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Amazon Fire TV tips and tricks 2017: How to get the best out of your TV streamer

Our complete Amazon Fire TV tips and trick guide shows you how to get started and how to get the most out of your Amazon streaming box. Whether you're hoping to cast content from your phone or tablet, connect Bluetooth headphones, find some crafty shortcuts, get your game on or keep your kids protected, here's the best hidden features in the Fire TV.

Amazon Fire TV is a great way to upgrade your telebox for viewing loads more shows and movies through the wonders of apps, right there on your big screen. But it can be so much better than that too.

We don’t just mean you can utilise server-friendly services to fling your locally stored media to the big screen either. You can improve the way you actually view your content too.

From mirroring your phone to your TV, to boosting your storage and enjoying a much bigger selection of movies and shows, these are the best tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your Amazon Fire TV investment - be it the spangly new Amazon Fire TV 4K, or the old Fire TV Stick.

Read next: Best Amazon Fire TV apps

Amazon Fire TV tips and tricks 2017: How to get gaming

The Amazon Fire TV can even double as a gaming platform. It’s not console level quality of course, but you can play Android games full-screen at a decent resolution, for an impressively immersive experience. The fact that lots of those are free is a bonus. The real sell are the controls.

Amazon now sells a dedicated gaming controller, so if you have that you’re able to really immerse yourself in a lot of compatible games. Even without that, gaming is still fun. Especially for question-based gameshow style fun for all the family.

Read next: Why Amazon Fire TV needs cloud gaming

Amazon Fire TV tips and tricks 2017: How to play console games on the Fire TV

It's not too hard to upgrade your Fire TV to a classic console, for playing those games that used to keep us up until the wee hours. All you need to do is download and install a console emulator on your streaming box. There are loads of ROM game files out there which are free to download, and the only extra thing you need is a wireless controller. Fair warning, it’s a wee bit of a faff, but definitely worth it.

First install RetroArch. The RetroArch emulator supports Nintendo 64, SNES, Sega, PSP, PSX and lots more ROMs besides. Next install AKG Fire, open this and enter your Fire TV’s IP address. With that done, click on RetroArch and press “Install on XX.XX.XX.XX” to sideload RetroArch to the Fire TV itself.

Then, on your Fire TV, go to Settings > Applications > Manage Downloaded Applications > RetroArch > Open. In RetroArch go to “Load Content (Detect Core)”, then scroll to the folder on your FireTV where your games are stored.

To get game ROMs we recommend you get Googling, but can definitely point to Mario Kart 64 and Star Fox 64 to start with.

If you need a Bluetooth controller, there are quite a few Fire TV friendly options including a PlayStation DualShock 4, Amazon Fire TV Game Controller, Ouya Game Controller, Nyko Playpad Pro and red Samurai Bluetooth Game Controller.

Amazon Fire TV tips and tricks 2017: Second screen with a tablet

If you’ve gone full Amazon hardware and splashed out for not only Amazon TV but an Amazon Fire tablet too, you can use the 'second screen' feature while enjoying Instant Video.

While watching movies and shows (on Amazon Prime Instant Video only, sadly), your tablet will work in unison to offer information at the same time. Get the name of an actor, song or some trivia from that particular scene, via IMDB, without having to do anything.

Simply head to Settings, select Second Screen and turn it on to get going. Be sure that both devices are connected to the same wireless network and Amazon will do the rest.

Amazon Fire TV tips and tricks 2017: Connect Bluetooth headphones

One really nice touch on the Fire TV is the ability to go wireless. If you own Bluetooth headphones you can wirelessly connect to the Fire TV to enjoy the audio privately.

This is a great idea for those that like to watch big action movies loud late at night while others are in bed, or even to continue enjoying TV after your partner has passed out.

To activate this go to Settings, Controllers and Bluetooth Devices then Other Bluetooth Devices to get connected.

Amazon Fire TV tips and tricks 2017: How to use the parental controls

One thing that Amazon is really good at is parental controls. The Fire TV gets this just right with smart protection options, to keep your kids safe and your account secure.

If you enable Parental Controls from the device's Settings menu, you’ll be able to block purchases and restrict access to certain movies, shows, games, photos, apps and even music.  

Once you’ve set up a PIN, every time certain blocked content is accessed that code needs to be entered. So bear in mind that while it will offer greater ease of control over your children’s access, it will mean a bit of extra hassle for you.

Amazon Fire TV tips and tricks 2017: Mirror your phone or tablet to your TV

Using this little Fire TV trick, you can turn the biggest screen in the house into a giant copy of your phone or tablet’s screen. That should make sharing photos, videos and even work far easier - good for in the office too, then.

The feature that works on Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick is Miracast. This is a widely supported platform, so will allow screen mirroring from many devices. Supported devices include all Android devices with Jelly Bean 4.2 or higher, Windows Phone 8.1 or newer, plus Fire tablets.

Turn on mirroring on your Fire TV by going to Settings, Display and Sounds, Enable Screen Mirroring. Then go into Settings on your phone and make sure Miracast is turned on. Finally ensure that both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network and you’re ready to start screen mirroring.

Amazon Fire TV tips and tricks 2017: Set a personalised screensaver

You’re able to setup your own screen savers on the Amazon Fire TV, which can be pulled in from your own image sources.

So if you want to pop an image of your last holiday on the screen, for a calming effect, that’s an option. Upload an image to the Amazon Cloud Drive, go to “Photos” on your Fire TV and select the image. Then go to “Set as Screen Saver” where you can change settings for switching between multiple images, like slide style and speed.

Amazon Fire TV tips and tricks 2017: Use the quick access menu

One nifty little option Amazon has included is the ability to access a shortcut menu for faster navigation about your Fire TV.

Simply press and hold the home button on your remote and you’ll find your way to a pop-up menu. Here you’ll have quick access to options for Power, Mirroring and Settings.

Amazon Fire TV tips and tricks 2017: How to Cast from YouTube

If you’re in the YouTube app in your Android phone or tablet, iPhone or iPad, you can cast that video straight to your Fire TV at any time. This will immediately pick up from where you left off and let you watch the remainder on your big screen, while you flit about looking for your next video fix on your mobile device.

Make sure both the mobile device and Fire TV are on the same Wi-Fi network and everything should just work.

Amazon Fire TV tips and tricks 2017: Voice search and delete

Both Fire TV and the Fire TV stick support voice search. While the Fire TV has a remote capable of hearing your voice, you’ll need to use the smartphone app on iOS or Android to do this on the Fire TV Stick.

After a while you may wish to get rid of your voice searches, as Amazon keeps them saved. This can be done from a computer by logging into your Amazon account. Select the drop-down menu under your name, tap Manage Your Content and Devices, then Your Devices to select a device. Finally, select Manage Voice Recordings and Delete to wipe them good.

Amazon Fire TV tips and tricks 2017: How to expand your available storage

If your standard 8GB of storage on the Fire TV isn’t doing it for you, then expansion is an option via a USB stick - but not an external hard drive. You can simply move apps and games onto the stick, so they don’t take up room on the player itself.

Make sure the devices is formatted or you’ll lose everything then simply plug in, go to Settings, Applications, Manage Installed Applications and transfer away.

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