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My cousin Wilson wants to customize the Kindle's screensaver so he can see more graphics. But he has zero patience to attempt any kind of jailbreaking. In this post, I’ll talk about my attempts to find an alternative.

It is not possible to change the screensaver of the kindle without jailbreaking it. But the screen can be kept always on to display images manually. This can provide a similar solution to the aesthetic value of the screensaver.

Let’s start with why do we want to change the screen saver? The e-ink screen does not really need a screensaver because there is no risk of screen burn, unlike the old monitors. Therefore, the screensaver for the kindle is largely an aesthetic addition.

Image manually set as a screensaver. And a little quiz about this famous quote, Exhibit A.

And then there is also the value of positive reinforcement. By loading our favorite passages and quotes onto the screensavers, we keep reminding ourselves of the ideas that have endeared them to us.

Or perhaps we just enjoy recounting joyful memories that those images represent.

So by isolating the artful objective, we can address that specific goal without being limited by the lack of the other customary functionalities of a screensaver.

For this purpose we could theoretically achieve some of those aesthetics through other simple, albeit unorthodox ways. 

We also would rather not jailbreak anything. Because one, that sounds dangerous and potentially warranty-voiding. And two, it will probably take a lot of time. And as book-lovers, we value our leisure 🙂 

“What do dogs do on their day off? Can’t lie around — that’s their job!” —George Carlin.
Photo credits: Dina Nasyrova

Here are some ideas of what we can do instead.

1 - Disable screen timeout

It would have been great if the screensaver would show the cover of the book I am currently reading. However, that feature is not available yet in the Kindle. So an alternative is to not show any screensaver at all and always have the book we are reading open.

To prevent the Kindle from automatically sleeping and switching to a screensaver, type the following into the search box, and then tap the enter key:

~ds

There is no confirmation prompt, but you can test this by pressing the power button once. If you were successful in entering the command, nothing should happen, and the screen will remain turned on. 

You can still turn off the screen by long pressing the power button for about 10 seconds. To enable the screen timeout again, you would have to restart the kindle. You can restart either by long pressing the power button or by going to Settings > Device options > Restart kindle.

For some, the built-in screensavers just aren’t nice to look at. And the goal is not necessarily to replace the screensaver, as much as just removing it. This approach would prevent them from showing up completely.

Another value of this approach is not having to spend two seconds looking at and swiping away the screensaver. And you could get back into reading without that small extra step. 

This can consume more battery though, which we’ll talk about shortly.

2 - Open image manually after disabling screen timeout

It may be manual, but it does the job of displaying a desirable, personally meaningful image the next time we look at the Kindle. 

And if our goal for the screensaver is positive reinforcement, one could argue that this approach of manually selecting the image is extra effective. 

To do this, first send the images using any of the Send to Kindle methods here. They will reflect on the kindle as a document.

Then every time you want to display those images, you just need to switch to that document by tapping on the home screen. If you send those images as separate documents, you can group them into a collection for quick access later.

And because you disabled the screen timeout, this image will remain on screen until you go back to the previous book you were reading. 

To achieve that full screen effect, you can choose to hide the status indicators at the bottom and the clock on top. Or you can long press on the image until the zoom icon appears.

If you prefer an image in dark mode, it would be ideal if you can use the kindle’s own dark mode option, otherwise you might see a white border along the edges of the screen.

3 - Open an image from the experimental browser

Instead of opening a different document to show the image, you can instead use the kindle’s experimental browser. This enables you to load any page or image from the internet.

And with the screen timeout still disabled, the screen will remain turned on displaying the active page.

To begin, go to the options menu and tap on Experimental Browser. By default, it will open the last page that you visited. 

Enter the url of the image that you want to display, for example:

https://ebookdetectives.com/mountains.jpg

For best results, the images should follow the Kindle browser’s screen dimensions. Officially that’s 1072 x 1448 pixels.

But based on our tests, the following dimensions would better account for the browser header and scroll bars: 1072 x 1282 pixels.

You can create bookmarks for easy navigation later on. Very useful if you want to switch to different images quickly.

And If you prefer reading in dark mode, you can set the same by going to the top settings menu. 

For this approach to work, you either must find correctly sized images online, or you need to have your own server where you can upload images.

For landscape photos however, the browser will auto-shrink it instead of rotating the image. Therefore, you would need to manually rotate the image before uploading it. 

Conserving Battery after screen timeout is disabled

Since we turned off the screen timeout, we run the risk of consuming more battery than necessary. 

Two quick ways to minimize the battery drain is to reduce the screen brightness and activate airplane mode. 

One of the cool things about the e-ink screen is that it can display an image “at rest” without consuming extra power. So you can dial down to the lowest brightness while your image is still being displayed. 

My tests show a consumption of about 1.3% battery juice every hour. This is displaying a static image while the Kindle is on airplane mode, lowest brightness, no cover, and with screen timeout disabled (using the ~ds method).

This battery consumption is not a lot, but it's still much more than my usual battery drain. Here, it seems the Kindle doesn’t fully “sleep”, even though the lights are dimmed.

When the kindle is on regular sleep mode and screen timeout is not turned off, I only get about 0.33% battery consumption per hour. This is while showing a static image of ads or the Kindle’s built-in screensaver. Also with Wi-Fi turned on.

For this reason, I do not disable the screen timeout all the time.

Combining alternatives to the Kindle screensaver

On days that I would like to use the Kindle as an always-on device, I go ahead and turn off the screen timeout setting. And then show an image using any of the methods above.

On regular days, I just keep the screen timeout setting enabled. And when I am ready to pause reading, I open an image, and let it show for about 10 minutes. After which, the Kindle naturally activates its original built-in screensaver. 

And upon resumption, I will see the image for a few seconds, enough to achieve that aesthetic goal I set for myself. And then I tap once to the home screen to go back to the book I am reading.

The .assets folder method

It’s tempting to experiment with connecting the kindle to the computer and trying to modify the built-in screensaver files. Specifically, the files inside the hidden .assets folder. 

Inside that folder are sub-folders with the actual screensaver images in .png format.

If only it was that easy. After trying so many times to update the files there, I still couldn't figure out the pattern that can ensure a consistent and predictable outcome. I may have been successful 2 out of 10 attempts, and my changes didn’t last for more than a few minutes anyway.

Therefore, I cannot recommend this approach.

Honorable effort: Print paper inserts

Not to shy away from quirky ideas, here's another approach to achieve that positive reinforcement from screensavers. You can print images or even book covers and gently place them on top of the screen inside a Kindle case. In a way, they could function similar to the book jackets traditional paperbacks.

Whatever works. And I have a feeling this humble printout might be the only one that my cousin Wilson will actually bother with.

I believe there is another value in attempting to personalize the aesthetics of the Kindle.

When I was much younger, every year I would embark on a half-day endeavor to search the house for this little adventure book with an emerald cover. We moved houses several times back then, and this book must have been misplaced. 

But I never forgot about that book, and to this day, I sometimes wonder where it is. Perhaps it’s just my age, but I don’t get much of that emotion anymore since I started reading exclusively on the Kindle. 

Could there be something about those old books that created such an indelible imprint on the mind? I’m certain the artistry of the books, and the impressions I got while reading them, formed a large part of that personal connection. 

And to me, personalizing the Kindle’s screensaver, or its alternatives, are steps in the direction of recreating some of that. 

As usual, if you have a Kindle or eReader question you need investigated, please don't hesitate to drop us a line.

P.S.
Here’s the answer to Exhibit A:
The mountains are calling and I must go & I will work on while I can, studying incessantly. 

From: The University of the Pacific

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