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Amazon Fire TV Stick: What it is and how to use it

The Amazon Fire TV Stick allows you to stream your favorite platforms on your TV. Our guide shows you how to install it and answers to common questions associated with using it.
Written by Sean Jackson, Contributor
Fire TV Stick
Image: Maria Diaz / ZDNet

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a media streaming device that transforms your TV into a smart one. It lets you to watch your favorite TV shows and movies from top services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, and Amazon Prime in one place on a popular, easy-to-navigate platform.

Further, if you want to bypass having cable services, the Amazon Fire TV Stick supports many apps that work as alternatives to cable. You can buy a subscription to live streaming platforms (like Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, fuboTV, and more) to watch your favorite TV programs, sports, news, and other shows live or on demand, with some even offering DVR.

This guide shows you how to set up your Amazon Fire TV Stick, the different Fire TV streaming devices available, and answers common questions you might have about it.

How to set up the Amazon Fire Stick

One of the advantages of using the Amazon Fire Stick is its simplicity in setup. This is what you'll need:

  • Fire TV Stick out of the box, with accompanying cables and remote
  • Your TV

Step 1: Gather the items to install

Unboxed Fire TV Stick with batteries, HDMI extender, USB cable, power adapter, Fire TV Stick and Alexa voice remote

The Fire TV Stick comes with everything you need to install


You want to remove all contents from the packaging. Start by powering on the Amazon Fire Stick: connect the micro USB adapter from your device to the AC adapter and plug it into the wall outlet. However, if you have a USB connector on your TV, you can plug the USB adapter into your TV as your power source. Then, you will not need to use the wall outlet. 

Step 2: Find the HDMI ports on your TV

Fire TV Stick plugged into a television

When you connect your Fire TV Stick to your TV, keep in mind which HDMI port it's in


Next, you need to find the HDMI ports on your TV to plug in the device. Look for these ports on the back or sides of your TV. The manufacturer will have a label indicating which ports are for HDMI cables. The Fire Stick also comes with an HDMI extender you can use if the device is too bulky to fit in a tight space. 

Closeup of the HDMI connection

Your Fire TV Stick will plug into one of your TV's HDMI ports

Image: Maria Diaz / ZDNet

Step 3: Turn on TV

Turn on your TV
Image: Maria Diaz / ZDNet

From here, you want to turn on your TV. Use your TV remote control to find the input or source button. Now, looking at the back of your TV, see which port you plugged in the Amazon Fire Stick device. It is the input you need to select on your TV. 

Step 4: Pair remote to TV

Pair Fire TV Stick remote to TV
Image: Maria Diaz / ZDNet

As your TV loads, grab the remote control that came with your package. Install the batteries. Press and hold the home button until it pairs with your TV. 

Step 5: Follow instructions to set up

Once the remote control pairs, you need to follow the instructions on your TV using your Amazon remote. Press the enter button (middle of the circle) to make your selections.

The device then runs through its configuration. You might receive an error message stating an unsupported USB device. If you read this message but do not have any problems with performance, you can bypass it.

Step 6: Sign into your Amazon account

After configuring your device, Amazon wants to set up your account. If you bought your Amazon Fire Stick through your Amazon account, then it might be signed into your account already. If this is the case, all you need to do is enter your password. However, if you bought it from a third-party retailer, or want to use another account, then you can enter your Amazon account credentials at this time. 

It's crucial to note you do not need to have an Amazon Prime membership to use the Fire Stick, just an Amazon account. You can sign up for one for free.

Next, you can follow the rest of the prompts. It includes setting up parental controls and making volume adjustments to ensure your remote control works. The Fire TV Stick Lite, which is the most basic model, does not have the feature to control your TV's off/on and volume.

Step 7: Install your streaming services apps

A prompt appears asking if you want to set up your streaming services. If you have subscriptions with streaming platforms, you can download them during this step. After downloading them, you can enter your login and password for each platform you have a subscription. Once verified, you can use these streaming services on your TV anytime you want.

Giving Alexa commands to play shows on TV

The Fire TV Stick comes with Alexa voice remote, let her do the work for you


Each Amazon Fire Stick features voice controls. You can press the microphone button to access Alexa. Alexa can change channels, tell you what the temperature is outside, adjust your TV's volume, and much more. If you have a connected security camera, you can even access feeds from other rooms in your house on your TV. 

Finally, play around with the home screen to become acclimated to using the service. You can search for movies, use your Amazon Prime membership or download a streaming service to watch movies or TV shows from the home screen.


Which Amazon Fire Stick is right for me?

 Amazon has an arsenal of Fire Sticks available for purchase. If you want the basics that allow you to stream movies and TV shows in HD, with no frills, then the Fire TV Stick Lite might be a wise option.

Meanwhile, if you want to stream in 4K, the Fire TV Stick 4K is a better alternative. It features 4K Ultra HD and supports Dolby Vision, with the audio complement of Dolby Atmos. In turn, you receive crystal clear pictures with riveting sounds. 

The top offering is the Fire Stick 4K Max. It comes with all the unique features of the Fire TV Stick 4, with the bonuses of Wi-Fi6 support and the live view picture-in-picture. 

What kind of TV do I need to use an Amazon Fire Stick?

Check to see if your TV has HDMI ports. If it does, then you can use the Amazon Fire Stick. You need an HDMI port to plug the device into the TV. 

Is there free content I can access on my Fire Stick?

Yes, there are free apps you can download and stream content without payment. Some of the more popular ones include Crackle, Pluto TV, and Tubi. You can also stream music through Spotify, Pandora, and other streaming services.

What's the difference between the Amazon Fire Stick and Roku?

Both options offer many enticing benefits. When comparing them, we found Roku to be easier to use. Meanwhile, the Amazon Fire Stick delivers better streaming quality with 4k. And Amazon offers more affordable options.

Is there a warranty for it?

You receive a limited one-year warranty on the device. Amazon will approve claims resulting from defects in the workmanship of the item. 

Can I use screen mirroring with my Amazon Fire Stick?

You can stream from your device to your TV, provided they both share the same Wi-Fi or hotspot connection. Go to the settings for your Fire Stick to select the display and sound option. From there, enable the display mirroring feature. 

How long does the pause button stay paused with Amazon firestick?

The Amazon fire stick will stay paused for about 20 minutes, after which point it will will turn off.

How do I register a used Amazon TV fire stick?

First, you'll need to Deregister the old account by going to Settings > My Account > Amazon Account. Once the you've deregistered the old account, you can register under your new account by selecting "REGISTER".

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