Amazon’s tablets are surprisingly cheap and good value, so if you’ve just received one or bought one for yourself, here’s how to get it up and running. We’ll explain how to associate it with your Amazon account, set up email and get essential apps such as YouTube.
Fire tablet: Initial setup
Usually, there will be enough battery power to get through the setup process and install a few apps. But it’s also a good idea to attach the bundled USB cable and mains charger and allow the battery to fully charge.
When you first turn on a Fire tablet, it will ask to choose a language and a region.
Tap Continue and you’ll see the Connect to Wi-Fi screen. The password is usually on a sticker on your router, or sometimes on a removable card.
Choose the correct network and type the password, which will be case-sensitive.
The tablet will check if there are any software updates, download and then install them.
Next, you’ll be prompted to enter your Amazon account details to register the tablet: email address and password. This is necessary in the same way it is on a Google or Apple phone: you can’t install any apps or games or any other content from Amazon (such as books, videos and more) without an Amazon account.
Doing so also allows you to install apps from any web browser, rather than on the tablet itself.
If you don’t have an Amazon account, you can tap the ‘New to Amazon’ link to create an account.
If you’ve had a Fire tablet before, you may be offered the option to restore a backup. You can restore the most recent backup to save the hassle of installing apps and games. Plus all your settings will be as you set them, including email accounts, bookmarks and more.
On the next screen you can opt in (or out) of location services, and backing up your stuff to Amazon. It’s well worth enabling Backup & Restore to make it easy to swap to a new Amazon tablet should you need to.
Then you’ll be prompted to select which members of your Amazon Household will use the tablet. This streamlines the creation of user profiles, but you’ll only see them if you’ve previously set them up on your Amazon account.
If not, you also have the option to add a child account. A child account has a completely different interface to an adult profile and limits what they can see and do. It also gives them access (if you allow it) to a kid-safe web browser.
Next you can link other social accounts, if you want to, and then you’ll see an adverts for Audible audiobooks and Kindle Unlimited. Either tap No Thanks or ‘Start My Free Trial’.
How to use FireOS
Now you’ll see a tutorial which will show you how to navigate around FireOS. At the bottom of the screen is the familiar Android navigation bar. Tap the < to go back, the O to go to the Home screen and the square icon to switch to a recently used app.
Swipe down from the top of the screen to see the Quick Settings panel where you can adjust screen brightness, change user profiles, enable flight mode and various other things. The cog icon takes you to the full menu of settings.
If your Fire tablet supports Alexa, you’ll get a brief tutorial on how she works and be asked if you want to enable or disable her. You can also read our guide on How to use Alexa.
In our experience, even if you’ve set the region to United Kingdom, Alexa will default to Fahrenheit rather than Celcius. Usually this will change to Celsius on its own fairly shortly. If not, launch the Weather app, add a location and tap the menu icon (top left) tap Settings and then ‘Show Temperature in Degrees Celsius.
Where is YouTube and the Google Play store?
Although based on Android, Fire tablets are not Google Android tablets. This means there are no Google apps at all, including YouTube.
You can fire up the Silk Browser and go to the relevant websites (Gmail.com, YouTube.com etc) to use Google services, but you can also download a third-party YouTube app and use the built-in E-mail and Contacts apps to access your Gmail account.
To download the YouTube app, tap on Appstore and then tap the magnifying glass icon (top right) and type youtube. There are many apps, but this one is our favourite, by the developer ‘YouTube.com’.
How do I set up email, calendar and contacts?
Tap on the E-mail app and enter your email address and password. This can be any address, including Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo. Unfortunately it won’t work for Apple email accounts, including @me.com and @icloud.com, at least not automatically.
If you get an error message, search online for the server settings required for your email service. If you have two-factor authentication enabled, you may have to disable it to use email on the Fire tablet, or authorise it using your email provider’s mechanism to do so.
You can add more than one email address and manage multiple accounts through the E-mail app.
For contacts, you should find these are populated automatically once you’ve configured your email address (so long as you have some contacts associated with that email account). With Gmail, for example, contacts are added automatically.
If not, you can import them from a vCard file on a microSD card. Check your current provider where your contacts are stored to find out how to export details in a vCard file.
Then tap on the Contacts app and then the three vertical white dots at the top right, then tap Import/export and then ‘Import from storage’.
The same goes for the Calendar app. Once you’ve added a Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook email address, everything will be populated automatically, even if you have multiple calendars within those accounts.
That’s your Fire tablet set up, so you can now browse the Appstore to find extra games and apps, or use the web browser to read your favourite websites.