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How to Customize Your Kindle Fire's Background without Rooting.


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Initial post: Nov 25, 2011 5:03:25 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jun 27, 2013 1:55:25 PM PDT
THESE INSTRUCTIONS WILL NOT WORK WITH THE KINDLE FIRE HD. THESE INSTRUCTIONS ARE MEANT FOR THE ORIGINAL KINDLE FIRE. PLEASE DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS WITH A KINDLE FIRE HD OR ANY OTHER KINDLE FIRE ASIDE FROM THE ORIGINAL MODEL. YOU WILL NOT HARM YOUR KINDLE FIRE HD/NEWER MODEL BUT IT WON'T WORK AND WILL BE A WASTE OF TIME.

Hello all. If you are like me and demand customization from your digital products then you must have wondered how to change the Lock Screen background, and maybe the interface, to look more like an Android device on your Kindle Fire. I shall give you the secrets to both without the need to root. Also note that this is an epically long post but fast and simple when actually setting it up.

Note: Because I am not rooting the device, there is a caveat. You are not actually replacing the background images but overlapping them. Depending on what settings you use the stock images may pop up when you unlock your Fire. More details below.

What you need:
1. ES File Explorer from the Amazon App store.
2. The following APKs, you can us the following link of your PC to download:

For the ORIGINAL KINDLE FIRE ONLY. Will NOT work with Kindle Fire HD or Kindle Fire 8.9:
http://www.theshadowsofchaos.com/downloads/Kindle%20Fire%20Original.zip

3. Some sort of image editing software (I use Photoshop but Gimp works and, if you're desperate, then MS Paint can work)

4. A computer and Micro-B USB Cable to connect the Fire to your Computer. (only if you are downloading from your PC/not emailing background pictures to yourself)

Step 1: Download and Install ES File Explorer from the Amazon APP Store. Without this App or another File Explorer/Manager you will be unable to run the APKs.

Step 2: Enable the Installation of Unknown APKs. Tap the settings at the top of your device and hit the "More" icon. Then go into "Device" and turn "Allow Installation of Applications" on.

Step 3: Plug your Kindle Fire into your PC and unzip the APK zip file. Inside are three APKs. You really only need one to change the Lock Screen image and that is tomaware.android.rotatingwallpaper file. The GO Launcher EX allows you to have an Android style interface which I will go over later. The last APK is Mobo Player. It's a media player I thought I might include for people who want to play more than certain types of avi files. I will go over Mobo Player in the Extra Section.

Place the APKs in an easy folder. I used the "download" folder.

Step 5: Install the APKs. If you only want to change the Lock Screen Background then only install the rotating wallpaper APK. Go into your ES File Explorer App and navigate to the folder you put the APKs in. You can run the APKs by tapping on them. It will ask you if you want to install the file. My Fire is doing well so there isn't a danger of killing your Fire, don't worry.

Congratulations, you've successfully installed the software required to change the Lock Screen and, if you decide to use GO Launcher EX, the main wallpaper. Now we need images for backgrounds. You will notice there was an image file in the ZIP file you downloaded. This image contains the boundaries for a Background image for Rotating Wallpaper. Here are the requirements: The image MUST be 1024x1024. The red lines indicate the out of bounds. Everything up to the outer edge of the red lines will show, beyond that will not show. The square section will always show. If you have an image editing software that allows for layers then you can use this image as a template to orient any images you want to use as wallpaper. If you are using Photoshop or Gimp then just put the included image in a layer above the image you want as a wallpaper and lower the opacity of the outline image an edit the desired image so you are happy with what will show. There are many Gimp and Photoshop tutorials rampant across Youtube already so take a look if you want to learn. After you have finished making your wallpaper/s, put it/them on your Kindle in the Pictures folder. I would even create a new folder called Wallpapers so you can keep any other photos/pictures separate.

