Do you have an Amazon Kindle device or Kindle app on your phone or tablet? If so, today's top tip may be just the thing to get you started on your way to automation and simplifying life.
Reading is fun. I'm not the fastest at it - my wife can get through multiple books in a day if she puts her mind to it, whilst I can spend weeks finishing one) - but I love them. Reading is an amazing way to unwind, relax and simplify life for a moment of time as you dive into another story or world.
I have an Amazon Kindle device as well as the Kindle app on both my iPad and iPhone so that I can enjoy my books or magazines wherever I am (airports, the beach, in bed or waiting at the school gates to pick up my children). Amazon make it easy to buy and sync content from their cloud infrastructure to your device, but sometimes you may have copies of e-books or publications, reports or documents on your local machine or sent to you via e-mail that you may need on your Kindle.
This is a top tip for anyone who would like to streamline their document management for their Kindle and be able to send local files to their device(s).
You will need:
The core method is a free service from Amazon but one many people are still not aware of, which is the ability to send a document or batch of documents to your Kindle by e-mail, simply titled Send to Kindle.
Each Kindle device you register has a specific e-mail address attached to it (you can view and change these to something a little more memorable from within the Amazon Kindle settings page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/myk or https://www.amazon.com/myk).
Select the 'Your Devices' tab to view your registered devices or apps, and below each one you should see the associated e-mail address. Make a note of it, or even better yet add it to your e-mail contacts list.
To send an e-mail to the system you will also need to provide Amazon with your e-mail address(es) by adding them to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List. Click the 'Settings' tab and scroll down until you find it. Add as many e-mail addresses as you need - these could all be yours or those of your colleagues, which means anyone you approve in this list can send a document directly to your Kindle for your reading / viewing pleasure (that's already a win!).
The Send to Kindle service supports the following file types:
Attaching any documents with these file types from one of the approved e-mail addresses and sending it to your Kindle device e-mail address will work beautifully, and next time you open up your Kindle (connected to a Wi-Fi or 4G signal), it will automatically sync to the service and pull the documents to your device.
If you're sending a PDF document, that can be converted to the Kindle format so that it can utilise variable font size, annotation and Whispersync features. To do this, simply set the subject line of your e-mail to 'convert' and the Send to Kindle service will manage the rest for you.
epub documents are a slightly different matter. Sadly these are not covered in the default file type list, and automatic conversions wont work - Amazon will send you an automatic e-mail after any failed attempt to let you know.
So? How can these be converted?
The simple answer is Calibre, a free tool for all of your e-book needs, and something I have used extensively over the years.
Download and install Calibre - you can even add your Kindle device e-mail and your approved e-mail address settings in here and it will e-mail you a converted document as mentioned above on your behalf.
To convert, first add the original document into the Calibre library. Once added, either right-click on the individual book to convert or select 'Convert books' from the main toolbar. A window will open in the program for additional settings, but you mainly have to focus on the output format (the top-right corner of the window) and make sure it is selecting an Amazon-approved file type.
Click Ok to run the conversion, then attach the converted document to your e-mail (or have Calibre send it to your device for you, if you provided the settings).
OK, so we have the ability to e-mail, which is GREAT for other people sending you documents and it's simple and fast enough, but there is still room for improvement (oh yes!)
Imagine you want to send yourself 10 documents to read on a long journey, commute or quiet night in - perhaps some business reports or Stephen King's latest novels that you recently obtained, for example. Imagine attaching those 10 documents, one by one if they are scattered around in various folders on your PC or laptop. That's time consuming.
Using two free tools (which you may already have accounts with), we can super-charge this process.
You will need:
You can use other e-mail accounts should you wish, but in this example we're using GMail as that's how I set up my recipe.
Whichever e-mail address you use, it must be on your approved document list in Amazon (mentioned above) for this automation to work.
IFTTT (If This Then That) is an AMAZING free online service that lets you build 'recipes' to automate a lot of repetitive tasks, connecting with commonly used online services like Dropbox, Gmail, Evernote and many many more including common blogging platforms and even some brands of household appliances - this will be featuring a number of times in tips and posts on this site as it's a very useful service.
Once you have created an IFTTT.com account, check out this recipe which is exactly the one we're after, and the exact one I've been using for a number of years now with every success.
You will need to connect / authorize both your Dropbox and GMail accounts for IFTTT to operate with them (the recipe will help you connect the services). To complete the set up, simply provide the e-mail address of the Kindle device and a folder in your Dropbox account - I created and use the folder /public/kindle for my own recipe. Turn on the recipe and you're done.
Now the magic begins. Instead of attaching numerous documents to one e-mail manually, simply drag and drop them into the Dropbox folder you provided in the recipe. IFTTT will communicate with the Dropbox API, detect the changes, and attach the files to an e-mail for you and send them directly to your device. When you turn it on and it syncs, whatever documents you added to your Dropbox folder will now be available on your device.
A batch drag and drop into one location is, for me, easier than attaching and sending an e-mail manually, and for the few minutes it takes to set up the accounts and activate the recipe, you will save many many more in the future by using this process.
Let me know how you get on, dear Kindle readers.