Updated: 23 December 2010
If you’re reading this, you probably want to put your own images on your new Kindle ereader. This is perfectly normal behavior; you are not wrong for feeling this way. In fact, other ereaders let you do this automatically, and the 1st generation Kindle lets you do it without running any so-called “hacks.” For some reason, Amazon disabled this in later models.
Luckily, there are some smart Kindle owners out there who figured out how to enable this feature. You can find all of the instructions and necessary files at the MobileRead wiki, and this MobileRead forum thread contains an ongoing conversation where updates, bugs and quirks are discussed.
Both of those links can be overwhelming if you have no idea what you’re doing, so I’ve included some more info below to help explain how the process works.
What you’re actually going to do
Essentially, you’re going to convince your Kindle’s operating system to look in a different folder for screensaver images–a folder that you can directly access and fill with image files. To do this, you have to run two consecutive non-Amazon updates. The first one is a “jailbreak” update, and the second one enables the new screensaver folder.
To get even more specific, you’re going to follow these steps twice, first with the jailbreak update and then with the screensaver update:
- Download a .zip file of the update
- Find your Kindle model type so you can pick the right update version from the .zip file
- Plug your Kindle into your PC so you can access the file directory
- Copy the correct update over to the root level (the main level) of your Kindle, then safely eject the Kindle from your PC
- Go into your Kindle’s Settings menu and select the update option (it will only be selectable if you put the right update file on your Kindle)
The jailbreak update will “fail”
It’s supposed to do this, because it’s not actually updating your Kindle firmware. It’s just convincing the Kindle to accept the next screensaver update.
You’ll need to know which Kindle model you have
There are now nine different Kindle models on the market, and you need to know which version you have so you can run the correct updates. You can figure this out by looking at the first four characters of your device’s serial number. On Kindle 2 and first-gen Kindle DX, the SN is printed on the back. On Kindle 3 and the graphite DX, it’s listed under “Device Info” in the Settings screen.
|SN prefix||Kindle model (2, 3, or DX)||use this update|
|B002||K2 – U.S.||k2|
|B003||K2 – Global||k2i|
|B004||KDX – U.S.||dx|
|B005||KDS – Global||dxi|
|B006||K3 – 3G U.S.||k3g|
|B008||K3 – Wi-Fi||k3w|
|B009||KDX – Graphite||dxg|
|B00A||K3 – 3G UK||k3gb|
It’s fairly easy to see how the updates are named, particularly if you remember that “i” means “international” and “gb” means “Great Britain.”
This update is reversible
Both the jailbreak and screensaver updates come with twin “uninstall” files in the same .zip folders. Hang on to them, and if you ever want to reverse this process use them in reverse order (run the screensaver uninstall first, then the jailbreak uninstall).
You must reboot your Kindle any time you add or remove images
Your Kindle won’t scan the new “screensavers” folder and recognize the new files–or take note that they’ve been removed–unless you restart the device.
The MobileRead wiki says you can make this happen automatically by copying a blank file named “reboot” into the “linkss” folder. (Note that “linkss” is not the same folder that holds the screensaver images–it’s one level higher.)
Make your own blank “reboot” file with a simple text editor by saving a blank document, then removing any file suffix like txt or rtf. Or just make a copy of the file in your “linkss” folder named “autoreboot,” and name the copy “reboot”–but if you do this, remember not to delete or remove “autoreboot.”
It’s a good idea to keep an extra copy of this “reboot” file on your PC so you can copy it over any time you make changes, because it will disappear after your Kindle reboots.
You can randomize the image presentation order
Just like the “reboot” trick above, to do this you need to copy a blank file named “random” into the “linkss” folder (one level higher than the screensaver images folder). You can use a copy of “autoreboot” as I mentioned above. Again, don’t delete “autoreboot”–make a copy!
It’s easy to make your own custom images
Here’s a beginner’s guide to making Kindle screensaver images. The bare basics you need to know: save your images as png or jpg, and 600px wide by 800px tall will match the Kindle’s screen size.
You can use this same process to add custom fonts
I haven’t played around with custom fonts on the Kindle, so I don’t have any advice or insight on this. Be sure to check out those MobileRead links above if you want to replace your device’s fonts.