All About Docs & Downloads On The Fire Tablet

It’s your friendly KF on KND Editor April L. Hamilton here, to answer some questions we’ve been getting about how downloads and documents are handled on the Fire tablet.

Note that the information shared in this post is accurate as of today, 3/27/15, but subject to change with future Fire tablet or software releases.


Downloads, No Matter The File Type, Go To The Downloads Folder/Tab

Amazon only allows Amazon-obtained content to show up on the main content type tabs (Apps, Games, Books, Audiobooks, Video). That’s why, when you use a web browser on the Fire to visit a website other than Amazon where you can download an app (AKA an “apk” file), that file ends up in the Downloads folder/tab and NOT on the Apps or Games tab(s). Similarly, if you use a browser on the Fire to locate and download a .pdf file, THAT file will most likely end up in the Downloads area instead of on the Books or Docs tabs.

Note that how pdfs are handled can vary by the website and the user’s “download” method. If the site provides a “Save” or “Print” button and the user “saves” or “prints” the pdf to a .pdf file, the file may be categorized by the Fire as a “Personal Document” and in that case, the file will be found in the Docs tab/folder. If you’ve “saved”, “printed” or “downloaded” a pdf, you may need to check both the Docs and Downloads tabs to find it.

Unfortunately, there is no workaround for this. Amazon allows various filetypes to be downloaded to the Fire, but all such content is considered “personal” content and is not allowed to co-mingle with Amazon’s own content.

It is possible to sideload apps on a Fire (though I don’t recommend it), but even if you do, the sideloaded app will not show up on the Fire’s main Apps or Games tabs. You’ll have to get a file manager app to locate the app on your Fire and run it.

This is by design, and helps Amazon maintain security and proper software function on the Fire.


How The Fire Handles Documents

As explained above, pretty much any file you download from within a browser window on the Fire will end up in the Downloads tab/folder. However, if you email a document to your Fire (click here for details on how to do that), the document will end up in the Docs tab/folder.

Some apps that handle documents allow for importing documents or files from within the app. In that case, it’s up to the app’s developer to specify where and how the imported files are stored but they’re generally made available for selection from within the app itself.


Instapaper: An Easier Way To Save Web Content For Later Reading

If you frequently find online articles, blog posts, essays and the like you’d like to save for later reading, there’s an easier way to manage that content than printing or saving to pdf format, downloading or emailing a save file of the web page to yourself: Instapaper.

We shared details of this wonderful, FREE service here. The way it works is simple: you install the Instapaper browser plugin (full instructions are given on the Instapaper site) and it places a “Read Later” button on your browser toolbar. Anytime you want to save something to read later, click that button and the file is saved to your Instapaper account in pdf format.

You can access all your saved Instapaper pdfs on the Instapaper site, or via the FREE Instapaper app, which also includes some nifty search and sort features.

The basic Instapaper account is free but there’s also a paid/premium option. This page on the Instapaper site shows the differences between a free and paid/premium Instapaper account.


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2 thoughts on “<b>All About Docs & Downloads On The Fire Tablet</b>”

  1. Very useful information here. I already use Instapaper — great app! — but am confused about the Downloads tab/folder concept. I’ve got a first-gen Kindle Fire HD. Where would I find this tab/folder, or does my tablet have one?

    Thank you!

    • It’s a function within the Instapaper app, not a tab or folder on the Fire itself. I just tried going to the app’s listing on Amazon to see if there’s a screenshot to show this, but the app isn’t currently listed. Maybe it’s been pulled for updates, or will replaced by some kind of native function in the next Fire tablet operating system release…? I’m sorry, but I don’t know. =’/

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