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 – ahead of Black Friday, Amazon is selling Fire tablets with prices starting as low as $35 for a 7 inch tablet, $45 for an 8 inch model, or $75 for a Fire HD 10.

But despite their low prices, Fire tablets tend to have decent displays, good battery life, and acceptable performance (considering the low price tag). They’re also somewhat hackable – if you don’t like the limitations that Amazon puts on the tablets, you can use install the Google Play Store by downloading and installing a few apps. Or you can use a third-party utility like Fire Toolbox to modify the look and behavior of Amazon’s tablets.

Amazon Fire HD 8 (2020) with Google Play)

While Amazon’s Android-based Fire OS is probably fine if all you need is 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). Update: Recent builds of Fire OS won’t allow you to fully replace he default launcher, but you can hijack the home button so that pressing it will open a third-party launcher app.
  • Change your screen density options (to make text and graphics look larger or smaller).
  • Disable 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 v27 is the most recent version of the utility as of early April, 2022 and it includes new and updated features that brings bug fixes, support for installing any third-party launcher app, improvements to the driver setup experience, and support for running sideloaded apps immediately after installing them.

Other changes implemented recently 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 some 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 maybe you bought a used tablet on eBay and didn’t even know that there were “special offers” on the lock screen? Fire Toolbox provides a way to disable them for free.

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.

That said, some of Amazon’s updates may remove functionality of the Toolbox. For example, in November, 2021 some users discovered that after installing Fire OS 7.3.2.2, the app would no longer let users:

  • Set a third-party launcher app as the default launcher
  • Block OTA updates
  • Remove lock screen ads
  • Disable some of Amazon’s system apps

Fortunately, Fire Toolbox developer DataStream 33 found a semi-functional workaround for the launcher app situation about a month later. While you still cannot uninstall the default Amazon home screen and app launcher on tablets running Fire OS 7.3.2.2 or later, you can install a third-party launcher and effectively hijack the home button so that whenever you press it, you’ll be taken to the launcher app of your choice rather than Amazon’s. So that’s how the Custom Launcher feature works in Fire Toolbox v26 and later, effectively making Amazon’s tablets feel a little more like they’re running stock Android software rather than Fire OS.

Unfortunately this method won’t survive a reboot, so if you ever have to reboot your tablet running Fire OS 7.3.2.2 or later after changing the default launcher app, you’ll likely see the default Amazon Fire Tablet launcher/user interface at startup and you’ll need to run the Fire Toolbox software again to set your preferred launcher.

Folks running Fire OS 7.3.2.2 or later also won’t be able to block over-the-air updates, so if you do find yourself with a Fire tablet running an earlier version of Fire OS and you want to keep it as hackable as possible, you may want to try disabling OTA updates.

OK, so let’s get down to hacking our tablets.

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 April 5, 2022.

Support Liliputing

Liliputing's primary sources of revenue are advertising and affiliate links (if you click the "Shop" button at the top of the page and buy something on Amazon, for example, we'll get a small commission).

But there are several ways you can support the site directly even if you're using an ad blocker* and hate online shopping.

Contribute to our Patreon campaign

or...

Contribute via PayPal

* If you are using an ad blocker like uBlock Origin and seeing a pop-up message at the bottom of the screen, we have a guide that may help you disable it.

Join the Conversation

47 Comments

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Buy a more ANDROID tablet… You want a Sentra to do 300 miles an hour. KNOW your limitations and do some research. Most of what you have asked/mentioned is EASILY found if you make an effort.

  2. I can plug in an external USB webcam to my Fire HD10 and use it by an app I installed, but can’t for the life of me get the external camera in use on a Duo call. Anyone get this to work or have ideas? Purpose is for having a top down camera for remote board gaming, but still have the tablet display available on the table.

  3. Fire toolbox worked for both my kids Fire HD 8 but would like to warn people that the Fire Toolbox loaded a log4j2 virus on my computer. Fortunately the security on my computer identified it and took measures before any damage was done.

  4. I just got the fire HD 10 2021 and it has OS version 7.3.2.2 and Fire Toolbox will not load new launcher. I did load the Play Store, and YouTube. Will I lose those whenever Amazon has a new update? There is no place in Settings to disable OTA updates. Thanks.

    1. Amazon updates don’t typically remove Google apps once they’ve been installed, but starting with version 7.3.2.2, Amazon blocks the method Toolbox had used for installing third party launchers and blocking over the air updates.

      It’s possible that the developer or other Fire tablet hackers will find workarounds, but for now those are two things that cannot easily be done on the latest version of Fire OS.

      1. I just got the fire HD 10 (generation 11) and it has OS version 7.3.2.2 I don’t get if I can use this manual to change the system to get Play Store, Chrome and more. I am not good with technology, sorry. Really thanks for your answer

  5. Just got a Fire HD 10 (2021) and Toolbox 25.1. Can’t disable OTA updates. With every change, I get the prompt to disable OTA updates. I always respond Yes, but OTA updates are not disabled and the toggle is inoperative.

  6. I’ve used the Toolbox on both my Fire 10 and 8 and am extremely happy with the results. It takes some patience and carefully following the steps, but it’s well worth it.

  7. I used the toolbox and the standard debloat, but I want to use alexa. I haven’t been able to restore alexa, either by itself or even if I do the “restore all”.

  8. I appreciate what you’re doing. I tried it with my 2021 hd 10+ and was pleased except for one thing: I can’t find a way to make Alexa open and run. I’ve gone back to restore Amazon apps, but nothing works. Once I saw a manual update for Alexa pop up and I updated and it worked for about two days then, nothing.

  9. Does this have any issues that affects other apps, specifically Amazon Alexa?.. I noticed shortly after that I could still use Alexa but I couldn’t open the app itself.. all the other Amazon apps are fine just Alexa..

    1. I had the same issue with Alexa. I had sideloaded my Google stuff. Last night I uninstalled from Play store and reinstalled from Amazon App store and that fixed my problem. Don’t know why Play store tried to take over, It was the original app installed on the tablet.

  10. How do I actually download this thing, I don’t see the usual download tab or has it just been a long day. Many thanks in anticipation of a speedy response.

  11. “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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

  18. 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?

  19. “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.”

    1. Please dont talk about things you dont understand. The EULA is NOT LAW. Its not in any legal code. Its an agreeent between the seller and buyer in which warranty is void if you dont follow their rules. That is all.

      When you purchase any hard asset item like computer hardware you have a right to do anything you want with it except reverse engineer and sell the IP. Otherwise, you can do anyting including taking it apart and turning it into a keychain or a toilet ornament. You can also modify any software insalled on it as long as its for your own use. No one, has the right to take that away from you and believe me they tried. Corporations have been trying to take away consumer rights a long time and each time they have failed. The latest effort is to move things to the net (cloud) so that you never actually have them on your devices and are just “renting” software. But there is absolutely nothing illegal about modifying your own tablet. It will just void the warranty but its perfectly legal.

  20. 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.

    1. Can’t be done. Amazon created the Fire tablets to sell its content and it appears that it’s now locking them down so that’s all they’re good for.