flappy Birds Family game as an example.
- Navigate to the Flappy Birds Family app and press Select
- Highlight Download and press Select
- Wait for the game to finish downloading. Once the button changes to Run, press Select
Follow the game’s on-screen instructions on how to use the Alexa Remote to play. The navigational trackpad buttons always work for directions. In the case of Flappy Birds Family, it’s just pressing Select, since it’s an entertaining one-button game. While other games might have a few more buttons, I haven’t yet come across any that requires more than the trackpad and Select.
6. How to Use Alexa Remote’s Voice Commands for Fire TV Stick
So far, we have ignored the microphone button on the Alexa Remote. That’s because it helps to first understand how the Fire TV Stick works, and then use voice commands to operate it.
Press down the Microphone button to activate Alexa on Fire TV Stick. The TV screen will go dark, with a blue line across it. The line modulates as you speak into the remote. Hold the Microphone button while you speak your entire command, and then let go.
Here are some of the useful voice commands for the Fire TV Stick, and what happens when you say them:
- “Go Home” — Navigates to Home screen
- “Play [movie/TV show] on Fire TV” — Plays the movie or TV show
- “Search [movie/TV show] on Fire TV” — Finds the movie or TV show
- “Show me titles with [actor/director/genre]” — Finds movies or TV shows with what you want
- “Pause / Stop” — Pauses or stops the video
- “Play / Resume ” — Plays or resumes the video
- “Rewind X seconds” — Rewinds the number of stated seconds
- “Fast forward X seconds” — Fast forwards the number of stated seconds
- “Launch [app / game]” — Launches the app or game you wanted
- “Turn the volume up / down” — Changes the volume
- “Mute Fire TV” — Sets volume to mute
If you have an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, you can control the Fire TV Stick with your voice. There is no need for the Alexa Remote.
7. Advanced Settings for Fire TV Stick
The last of the main menu options, Settings lets you control several aspects of the Fire TV Stick, including:
- Connect to hidden networks and alter DNS servers
- Change screensaver settings
- Change audio and video settings
- Manage and uninstall apps
- Change GameCircle nickname
- Change time zone and language
- Change settings for Amazon Prime Photos app
- And much more…
You can go through all the options yourself to see what you need, but here are some of the more salient features.
7a. How to Mirror Your Screen to Fire TV Stick
The Fire TV Stick lets you mirror your phone or tablet screen, so the TV displays whatever you see on the phone. This works via Miracast, which most smartphones and tablets support.
- Go to Settings > Display > Enable Display Mirroring
- Go to your phone’s Settings > Display > Wireless Display
- Enable it and select the Fire TV Stick among the options
7b. How to Disable In-App Purchases on Fire TV Stick
In-app purchases can rack up a large bill if not monitored closely. If children will use the Fire TV Stick, it’s a good idea to disable in-app purchases (IAP).
- Go to Settings > Applications > Appstore > In-App Purchases
- Press Select to turn it off
7c. How to Enable or Disable Parental Controls / Data Monitoring
During setup, you had an option to activate or skip applying parental controls and monitoring data. If you’ve changed your mind, flip the switch.
- Go to Settings > Preferences > Parental Controls or Data Monitoring
- Press Select to turn it on or off
- If enabling an option, follow the same procedure as in points 3f for Parental Controls or 3h for Data Monitoring
7d. How to Enable Accessibility Options in Fire TV Stick
The Fire TV Stick includes a few features to make it more accessible for people with aural or visual impairments. This includes closed caption subtitles, Voiceview (to read out words on screen), and high contrast text.
You can enable any of these options by going to Settings > Accessibility
7e. How to Reset Fire TV Stick to Factory Defaults
Messed up something in the settings? Don’t worry, you can revert to how the Fire TV Stick was out of the box.
- Go to Settings > Device > Reset to Factory Defaults
- In the confirmation screen, select Reset
The device will then start the reset procedure, which takes about 10 minutes. Once it is done, you will see the same prompt to pair your remote that you saw the first time you set up the Fire TV Stick.
8. Troubleshooting Common Amazon Fire TV Stick Issues
As long as you follow this guide, you should be able to set up the Fire TV Stick and use it without any problems. But there are a few common issues that several customers seem to face.
8a. I Pressed Back During Setup and My Fire TV Stick Froze
Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. All you need to do is reset the Fire TV Stick. There are two ways to do that:
- Hold the Play/Pause button and the Select simultaneously for five seconds.
- If that doesn’t work, switch off the main power plug and switch it back on.
8b. I Can’t See the Full Screen, the Video Is Cut From the Sides
If the four sides of the video seem like they are being cut from the screen, then your TV and Fire TV Stick are differently oriented. You can usually fix this problem by calibrating the display through settings. But this is different from calibrating your TV for best picture quality.
- Go to Settings > Display & Sounds > Display
- Make sure Video Resolution is set to Auto
- Go to Calibrate Display
- It’s likely that the tips of the four arrows aren’t touching the edges of your TV screen. To fix this, go to your TV’s picture settings, and set it to Scan.
- Once the arrows are perfectly aligned, select OK
8c. Alexa Remote Is Not Working With Fire TV Stick
This is probably the most common error with this device. Sometimes, for seemingly no reason, the Alexa Remote stops working with the Fire TV Stick.
Obviously, the first step is to replace the batteries in the Alexa Remote and check if it starts working. If it still doesn’t, here’s how to fix it:
- Unplug the Fire TV Stick from its power source, wait 30 seconds, and plug it back in
- Take out the batteries from the Alexa Remote, wait 30 seconds, and put them back in
- Wait for the Fire TV Stick to fully boot up. Then check if it’s working
- If it still isn’t working, hold Home for 10 seconds to pair the Bluetooth device again
8d. How to install Android Play Store apps on the Fire TV Stick
The Fire TV Stick’s operating system is a modified version of Google’s Android. That means you can run Android apps on it. But not everything from the Play Store is available here. So how do you install an Android app that’s not on the Amazon Fire TV Stick’s store?
- Go to Settings > Device > Developer Options > ADB Debugging > Apps from Unknown Sources, and change it to On
- Download Apps2Fire on any Android phone or tablet
- On the same Android phone or tablet, download the app you want to sideload on the Fire TV Stick
- Go to Apps2Fire > Setup > Search Fire TVs (as long as both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network)
- (Optional) If Apps2Fire can’t find the Fire TV Stick, you’ll need to manually enter the IP address. On the Fire TV Stick, go to Settings > Device > About > Network to see its IP Address. Type that into the field in Apps2Fire > Setup
- Once the Android and the Fire TV Stick are connected, go to Apps2Fire > Local Apps
- Select any app you want to sideload on the Fire TV Stick, and tap Install
- In a few seconds, it will show up in your Fire TV Stick’s Apps
This is the easiest method to manually install Play Store apps on the Fire TV stick. There are other, more detailed methods too. We have a full guide on how to sideload any app to the Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Fire TV Stick vs. Alternatives
Apart from all of the major streaming video apps, Amazon has introduced several “channels” to help you cancel cable and cut the cord. The $40 Fire TV Stick is an excellent entryway into making your cord-cutting device. And it’s probably better than the Chromecast in that aspect.
For another alternative, check out our Amazon Fire Stick and Roku comparison.