What Is an AZW File?

This is a Kindle eBook you can read from an Amazon Kindle or a compatible app

What to Know

  • An AZW file is a Kindle eBook. Open one with Calibre or the free Kindle app.
  • If it's already in your Amazon account, use Kindle Cloud Reader.
  • Calibre and Zamzar can convert from AZW to PDF, EPUB, MOBI, AZW3, etc.

This article describes what AZW files are, how to open one on your computer or other device, and how to get the eBook into a different format like PDF or EPUB so that you can read it on a specific device.

What Is an AZW File?

A file with the AZW file extension is a Kindle eBook Format file. It's based on the Mobipocket (MOBI) format and has usually been DRM protected to prevent copying.

These files are used on Amazon's Kindle eBook reader devices, so you'll likely see one when downloading eBooks from the internet or transferring Kindle books to your computer.

These files can store things like bookmarks, annotations, last read position, page numbers that correlate to the physical version of the book, and more.

Newer Kindles use KFX (KF10 format) or AZW3 (KF8 format) files for eBooks.

AZW files.

How to Open an AZW File

An AZW file you've downloaded can be opened with Amazon's free Kindle app for Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS. Kindle Previewer for Windows and Mac works, too. Another no-cost option for desktop users is Calibre or Sumatra PDF, but your book has to first be DRM-free.

Amazon's Send to Kindle for Email service lets you open some eBook formats on your Kindle devices and reading apps by first attaching it to an email and then sending it to your Amazon account. This is an easy method for reading books you've downloaded, but it doesn't work with AZW files anymore (this change happened in early 2023; here are the supported formats for this email service), so you'll need to convert the book first (see below).

Once the file is in your Amazon account, it can, of course, be opened with Amazon's Kindle eBook reader device. Opening one without a Kindle is also possible through Amazon's free Kindle Cloud Reader, which works from any web browser on any platform.

The Amazon Kindle also natively supports various image and eBook file formats. Which non-AZW formats yours supports depends on which Kindle you have (Kindle, Kindle Fire, Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Touch, Kindle Keyboard, etc.). You can find out more on the appropriate help page for your Kindle at Amazon's Kindle E-Reader Help page or in your device's manual.

How to Convert an AZW File

The easiest way to convert an AZW file to another eBook format (or convert another format to AZW) is with Calibre. It supports not only popular formats like EPUB, MOBI, PDF, AZW3, and DOCX, but also PDB, RTF, SNB, LIT, and others.

Please know, however, that most AZW files are copy protected by Amazon's DRM, meaning that Calibre won't be able to open or convert them. There are ways to remove the DRM protection from AZW files, but considering the legal (depending on where you live) and ethical concerns surrounding DRM removal, we're not comfortable linking you directly to any of these methods.

There are also some free document file converters you can use. Zamzar is our favorite because it works in a web browser, is very simple to use and understand, and supports converting to over a dozen eBook formats.

Screenshot of Zamzar's AZW conversion formats

You can't usually change a file extension (like AZW) to one that your computer recognizes and expect the newly renamed file to be usable. An actual file format conversion must take place in most cases. AZW files that are not DRM protected, however, may be renamed to .mobi or .prc and used wherever MOBI and PRC files are supported.

Still Can't Open the File?

A common reason a file doesn't open the way you think it should is if you're misreading the file extension, which is really easy to do when there are only three letters. The file extension is the best way to identify the format, so getting it wrong could mean that the file doesn't open in any of your installed programs.

A few examples of file extensions that are easy to confuse for AZW include AWW, AZ!, and AZZ. Each of those are actually in entirely different formats that have nothing to do with eBooks, so attempting to open one with the programs mentioned above will not be helpful.

If you have one of those files, you really have an Ability Write document, Vuze partial download file, or Cardfile database, respectively. If not, reread the file extension closely and start your research again so that you can find the right program to open or convert the file.

  • What readers support .AZW files?

    AZW is a proprietary Amazon format, like .MOBI, and unless converted will only work on Amazon devices, like the Kindle. Kindle products, including traditional e-readers and tablets like the Fire, all support Amazon's proprietary formats.

  • How do you print .AZW files?

    You can't print an .AZW file on its own and will first need to convert the file to a more standard format, like PDF. Once it's in a more compatible format, you can print the file like you would any other.

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