Kindle DX PDF FAQ

The Kindle DX is out and comes with in-built pdf support. My kindle dx review post has been getting lots of PDF related questions.

So here’s a detailed Kindle DX PDF FAQ, after much due diligence on my part. Its backed by the kindle dx liveblog review by Brent Newhall and Jeffrey Ritholtz.

Kindle DX PDF – Top 10 Things to Know

The Good – Kindle DX PDF Features. 

  1. Native support i.e. just load a PDF and it works.
  2. PDFs are searchable and you can bookmark pages, except for PDFs that are images. The searched term is highlighted wherever its found. 
  3. You can switch to landscape mode and most of the time the DX will show the PDF in a bigger, more readable size. You can go to the lower part of the page by pressing Next Page.
  4. PDFs have page numbers, and completion percentage, and ‘Go To Page’ feature. 

The Bad – Kindle DX Missing PDF Features

  1. PDFs do not support Read To Me. If you do want a PDF read to you, you could convert it to kindle format and the converted file would support Read To Me.  
  2. PDFs do not support changing font sizes, and they do not support zooming and panning. If landscape mode isn’t big enough, you’re stuck.
  3. The 5-way cursor doesn’t work in PDFs.
  4. PDFs do not support adding notes, they do not support highlighting. Pretty much rules out adding notes to textbooks.  
  5. You cannot click on a link in a PDF.

Kindle DX PDF FAQ
 
Q1: What PDF support is included? What’s Not?
A1: Based on the Good List and the Bad List above, Kindle DX is great for reading PDFs, technical PDFs, computer programming books, and pretty much anything technical. PDFs look great. However, you can’t change font sizes and you can’t turn poorly scanned PDFs into good looking ones.

It does not support a Table of Contents (there’s an inelegant hack Q10). You can’t add notes or nighlights. 

Q2: Where can I see actual photos of PDFs on the Kindle DX?
A2: At Brent Newhall’s Kindle DX PDF Page and at Jef’s tech blog. Here are two snippets (courtesy Brent, one showing tables and an image, and another with formulae) -

Kindle DX showing PDF with tables and image

Kindle DX showing PDF with tables and image

And here’s one showing support for mathematical formulae -

Kindle DX PDF mathematical formula support

Kindle DX PDF mathematical formula support

Pretty impressive.

Q3: How fast are page-turns in PDFs?
A3: In Portrait mode, they’re slower. They’re reasonably fast in landscape mode.
The reason a lot of people are complaining about page turns is – When you first get your Kindle DX and load a bunch of files, those files are getting indexed and that slows down everything. So the page turns you see in the first few hours are slowed down due to indexing.

Check out this video for more –

Q4: What options do you get in the Menu when in a PDF ?
A4: Courtesy Brent Newhall’s liveblogging -

Pulling up a menu, I get the following entries available:

Turn Wireless Off
Shop in Kindle Store
Cover
Go to Beginning
Go to Page…
Search This Document
Add a Bookmark
My Bookmarks

The following entries are greyed out:

Table of Contents
Sync to Furthest Page Read
Book Description
Add a Note or Highlight

Q5: Can I change font sizes?
A5: No. When you press Aa to go to the Font Size menu, the changing font sizes, changing number of words per line, and Text To Speech options are greyed out. Only the option to flip the screen orientation is available.

Q6: Are PDFs clubed together with other books, or do they have their own category?
A6: PDFs are actually clubbed under the ‘Personal Documents’ section. This separates them from books – However, as Kindle DX does not have a Folders feature there is no way to have just your PDF files show up, and no way to categorize them. You can use the sort feature to order them by criteria like when they were added.

Q7: Are page numbers on the Kindle DX same as in the PDF?
A7: Yes. There might be cases where someone has taken a textbook and scanned it and changed the page numbers in the PDF. In that case page numbers on the Kindle DX will match the PDF, and not the textbook.

