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.
The screens below may look slightly different on your tablet as Amazon does change them from time to time. But the basic process remains the same.
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 for an hour or two first.
When you turn on a Fire tablet for the first time, it will ask to choose a language and a region.
Tap Continue and you’ll see the Connect to Wi-Fi screen. The password for your Wi-Fi network is usually on a sticker on your router, or sometimes on a removable card.
Choose the correct network name from the list and type the password, which will be case-sensitive, so make sure you match CAPITAL and lowercase letters.
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.
Signing in with an Amazon account will also allow you to install apps from any web browser, rather than on the tablet itself. (You'll need to go to www.amazon.com or www.amazon.co.uk and sign in with the same Amazon account, then search for the app to see the option to install it on your tablet.)
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 will see 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. To learn more, also read our guide on How to set up parental controls on a Fire tablet.
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. Some Fire tablets support hands-free Alexa which means you can use it like an Amazon Echo and say "Alexa, open Prime Video".
On other models, you may find that Alexa is supported but you have to press an on-screen button before making your request.
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 quickly. 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.
Is YouTube and the Google Play store on a Fire tablet?
Although Fire tablets are based on Android, you wouldn't know this. And you certainly won't find any Google apps at all, including YouTube.
But you can still install the YouTube.com app or tap on the Silk Browser icon and go to the relevant websites (Gmail.com, YouTube.com etc) to use Google services. You can also use the built-in E-mail and Contacts apps to access your Gmail account.
To download the YouTube app, tap on Appstore (the icon with 'apps' text) 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 for your email, 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.
Here are some of the essential apps you'll probably want to install first on your Fire tablet.