Monday, October 26, 2009

Customer workaround for user-definable folders

This is a popular blog-article which is being highlighted for newcomers and Kindle-blog edition subscribers.  During my vacation I'm including the more popular tips and guides. Kindle-blog edition subscribers will not have had these on their Kindles before and the subscription (99c per month) allows offline-review of the last 25 blog articles.

Original blog posting was May 24, 2009
In general, E-Readers that double as portable libraries really require a customizable folder feature.  Amazon recently extended the folder concept on the Kindle 2 for 1) "Archives" (which are for Amazon-purchased books already read and deleted from the Kindle but re-downloadable, free, from the customer's Amazon library area at any time via a click on the title in the Archives) and for 2) non-current periodicals.  They've always had folders for subscription newspapers and magazines (though not usually for blogs).

 The Kindle 2 (and Kindle DX) also has options for displaying 1) only books, 2) only subscriptions, 3) only "personal docs" or 4) all items.  These are also then sortable by Most Recent, Title, and Author (and searchable with the last two).

  However, as with bookstores and libraries, Kindle users have wanted user-definable dividers for categories such as Unread, Finished, Mystery, Non-Fiction, Romance, Biography, Self-improvement, etc.

  While this could make the process slower for displaying all books or less direct than finding a title or author by typing the first alpha-character and pressing the 5-way button, there's no question that categorizing books is a primary organizational tool when you have a lot of books and magazines.

Until the day that customer-defined folders are offered, customers have been recommending workarounds by using the "add-note" feature available for Kindle books.  

An official Amazon Customer Service Forum post on March 5, 2009 stated:
' Kudos to Kindle Community member Bufo Calvin for this tip!
  With the ability to add notes to your Kindle 2 content and search for specific words or phrases on your Kindle 2's Home screen, you can categorize content by genre or other personalized terms.

' Open up one of your books, select Add a Note or Highlight, and enter in a word (or words) you'd like to categorize by - genres such as history, fantasy, biography, etc.  Try putting your initials or a common letter such as "x" before the word, "cshistory" or "xfantasy" for example.  Save the note you chose to enter.

' Now go back to your Home screen and type in the word you just used for your note.

' Once you've typed it, move your 5-way controller to the right and click on "Search My Items."  You'll see the book you just added the note to appear.

'  If you've added that note in multiple books, each one will appear in your search results. '
Note that this method is called "tagging" your book or "labelling" it.  This simulates folders except that it's more flexible.

  If you want a book for which two tag-words should exist together, then you can search for both words.  Only those books tagged with both words would show up in the results.

 Mainly, you won't find a word like "xwhatever" in any of your books, so this brings up only the books specifically tagged by you.

This does work for the Kindle 1 also, but the older model may take a day to index the 'tag' additions so that they're findable.  The Kindle 2 takes only a couple of minutes to do this.

 Amazon customers discuss various aspects of this in a current forum thread.  Robin McLaughlin located customer service's recommendation of Calvin's suggestion; "Laura" points out she posted this workaround at the same time and that many customers have thought about this.  "Tillamook Bay / lg" cautions that this system does not work with books done in the special Topaz format, which uses specially embedded fonts and is not searchable (nor can we change the line spacing in these).  The file extension can be .tpz or .azw1 but is essentially the Kindle format with slightly different description fields.
  UPDATE 8/17/09: I just learned that Tillamook Bay (Larry Goss) was using this workaround in September '08 based on another forum note he read earlier.

Mild shortcut for general searching:
Normally, when reading a book, you can bring up the Search box by pressing the spacebar.  If you're at the "Home" listing page, press the Enter key instead.

When typing in a keyword for a search while the 'action' on the right side says "find my items" (the default) or if it is already on the action you want ('google' or 'Wikipedia' etc), you need only press the Enter-key under the DEL key.