Q8: What happens when I delete a PDF I load. Is it saved in the Archive?
A8: To the best of my understanding, No. Its treated like a personal document.

Q9: How do Computer Programming Books in PDF format look on the Kindle DX?
A9: Very good. If they are bad scans, then they obviously won’t look good. However good PDFs look great. Again, from the kindle forum -

I loaded one of my programming user manuals (400 pages long), also as PDF: the load time was not outrageously long, the text display was fine/quite readable.

Q10: Is there a workaround to the table of contents?
A10: Not exactly – However, go to the page that has the Table of Contents, and check what page a chapter starts on and ‘Go to Page’ to that page.

Q11: How do I see the second part of a PDF page in Landscape Mode?
A11: Press the ‘Next Page’ key. The 5-way cursor does NOT work.

Q12: How is the Kindle DX for Medical Journals?
A12: From the kindle forum -

1) medical journal articles (PDFs), even with complex tables, superscripts and multicolumn format look very good. Text is a tad on the small side for us older readers but still quite readable in portrait mode–which is the mode that most resembles reading the actual journal.

Your Kindle DX PDF Questions

Please let me know your questions and I’ll answer them best as I can. You can buy the Kindle DX at Amazon. There’s a 30 day return period and my detailed kindle dx review helps too.

83 Responses

  1. I bought Kindle 2 based on this nice site. I like it except of these two items:

    – Kindle 2 interface is always default on the “buy” button. I have purchased many items by accident. I wonder why the interface cannot be set to default to another button.

    – Many books I want are still not on Kindle. Even after I have made over 100 clicks to publishers, they are shown as having kindle version but not available. Thus, Amazon does not have put the date when the kindle version is available. They can learn a lot from Apple on customer service.

    Now a question:

    – Will the DX software environment immediately available on Kindle 2? Apple allows free upgrades. Why cannot pdf be easily read on Kindle2? What are main pros and cons about DX and K2?

    Thanks.

  2. I forgot there is a 3rd reason I do not like K2.

    – When I read a book, I like to cite it? There is no page number but a location. No APA or MLA style allows that.

    How does not cite things (ie. quotations) via K2?

    Thanks.

    • the lack of page numbers is an interesting issue – changing the font sizes means you’d keep changing the page numbers. There might be a solution – however, can’t think of one.

  3. [...] kidding ;). Kindle DX PDF support is built-in. Just load PDF files and they work. Do look at my Kindle DX PDF FAQ (up [...]

  4. how do i get kindle to read to me…

    • dana,
      you can not read PDFs unless you convert them.
      for normal books and PDFs that have been converted into kindle dx format, either –

      1) Press Shift+Sym (up arrow button and SYM button) to start Read To Me. It does take a minute to start.
      OR
      2) Press the Aa button. In the menu that will pop-up there is the Text-To-Speech option – select turn on.

  5. I have copied via usb many pdf books. The images won’t display. Did you email your pdfs to get it to look right?

    • Elaine, could you tell me a little more

      – are you using a kindle dx?
      – are these DRmed PDFs or standard PDFs.
      – how were these created?
      – are they simply scanned pdfs?

      when you say the images do not display do you mean that the pdf loads and then images in the pdf do not show up?
      could you add a link to one of these pdfs that can’t show images.

      i don’t have my pdf here with me yet (it’s in seattle) – i’ll try and get my friend to test it out.

  6. [...] do not support taking notes, zooming, etc. – look at my kindle dx pdf faq for more [...]

  7. I scan legal transcripts in pdf format and often do not OCR the text. However, I use Adobe’s bookmark feature to index the transcripts and mark important points as I read the scanned images at my office. I would like to read and bookmark the pages at home using something other than a laptop which is cumbersome to use in casual reading situations. Can I do this with the Kindle DX? Many of my files are also very large. Is there any way to transfer the files directly to and from the DX using the USB port since the files might be too large to email?

    Thanks.