Another tool you can use to resize or crop an image to 1024x1024 is http://www.online-image-editor.com/ which allows you to upload a picture and edit it before downloading the edited file. I recommend this for people who are wary of using a program like Photoshop or are not so tech savvy. The two controls you use are "Resize" and "Crop". Uploading a photo will give the exact size of the photo when you click Resize. I suggest taking the lowest of the two numbers down to 1024. If the picture is smaller than 1024x1024 then I suggest finding a higher resolution version of it but you can resize it to go up but it may become pixelated. Most images are not perfect squares so you may need to crop the image to become a square. First, if you adjusted the size via the Resize button, hit Apply before clicking on the Crop button or you will have to go back and redo the Resize. After you have applied any changes click on the Crop button. A red lined box will appear along with different numbers in the panel. Input 1024 into both "Width" and "Height" boxes. You can then move the box around to the desired location. After you are satisfied with where you want to crop hit Apply and it will crop it. Then you select "Save" and there you go, a cropped image specifically for your Kindle Fire.

Step 6: Now we need to configure Rotating Wallpaper. When you first open Rotating Wallpaper you will want to go into the Settings button. You want to turn "Delay on Sleep" and set the Rotate Interval. The Rotate Interval is what changes the wallpaper. This is where the overlapping occurs that I mentioned earlier. You see, when you hit the sleep button or let the Fire go into sleep, it automatically resets the default wallpaper. Rotating Wallpaper will force it out of the default after the interval time hits from when you put it to sleep. If you set it at 5 Minutes then, after you put it to sleep and the default wallpaper is set, Rotating Wallpaper will change the background image after 5 Minutes. Depending on how long you let your Fire sleep will determine how long you want to set the interval. I set mine at 1 Minute. I would suggest using 1 Minutes or 5 Minutes. Now you need to create a set. Click the "Add Set" at the bottom of the screen and name it. It will then bring you into a new set of options. You can use either "Add Folder" if you want multiple backgrounds changing every so often or "Add File" if you just want one background image at a time. You can create as many sets as you want and put as many or as little images per set as you want. If you are planning on using multiple images then I would suggest the 5 Minute Interval unless you put your Fire to sleep only to wake it up before 5 minutes are up. The last setting to think about is "Delay on Sleep". Others (thanks John N. Sims Jr.) have found it works best when this setting is off.

If you have only one wallpaper you would like to use at a time then I would suggest creating a set just for that wallpaper then setting the Interval time for 1 Minute. There is no transition animation if you have only one wallpaper and it will replace the stock images on the Lock Screen after 1 minute of putting it to sleep.

Finish:
Ta Da! You have successfully made it so you have a custom wallpaper Lock Screen. The rest of this post is for those who want a more Android feel on the Fire. Note: You can set a Theme from GO Launcher but the wallpaper will not stick. Rotating Wallpaper and the Fire's default wallpaper override it every time. So, for Themes, pick a style of icons you like and not the wall paper.

*Note: you can theoretically use any UI except the original Fire UI but Rotating Wallpaper is absolutely required as it is the only program I have found that does override the original images persistently i.e. you don't have to change it back every time you turn on your Fire. GO Launcher is not "required" but a similar UI is.

Installing an Android style User Interface:
To make a more Android feel, you need to install GO Launcher EX. The default interface is an App called Launcher. In order to break free of the dull bookshelves and Carousal, you need to set GO Launcher as the default Launcher. This is simple. After you install GO Launcher from ES File Explorer just run it then hit the "Home" icon on the bottom of your Fire like normal. It will bring up a screen that asks you which App you would like to use as the default launcher and gives you "Launcher" and "GO Launcher EX". Simply select GO Launcher EX and Voila! Now when you hit the "Home" button it will bring you back into EX Launcher. Now for setup. GO Launcher has annoying defaults such as a 4x4 grid for apps. Tap on the "Settings" Icon (the list looking thing at the bottom next to the back icon) and then tap on Preferences. The first order of business is to make the App grid a little larger. Under "Screen Settings" are a few options, the one we are looking for is the second one down. "Grid Size" gives you the option to expand how many Apps you have per page. I set mine to 6x6 under "Custom Grids" Some people like larger App icons so play around with the sizes. The next thing we need to change is the "App Drawer" Grid size. The App Drawer contains every App on your device and it is also defaulted at 4x4. App Drawer settings are available from the main Settings menu. I set my App Drawer for 5x5. Play around. Next go into the "Operations Settings and make sure "Screen Rotation" is checked. Last go under "Advanced Settings" and make sure "Prevent Force Close" is turned on. Optional, you can turn on "High Quality Drawing" as well. Why not make use of that shiny, 1Ghz Dual-Core processor?