Otherwise, you need to 5-way over to the right and then press down on the 5-way.
  If the action for the keyword is not what you want (google, store, wiki, dictionary) then 5-way right, through some more options until you find the one you want to search. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
If interested, you can also follow my add'l blog-related news at Facebook and Twitter
Questions & feedback are welcome in the Comment areas (tho' spam is deleted). Thanks!


  1. Does the note method work for the kindle 1?


  2. Mahalo,
    The tag workaround does work for the Kindle 1 with one difference; it takes much longer to index the items.

    While it's almost instantaneous on the Kindle 2, it can take a day before the Kindle 1 is indexed to recognize your tags in notes. But many have done it.

  3. Cool....

    Mahalo is Hawaiian for thank you!

  4. LOL! I think someone tried to teach me that once!

    Hope the workaround does the trick and that you don't have too many books to go through :-)

  5. So, what would be the most common tags that would help?

    I'm trying to figure out why I would need them...

  6. ran,
    The workaround is only for those who want folders and would want to put their books into folder-like categories.

    x[whatever country]

    So, if some need categories, it would be whatever ones are of interest to them - genres or ANYthing a person might make folders for in a filing cabinet or shelf-space division.

    You wouldn't want to go into a library of thousands of books and have no category where you know you might find something. Some Kindle owners already have over a thousand books on their Kindles - gathering in advance as some do, especially since they're free.

    So if you're about to visit a country, like Italy, and you want to be able to browse just books on Italy, you might want a 'folder' on "Italy" so you could find all the ones you have quickly and not have to see the others.

    The tag "xitaly" applied to books on that country means you could search for "xitaly"
    or "qitaly" or whatever prefix you'd use (but best to keep it simple, with that keyboard) and get only the books on 'xitaly' to show up on the screen as results for your search.

    If you don't us a prefix, you'll find all the books on your Kindle that just -mention- Italy in passing, which wouldn't be good.

    Hope that helps a bit.

    - Andrys

  7. "If you don't =use= a prefix" is what I should have typed, above...

  8. I'm not sure if this has been covered, but I'm looking to read lots of articles for graduate school on my Kindle 2. They're generally PDFs which often transfer into .mobi files poorly through Calibre. Once on the kindle, rather than have to individually move the files into a folder (say: "Healthcare mngmt 101"), I'd like to email the files DIRECTLY into said folder. Is this at all possible? Thanks!

  9. itslateagain,
    Be sure, if interested in Collections (Kindle folders) to read rather than this makeshirt method that was written 2 years ago.

    For sure, use the Collections method I linked to here, for any folders.

    Unfortunately, there's no way to email the files directly into a Collection or Folder.

    But it's easy to do them manually. Just right-click on the document title on the Home screen of your Kindle and choose to add the document to a Collection and choose a suitable one (or a few).

    OR open the Collection and mark each file on the home screen that belongs in it for Adding.

    PDFs are directly readable without conversion.

    ALSO, with PDFs, choose Landscape mode to read textbook type documents. That's by pressing the Aa key and choosing Rotate at the bottom.

    Otherwise, for conversion from PDF to mobi, it's probably better to do those with Mobiformat Creator, which is free, and what Amazon uses (as they own it).

    Hope that helps!


NOTE: TO AVOID SPAM being posted instantly, this blog uses the "DELAY" feature.

Am often away much of the day, and postings won't show up right away. Posts done to use referrer-links may never show up.

Usually, am online enough to release comments within a day though, so the hard-to-read match-text tests for commenting won't be needed this way.

Feedback and questions are welcome. Thanks for participating.

Technical Problems?
If you're having problems leaving a Comment, Google's blogger-help asks that you clear the '' cookies on your browser's Tools or Options menu bar and that will fix the Comment-box problems (until they have a permanent fix).

IF that doesn't work either, then UNcheck the "keep me signed in" box -- Google-help says that should allow your comment to post (it's a workaround to a current bug).
Apologies for the problems.

TIP: There's a size limit. If longer than 3500 characters or so, in a text editor, make two posts out of it.

[Valid RSS]