  8. Noel,
    you can use the Kindle DX to read the scanned transcript.
    You can bookmark a whole page.
    However you cannot mark paragraphs, or sections of text or add notes, etc. in PDFs in the Kindle DX.

    You can transfer files directly to the Kindle via USB. When you plug in the Kindle DX’s USB wire into the PC it will show up as a drive and you can just drag your file to the document folder within the kindle drive.

  9. Why can’t we download books from the Public Library?
    Is there a firmware that make this happen?

    • there are methods you can find at mobileread.com. there is no official firmware. it’s not a feature because then how would amazon sell books.

  10. We have recently purchased a Kindle DX and are attempting to load PDF documents watermarked with Adobe 8.1.5. When these documents are ported to the Kindle DX, the document either crashes the Kindle or the page turns are extremely slow, 7 to 10 seconds per page. All watermarking is being done on Windows XP. A few questions:

    1. Are there compatibility issues with Adobe Mobile Reader and Adobe Professional 8.1.5
    2. Should we upgrade to Adobe Professional 9.x?

  11. It’s not clear to me from your FAQ or Amazon’s description about the PDF support on the DX on if i can load a pdf via USB without having to email it somewhere. If you look at Amazon’s site they claim you can either 1) use the wireless method where you get charged 0.15cents a MB or 2) use some generic email address where it gets converted and then downloaded.

    There terminology for both seems to be before the DX was introduced. What i want to know is can i take my own PDF and just put it on a DX via the USB? You hint towards that in your FAQ but again you aren’t clear either … you just say load it on your dx.

    • By load on to dx i did mean via usb. should’ve been clearer.

      do note that only the dx supports direct pdfs.

      for kindle 2 and 1 you have to convert the pdf file to a kindle compatible format, and thatn you can transfer that new file via usb.

  12. Can you password protec a kindle dx? Thanks.

  13. I was told that a PDF converted via mobipocket or via Amazon may allow highlighting and note taking.
    I am wondering if I can convert a PDF via mobipocket, and then add the file to the Kindle DX? If that is successful, might I be able to then highlight and create notes in the PDF on the Kindle DX; or am I doomed not to have highlighting and notetaking support on the DX?

    Do you have any product suggestions that may work – other than the Kindle for PDF with highlighting and notetaking capability?

  14. also, if you’re looking for other products i’d wait for sony’s 24th aug announcement or the plastic logic reader.

    the kindle dx does allow notes and highlighting on converted pdfs though.

  15. Hi,

    Recently, tried to upload a PDF version of a graphic novel through Amazon’s DTP to publish. When previewing the converted content, the images looked blotchy and smeared, also it was for some reason converted into landscape mode, at least that is what the preview is displaying it as. My PDF images are convert to 681x1022pixel, resolution 300 which is the supposed viewable size of the Kindle DX. If anyone can help with publishing on the DX that would be great or if there are books, please point the way! :)

    • Elisa, check with Joshua at kindleformatting.com – he ought to be able to help you. Else leave another comment and i’ll see if I can figure out the information even though it’s not my area of expertise.

  16. Does the Kindle DX do any kind of halfway-intelligent border shrinking?

    I am curious about using the DX to read Apple’s ADC documentation in PDF but they tend to have obnoxiously large whitespace margins.

    Given the lack of manual zooming, I’m worried the text will be too small to read.

  17. when i load a pdf onto my dx, it does not show up in my items list. If i search the kindle, then i can find it, but that is a hassle/i was wondering why this was happening….

    thanks

  18. I just got my Kindle DX. I was really excited about the .pdf capability. However, when I tried to load a scanned .pdf that I made, it doesn’t even show up on the Home page. Can anybody help me be able to view my .pdf’s?

    • scroll to the top bar (the one with the battery life sign, etc.) then scroll left, then underline and click on ‘show all my items’.

      • It is showing all my items. I think the problem is that it is not recognizing my pdfs at all. I scanned this pdf. Do kindles only read non-scanned pdfs? thank you for your help.

