Use Kindle App for PC for a Smarter Way to Study

Like many readers, I own an Amazon Kindle. You may not know that I often use the free “Kindle App for PC” for studying books, manuals, or PDFs. It offers useful features regular Kindles lack, like a larger screen, intuitive navigation, and robust highlighting tools. Easily view notes and content side-by-side for more efficient learning and maximize your reading and studying experience.

The primary reason I like the is that the Kindle Desktop app for the PC is much easier to highlight and annotate content. In some ways it reminds me of the Omnivore app. I can also see my notes and highlights neatly organized on the side. This is called the Notebook. The Notebook makes an ideal study and book review tool. And I can still sync content with my other Kindle devices. And in some cases, there are technical books with code snippets that I wish to copy and use elsewhere.

Free Kindle Desktop App Benefits

You might be wondering what’s wrong with the Kindle you or I bought. The answer is nothing. They work very well in most scenarios. However, I think the Kindle App for the PC offers better features when learning the material.

In some cases, the desktop version provides features your physical device might not have. Here are some examples:

  • Your desktop computer has more reading area. Most Kindle devices have a screen size that is 6”-7” wide.
  • You can view your Notebook alongside the book’s content.
  • It’s easier and faster to highlight text using a mouse. The mouse is more precise.
  • It’s easier to visit referenced websites and hyperlinks. You can easily navigate back.
  • You have more font and layout options on the desktop. (This varies based on which Kindle you own.)
  • It’s easier to work and resize PDF documents.
  • It’s easier to sort your books and see the last access date.
  • Even with the free version, you can take advantage of Kindle prices, which are often lower than other versions.
  • Many public libraries allow you to remotely check out Kindle books.

Multiple Kindle Versions

Before I go into details, I need to elaborate on the different Kindle versions. There are 3 broad classes.

Physical E-readers

You can hold These traditional stand-alone E-readers, like a book from Amazon. Another distinction is that you pay for these hardware devices. They come in a range of sizes, prices, and features. Typically, these devices have a 6”-7” wide screen. Their draw is portability.

Cloud Based E-reader

This version runs in your web browser. I find this version the least useful. It offers limited features, but you can access your books and notes if you’re on another computer.

Free Kindle Apps

This set of Kindles is software-based and free. Amazon calls them “Free Reading Apps.” There are also different versions based on operating systems (OS). You have versions for phones, tablets, and desktops within this category.

It’s the desktop version I’ll be using for this article.

How to Download Kindle Desktop App

The obvious place to start is your country’s Amazon Kindle Download page. For example, in the US, the URL is . Or, you can use the green button above.

You can download the software from other non-Amazon sites, but I can’t think of any benefits. In fact, by using a non-Amazon site, you might be getting an older or modified version. Please don’t take the risk.

Once on the URL, you should see a graphic with various Kindle displays. Directly underneath, you’ll see the button to get the desktop versions. These include Kindle for PC and Kindle for Mac.

Download Free Kindle app
  1. Click the Download button to start your transfer.
  2. After the download completes, open the installer file.

Kindle Desktop Layout

After downloading the software, you’ll need to connect it to your Amazon account. If you have any, you should see a list of your Kindle books under the Library heading.

In my case, I’ve also set up Collections to group similar books. You might think of Collections like folders. My programming collection includes Kindle books I bought on Amazon as well as some PDF files.

Kindle listing of books and PDF files.
Kindle for PC Collection contents

When you open the book on the desktop, you have 3 main areas that show side-by-side.

  • Table of Contents [A]
  • Book content [B]
  • Notes and Highlights (Notebook) [C]

This layout is customizable. For example, I can hide the Table of Contents, Notes & Highlights, or both.

Another nice feature is that I can resize the book content area [2] by grabbing an edge or using a Page width slider option within the app.

This is particularly useful if you want to highlight a section that spans to the next page. By resizing the area, you can quickly highlight the relevant section. To this day, I still struggle with highlighting text on my Kindle device that flows to the next page.

One benefit to the wider screen is that I can show both the notes and book content side-by-side. I prefer seeing both because the Kindle tends to scrunch your highlights, and you can lose important formatting.

Different Highlighting Options

On my first Kindle, I was limited to one color for highlights. With the newer devices and the desktop, you can apply different colors. This can be useful if you want to categorize your highlights, such as one color for definitions, quotes, questions, etc.

Presently, there are 4 different colors that can be assigned. You can filter by these colors. However, you can’t change a highlight’s color. Instead, you need to remove the highlight and apply the different color.

You can also prioritize highlights by applying a star. You can use both color and stars together.

Highlight Options for Kindle Desktop

Another way to view highlights is via crowd-sourcing. Amazon also lets you see popular highlights from a book. You can view these either by location or by count. Clicking on the highlight will take you to the passage.

Example of a popular book highlight

You can see how many people highlighted the text from both the notebook and the page.

I find this feature useful when first starting a book. It helps me gauge what other people thought was important or useful.

Working with PDF files

The desktop Kindle version also handles PDF files. Most often, these files are geared toward wider screens. While you can view these files in your web browser, the desktop is a better user experience.

Like normal Kindle books, you can adjust the viewing area. Instead of using the sizing handles or Display panel, you can use the toolbar Zoom level feature.

Another difference is based on how the author constructed the PDF document. Whereas most Kindle books have a Table of Contents, PDFs may not. Some do have them, but they aren’t active, so if you click a link, you can’t jump to the appropriate section. In the example below, the author did add the table of contents.

resizing PDF in Kindle by percentage.
Resizing PDF in Kindle for PC

Perhaps, the biggest difference is your PDF highlights don’t sync to your Kindle account. You can easily export them as an HTML file, but they will not appear at or on your other devices. This feature shows your highlights and notes in a wider format using your web browser.

Kindle highlighted entries

I should mention there are some items the desktop versions don’t offer, which may impact your behavior. One difference is this Kindle version doesn’t have a clippings.txt file. This is a special file some versions have for exporting your notes and highlights. You can export your notes as an HTML file, but there are no links.

Exported HTML File with Kindle notes.

Lastly, if you really like green highlights, you’re out of luck as the desktop version doesn’t have it.

On balance, I find Kindle for PC to be a great tool for studying material, whether it be a course assignment or a PDF manual. Reading and reviewing material is easier primarily because of the larger screen.