10 Hidden Settings & Features: Amazon Fire TV Stick
The Amazon Fire TV Stick and Cube have a brand new home screen with a lot to offer cord cutters.
But there are a number of hidden features and settings that you may not know about. I’ll show you a few quick and easy ways to maximize free live TV on Fire TV devices, while cutting down on the tedious work of entering passwords or finding the perfect volume for nighttime movie watching.
Table of Contents
- 10 Hidden Settings & Features: Amazon Fire TV Stick
- Build your own Live TV menu with 100+ free channels
- How to customize Fire TV home page
- Fire TV Mobile Remote 101
- How to Pair a Fire TV Stick with Echo
- Use single-sign on with Fire TV apps
- Download Reelgood or JustWatch Streaming Guides
- Turn On: Volume Leveler & Dialogue Enhancer
- Monitor how much data you’re using
- Setting Video Quality & Alerts
- Set High Dynamic Range to “Adaptive”
Build your own Live TV menu with 100+ free channels
One of the first things you should do when you get a new Fire TV is set up the channel guide.
You can easily combine free and subscription-based streaming services into a single channel guide. If you use a TV antenna, and a Fire TV Recast, you can include free local over-the-air channels too.
Here’s how to start. First either download or make sure these free apps are already on your device.
- IMDb TV
- Pluto TV
- Red Bull TV
You can add in a number of subscription services such as Sling TV, Philo and Amazon Channels.
Once you have your apps downloaded, head over to settings and navigate to the “Live TV” icon. Choose Manage Channels, and you can see all the different apps that are going to appear in your channel guide.
This will add dozens of channels to the guide. You can add or remove channels from each streaming service if you like.
By the way, if you’re not seeing all the apps or channels that you think you should be seeing, under the “Live TV” tab, go back and choose “Sync Sources” pick a streaming app to make sure that all of its channels are downloaded into the guide.
Now that everything is set up, you can press the microphone button on the top of your remote control and say “open guide” to Alexa.
When the guide is open, you can press the button with the three lines. I call it the hamburger icon. When you press that button, pick “Filter Channels” and you can jump to one of your streaming services. To go back to the full guide, press the hamburger button again and select “Show All Channels”.
I have subscriptions to Sling TV and Philo, so you see those channels in my lineup. I also use a TV antenna and a Fire TV Recast for free local over-the-air channels such as PBS, NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX.
Live TV subscription services
These are all the live TV streaming services that are now supported by the channel guide;
- Hulu + Live TV
- Sling TV
- YouTube TV
Prime Video Channels
- Discovery+ (only through Amazon Channels)
- NBA TV
- NBA League Pass
- MLB TV
- PGA Tour Live
- AVP Pro Beach Volleyball
- Thursday Night Football
There are about a dozen Amazon Channels, including Showtime, AMC+, Starz and NBA League Pass that are supported by the channel guide.
How to customize Fire TV home page
With the new home page, putting your favorite six apps at the top of your home page is really important if you want to quickly find something to watch.
So for example, I subscribe to AMC+ and when I navigate to the app icon, I have a full page of recommendations and popular movies from AMC+
The same goes for tubi, Netflix and a number of other apps.
Here’s how to change it.
Click on the apps button at the right side of the featured apps. Let’s say you wanted to add tubi. Press the button at the center of the wheel on your remote. Once the screen dims, you can move up the app to the featured section. Now you can get recommendations from your favorite apps a lot faster.
Fire TV Mobile Remote 101
Oftentimes, using the mobile remote for Fire TV is a lot faster and easier to use compared to the one that comes with your device.
The biggest perk? You can use the keyboard in the upper right hand corner to quickly type passwords and control all your other settings and features.
When you open an app like Netflix or Hulu and you’re asked for a password, just open up your Fire TV app and hit the keyboard button in the upper right hand corner.
The remote control within the Fire TV app can also be used for voice command functions. And the app button gives you the ability to quickly track down and launch a streaming service instead of scrolling through the apps on your television screen.
You can find the official Fire TV app in Google Play or the iOS app store for iPhones.
How to Pair a Fire TV Stick with Echo
The Fire TV Cube already comes with a built-in Alexa, so you can do a lot of cool things like turning on and off the TV with just your voice.
You can also have hands-free voice controls with a Fire TV Stick if you have an Amazon Echo Dot or another Alexa device in your home.