You can customize GO Launcher by holding down on a blank spot on the main screen and pick App, Widget or GO Widget to add to the screen as a shortcut. If you scroll your finger up, you go into an overview of the screens you have and can add more if you want. You can also customize the five launcher keys at the bottom by holding down your finger on one of them. You can change the shortcut to any App and you can change the icon after you pick an app. For example, my far left icon is "Email". I pick my Email app then I changed the Icon to fit the theme by tapping on "Choose Icon -> Theme's Icon. You can also scroll through the launch pad for up to fifteen shortcuts. Just hold your finger over the launch pad and scroll your finger across it to change the active set. Simple, right?

You can still access all the Amazon Media Apps from GO Launcher. Just add them to any page you have. I even added the "Launcher" app just in case I ever need to access the bookshelf interface quickly because finding your Kindle books is easier in the Launcher interface. You can get out of the Launcher interface by clicking the "Home" icon. Best part, unlike Rooting, Amazon Video Streaming services work just fine :D

Edit: I do need to make an amendment to this guide. I would suggest the wallpaper you use goes all the way to the edge of the entire 1024x1024 area. The red lines are for GO Launcher EX boundaries. I did not realize till after. For the Lock Screen, you need to add about fifty pixels to each side for it to completely cover the entire screen.

Thank you everyone who has contributed throughout this thread and those who continue to help others. Yes, I'm talking about you Michael E. Burk.

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 11:08:23 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 28, 2011 11:53:24 PM PST]

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 11:47:25 PM PST
actually, one question though. You mentioned that you kept the default "launcher" app as a shortcut, b/c that's an easier way to access books.

Have you found another way to pull up your books/newstand/docs with golauncher installed? I can easily pull up videos, music and apps on my device, as well as the app store, by just adding the corresponding amazon widgets. but for some reason, adding the "kindle" app that would, theoretically, pull up books, does nothing. any idea why that is? or any workarounds besides running the 'launcher" app?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2011 12:03:04 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2011 12:22:49 AM PST
I have not found a way. If the Kindle app is running while you are in the GO Launcher, you can use the shortcut to open the book you had open at the time you returned to the home screen. The only other way I can see working is finding an APK for the normal Kindle App used on phones etc. and use that exclusively for how you access books/magazines. I'll stick to keeping the launcher since it allows me to see what's on the could etc. Unfortunately shortcuts don't work with GO Launcher. I believe the links to the books and the magazines are merely shortcut links that lead directly to the file which then starts up the Kindle app. I was unable to open them otherwise and I tried a few methods. Sorry. Maybe someone else will figure it out but I wouldn't get too many hopes up. For now, we must go through the Launcher or download the APK for the Android Kindle App. I have just tested the Android Kindle App. It works but it will ask you to replace the default Kindle App (it doesn't seem to) and make sure you remove the books on your device so you don't have doubles taking up space. I'll stick to the default as it seems to work a bit better. Some of the options on the Android App don't work properly. You can get the APK here if you wish for it: http://androiddev.orkitra.com/download/apps/?appid=7491933281063044361&download=com.amazon.kindle_v3.2.0.35

Posted on Nov 28, 2011 1:10:24 AM PST
I tried Go Launcher, and though I loved it at first, within a few minutes of playing around with it, I discovered I couldn't access any of my Kindle books outside of the book that I was currently reading. And then after a few more minutes of having Go Launcher installed, the Kindle app icon stopped working all together. I think I'm going to leave my Fire alone for the time being and just use it as Amazon intended.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2011 1:16:39 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2011 1:19:25 AM PST
@Bryan, you can still access the normal interface from GO Launcher as well. Just add "Launcher" as one of your icons. The Kindle Icon doesn't work because it is tied directly to the Launcher App. If you had it running at one point, clicked home and then clicked on the Kindle icon while Kindle is still running in the background then it takes you back to the book you were reading. If Kindle is not running then the icon does nothing. You need to select your books from the "Launcher" App or install the Android Market version of Kindle as stated by the above posts. The point of this post is to customize the layout as well as the background without overriding any of the default settings. In other word, we are still within how Amazon intended it to be used otherwise they would not let you load 3rd party apps so easily. You can check what apps you are running by going into the App Drawer (looks like four panes at the bottom of the interface) and press on "Running Applications". You can manage what apps are running as well as check how much memory you are using.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2011 11:52:49 PM PST
thanks! i tried the android app for kindle too, and it works, but you're right, the launcher is better. I did what you suggested and just had the launcher default to be on "books" and then just created a bookmark for it on my home screen. This works great! thank for all your instruction.

