How to Use the Kindle for Free Email on the Go

Take advantage of Kindle's free 3G/4G for email

Child with an e-reader

EThamPhoto / Getty Images

If you don't have your smartphone handy and need to access your email on the go, you have a few choices. An iPad or a laptop can be bulky and if you need access outside of free Wi-Fi zones, they require investing in a data plan through a telecommunication company. If you need occasional email access and don't need to download and read attachments, use a Kindle. Not the new Kindle Fire tablets but the older 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 load the experimental browser. Although it occupies a gray area because it's not the intended use of buying or downloading Kindle books from, the web browser is provided by Amazon (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, as long as you are within the U.S. and don't download attachments. Attachments incur a Whispernet transfer fee and may not be readable on the device.

Launch the Browser

For the current generation down to the 4th generation Kindle:

  1. Enable Wireless. Go to Settings > All Settings > Wireless, then turn off the Airplane Mode toggle switch.

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

  2. Select Home.

  3. Go to the menu (the three vertical dots), then select Experimental Browser.

    Airplane Mode off, Experimental Browser button in Menu on Kindle

For 3rd to 1st Generation Kindles

  1. Press the Menu button.

  2. Use the navigational button to select Turn Wireless On.

  3. Press Menu, then select Experimental.

    Turn Wireless On, Experimental links on Kindle
  4. In the Basic Web section, select launch browser.

    Launch browser near Basic Web on Kindle

After each selection, the E Ink display has to redraw, making rendering pages slow. Outside of those limitations, it works remarkably well. If you use a ​POP mail client, the Kindle isn't exactly set up to run third-party software, but if you forward email to a web client, such as Gmail, temporarily, you can 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 Gmail. Because Kindle lacks a mouse, either use your finger or pointer. On older Kindles, use the navigation button to move the cursor to an active element on the display (such as the URL bar or Username). When you are in an editable element, the cursor changes to a pointing finger. At this point, you can use the Kindle keypad or digital keyboard to enter information.​

Bookmarking Saves Time (For Next Time)

While at the login screen, go to the menu (the three vertical dots) and select Bookmark this Page. On 3rd generation and older kindles, select Menu > Bookmark This Page. The next time you log in to your email on the Kindle, you don't have to enter the site's URL.

Where's @ At?

On Kindles that are older than the 4th generation (have physical keyboards), it's difficult to find 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, the Kindle experimental web browser does a good job of rendering the layout, at least with Gmail and Yahoo Mail. If the elements are too small for easy navigation, zoom in or out using your fingers the same way as reading an ebook.

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

You Can Also Send Email

Outside of the restriction on attachments, you can send email from a Kindle. Use your finger to type or the navigation button to move the cursor to each box (until the icon becomes a pointing finger), then type away.

You may not want to fire off a dozen emails in a row, but given the cost (which is nothing), it's a nice perk to have for occasional email access on the go.