Macs, Kindle Fire, and managing files

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Reader Larry Weinstein has a question that’s thiisss close to inappropriate. He writes:

I know you write the Mac 911 column, but I have a question about my new Kindle Fire (which I use with my Mac). I’ve been trying to download free books from Project Gutenberg to the Kindle and even though they appear to download, I can’t find them on the Fire. Is there something I can do with my Mac to make this work?

There is. Plug the Fire into your Mac using a micro USB cable (the one that’s not included in the box), double-click the Kindle volume that appears on your Mac’s desktop, open the Download folder, and you’ll find the books you’ve downloaded. Move those files to the Fire’s Documents folder and then tap the Disconnect button on the Fire’s screen. Now tap the Docs item in the Fire’s menubar and you’ll find your books in the resulting Docs screen. Tap a book to read it.

“Wha…!?” I imagine you gasping. “Hasn’t Amazon learned anything from Apple? Why do I have to move files from one directory to another to use them!?"

The answer to that has a little something to do with the reason the Fire exists. And that reason is that Amazon would prefer that you obtain media directly from Amazon. When you do, your media is filed exactly where it’s supposed to be without syncing.

In the case of the kind of books you download from Project Gutenberg, that’s not so bad as many of those same books can be obtained for free from Amazon. However, if you find something on Project Gutenberg or another site that isn’t available from Amazon (at least, not for free) there’s a way to do all of this on the Fire. Like so:

Tap Apps on the Fire and then tap Store. In the Search field on the resulting screen enter AndroXplorer, tap Search, and then download the app that appears. This is a free file manager.

Return to the home screen, tap Apps, and then tap AndroXplorer. On the screen that appears tap sdcard. This presents you with a list of all the folders within the Fire’s storage area. Tap the Download folder and in that screen tap and hold on a book that you want to move. In the sheet that appears tap Cut. Tap the left-pointing arrow at the bottom of the screen to return to the sdcard screen. Now tap the Documents folder, tap and hold on the screen, and tap Paste.

Tap the Settings button at the top of the screen, tap More, and tap Applications. From the Filter By pop-up menu choose All Applications. Tap on the Amazon Kindle entry and in the screen that appears tap Force Stop. Tap OK to confirm. Return to the home screen and tap Docs. Your book will appear on the bookshelf, ready to read.

In a nutshell what you’ve done is moved a file from Downloads to Documents. In order for the book to appear on the bookshelf you have to force the Fire to take a second look at what’s in its Documents folder. You do this by force-quitting and relaunching the Kindle app.

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