Hacking the Kindle

When I left my Amazon Kindle on the airplane after I arrived from Taipei last week I realized that someone finding it would have no way of knowing it was mine. Fortunately Northwest Airlines knew I was sitting in seat 5B and let me know it was in the lost & found.

I did some poking around and found that it is possible to put your own screen saver pictures on the the Kindle. This guy has been tearing the Kindle apart and finding all sorts of hidden treasures.

Based on his instructions, I decided to put some pics of the family on there with some overlay text with my name and phone number so that if the device was in sleep mode whoever found it might be able to contact me.  Here’s an example:

That’s my sister Laurie when she was little…

Below are the instructions for putting custom screen saver pictures on your Kindle (copied from the above link):

  1. Attach the Kindle to a computer using the USB cord.
  2. Using Windows Explorer (or whatever you use to see individual files/folders) , you should see a new drive called Kindle under My Computer. Go to that drive. (Or if you have an SD card in your Kindle, you can go to the SD drive.)
  3. Create a new folder called “pictures” and a subfolder called “screensavers” under it. Make sure both folder names are all lowercase.
  4. Copy your image files into the screensavers folder. Your pictures should be 600×800 pixels and black & white.  .jpg & .png files appear to both work.
  5. After copying is complete & it is safe, remove the Kindle from the USB connection.
  6. Go to your Home menu and press alt-z. This will create a new book called “screensavers” . Open it. You’ll see each of your pictures. You can advance through them with the prev. page and next page buttons. Note: The new book will appear at the END of your book list.
  7. While viewing your pictures, look at the bottom of the Kindle screen. If you see your battery indicator & Menu prompt, press alt-F to go into Full Screen mode.
  8. On each photo, press alt-shift-0 (i.e., alt-shift-zero) . After a brief delay, you’ll get a message that your picture has been exported as screensaver. Click Close on the message.
  9. Navigate to each of the pictures you want to use and repeat the above step.
  10. When you’ve got all your pictures loaded, test them by going into & out of sleep mode. Alt-aA (i.e., alt-font size button) puts it to sleep & wakes it up again. Each time it sleeps, it should use a different image. If you see the same image all the time, relook at Step 3.

If you want to get rid of your custom screen savers, follow these steps:

  1. Attach the Kindle to a computer using the USB cord.
  2. Using Windows Explorer (or whatever you use to see individual files/folders) , go to your Kindle drive under My Computer.
  3. If you see a folder called system, skip this step. If you don’t see the system folder, click on the Tools menu & then Folder Options. Go to the View tab, and look at the Advanced Settings. Under Hidden Files and Folders, select Show Hidden Files and Folders. Click Apply, then OK. You should now see a system folder.
  4. Under the system folder, you’ll see a screen_saver folder. Delete all the files that are in that folder.
  5. After you disconnect from the USB, you may see your last custom screensaver one more time, but after that it will revert back to the pre-loaded Kindle screensaver images.

Another great tip is "Alt-T" which will show you the time.



  1. Theo says:

    And this should work on any generation kindle?

    1. cek says:

      No, this is an old article and I do not believe the techniques work on the current generation devices. Sorry.

  2. Kindle Smurf says:

    You have John Snow level knowledge of what “hacking” is. Gen 5 has wallpaper options under “display”.

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