25 essential Kindle tips and tricks

Play music, display maps, check your email and more

13. Get numbers without pressing Sym

Pressing Alt plus any of the first row of letters gives you the numbers 1 to 9 and zero.

14. Use the secret image viewer

Using your PC, create a folder called "pictures" in the root folder and then create a subfolder within it. Stick some jpegs in there, unplug it and press Alt-Z from the home screen to rescan. You should now see the subfolder you created; click on it to launch the Image Viewer and browse images like it's 1864. Q and W zoom in and out, E resets the zoom, C returns to actual size and R rotates. F puts the viewer into full screen mode.

15. Boost the battery

Turn off Wi-Fi and especially 3G if you don't need them to boost battery life. E-ink runs forever on battery power: it's the wireless radio that really drains things.

16. Fast Forward

Pressing Alt and the right arrow fast-forwards through your book one chapter at a time.

17. Convert your documents

Kindles accept a range of file types - unprotected Word (Docx files are in the experimental category and may be flaky), PDF, HTML, TXT, RTF, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and MOBI files - but if you want your PDFs converted to native Kindle format so you can take advantage of text-to-speech, annotation and other handy things, email the PDF to your Kindle email address with Convert in the subject line.

18. Tell the time

If you press the Menu button while reading a document, the current time will appear in the centre of the status bar.

19. Use Calibre to save cash

The excellent - and free - Calibre ebook manager can automatically download news from sites or RSS feeds and turn them into an ebook that you can then transfer to your Kindle.

20. Play your music

Another one from the Experimental menu: MP3 playback. If you drag MP3s from your PC or Mac to your Kindle's Music folder, you can play them through the Kindle's little speaker. Volume controls are on the bottom edge of the device, Alt-Space starts and stops playback and Alt-F skips to the next file.

21. Add annotations and bookmarks

When you see something interesting, press Menu and then either Add a Bookmark or Add a Note or Highlight. The latter option then enables you to highlight a block of text with the arrow keys or to add an annotation by typing on the keyboard. In future, clicking on Menu and View Notes & Marks gives you a clickable list of your bookmarks, highlights and annotations.

22. Stop other KIndle users annoying you

Kindles can be social, and as you read a book they can display bits that other Kindle users have highlighted and commented on. If this drives you crazy, you can disable it in Home > Menu > Settings > Popular Highlights.

23. Get your Kindle to automatically turn the pages

Can't be bothered pressing the next page button? Trigger the text-to-speech function and then turn the volume down until you can't hear anything. Pages will now turn automatically... eventually.

24. Install it on everything

Kindle apps are available for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, iPad, Windows Phone, Mac and PC and can follow you from device to device, so you can read something on your phone when you're on the bus and pick up where you left off when you pick up your Kindle and slump on the sofa.

Kindle tips and tricks

SIMPLE SYNC: Amazon's Whispernet system can automatically sync between Kindles and Kindle apps, so you don't lose your place when you switch reading devices

25. Search Wikipedia

When you move the cursor to a word and the definition pops up, you can find out even more. Press the Return key to see full definitions, and if you need yet more use the right arrow to highlight Search Dictionary. Press right-arrow again and you can make your Kindle search itself, the Kindle store, Google or Wikipedia.