Posted on Dec 3, 2011 7:18:49 AM PST
is there a way to uninstall the apk file if I don't want it on my Kindle? such as, when I want to uninstall a program from my computer I go to control panel etc...is there a way to do that on the Fire? I'm hesitant that if I download something I don't like on the fire directly, that I won't be able to remove it.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2011 5:28:49 PM PST
Of course, if you are talking about GO Launcher then first launch the "Launcher" app so you are back in Amazon's interface with the bookshelves. Tap on the Apps section at the top and scroll until you see GO Launcher and hold your finger over it until you see a short list pop up above it. One of them is "Remove from Device". If you are talking about any other APK file then you can do the same as above or hold your finger over the App shortcut on GO Launcher and it should give you four options. Uninstall is one of them.

Posted on Dec 4, 2011 6:27:50 AM PST
S. Shapiro says:
second question...if I'm on the internet and find a photo that I like, I hold down the image and my option is to save file or set as wallpaper...ok. Where does that

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2011 7:33:41 AM PST
You must use Rotating Wallpaper for the image to stick. If you use the default option of setting the wallpaper then it will revert back to the Amazon default when it goes into sleep mode. All downloads from the web are stored in the "downloads" folder. You need to move it from the "downloads" folder into the "Pictures" folder. Remember, the image will look odd if it isn't 1024x1024. You can move the file by either using ES Folder Explorer or connect the Kindle to your computer and move it from there.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 5, 2011 10:06:26 PM PST
Greg Perrin says:
Thanks Kellan! I feel the same way you do about customizing. This is exactly what I wanted, especially not rooting. Got it all dialed in and love my device. Launcher on the home screen is perfect. I installed Dropbox and use it to move everything back and forth.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2011 2:20:28 PM PST
KJ says:
Thanks, Everything works great except the wallpaper. Did you ever create a how-to Youtube video? If so what is the link?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2011 2:22:41 PM PST
KJ says:
How did you install dropbox app?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2011 5:18:45 PM PST
@ Kavon: Drop Box is available at the Drop Box site as an APK. https://www.dropbox.com/android

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2011 5:26:21 PM PST
I have yet to make a video. Busy with the end of the University semester. I have seen a few people do it without problem. Have you installed Rotating Wallpaper and have you set it up to the settings I described above and have a properly sized picture? I assume you installed GO Launcher. If you are trying to set wallpaper using either GO Launcher or anything other than Rotating Wallpaper then it will not work. Also note that after you press the power button to put the device to sleep then you must wait for as long as you set the Rotating Wallpaper before it will switch back to your custom wallpaper. I recommended 1 or 5 minutes depending on how many images you want to use. Let me know where you are on the steps and I can help you from there.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2011 6:20:10 PM PST
Greg Perrin says:
Like Kellan said, downloaded it. Then I emailed it to myself. Then I got whatever apk I needed on the pc, put it in dropbox and grabbed it from there on the kindle. Probably easier to use the usb cable. The file explorer is really nice.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2011 9:40:35 PM PST
KJ says:
Thanks for your response, I am finishing up the semester as well. I received an error message after installing rotating wallpaper that never allowed me to open the program. I installed the other APKs using USB from my macbook pro & they seem to work fine however the install for rotating wallpaper never went correctly. I have all the pics edited from photoshop & ready to go.
Please advise if you know how to troubleshoot.

Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 7, 2011 11:05:14 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 7, 2011 11:08:14 PM PST
Sounds like a corrupted APK file. Which download link did you use? Try uninstalling Rotating Wallpaper and use the link below instead. Also try downloading it directly to the Kindle as well. Sometimes Macs can inadvertently transfer things oddly. I have it happen all the time with .docx and .7z files:
http://androiddev.orkitra.com/download/apps/?appid=-68207421329780891&download=com.tomaware.android.rotatingwallpaper_v1.6

If that doesn't work then the only other thing I can think of is something is corrupted on your Kindle Fire or something happens during the transfer process. I just uninstalled and reformatted my Fire and was able to run the program just fine. I also wonder if it might be the process in which you install the APK's. Sounds silly, I know, but I've seen stranger things happen. By process I mean order. Try uninstalling and reinstalling the files in a different order. After that, I can only guess. Unfortunately the other options are your Kindle Fire has different coding somewhere in it that the rest I've seen so far don't have, critical data isn't installing correctly or something I could never guess at. Hmm, well try the standard debugging methods. I cannot be as much help for specific hardware/software compatibility without the device in my hands. Sorry I cannot give you better advice.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 12, 2011 5:17:53 PM PST
Bob Areddy says:
Not a terrible option for a really big annoyance. Might be time to open up the SDK and write my own that just replaces the background image when the device wakes. That's really all that is needed.

Posted on Dec 13, 2011 11:56:27 AM PST
Splarty says:
For those of you who are concerned about setting "Go Launcher" as your default launcher and then not being able to access your kindle books, there is a solution. There is an app called "Home Switcher" that allows you to move back and forth between launchers (so you can set "Go Launcher" as your default, click on "Home Switcher" to select the "Kindle Launcher" when you want to access your books - this doesn't change your default launcher and so you will return to "Go Launcher" when you hit the 'Home' icon). That is only one extra 'click' to get to your books (and "Home Switcher" is free ... you add it the same way that you added "Go Launcher" ... i.e. download it on to your computer, put it in your 'Downloads' folder on your kindle (over USB) and then install it using the 'File Manager').

Hope that helps.

Posted on Dec 14, 2011 7:18:03 PM PST
Kellan - thanks!

So -- I've got the wallpaper set and it looks great with Go Launcher. It does not rotate when i shift from vertical to horizontal though?

I have a feeling I didn't quite handle step 5 correctly. I don't have the software (photoshop/gimp) you mentioned - i just saved a jpeg at dimensions1024x1024.

Are you able to point me in the right direction?

thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2011 7:34:50 PM PST
Hmm, technically it should rotate and show the square area but not the top area. It will not rotate in the lock screen. in GO Launcher it should be re-orienting itself to show the wide rectangular area instead of the vertical area. Is it resizing the wallpaper to keep it vertical with black bars on the sides or stretching it to fit to wide area? As long as it is set up properly and the image is 1024x1024 you shouldn't have a problem no matter the software you used to save it as a square. What program did you use? Also, test manually switching the background image. I would suggest adding the KindleFireOutline.jpg that came in the zip file to your wallpaper set folder (Kindle root/RotatingWallpaper/Sets/*setname*) to make sure which way it orients when you turn it. By going into Rotating Wallpaper and pressing on the "Rotate Now" button near the bottom you can manually shift it the KindleFireOutline.jpg before trying to rotate it horizontally. So, try the KindleFireOutline.jpg file and also tell me what you used to save the image file so I can determine if it is wallpaper size or something else. Rotating Wallpaper is very picky when it comes to the image size so I wouldn't be surprised if it had something to do with it but we must check to be sure.

Posted on Dec 14, 2011 7:47:49 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 14, 2011 7:49:45 PM PST
It does not re-size -- i simply see the picture sideways. Basically, i opened an image in ms paint and cropped it to size. I added the outline as you suggested --here's what i learned: All the photos will rotate when i have the wallpaper app open and i flip horizontal. But when i exit and just see the photos in go launcher they do not adjust when turned horizontal. Maybe some setting in GO?

Yep! found it. it was disabled in Go settings.

Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2011 7:54:42 PM PST
Glad you were able to get it working. Enjoy your Fire.
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