Amazon’s Fire tablets offer a lot of bang for the buck. With list prices starting as low as $50, they’re cheaper than any iPad, and more affordable than most Samsung tablets. They often go on sale for even lower prices (Amazon is offering up to $70 off some Fire tablets during its 2021 Prime Day sale).

But despite their low prices, Fire tablets tend to have decent displays, good battery life, and acceptable performance (considering the low price tag).

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) with Google Play)

They also ship with Amazon’s Android-based Fire OS, which is probably fine if you’re looking for a simple device for web surfing, watching videos, and maybe playing some light games.

But Fire OS doesn’t ship with the Google Play Store and Amazon doesn’t make it easy to change your keyboard, lock screen wallpaper, or many other settings. That’s where the unofficial Fire Toolbox app comes in.

Developed by xda-developers forum member Datastream33, Fire Toolbox is a Windows application that makes it easy to hack a Fire tablet by doing things like installing the Google Play Store, replacing the default Fire OS home screen and launcher, sideloading apps, removing pre-installed apps, and making other changes to Amazon’s tablets.

While you cannot install custom ROMs on most recent Fire tablets, Fire Toolbox provides you with a way to make Fire OS feel more like stock Android.

Folks have been finding ways to modify Fire tablets for years, typically with command line tools. Fire Toolbox combines many of those tools into one application and makes the process a little more user friendly thanks to a graphical user interface with a series of menus that you can explore.

Among other things, Fire Toolbox lets you:

  • Install the Google Play Store and Google services.
  • Change the default launcher app (you can use something like Nova launcher to make Fire OS look more like stock Android).
  • Change your screen density options (to make text and graphics look larger or smaller).
  • Uninstall some or all of Amazon’s pre-installed apps (I suggest using the manual option and just checking the apps you know you don’t want or need).
  • Enable or disable automatic updates, over-the-air updates, or change other system settings.
  • Sideload apps (install applications downloaded to your PC from trusted sites like APK Mirror if they aren’t available in the Amazon Appstore and/or you don’t want to install Google Play).
  • Backup all data on your tablet to your PC, or restore from a previous backup.
  • Move files to and from your tablet.
  • Record a video or save a screenshot.

Fire Toolbox 18 is the most recent version of the utility as of mid-June, 2021 and it includes new and updated features that make it easier to disable and replace the Amazon Fire Launcher home screen app and Fire keyboard on-screen keyboard with third-party options.

Other changes implemented in the past few months include support for disabling the lock screen, support for disabling Amazon’s “Device Dashboard” icon for folks that aren’t using Amazon’s smart home features,” and improvements to the Fire Toolbox automatic updater.

It’s also a little easier to sideload Android applications from your PC (which you can download from sources other than the Amazon Appstore or Google Play), replace Amazon’s Alexa voice service with Google Assistant, and perform other tweaks to customize the software on your Amazon Fire tablet.

There’s also a tool that lets you remove lock screen ads from Fire tablets – but when doing so, you’ll see a warning message that makes it clear that the official way to do that is to pay Amazon $15, but you know, if you bought a used tablet on eBay or something and didn’t know that there were “special offers” on the lock screen, maybe it’s not entirely illegal to remove them yourself? Maybe?

Note that the Fire Toolbox will also frequently recommend you block automatic updates from Amazon in order to ensure that hacks you make using the tool aren’t overwritten by future Fire OS updates. Just keep in mind that if you go down that road you may also be blocking potential security updates, so proceed with caution.

In order to use Fire Toolbox on a recent Amazon tablet, you need to:

  1. Download and install the latest version of Fire Toolbox on a Windows PC.
  2. Enable USB debugging on your Fire tablet by following these steps:
    1. Open the Settings app on your Fire tablet.
    2. Scroll down until you find Device Options and tap it.
    3. Tap the serial number 7 times until a message pops up saying that you’re now a developer.
    4. Tap the back button to return to the previous screen.
    5. Tap the new item that says “Developer Options.”
    6. Slide the toggle to enable Developer Options.
    7. Scroll down until you find “USB Debugging” and slide the toggle so that it’s enabled.
    8. Plug your tablet into the Windows PC using a USB cable.
    9. Run the Fire Toolbox app on your PC.
    10. A box should appear on the tablet. Click OK.”

You can find the latest version of Fire Toolbox at the xda-developers forum.