  19. [...] do not support taking notes, zooming, etc. – look at my kindle dx pdf faq for more [...]

  20. i live in the philippines. im interested with this device. i have questions though and i hope you can answer them for me.

    1) all i have are medical pdf files, will i be able to read them including graphs, pictures, images, tables etc…?
    2) how do i download in it my medical pdf files?
    3) do i pay anything in doing so? or i can just do it with a usb download thru a computer?
    4) is the battery replaceable? if not, how much is it to have it replaced?

    thank you very much for your reply.

  21. Amil,

    1) yes, you will be able to read your medical files. Links in PDFs do not work. However, graphs, pictures, images, etc. work.
    Note that Kindle DX is black and white with 16 shades of gray so color images will show up in shades of gray.

    2) transfer va usb from PC to kindle.

    3) usb transfers are free.

    4) battery is not replaceable. For Kindle 2 it’s $80 so for Kindle DX it should be in the $80-$100 range.
    You have to send it to Amazon to have the battery replaced.

  22. Hoping for PDF Rich Content support in a future DX firmware upgrade – cross reference (internal) link support at a minimum.

  23. Is it possible to convert chinese PDFs (i.e. PDFs written in Mandarin) into eBook files with MobiPocket and view them on a Kindle 2? My attempts so far have only shown up as garbled on the Kindle. Thanks in advance for any pointers.

  24. I would like to download a PDF legal file into a device which is transportable into a Courtroom and as quickly as I could access a paper file, access a PDF document in the file. I would like to mark the page the particular document(s) which are before the Court in advance. A laptop is far too slow and cumbersome. Is this device worth looking at or do I just have to wait?

    • The Kindle DX would work as it has a bigger screen. It supports PDFs and allows bookmarks (except in PDFs that are scans).

      Note that the Kindle starts up pretty quickly – however, nothing is going to be as fast as paper.
      Think one second starts for smaller files and 5 seconds or so for longer files.
      Page turns take a second or so.

      It starts much faster than a laptop. However, take a look at the kindle videos to get an idea.
      Read up more on Kindle DX and PDF at my FAQ.

  25. hi
    i am a phd student and read many many pdf files. do you know if amazon plans on upgrading their pdf capabilities in their kindle? i am especially interested in adding comments and highlighting (although color and read to me are also nice features). this issue is the main issue for me whether to buy the kindle dx or not.
    thanks

    • The left side edges are cut off for every alternate page and some parts of the images don’t load. on kindle dx the font size is fine in both portrait and landscape (probably means kindle landscape mode will work.

      However the left edges of left side pages is cut so not readable.

  26. Hi,
    I am a graduate student. I bought a Kindle DX this week in the hopes that I could transfer tons of PDFs to the Kindle instead of having all these piles of paper around. I wanted to be able to highlight and take notes, so I understood that I needed to first have Amazon convert a PDF file to their AZW format and then transfer it via USB to my Kindle. I tested this process out today. I e-mailed Amazon one PDF (not encrypted) and they sent me back the file in AZW format. The e-mail said that in order to download it, I had to be logged in to Amazon and then click on the link in the e-mail to download to my computer (MacBook Pro OSX 10.6.4). I did this and then dragged the new AZW document into my Kindle. However, the document is nowhere to be found on my Kindle. I tried transferring it again via USB to my Kindle, and the computer told me that the document was already on my Kindle. But where is it? I am very discouraged — thinking I should have bought an iPad instead, although didn’t want the LCD screen, and used it with iAnnotate.

    • Sarah – you have to drag the converted file to your ‘documents’ folder on the Kindle.

      Your other option is to have Amazon send the converted fiel straight to your Kindle though that costs 15 cents per MB.

      Let me know if dragging the file to the Kindle/documents folder doesn’t work.

