How To Remove Ads From Your Kindle Touch, Keyboard, or Kindle 4

If you got a new Kindle for the holidays, chances are it came with Amazon’s Special Offers, which are ads that appear on the screen when the device is sleeping. The only Kindle product that doesn’t have a Special Offers component is the Kindle Fire. But if you have a new Kindle Touch, Kindle Keyboard, or Kindle 4 (3G or Wi-Fi) you’ve probably noticed the ads by now.

Chances are the person who gifted you the eReader didn’t know that they were also gifting you the pleasure of advertising. Amazon is being aggressive with the Special Offers versions. Not only do they advertise the lower prices as the default price, but Kindles sold in physical retail locations are all Special Offers enabled.

Consumers can buy ad-free Kindles from Amazon’s website. If you received one as a gift, there is a way to get rid of these ads. Unfortunately, it requires paying extra money unless you’re comfortable doing a little hacking.

The two e-ink Kindles

The Touch is on the left and the Kindle 4 on the right

To remove the ads by paying, sign in to your account from your browser and go to Manage Your Kindle. In the column on the left side under “Your Kindle Account” click Manage Your Devices.

You’ll see a list of registered devices plus columns for Type, Actions, and Special Offers. Click Edit under Special Offers to begin the process of unsubscribing.

Amazon will charge you the difference between the Special Offers price and the regular price ($30 – $50) to turn the ads off.

Once you’ve completed the process, turn on your Kindle’s Wi-Fi or 3G and sync it with Amazon’s servers (refreshing the library will start this process). Once it syncs, Amazon will turn off the Special Offers and you’ll have an ad-free Kindle.

The process is simple and quick, but I’m sure plenty of people got an unpleasant shock when they discovered that their gift contained caveats. While some will choose to ignore the ads or do so because they can’t afford to pay to get rid of them, others have an unexpected extra holiday expense.

If you’re comfortable with engaging in some hacking, an industrious developer named Pat Hartl has figured out a way to remove the ads using a security flaw in the Kindle Touch that allows users to root the device with an MP3 file. No hacking skills required. Do note, however, that this may not work with the Kindle Keyboard or Kindle 4.

The first part of the post on his site explains how to jailbreak then use some Linux commands to get rid of the ads. But if you scroll down to the bottom you’ll see that Hartl found a way to make it far easier.

  • First, create a new screensaver image to replace the ads. It needs to be 600 x 800 pixels and in PNG format. The Paint program that comes with Windows can save in this file format. Name the file screensaver.png.
    • You can choose a picture, a drawing, anything you wish. It doesn’t have to be grayscale, but it will help you see how it will eventually look if you convert it to grayscale before saving.
  • Click here to download Pat Hartl’s .zip file containing all the necessary components. Unzip it into a folder where you’ll be able to easily find it again (I usually create a special folder on my desktop). Replace the screensaver.png he includes in his zip file with the one you created.
  • Connect your Kindle to your computer with the USB cord, then copy all the files, including the Music folder, to the top folder of your Kindle.
  • Go to the MP3 player (Menu > Experimental > MP3 Player) and tap the track Press To Toggle Ads! Your device should reboot without ads and using the screensaver you created.

To turn the ads back on, just go back to the MP3 player and tap the track again. It will automatically reverse itself.

As with any sort of jailbreaking/hacking, there are some caveats. First, this may void your warranty with Amazon, which means if you need support for your Kindle or a replacement, you could be out of luck. Second, this hack is new, so there’s no way of knowing if Amazon will be able to tell if you’ve turned off the ads. It’s possible that they can tell. Since the Special Offers pricing is a subsidy, Amazon may charge you the extra money if they find you out, anyway. Last, this hack also breaks the Kindle’s ability to get software updates from Amazon.

Those are your two choices: pay to get rid of the ads and ensure that your warranty stays intact or get rid of them for free and possibly make Amazon angry. I know some people are mad enough about the situation to choose the latter.