6 Tips to Improve Your Amazon Fire TV Experience
Today, we’re talking about some tips and tricks to make your Fire TV awesome. It’s already pretty awesome, but whether it’s a Fire Stick or a Fire TV, we’re going to cover a few things that you can do to get close to its full potential.
In this video, a couple of notes real quick: I am going to mention Alexa a few times, so if you’re watching it next to your Echo or your Echo Dot, just a heads-up there. The other thing I’m not going to do is cover any content stuff. When I talk about sideloading apps, I’m not going to tell you which apps to sideload, which content to go get. That’s a whole other video.
For now, let’s just talk about the device and a few tips and tricks on that Fire Stick.
So let’s dive in. First things first, before you do any of this, you need to make sure that your software is up to date.
I’m going to go to my settings menu and down to My Fire TV. If you go into About, and check for updates, then you can check it manually, and it’ll tell you either your Fire TV is up to date or there’s an update found.
This should be happening automatically, but it always pays to double check if you’re about to do some major change on your Fire TV or your Fire Stick.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the first tip.
Tip 1: Operating the Fire TV quick menu
This one is simple. We’re going to kind of go in order from most to least simple. For this one, if we’re watching some content somewhere–okay, so say I’m watching episode one of Alias–I’m going to long hold the home button and that gives me a quick menu.
Now you don’t have to go all the way back to the home menu and then search for what you want if it’s right here. You can go to your apps; you can put it to sleep. You can do screen mirroring or go to your Settings.
Now, one other trick on this that only works as far as I can tell with the apps menu–if you go in here to your apps menu, and you’re looking around, and you change your mind: “No, you know what? I really do want to watch Alias.” Then you could just hit the back button from here, and it will take you right back to your content. Pretty convenient that way.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way if you go to the Settings menu. If I go in here to change some setting or another, and I hit the back button, it takes me back to the home page. Still, it’s nice to be able to get to those places really quickly.
Tip 2: Turn off autoplay previews on Fire TV
The next tip is turning off your autoplay previews. On that home screen, if I scroll down to the featured content here, it’s going to play a video and give me audio of something that they want me to watch. As I scroll through, it’s going to do that for all of these.
Well, if you don’t like that, you can turn it off. Again, we’re going to go up here to our Settings to turn this off. I’ll go down to Preferences and Featured content.
Now there’s a couple of things you can do here. If you simply turn off video autoplay, then you won’t get anything there. But if you don’t mind the video–you just don’t want the sound to come and blow your ears out–then you can keep that on and turn off the audio autoplay, and then you’ll just get the video. Either way, you do you.
Tip 3: Clear voice search history on Fire TV
The third tip–actually we’re going to venture outside of our Fire Stick for this one. This one is about deleting your voice search recordings.
See, on this remote, I’ve got a microphone up here, and I can do voice commands and tell it to search for whatever movie or show I want to watch, and it’ll pull that up there. Well, your Alexa saves all of that. Whether it’s on your Fire TV or on your Echo Dot or whatever, all of those get saved. Now they save that for, in large part, to get to know your voice better, to better the AI and the recommendations, the algorithms and all that stuff.
But if you’re more concerned about privacy than you are about the performance of that sort of thing, then you may want to delete that. Well, you can do that. You just have to go off of your Fire TV and into your mobile app.
Well, if you go to your Alexa app and then go to the Settings, go to Alexa privacy and then manage your Alexa data. There’s a couple of things you can do here. You can set it to automatically delete your recordings, your voice recordings, after three or 18 months. Yeah, you can do that, and it’ll wipe those clean after those time periods. But if you want to do it a little bit more often, there is one way you can go.
Fire TV doesn’t really want you to see this–this is why this is kind of a hidden tip or trick. If you go to manage your voice recordings, they’ve kind of hidden this little hyperlink. You can listen to and delete your voice history here. Easy to miss. But in this menu, you can enable deletion by voice. And if you enable that, then you can tell Alexa to delete everything I said today.