  27. Thank you! I did not realize that you had to click on the Kindle icon after dragging to Kindle, so as to open up the different folders on Kindle and then transfer the file to the documents folder. The instructions that come with the Kindle are not perfect by any means. It would be great if you could just highlight and annotate the pdf instead of having to convert, which does modify the format (i.e. puts footnotes in text, changes fonts mid-sentence, doesn’t let you know exactly what page you are on in the original document which you need for citation purposes). I’m hoping they can improve this.

    • Glad it worked out.
      Well, they didn’t have PDF support till November 2009 and didn’t add PDF zoom and pan until last month so there will probably be more improvements in the future (hopefully).

  28. Hi,
    my question is, whether the Kindle DX 1rst generation device can handle the Photoshop PDF format. My other question is, how can I upload an own created PDF to the device, if I don’t have any internet connection and I live outside of the US.
    Thanks!

    • Not sure what you mean by photoshop PDF. If you link to such a file can test it and let you know. If it’s PDF format it should work.

      You have to use a USB cable and connect your Kindle to your PC. Then drag the PDF file to the Documents folder on your Kindle.

      If your Kindle is D: drive then it will be D:\documents\ .

      Then the PDF will show up on your Kindle’s home page.

  29. Thanks! By Photoshop PDF I meant a pixelgraphics image file, which was saved in Adobe Photoshop (180 dpi, grayscale, 8 bit) as a document, which has the *.pdf extension and one can open with a PDF reader, like Acrobat.

    • yes, that’ll work. If you can open it with a PDF reader it almost always works on Kindle.

      • I would like to save a library of my architectural details drawings to Kindle DX
        – from your conversation with Photoshop user I understand that for optimum readibility I can save them as pdf (180 dpi, grayscale, 8 bit) – but what is KIndle DX page size ? – display size in milimeters ?

      • Kindle DX page size? I’m at a loss. The screen size is 9.7″.

  30. Great, thanks. I have an other question as well. Can the Kindle DX cope with all the UTF-8 characters? I mean, if I would convert some MSWord document, which have German, French and Central-European characters with accent to PDF, would they correctly displayed? Or you need to use third-party applications, like Calibre to read other character sets?

    • Embedded fonts in PDFs work perfectly. They worked on the Kindle 2 when I tried with Chinese embedded fonts. If you have an example I’ll test it out for you on whichever Kindle DX you’re thinking of buying.

  31. i have just bought kindle dx,and dragged on it pdf file,but the surprise that images doesn’t appear ,white area so i contact amazone and they act asif they don’t know how to solve it…

  32. Adobe Acrobat Document (.pdf) ,but graphs and table dissapear

    • I haven’t had any problems with PDF files.

      Are these PDF files scanned images, do they have some sort of DRM or protection. Where did you get them from?

      All the PDFs people have asked me to try have worked well. So there’s a pretty high chance there’s something wrong with the PDFs you are using i.e. something that makes it very hard for the Kindle’s PDF viewer to render them properly even though it can render other PDFs properly.

      Are there embedded fonts in these PDFs? arabic language? something else?

  33. I don’t know if this has already been asked. I have a lot of books in PDF format on my PC. Kindle sounds like the ideal thing for me – I just want to read the books, I’m not particularly interested in the online features. Which KIndle should I get or is Kindle not suitable for what I want, i.e. I just want to read the PDF books I have rather than print them.

    • Bob, Kindle can handle PDF just fine. You might have to use landscape mode to get larger print or use zoom if the print is particularly small.
      It’s also possible to pre-edit the PDF to have larger font that suits your ideal font size on the Kindle. Since the Kindle has a 6″ screen you need PDFs with larger font size than what would be readable on an A4 sheet of paper.

  34. switch11, thanks for the info. So the Kindle Wi-Fi would be OK for me or do I need to get the DX ?
    (and why do I keep typing “kundle”?)

  35. Ok, Kindle DX graphite have not “native” support PDF,

    can not open files password protection.