If you have just one Alexa and Fire TV device in your home, then you should be able to just say a command to link the devices like “Alexa, play Fleabag.”
If that doesn’t automatically connect your devices, here’s how to set it up.
All you need to do is pair your Echo with your Fire TV device. Under the Alexa app, go to “More” and then scroll down to “Settings”. From there, scroll down and select the “TV & Video” tab. Then select Fire TV. You just need to follow the rest of the instructions to connect your two devices.
Now you can turn the TV on or off with just your voice. And you can find something to watch too.
Use single-sign on with Fire TV apps
If you subscribe to a live TV service such as Sling TV or YouTube TV, you can use your subscription to activate a number of apps on Fire TV.
All Fire TV devices have what’s called a single-sign on. That means if you sign in to just one of the apps that is supported by your live TV service, you will automatically be logged in to the other supporting apps.
By the way, these are called TV Everywhere apps, and you can use them to get live streams or on-demand movies that might not be available on your streaming service. If you travel with your Fire Stick, TV Everywhere apps are great to have.
Download Reelgood or JustWatch Streaming Guides
If you’re looking for some other ways to integrate all of your apps into one menu, there are two free apps that I recommend trying.
The first one is Reelgood. After you create a free account, you tell the app what subscriptions you have and what free ones you use. You’re not giving them passwords or anything like that. Just check off the boxes to get started.
Now you will have a single screen with all the trending movies and series that are on all of your favorite apps. When you pick a movie or show there is a landing page that gives you a brief summary and how it’s rated. And in most cases, Reelgood will open your app for you and start the show.
JustWatch operates on a similar format, but has a homepage that breaks things down by genre or category. You can also see what’s trending and new. And you can ask for new recommendations if you don’t like what you see.
I really like these apps because it gives me an easy way to see what’s new and popular within my subscriptions without having to go into each one of them. It really saves me a lot of time.
You can even make it one of your top apps so you don’t have to go looking for it.
Both Reelgood and JustWatch are within the Fire TV app store.
Turn On: Volume Leveler & Dialogue Enhancer
Finding the right volume for watching a movie at night can be a pain, especially if people are sleeping a couple of rooms over.
If you’re constantly turning the volume up or down, here’s two options to help you out under the Display & Sounds setting. Turn on the Dialogue Enhancer if you’re running into really quiet parts, so you can hear people’s voices a little better.
To deal with louder sounds, turn on the Volume Lever to smooth out those louder sounds that might catch you by surprise.
Monitor how much data you’re using
There have been a number of headlines lately about Internet service providers imposing data caps, and that can be a problem if you’re streaming a lot of video at high resolution.
There’s two things you can do here. Under Settings, head over to Preferences and turn on Data Monitoring. This feature may sound like it has to do with privacy or Amazon tracking your activities, but it actually has nothing to do with that.
Instead, Amazon keeps tabs on which apps are using up the most data. And that brings us to our next hidden setting that you may not know about.
Setting Video Quality & Alerts
If you want to scale back on the amount of data your Fire TV Stick or Cube is using, consider adjusting the streaming resolution. Once Data Monitoring is turned on, you will see some options that were hidden away in your menu.
Choose “Set Video Quality” and try out the “Better” or “Good” options. Depending on your TV and streaming setup at home, you might not notice a big change in picture quality, but it could help you use less data.
If you’re really worried about data caps, you can also set up a Data Alert. That setting is located right under “Set Video Quality” and you can even enter the start date of your monthly Internet bill so you can keep an accurate track of much data your Fire TV is using.
AND just to recap, Data Monitoring doesn’t have anything to do with your privacy or how quickly your Fire TV performs. It’s strictly a tool to help you. If you’re concerned about privacy, you can find privacy settings under the preferences section.
Set High Dynamic Range to “Adaptive”
If you own a television that supports High Dynamic Range or HDR, changing your HDR settings from “always on” to “adaptive” is a good idea because sometimes you may be streaming video that doesn’t support HDR.
Going with an adaptive setting should ensure that your TV doesn’t show incorrect colors while watching non-HDR shows and movies. You can find these settings under the Display & Sounds section.
Founder and Editor of The Cord Cutting Report. Before launching the site in 2016, he worked for more than two decades as a staff writer or correspondent for a number of daily newspapers, including The Boston Globe. His enthusiasm for tech began with the Atari 2600. Follow @james_kimble