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Kindle Scribe tips: 9 ways to get the most out of Amazon’s digital notebook

From creating new notebooks to creating notes in your favorite book, there's a lot to learn about Amazon's new Kindle Scribe.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer

Amazon's newest Kindle is unlike any Kindle before it. First of all, its 10.2-inch e-ink display is giant. Second, it now comes with a pen that you can use on the Scribe's display to take notes, draw or highlight text.

Amazon currently sells two different versions of the Scribe, one that comes with the basic pen, and another that comes with a premium pen. There are also varying levels of storage, going from 16GB to 32GB to 64GB. The basic pen doesn't have any extra features -- put the tip to the screen and write. However, the premium pen has a shortcut button for quick actions like triggering the pen's highlighter mode along with a dedicated eraser on the opposite end of the pen.

Also: How to turn your old devices into Amazon gift cards

The Scribe offers a completely new way of using a Kindle, and I'm here to show you how to get the most out of the Kindle's new note-taking features. Below you'll find nine tips and tricks to help do just that. 

How to create a notebook, adjust settings

In order to take notes, create a calendar, planner or task list, you'll need to create a notebook. You can have as many notebooks as you want, as long as your device has the storage for them. 

To create a new notebook, wake up your Kindle and then tap on the Notebook icon that has a plus sign to the right of the search bar. 

You'll immediately be asked to give the notebook a name and see a grid of 18 different templates you can choose from. 

After entering a name using the keyboard (you can't write it in using the pen, unfortunately) and selecting a template, tap on the Create button.

If at any point in the future you decide you don't like the template or you want to change the name of the notebook, tap near the top of the screen to display some options and then tap the Notebook icon (notice this time it has a settings gear on it). You can enter a new name, change templates and pick the behavior you want for the cover page. Right now your options are to use the first page of the notebook as your cover, or use the current page that you're viewing as the cover. 

When you're done adjusting settings, tap on the down arrow near the top of the pop-up to close it. 

How to create more pages in a notebook

Once you've filled up a page full of notes, you can create a second page by swiping -- with your finger -- from right to left on the screen, as if you're turning the page. 

You'll see a page number indicator in the bottom-left corner of the screen. You can hide it by tapping on it, just like you can when reading a Kindle book. 

Note -- if you change the template for a notebook, it changes it for the entire notebook, not the current page you're on. As far as I can tell right now, there's no way use multiple templates within the same notebook. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Use the toolbar to change and control the pen's behavior

You'll notice a small circular button with an up or down arrow on the screen whenever you're in a notebook, document or Kindle book. This is the Scribe's toolbar that houses controls for the pen, highlighter and eraser, along with a toggle to change between writing and touch mode, as well as undo/redo buttons. 

To switch between the various tools, tap on the icon for each one. For example, if you have the basic pen and need to erase something, tap on the third icon from the top -- the eraser -- then use the pen to remove any errant notes, then switch back to the pen. 

Also: Best note-taking tablets

There are extra controls for the pen, highlighter and eraser when you tap on its icon when that particular mode is active. For instance, if you're writing with the pen and want to adjust how thick or thin the "ink" is, tap the pen icon and then select one of your options. 

The same goes for the highlighter. As for the eraser, you can control how wide the erase tool is, but also enable a selection tool to erase whatever you select, or you can erase an entire page and start over. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

How to customize the Pen's shortcut button

The premium pen for the scribe has a shortcut button near the end of the pen. When you press and hold the button, and then use the pen, it quickly changes its behavior, and then changes back when you release the button. 

I currently have the button set to act as an erasre so I don't have to constantly flip over the pen. 

To change how the button behaves on your premium pen, select the More tab along the bottom of your Kindle and then tap Settings > Pen > Pen Shortcuts. Then select the behavior you want under the Shortcut tool section. Right now, the options are Highlighter, Pen, Eraser or Sticky note. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

What you can do with the Pen in a Kindle book

You may have had a weird look on your face when I mentioned sticky notes in the last section. Yeah, me too. But hear Amazon out. 

When you're viewing a Kindle book, you can create and leave sticky notes in the book using the pen. These notes can then be exported once you're done reading the book, so you have all of your notes in one place. 

If you don't have a premium pen, you can use the toolbar's sticky note button to create the note, or if you have the premium pen and have the shortcut button set to sticky note, just hold in the button, tap the tip of the pen on the page and the note interface will show up. 

How to get documents, PDFs on the Kindle Scribe

Just like the rest of the Kindle lineup, you can send your own documents and files to the Scribe for future reading, mark up and note taking. 

There are a few ways to get documents from your computer, phone or tablet to the Scribe. If you're on your computer, you can use Amazon's updated Send to Kindle website where you can drag and drop documents and upload them to your kindle.

You can also send documents to the Scribe from your phone or tablet using the share button and selecting the Kindle app as the destination. 

Depending on the number and size of your documents, it can take a few minutes for them to sync to your Scribe. Once they're available, you'll see them on the Home tab. 

You can markup PDFs and sometimes sign documents

What you can do with the pen in terms of adding notes, highlighting or adding sticky notes depends on what type of document you're looking at. I've found that images and Word documents are restricted to sticky notes, while I can write, highlight and do whatever I want in most PDF documents. 

There have been a couple of PDFs that the Scribe simply would not open. They weren't password-protected, so I'm not really sure what the issue was. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

How to access your Notebooks on other devices

It's simple: Install the Kindle app. That's right, your Notebooks will sync across Amazon's Kindle app, putting them directly on your phone, for example. You can't edit or add to your notes, but at least you'll have access to them while away from your Scribe. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

How to share a notebook or document

When you're done signing a document or have a notebook you'd like to send to someone else, you can. Just know that what you send will arrive in PDF form. 

To send a document or notebook, open it on your Kindle Scribe, tap near the top of the screen to view additional options, and then tap the Share button. Your Amazon account's email address will show up as the default option, or you can choose to type a different email in. 

The recipient of the notebook will receive a link to download the PDF that's good for 7 days.

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