And if you do that, then it should delete all of those across your account, not just your device. That would include your Fire TV, your Echo, your Echo Dot, whatever the case may be. So if privacy is a big concern for you, you should know about that.
Tip 4: Set up bluetooth headphones with Fire TV
All right, next tip is adding Bluetooth headphones for private listening. We’re going to go back to our Settings menu again. We’re kind of living there these days.
Go down to your Settings menu and controllers and Bluetooth devices is where you want to go. In this case, you don’t see anything about headphones here, you go down to other Bluetooth devices.
Okay and let’s say I’ve got a little Bluetooth headphones, a pair of headphones like this. I can put this in, turn that on and then when I click on other Bluetooth devices and add Bluetooth devices, it should show up in that menu. And when we add Bluetooth devices, there we go there. There those headphones show up so now everything that happens on the TV will actually go through my headphones instead of through the TV’s audio.
It’s going to be great if you watch TV late at night, live in a small apartment, something like that, and you want to keep it quiet. Bluetooth headphones are going to let you do that.
Tip 5: Set up bluetooth game controller with Fire TV
Next up, we’re going to stay there–we’re going to stay in controllers and Bluetooth devices because you should know you can actually add a Bluetooth controller for games.
You can add a lot of Bluetooth stuff, honestly. You can go in and add keyboards if you’re using it as a web browser or whatever. You can add a lot of different devices. But if you go into game controllers, there you can add a lot of different types of controllers.
I’ve got the PlayStation 4 DualShock 4. You can actually add that to your Amazon device. And as long as there’s no trouble, it should work to control games on your Fire TV. And there are a lot of Bluetooth controllers out there.
Amazon actually sells some that are designed just for the Fire Stick or for the Fire TV, so I will throw some links to those in the description below if you’re interested in finding a Bluetooth controller that will work.
But once you do this, you can download games that are a little bit more complex. There are games that just use the little Amazon Fire TV remote, but they’re very simple. They’re not, I would argue, all that fun. But if you add a Bluetooth controller, then you’re kind of opening up a world of games there.
Tip 6: How do I sideload apps on the Fire TV?
Similarly, for the last tip, let’s talk about opening doors a little bit, especially when it comes to games but other stuff as well. It pays to learn how to sideload apps.
This is something that I get all the time in the comments: anytime I talk about the Fire Stick or the Fire TVs, the ability to side load apps onto that Fire Stick. Now first, I’ll tell you how to do it, and then I’ll tell you why you might do it. If I go to Settings and I can go down and yeah, I promise I’m going to tell you what side load means. Don’t worry.
If I go to My Fire TV and go to developer options where it says apps from unknown sources, I need to turn that on.
What sideloading does is it allows you to add third party apps that are not available in the normal app store. If I go here, yeah, I can find games. I can find apps. I can find content. It’s all over the place, but there are apps that you can use that are not found in this menu.
Now, everything you find here, Amazon goes through, and they scrub it and make sure that it’s not going to give you a virus or something. And that is a risk you’re going to be taking when you start sideloading. But what sideloading does allow you to do is add apps, maybe different web browsers, or Kodi, the free media player, that’s not available on here–or the one that I like the most, game emulators.
So if you get a Bluetooth controller plus some game emulators, you can use your PlayStation 4 controller to start playing classic NES games or whatever. Classic arcade games that you can find on other apps not available here in the Fire TV store.
All right. Because sideloading does get a little bit riskier, I’m going to leave it to you to go ahead and Google which apps to go ahead and download. That’ll be up to you, but just know that it is a possibility, and it does open a lot of doors for you.
That’s a wrap
There you have it, a few Fire TV tips and tricks to help you on the road to, again, getting it a little bit closer to its full potential. But this just scratches the surface, and these are some of the more common ones out there.
If you know of any other tips and tricks that you’d like to share, hit the comments below. Let me know–let us all know. And maybe I’ll do an advanced version of this a little bit later with some of the bells and whistles that are really hard to get to.