How to Use the Kindle for Free Email on the Go

Take Advantage of Kindle's Free 3G/4G for Email

Boy with an e-reader

EThamPhoto/Getty Images 

Don't have your smartphone handy and looking for a way to access your email on the go? There are a few choices: an iPad comes to mind, or a laptop. Unfortunately, both are rather bulky to be lugging around, they're expensive and if you need access outside of free Wi-Fi zones, they require investing in a data plan through a telecommunication company as well as an even more expensive data plan. If you only need occasional email access and you're not worried about downloading and reading attachments, there's a very reasonable alternative available from an unexpected source. A Kindle. However, we don't mean the new Kindle Fire tablets but the old-school E Ink models, including the early ones with buttons. Here are some quick pointers.

Time to Get Experimental

Make sure your Kindle is connected to a network (either 3G/4G or Wi-Fi), then you can load the experimental browser. Although it occupies a gray area because it's not the intended use of buying or downloading Kindle books from Amazon.com, the web browser is provided by Amazon (albeit as an experimental feature) and you can use it to browse the web and access web email without incurring charges. The experience is slow and painful compared to the regular methods, but it is free, at least so long as you are within the US and you don't try to download attachments (which incur a Whispernet transfer fee and may not be readable on the device anyway).

Launch the Browser

For current generation down to the 4th generation Kindle:

  1. Enable Wireless by going to Settings > All Settings > Wireless > Airplane Mode and toggle Off.

    You may need to got to Wi-Fi Networks and select an available network to use.

    Kindle screenshot of network settings.
  2. Select Home then select the 3 vertical dots.

    Kindle Home screen.
  3. Select Experimental Browser.

    Kindle Home screen.

For 3rd to 1st generation Kindles:

  1. Press the Menu button

  2. Using the navigational button, select Turn Wireless On.

    Kindle Gen 2 network settings.
  3. Press Menu again and move down and select Experimental.

    Kindle Gen 2 Menu.
  4. Under Basic Web, select launch browser.

    Kindle Gen 2 Experimental menu.

After each selection, the E Ink display has to redraw, making rendering pages very slow compared to what you might be used to; but outside of those limitations, it works remarkably well. If you use a ​POP mail client, the Kindle isn't exactly set up to run 3rd party software, but if you forward your email to a web client like Gmail temporarily, you'll be able to access it on the go through your Kindle

Go to Your Web Mail

Enter the URL of your webmail client of choice in the URL bar. In this case, it's Google's Gmail. Because Kindle lacks a mouse, you must either use your finger/pointer or on older Kindles, use the navigation button to move your cursor to an active element on the display (such as the URL bar or Username). When you are successfully within an editable element, the cursor will change to a pointing finger. At this point, you can use the Kindle's keypad/digital keyboard to enter information.​

Bookmarking Saves Time (For Next Time)

While you're at the login screen, select the 3 vertical dots > Bookmark this Page. 3rd generation and older kindles, select Menu then Bookmark This Page. That way, the next time you want to log in to your email on your Kindle, you don't have to go through the step of keying in the site's URL.

Where's "@" At?

On Kindles that are older than the 4th generation (have physical keyboards) you may have problems finding the @ symbol. To locate the @ sign, press the SYM button and use the navigational button to select the @ symbol from the pop-up menu.

Everything's There, Just Like on Your Computer

Once you log in to your ​webmail, Kindle's experimental web browser does a good job of rendering the layout, at least with Gmail and Yahoo Mail. If you find the elements too small for easy navigation, you can zoom in or out using your fingers the same way as reading an ebook.

On Kindles older than 4th generation, you may have problems loading some pages due to security issues.

You Can Also Send Email

Outside of the restriction on attachments, you can send email from your Kindle too. Remember that you must use your finger to type or the navigation button to move your cursor into each box (until the icon becomes a pointing finger), then type away. You may not want to be firing off a dozen in a row, but given the cost (which is nothing), it's a nice perk to have for occasional email access on the go.