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A Kindle is a great document reader. There are several ways to get your document over there to read it.

Is it possible to transfer a personal paper to my Kindle second generation? Does this cost anything? How do I do it?

In this excerpt from Answercast #45, I look at several ways to get a document onto your Kindle so you can read a portable version comfortably.

Reading on the Kindle

The short answer is yes, absolutely. Depending on how you do it, it may or may not cost.

So, you have a personal paper... You haven't indicated what format it's in? If it's a .doc format, or a .txt format, or a .pdf format, or some other random format – I don't know. It depends on what application created the file.

  • So, I'm going to reduce this to a lowest common denominator and say PDF.

PDF is a great way to go; particularly since the second generation Kindle is really just a viewing application anyway.

Kindle reads PDF files

So, the thing to do is to create a PDF out of your document.

  • Print: You can use CutePDF to print to PDF (if the document is not already in PDF format.)

  • Scan: Or, if you're actually talking about a true paper document, you can scan it and have the scanning software create a PDF for you.

Copy the file to your Kindle

There are generally two ways to get the document (or a file in this case) from your computer to your Kindle. The first way is free. And that is to:

  • Connect your Kindle using a USB cord to your computer.

  • The Kindle has to be on and, I believe, it has to be unlocked (if you have it password protected.)

  • At that point, the Kindle's memory will appear on your computer as a separate drive, much like a thumb drive.

In fact, that's what it looks like to your computer. It looks like a random USB thumb drive. You can simply copy files to the appropriate folder (which I think is called "Books" in the older Kindles). That folder contains all of your books, all of the things that you read on your Kindle.

  • Just copy the PDF to the Kindle.

  • Do a "Safely remove hardware,"

  • And, then, the Kindle will come back up – and you should find your document in the list of documents (the list of books that are available to be viewed on the Kindle.)

I believe Kindle version 2 supports PDF natively and it just works.

Email to the Kindle

The other approach to getting your document to your Kindle doesn't involved the cable. In fact, it doesn't really involve much of anything on your part other than:

  • Email your document as an attachment to a special email address that Amazon has assigned to your Kindle.

What's the email address? I don't know. The place to find out is: to go to login and then go to Manage my Kindle. There you will see a list of your Kindle devices (if you have more than one), and the email address that is associated with each.

What happens is:

  • You email your document as an attachment to the email address that is assigned to your device.

  • Amazon takes your document (does maybe a little bit of magic to convert the document to a Kindle compatible format);

  • And then delivers the document to your Kindle just like it delivers books to your Kindle.

In other words, at some point:

  • It just shows up!

  • It gets delivered wirelessly through Amazon's so-called "Whisper net".

The downside to this approach is that it may cost a few cents. I believe it's on the order of 15 cents or so. Check with your Manage Kindle information. It will tell you exactly what the cost will be per document.

Conversion of formats

The nice thing about emailing the documents to your Kindle is that you don't have to worry quite as much about file formats. If you have a .doc format, or a .docx format from Microsoft Word, Amazon will actually convert that on the fly into something that will be readable on your Kindle.

There are other formats that they support: also listed on the Manage my Kindle pages. Have a look.

Comfortable reading

It's not that hard and I actually recommend to a lot of people that they go ahead and start using their Kindle this way. It's a fantastic reading device:

  • If you've got a document that you do plan to be spending some time reading;

  • It becomes nice and easily portable when it's put on your Kindle device.

Dropbox for Kindle

As a side note for Kindle Fire users, one of the neat things about the Kindle Fire is that it is an Android-based device.

  • That means you can install Dropbox on it.

I'm not sure if Dropbox is available directly in the Amazon store or if you have to side-load it, but I believe the information is available on the website.

Once you have Dropbox running on your Kindle Fire, then transferring a file to your Kindle is as simple as:

  • Dropping it in your Dropbox folder on your PC;

  • And then waiting a little while for the transfer to happen magically;

  • And it shows up on your Kindle.

Article C5712 - August 20, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

August 20, 2012 12:43 PM

Thank you for your very detailed instructions, I finally got the document to my kindle via the kindle email address. But it transferred it to my kindle and the print is so small I cannot read it. I can't see where Amazon did any 'magic' on my document from the computer to the kindle. Help?

August 20, 2012 2:20 PM

I think the magic would be to a Word doc. PDF's are like a printed paper, so all the text will always remain the same size, font and look. Just as if you printed it.

I've had that same problem with pdf's on my kindle and iPhone. I have to make the print really big before making it into a pdf.

August 20, 2012 6:48 PM

Apparently it doesn't work for Kindle for PC. I can't drag and drop a .pdf file from the downloads folder to Kindle for PC. I also can't pick the Kindle for PC to open the .pdf file. On the Kindle for PC side, I can't import either. On the "Manage Your Kindle" on, Kindle for PC doesn't appear as a device therefore no e-mail address. I've given up.

There's no reason to use Kindle for the PC as a PDF reader. There are many including Adobe Reader and my own favorite, FoxIt Reader.
August 20, 2012 7:02 PM

Scratch my previous comment. It works fine if you move the .pdf file to the "Kindle for PC Content" file. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Laurence Brevard
August 21, 2012 10:40 AM

An advantage of mailing to the Kindle address is that the document is now in your library and accessible on all your Kindle readers.

If you just copy over USB to a specific Kindle device (I have the cheap 4 No Touch version) then it is only on that device.

For instance I also have the Kindle Reader on my iPad and putting a document into the Kindle library (in "the cloud") seems to be the only way to get it there.

August 23, 2012 6:08 PM

When you e-mail a PDF file to [username], put the word 'convert' in the subject line. Note that if the PDF contains an image of words, not text, it won't work.
The Kindle is wonderful for reading personal/internet files; I often read AskLeo answers on mine! Instapaper ( is brilliant here, it is free. Also free is 'Calibre', an e-book library management program. It can convert and edit files, including renaming one's Instapaper files. I'm about to use Instapaper to collect the RSS answer and shall use Calbre to reanme it to "Leo2012RSS", and read it on my Kindle on the train.

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