    Kindle 3 on 6″ yes, can do that and notes, search dic words,…

    [Link removed]

  36. Thanks to your excellent review I have been inspired to buy the Kindle Wi-Fi – and saved $50 by not bothering with the 3G as you suggested. It should arrive on my (Australian) doorstep in the next couple of days – can’t wait ! Thanks again for the info – Cheers

  37. Hi,
    I am in INdia and if I order Kindle from here, the cost would be almost double. Can someone buy it at USA and bring along here in India for my use? will it be usable that way?

    Kindly also explain me How can I get my all PDF files converted into Kindle format FREELY thru’ Amazon? (Or by any other way?)

    • Yes, someone can buy it for you and bring it along. You’ll have to buy a plug adapter – just a physical one. It can take the voltage in india but the plug won’t fit.

      To convert PDF files to Kindle format just use Calibre software.

  38. THANK YOU!
    I was so frustrated that I couldn’t add notes or use text-to-speech with pdfs. Those were the main things I wanted to do with my kindle.
    You have saved the day!

  39. Hello,

    Can u tell me whether Kindle format supports indian languages including Sanskrit?

    Thanks

    • Sanskrit is not supported. The language support does not extend to languages that don’t use the English alphabet.

      Search for ‘Duokan’ and ‘Kindle unicode font hack’ to check whether Indian languages are supported.

      PDF is supported and encoded fonts in PDF are supported. That’s another option.

      Finally, since DRMed ePub is not supported you might want to check whether the books you would buy in Indian Languages would come with ePub+DRM or not.

  40. hi
    Can Kandle DX show PDF with arabic font?

  41. Thank you,
    I want to ask about the following;
    1. Can I listen to music while I read on Kindle DX?
    2. Do Kindle DX have english-arabic dictionary?
    3. Is there text-to-speach feature in swedish?
    4. Can I add comments and highlighting a sentenceon on PDF file?

    Thank you for replay

  42. Hello. Thank you for the article. I want to buy an ereader for reading technical books. Generally they are letter sized PDFs. Most of the scanned.

    Would you recommend the Kindle DX?

    • I would recommend waiting a few months to see if they release a new Kindle DX. If you can’t wait then Kindle DX is a good choice for large PDFs. Also look out for cut-price sales on other large screen eReaders. Sometimes they are available at very low prices – If you just want to read technical PDFs then they are a good choice.

  43. hi – “diagonal” size is dimension read from corner to corner – it is often used in advertising (as it is LONGER then width or length) – I was after actual viewing screen dimension – one site states that Kindle DX screen size is 1200×824 (with viewable area 1022×744 only?) – that means that optimum could be 150dpi – and that I will be either loosing 1/4″ from my A4 scans – or Kindle DX will reduce size to fit width

    so, sadly Kindle DX may not be suitable for what I want to archive

    http://www.teleread.com/ebooks/kindle-dx-hands-on-489-is-worth-it-if-you-value-a-large-screen-and-amazons-large-book-collection/

    “… The actual dimensions of the Kindle DX display screen (5 3/8″ x 7 7/8″, 9.7″ on the diagonal) are a tiny bit smaller than the standard 6″ x 9″ of most trade paperbacks and allow for a printable page that is equal to the printable page in a standard hardcover book whose exterior dimensions are 6 1/4″ x 9 7/16″…”

    “… The Kindle DX does not support “zoom,” “pan,” or magnification for PDF files, so if the display size (about 70% the size of an 8×11 sheet) is too small, you are stuck. Based on my first impressions I’m not optimistic that the DX will be much a solution for technical PDFs, PDFs with charts, etc…”

    • You can view them in landscape mode and then they will be fine.

      Kindle DX is decent for PDFs. I would wait a few days to see what Amazon announces tomorrow.

      However, $379 for Kindle DX is too much. You could get a $114 Kindle WiFi and in landscape mode it might do as a decent PDF reader. Or see if Nook Color 2 or the new Kindle Table work with their 7″ screens.

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