What Is Kindle X-Ray And How To Use This Amazing Content Enhancement

Amazon Kindle X-Ray

Ever wish you could interactively explore a book or movie by character, place, topic or idea? You can. Amazon created a feature called X-Ray for the Kindle back in 2011 that allows you to interactively explore Kindle ebooks. The only problem is, most people don’t know about Kindle X-Ray or how to use it.

What Is Kindle X-Ray?

Amazon’s Kindle X-Ray is a content enhancement feature that allows you to explore the contents or the “bones” of a book or movie. For example, with a simple tap, you can see all of the passages in a book that mention specific ideas, topics, historical figures, fictional characters, and places. X-Ray listings are sorted into two main categories “People” and “Terms”. This typically includes most commonly used character names, locations or ideas. The X-Ray feature will also give you definitions and descriptions for these terms.

Kindle X-Ray
The California city “Palo Alto” is a popular term in this Kindle book as shown in the X-Ray screen.

How To Use X-Ray On Kindle

Using X-Ray is easy. While reading a book on your Kindle, just tap the top of the screen to display the toolbars. The secondary toolbar contains an X-Ray button. Tap on the X-Ray button to see a list of terms, characters, and notable phrases. X-Ray also works for movies, but only on Kindle Fire models or better.

X-Ray is incredibly useful especially when reading books with a large cast of characters. Books like Game Of Thrones may have 200+ characters and it can be easy to lose track of who is who. Kinle X-Ray will not only provide you with a description of the character but allow you to jump between pages and refresh your memory of how they were introduced.


Where Does X-Ray’s Information Come From?

X-Ray pulls its detailed information from IMDB, Wikipedia, and Shelfari, Amazon’s community-powered encyclopedia. If the X-Ray option on your Kindle is greyed out, then your content doesn’t have any X-Ray info available.

Don’t blame Amazon if your book doesn’t have X-Ray info or the info is poorly compiled. It’s up to the book publisher to use the X-Ray feature in their ebook and what terms to include. Amazon just creates the X-Ray platform for them to utilize. If the information you are looking for isn’t preloaded in X-Ray, then just do a Wikipedia search without leaving the page you’re reading.

X-Ray Is Fast

The information in X-Ray is incredibly fast. Publishers pre-calculate what info users might want to access and include a “side file” with all X-Ray compatible Kindle books. Your Kindle doesn’t need to access the Internet for X-Ray information. It’s already part of your book. X-Ray just accesses the pre-loaded side files.

Who Can and Can’t Use Kindle X-Ray?

The Kindle X-Ray feature debuted in 2011 with the Amazon Kindle Touch. So you’ll need a Kindle model that was released in 2011 or later to use X-Ray. Unfortunately, X-Ray is not available for all Kindle books. It’s also currently English only. If X-Ray is not available for the book you are reading, the X-Ray button will be greyed out.

But the good news is X-Ray works on the Kindle app for iPad and iPhone. So even if your Kindle is too old to use X-Ray, your smartphone will probably ok.

Other Reading Enhancements Besides X-Ray

Regardless of if your Kindle has X-Ray or not, these features are available for all Kindle devices.

  • Dictionary: When you encounter a word or term in a book that you don’t know, the most common action is to skip over rather than grab a dictionary. But with a simple tap, you can instantly look up a word and get back to your book.
    • While reading, press and hold a word, and then release to see the summary definition.
    • Tap “Show Full Definition” to see more. The dictionary opens to the word you looked up. You can tap or swipe to turn pages within the dictionary.
  • Translation: While you are reading, you can select text and then use Instant Translations to translate the text to a different language. To use Instant Translations, your Kindle Touch needs to be connected to a wireless network.
    • While reading, press, and drag to highlight the text you want to translate.
    • In the pop-up menu, tap More, tap Translation, and then select the language to translate the selection into.
  • Music: After you transfer MP3 files to your Kindle Touch, you can listen to music while you read. Kindle Touch and newer models can play MP3 files free of Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. You can either listen through your Kindle Touch external speakers or through earphones that are plugged into the headphone jack. The audio files will play in the order of the date you added them to your Kindle Touch.
    • From Home, tap the Menu icon.
    • Tap Experimental, and then tap MP3 Player.
    • In the audio player that displays at the bottom of your screen, tap Play to begin playing audio files.

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