The Magic of Kindle Highlighting

How to use this undervalued feature

Chris Jennings

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

In my mind, the Kindle is one of the most important devices of the last twenty years. I think it deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the original iPod, iPhone, and countless other monumental pieces of tech. It has revolutionized the way we read books. But beyond just reading books, it’s revolutionized the way we capture information from these books.

I’m talking about the highlight function within the Kindle. How often are you using it? For that matter, how often were you highlighting the paper copies of your books? I think most people fall within one of two camps on this. Some people like to keep their paper books pristine with no markups or dog ears. Other people are all for highlighting and making as many marks in the margin as they’d like.

With the Kindle, everyone wins. You don’t have to worry about messing up your digital books with too many highlights. You can easily add notes and highlights with just a long press on a passage that interests you. So why don’t more people take advantage of this?

What is it?

Highlights on your Kindle work just like you’d highlight something in a paper book. You just find what catches your eye and long press on the text for it to be highlighted. The magical thing that happens here is that your highlight will be saved in the cloud for you to revisit later. This is obviously something that gives it a huge advantage over a paper book.

How does it work?

Your highlights get saved to Amazon’s cloud for retrieving later. This means that the highlights are tied to that book. You’ll see the highlights sync across your devices. If you highlight a quick line on your phone while waiting in line at the grocery store, you’ll see that highlight synced up on your Kindle when you’re reading it in bed that night. It’s really magic.

And if you want to search and find these highlights later, you can do so in Amazon’s Cloud Reader in your browser or on the app. Think about how useful that is! You vaguely remember reading a quote in the last few months that you think would be perfect for a project you’re working on. But you can’t quite remember where you heard it. Search your Kindle…

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Chris Jennings

I write about the intersection of technology, productivity, and mindfulness. See more of my work at iterate.substack.com