This is a simple procedure of dragging and dropping files to your origional Kindle Paperwhite while in USB mode. This is not a hack and does not require you to jailbreak your Kindle. That said, I take no responsibility for what may happen to your device in the unlikely event anything goes wrong.
Recently I stumbled on the amazing free and open source dyslexia typeface called ‘Open Dyslexic’. You can download it from OpenDyslexic.org.
I find reading numbers to be my main issue. Especially numbers I then have to input into a keypad. I’ve never been diagnosed with dyslexia of any kind but after a few minutes reading the Open Dyslexic font though, I felt a marked improvement with my ability to scan and follow text. I was reading faster and longer than ever before. I was genuinely impressed and really wanted to get the font onto my Kindle Paperwhite for further testing. After googling a few different Kindle hacking sites I found this simple system that requires no real hacking or jailbreaking of your device.
As far as I know this only works with the original Kindle Paperwhite running firmware 5.3.1 and above.
Adding custom fonts to your Kindle Paperwhite
1] Connect your Kindle Paperwhite to your computer via ‘USB Drive Mode’.
2] Create a file called USE_ALT_FONTS and drop it onto the Kindle’s root directory. (I created a text file and removed the .rtf from the end.)
3] Create a new folder on the Paperwhite called ‘fonts’.
4] Drop your TTF or OTF fonts into the folder. I used Open Dyslexic but any fonts will work if they are named in the standard format.
5] After you have added your fonts, disconnect your Kindle and then make sure you restart it from the menu.
Mine actually took a couple of restarts as I’d forgotten to eject the Kindle from my Mac but after restarting I opened a book, tapped the ‘Aa’ icon on the top left and there were my new fonts.
Reading Open Dyslexic on the Kindle is a revelation for me. I really can keep my concentration and read for much longer than with the standard fonts. I’m wondering why this kind of typeface design is not installed as standard on all e-readers.
I’m using firmwear 5.3.6 on my original Kindle Paperwhite and have no idea if this modification can be made to work on the new Kindle Paperwhite 2.
Mostly I’m hearing it doesn’t work on the newer Kindles although if you do get the ‘Please Repair’ message, all you need to do is remove the unspecified file and font folder and restart then the device. That should restore the kindle to normal.
I hear it also helps to install all typefaces available i.e.:
(.otf or .ttf will work)
Needless to say, before you attempt to tamper with any e-reader you should really back it up.
I’ll leave you with the first page of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas so you can see what the font looks like in a block. I use tight line spacing and a larger spacing may help you even more. For the moment this really suits me.
Will the novelty wear off? Perhaps. I’m just amazed at how I’ve previously taken typefaces for granted. Now that I can see firsthand how a simple change in design can affect how I digest information, I’ll certainly be exploring some of the other reader friendly fonts out there.
I got an email from a super helpful guy called Grante Marshall who found a workaround for getting custom fonts back onto the kindle PaperWhite after the software update.
I used your “Add custom fonts to a Kindle PaperWhite to install open Dyslexic font to my Kindle a few years back and found it really useful. It worked great on my PaperWhite 1st Generation until Amazon updated the software and I could not get it to install them at all.
I have manage to find a workaround.
If you are interested in this work around then here are the instructions:-
Starting point before downgrading = Kindle PaperWhite 1st Generation with Firmware: Kindle 18.104.22.168
- Download earlier update file from Amazon: Kindle Paperwhite 1 Update 5.3.9
- Disable wifi on your Paperwhite 1 (airplane mode).
- Connect your Kindle Paperwhite 1 to your computer (DO NOT DISCONNECT UNTIL LAST STEP! Else the update_kindle_5.3.9.bin file transferred in the next step will be deleted from the Kindle and you’ll have to copy the file over again).
- Copy the update_kindle_5.3.9.bin file you downloaded in step 1 to root folder of the PaperWhite.
- Wait a minute after the copy has completed to ensure the file has completely transferred (DO NOT EJECT THE USB DEVICE AT THIS POINT ELSE THE FILE TRANSFERRED FROM STEP 4 WILL HAVE TO BE COPPIED OVER AGAIN).
- Push and hold power button until your PaperWhite restarts (the led blinks orange and the screen will light up). The screen should display “Software Update”
- Wait until the PaperWhite has installed the update. The update in this case is actually downgrade to 5.3.9.
- Now you can DISCONNECT from your computer.
- If you have never installed the font or have removed the files for some reason then at this point you must follow the instruction for installing the font in http://documentally.com/2013/10/21/add-custom-fonts-to-a-kindle-paperwhite/
If like in my case the font files were never removed then simply going to Settings and select “Restart” will restart the device and when it comes back up then the open dyslexic font will be available to use.
NOTE – If you need Wi-Fi you can connect but try not stay on long as the automatic update will install and the next time you restart your device the update will take hold and you’ll have to repeat the process from step 1. I was caught out by this a couple of times.
I hope this is of some use to anyone else. If I can find a way to STOP auto updates then I’ll let you know.
And only hours later Grante was back with an addition to the hack. [Do at your own risk though].
I’ve now managed to find a way to block auto updates on my Kindle WhitePaper 1st Generation device:
- Jailbreak the Kindle PaperWhite 1 using kindle-jailbreak-1.14.N.zip file and instructions on http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=186645
- Install KUAL : Kindle Unified Application Launcher (v 2.5) using the KAUL-v2.5.zip and kaul-helper-0.5.zip files and instructions on http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=203326
- Install the BackDoorLock hack that prevents silent updates on your device. The backdoorlock_kaul_12.zip file and instructions can be found at http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=205666
Now I’m able to run the Kindle PaperWhite 1 with WiFi enabled to access the Kindle store and all usual online material but no updates downloaded to my device thus all Open Dyslexic fonts all intact. Now back to happy reading once again.
Thanks again for sharing the method of installing the fonts in the first place. It’s a pity Amazon have made it so that there is no alternative but to hack the device in order to use these great fonts.
I’m sure this procedure invalidates any warranty with Amazon but for me a PaperWhite without the Open Dyslexic font would be a redundant piece of kit so I had nothing to lose.
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