Browsing the Web on the Amazon Fire Phone

By Dan Gookin

The Fire phone’s web browser is appropriately called the Silk browser. Get it? The web is made of silk; spiders use their spinnerets to create silk, with which they fashion a web. And of course, the World Wide Web is the number-one attraction on the Internet.

Surfing the web

Use the Silk Browser app — or Silk, for short — to access the internet. The main screen shows the web page you’re viewing, along with various onscreen controls. The Navigation panel lists browser features. The Delighters and Shortcuts panel shows page suggestions.

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Here are some handy phone web-browsing tips:

  • Pan the web page by dragging your finger across the touchscreen. You can pan up, down, left, and right.

  • Double-tap the screen to zoom in or zoom out.

  • Pinch the screen to zoom out, or spread two fingers to zoom in.

  • Place the phone in landscape orientation to make teensy text more readable.

Visiting a web page

To visit a web page, type its address in the address box. You can also type a search word, if you don’t know the exact web page address. Touch the Go button on the onscreen keyboard to search the web or visit a specific web page.

If you don’t see the address box, swipe your finger from top to bottom on the touchscreen. The address box appears.

Touch links on a web page to visit the relevant link. If you have trouble touching a specific link, zoom in on the page:

  • To reload a web page, tap the Refresh icon. Refreshing updates a website that changes often. You can also refresh to reload a web page that may not have completely loaded the first time.

  • To stop a web page from loading, touch the Stop (X) icon that appears to the right of the address box.

  • Many web pages load a special mobile version when they detect your phone’s Silk web browser. You can request the desktop version of the page by tapping the Menu icon and choosing the Request Another View command. Choose Desktop and tap the OK button.

Improving web page visibility

Two conventional things you can do to make a web page more readable are

  • Use the phone in horizontal orientation.

  • Zoom in.

A third, unconventional method presents itself for certain web pages. It’s Easy Reading mode.

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You can’t force Easy Reading mode; it simply shows up. Tap the Spectacles icon and the web page reformats itself with larger text, plus a text-size-adjustment icon.

To exit Easy Reading mode, tap the Cancel icon.

Browsing back and forth

Two icons appear at the bottom left of the Silk browser screen, looking like less-than and greater-than characters. These are the Back and Forward icons, respectively.

To return to a previous web page, tap the Back icon.

Tap the Forward icon to return to a page you were visiting before you touched the Back icon.

Reviewing your browser history

To review the web pages you’ve visited, check out the browser’s History: Choose the History command from the Navigation panel. You see a list of web pages you’ve visited today, yesterday, and days before.

Tap an entry in the history list to revisit that web page.

To remove an entry from the History, long-press the item. From the menu that appears, choose the Delete command. It’s gone!

If you need to purge more than a single entry, tap the Edit icon atop the History screen. Tap in the boxes that appear next to the various entries to place check marks. Or you can tap the Select All icon at the bottom of the screen. Tap the Delete icon to purge the selected entries.

Recently visited web pages appear on the Carousel beneath the Silk app.

Managing multiple web pages in tabs

The Silk browser uses a tabbed interface. Each web page appears on a tab, and several pages can be open in multiple tabs. The number of tabs in use is shown in the bottom corner of the screen. Tapping that Tabs icon displays a list of open tabs.

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Touch a web page thumbnail to switch to that tab. Tap the thumbnail’s X icon to close the tab.

To open a link in a new tab, long-press the link and choose the Open in New Tab command. A new tab is created, showing the web page.

To open a bookmark in a new tab, long-press the bookmark and choose the Open in New Tab command.

You can also open a link or bookmark on a background tab. That simply means that a new tab is opened but not currently visible on the screen.

Close a tab by touching its Close (X) button. When you close the last tab, the home page appears. It lists your most visited web pages.

Finding text on a web page

To locate text on a web page, touch the Menu icon and choose the Find in Page command. Type the search text into the Find on Page box. As you type, found text is highlighted on the screen.

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Use the up and down chevrons to the left of the search box to page through the document.

Tap the Cancel (X) icon to exit Find in Page mode after you’ve finished searching.

Sharing a web page

There it is! That web page you just have to talk about to everyone you know. Heed these steps to share a web page:

  1. Go to the web page you desire to share.

    Actually, you’re sharing a link to the page.

  2. Touch the Menu icon and choose the Share Page command.

    A smattering of app icons are displayed.

  3. Choose a method to share the page.

    For example, choose Email to send the link by email, or choose Facebook to share the link with your friends.

  4. Do whatever happens next.

    Whatever happens next depends on how you’re sharing the link.