The Amazon Fire TV sticks and cubes are some of the best media streaming devices around, and while the basics of selecting and watching content are easy enough to pick up, there’s more advanced functionality that you might not be aware of. These are some of the tricks you can do on a Fire TV that help you get more out of it.
You can hold down the microphone button on your Fire TV remote to talk to Alexa, but you can also operate your Fire TV through voice commands using your Echo speakers with no remote required. Just say, “Alexa, play...” followed by a movie or TV show in listening range of an Echo device. You’ll be asked to confirm the connection between speaker and streaming device, and then you have hands-free Fire TV voice control.
If multiple people in your house are using the Fire TV, set up multiple profiles and make sure your recommendations and viewing history doesn’t get messed up by anyone else. From the top bar where the Home, Find, and Live options are, go left to highlight your user avatar and then choose Add Profile. You can link together profiles already associated with your Amazon account if needed, and set up parental controls for younger viewers as well.
The Amazon Fire TV devices have a hidden diagnostics menu that shows information such as frame rates, video codecs, CPU load, and more. To enable it, press and hold the center button on the remote’s navigation wheel for about a second, then keep it down while pressing and holding the down button. After three or four seconds, release both buttons, tap the menu button (the three lines), and turn on System X-Ray and Advanced Options.
There’s an Amazon Fire TV app for Android and iOS that offers a number of useful functions, including a remote control feature that you can use instead of the actual physical remote. It lets you enter passwords and other text more quickly using your phone’s keyboard, and you can run voice searches through it as well. Once installed, the app should be able to pick up your Fire TV over wifi automatically.
If your Fire TV device should crash or start misbehaving, you don’t have to get up from the couch to restart it, because you can do it from the remote. Press and hold the center button on the navigation wheel together with the play and pause button for a few seconds, and you should see a message telling you that the device is shutting down. After a few more seconds, you’ll see the familiar Fire TV logo as the hardware boots back up again.
By default, Amazon will collect a fair bit of information from you while you use your Fire TV. To take back some control over this, open the main Settings page (via the cog icon on the home screen), then choose Preferences and Privacy Settings. The options listed here let you turn targeted advertising off on the streaming device, for example, as well as reset your advertising ID (the value that enables advertisers to identify you and your device).
You’re going to be spending a lot of time looking at the home screen of your Amazon Fire TV, so make sure it’s set up the way you want it. Highlight any app on the navigation bar at the top of the home screen, then press the menu button (the three lines) to Move or Hide it. You can use the same trick on the recently used apps row—press the remote’s menu button to bring up a list of options, which includes Remove from Recent.
If have an Amazon-made Ring security camera set up at home, then it’s not difficult to have the footage sent to your Fire TV, as long as it’s on the same wifi network. This saves you having to open up your phone to check what’s happening in the garden or who’s at the door. In the Alexa app, tap More and Skills & Games, then find and activate the Ring skill to start the process of connecting your accounts and enabling the functionality.
If your TV or monitor speakers aren’t giving you the audio quality that you want, you can use your Echo speakers as a home theater sound system connected to your Fire TV. This is handled through the Alexa app on your phone. Tap Devices, then the + button, then Combine speakers and Home theater. As long as your Fire TV and your speakers are on the same wifi network, you can connect up to two speakers and an optional Echo Sub.
Through the magic of Bluetooth, you can attach a mouse and a keyboard to a stick or a box running Amazon Fire TV. This makes it easier to get around the interface and speeds up the process of entering passwords, search terms, and the like. To connect your input devices wirelessly, open Settings (far right on the main navigation bar), then choose Remotes & Bluetooth Devices, Other Bluetooth Devices, and Add Bluetooth Devices.
You can get online using an Amazon Fire TV fairly easily, and if you’ve installed a mouse and keyboard as mentioned in the previous step, then you can navigate the web pretty much as normal. You need to search for and download Amazon’s own Silk browser app, which uses a large internet logo as its icon. You can use the remote control to get around the web, but it’s much easier with a mouse and a keyboard.