Update: This guide assumes you have an original Kindle Fire running software version 6.3.1. These steps won’t necessarily work on the Kindle Fire 2nd generation or Kindle Fire HD.
Amazon released a minor software update for the Kindle Fire. It gives users a little more control over some security settings by letting them block children or other unauthorized users from accessing some content or purchasing apps.
Like all previous software updates, Kindle Fire Software Version 6.3.1 is downloaded and installed automatically without any user intervention. And like all previous updates if you have a rooted tablet, the new software will remove your root access.
But it turns out that it’s extraordinarily easy to re-root the Kindle Fire after this update.
That’s because the same tools used to root Kindle Fire 6.3 work with 6.3.1.
Rooting a Kindle Fire allows you to install the Google Play Store, change the home screen and launched applications, and make many other changes.
Once your tablet is rooted you also have the option of installing a custom bootloader and custom recovery. These will let you completely backup and restore your system or load alternate operating systems such as CyanogenMod, MIUI, or AOKP. These are alternate versions of Android that offer an experience more like the one you’d get on an Android smartphone.
If you do install a custom ROM though, you’ll lose access to some Kindle exclusive features such as the ability to use the Amazon Kindle Owners’ Lending Library which lets Amazon Prime subscribers “borrow” one book a month.
Rooting the tablet and installing custom firmware may also void your warranty — and there’s no official support, so if anything goes wrong you’re on your own.
That said, the process is pretty simple. Here’s how to do it:
1. Download Kindle Fire Utility 0.9.6 or later.
Kindle Fire Utility is a free tool from xda-developers forum member Vashypooh. It automates the process of rooting the Kindle Fire, installing Google Apps (including the Play Store), and installing custom bootloader and recovery tools.
You can download the latest version of Kindle Fire Utility from the xda-developers forum and then unzip it to a directory on your PC.
While the Fire Utility is designed to run on Windows computers, some of the tools may also be useful for Mac or Linux users. But that’s beyond the scope of this tutorial. For now I’ll assume you’re running a Windows computer.
2. Install Kindle Fire drivers
If you’ve previously rooted your Kindle Fire using a Windows PC, you probably already have the proper drivers installed and you can skip ahead to the next section.
If not, the first thing you’re going to need to do is plug your Kindle Fire into your PC with a USB cable and navigate to the folder where you unzipped Kindle Fire Utility. Then double-tap the fie called “install_drivers.bat.”
This will attempt to install driver so that your PC can recognize the Kindle Fire.
It can be persnickety though. You can check to see if the drivers were installed correctly by firing up Kindle Fire Utility in the next step and seeing if the ADB Status is listed as “online or offline.” If it’s offline, the drivers you need aren’t installed and you can try this:
- Open your Windows Device Manager by typing “device manager” into the Windows run box and hitting enter.
- Look for an item labeled “Amazon” or something similar. It should have a yellow exclamation point next to it.
- Right-click on that item and select “update driver.”
- From the following menu choose “Browse my computer for driver software.”
- On the following screen choose “Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer.”
- From here I selected “Android Composite ADB Interface.” The “Android ADB Interface” option might work as well, but I can confirm that the Composite option does work.
- Click Next and wait for the installation to complete.
3. Run Kindle Fire Utility and install permanent Root
Now go back to the Kindle Fire Utility folder and double-click the run.bat file. It will open up a black window with red text and after a moment it should show you a menu with a number of options.
Check to make sure that ADB Status is shown as “online.” If it isn’t then your Kindle Fire isn’t plugged in properly or your drivers aren’t installed properly. Go back to step two for help configuring the drivers.
To root the tablet, choose the option that says “Install Permanent Root with Superuser.”
This will root your tablet and install a custom bootloader and recovery. These are the first steps toward installing the Google Play Store or custom ROMs.
Warning: Wait for the Fire Utility to tell you it’s safe to unplug your device before you do anything else!
4. Have fun!
The next thing I’d recommend doing is entering the custom Recovery and making a backup of your device before doing anything else.
You can do this by pressing and holding the power button on your tablet and choosing the shut down option.
Once your device is off, press the power button again to turn it on. Once you see an icon on the screen press and hold the power button again for a few seconds to enter your custom recovery app (this should work with TWRP or ClockworkMod).
Then choose the backup option to create a backup of your device.
If anything ever goes wrong with your tablet you can enter the custom recovery again and restore from this backup to bring your Kindle Fire back to the condition it’s in right now.
You can also use TWRP or ClockworkMod to install custom ROMs. Just download the latest zip file for the ROM you want to install and follow the on-screen instructions from the recovery to install or “flash” the zip file.
If you want to stick with the standard Kindle experience but want access to Google apps including the Play Store, Gmail app, and Google Maps, choose the option in Kindle Fire Utility marked “Extras” and then use the option for “Install Google Apps.”
Troubleshooting (stuck at the boot logo)
If anything goes wrong there’s a chance that you may get stuck at the boot logo. This doesn’t mean your Kindle Fire is dead. It probably means you’re stuck in fastboot mode instead of normal boot or recovery mode.
To fix this, try plugging your Kindle Fire into your PC and running Kindle Fire Utility again.
You want Boot Status to say 4000. If it does not, try the option for Bootmode Menu. Choose the option that says Normal (4000). If all goes according to plan, your tablet should reboot and load your Android operating system.
If that doesn’t work for some reason, you can also try to change the boot mode manually:
- Open a command prompt on your computer by typing “cmd” into the run box.
- Navigate to the folder where you unzipped the Kindle Fire Utility by using “cd dirname” to navigate to a directory (where “dirname” is the name of that directory. For example “cd program files” will take you to c:\program files).
- Navigate to the “tools” subfolder.
- Type the following commands, one at a time:
- fastboot oem idme bootmode 4000
- fastboot reboot
It’s pretty hard to completely break a Kindle Fire. But getting stuck at the bootloader is no fun. Hopefully these tips will help if you find yourself stuck staring at the boot logo after attempting to root the tablet.