In the market for a cheap tablet, and need help figuring out which Amazon Fire tablet may be right for your needs? We’ve got your covered with our spec comparison table for Amazon’s current-gen tablets:

Amazon Fire 7 (2019)Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020)Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus (2020)Amazon Fire HD 10 (2021)Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus (2021)
Display7 inch, 1024 x 6008 inch, 1280 x 8008 inch, 1280 x 80010 inch, 1920 x 120010 inch, 1920 x 1200
Storage16GB or 32GB + microSD (up to 512GB)32GB or 64GB + microSD (up to 1TB)32GB or 64GB + microSD (up to 1TB)32GB or 64GB + microSD (up to 1TB)32GB or 64GB + microSD (up to 1TB)
RAM1GB2GB3GB3GB4GB
CPUMediaTek MT8163V/B
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 @ 1.3 GHz
MediaTek MT8168
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 @ 2 GHz
MediaTek MT8168
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 @ 2 GHz
MediaTek MT8183
4 x ARM Cortex-A73 @ 2 GHz
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 @ 2 GHz
MediaTek MT8183
4 x ARM Cortex-A73 @ 2 GHz
4 x ARM Cortex-A53 @ 2 GHz
GPUMali-T720 MP2Mali-G52 3EE MC1Mali-G52 3EE MC1Mali-G72 MP3Mali-G72 MP3
BatteryUp to 7 hoursUp to 12 hoursUp to 12 hoursUp to 12 hoursUp to 12 hours
Portsmicro USB 2.0USB 2.0 Type-CUSB 2.0 Type-CUSB 2.0 Type-CUSB 2.0 Type-C
Charging time4 hours5 hours (5W wired)
  • 4 hours (9W wired)
  • 3 hours (wireless)
  • 4 hours (9W)
  • 15W fast charging support
  • 4 hours (9W)
  • 15W fast charging support
  • Wireless charging support
SpeakersMonoStereoStereoStereo
WiFiWiFi 4WiFi 5WiFi 5WiFi 5WiFi 5
Bluetooth4.15.05.05.05.0
Cameras 2MP front & rear2MP front & rear2MP front & rear5MP rear, 2MP front5MP rear, 2MP front
Latest OS versionFire OS 7Fire OS 7Fire OS 7Fire OS 7Fire OS 7
Dimensions192mm x 115mm x 9.6mm202mm x 137mm x 9.7mm202mm x 137mm x 9.7mm247mm x 166mm x 9.2mm247mm x 166mm x 9.2mm
Weight286 grams355 grams355 grams468 grams468 grams
Starting price (MSRP)$50$90$110$150$180

This article was originally published Nov 30, 2020 and last updated Jun 20, 2021. 

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  1. “Uninstall some or all of Amazon’s pre-installed apps” … I wish the Toolbox could do this, but it doesn’t uninstall apps, it just hides them. I could do with the storage space and was hoping that this might help. Sadly no.

  2. A los que les molesta la publicidad y está fuera de estados unidos pueden chatear con el personal de amazon para deshabilitar la publicidad le preguntan cómo si no saben nada “si es posible deshabilitar la publicidad” ellos le van a responder que si, si están en Estados Unidos cobran $15 si están en otro país es gratis. Así de fácil.

  3. appreciate the reply, but depending on how often Amazon updates, I’m thinking I’ll just keep the bloatware. The ads appear on my Home-screen, not my Lock-screen. Thank you anyway.

  4. I also did a post in the Amazon Fire 7″, 9th Generation board on the XDA Forum, but thought I’d try here for an answer as well. Everything worked great with the Version 17.1 of the Toolbox, except, the Fire updated and after it did that, all the bloatware was back. Can you tell me why this happened and whether or not it’s worth using the tool again today?

    Thank you much!

    1. Amazon rolls out automatic software updates regularly to fix bugs, patch security flaws, and add new features. They sometimes overwrite changes that you may have made (for example if you disabled lock-screen ads using the Toolbox, Amazon software updates will often undo that). But some changes you can make with the Toolbox, like installing the Google Play Store, will usually survive Amazon updates.

      I believe recent versions of the Toolbox do give you the option to try to prevent your tablet from downloading and installing updates from Amazon. But I’ve found that this can be hit or miss (sometimes it doesn’t work), and I’m not sure I’d recommend doing it anyway since you probably want security updates from Amazon.

      If you want to remove lock screen ads or other Amazon applications, I’d recommend just running the Toolbox again after Amazon updates are installed. This should remove unwanted software and ads at least until the next update.

  5. Wow! I finally tried Fire Toolbox and it is phenominal! It will walk you step by step through the setting to make your Fire tablet work like a normal Android tablet.

    It’s not for a total novice, but is fairly straight forward.

  6. It’s 4/25/21. The latest Toolbox is 14.? It failed on 2 Windows 10 PCs. 7 ZIP errors when attempting to load up Google Services. Found Version 11 on the internet. Worked like a champ. This was trying it on the latest HD 10.

  7. This is one amazing app. HD 8 8th Gen. Right now, it seems to stick on Nova Launcher, as I’ve set it. In any event, Many thanks!

  8. I’ve used fire toolbox and have installed Google playstore and downloaded Google apps. However the settings app still has vestiges of Amazon which prevents me downloading my contacts already on my mobile How do you make settings fully Google android?

  9. “if you bought a used tablet on eBay or something and didn’t know that there were “special offers” on the lock screen, maybe it’s not entirely illegal to remove them yourself? Maybe?”

    “Ignorance of the law is excuses no one.”

  10. If you use this to install Nova Launcher, does it revert back to stock Amazon launcher when you press home?

    1. OK it uses Launcher Hijack just like the older methods, which sucks because it’s a 5 second delay every time you press on Home. Not a solution I like.