Monday, February 7, 2011

'Send to Kindle' extension for Chrome browser

I've often wanted a simple way to send a web page to my Kindle for off-line reading. Many people like InstaPaper for this, but it requires signing up for an account, and does more than I need it to. 

'Send to Kindle' runs only on the Chrome browser, so you can stop reading unless you are willing to switch. I use a Mac most of the time, and had been more or less lazily running Safari, which has certainly improved quite a bit over the last year or two, but is not without its quirks (well what would a browser be without quirks?). I also use Firefox, but mostly in a development and testing context (Selenium, Firebug, ePub viewer etc.), not for everyday browsing. I'm a minimalist when it comes to plug-ins, also, so while Firefox probably has the largest selection of any browser, that's not high on my requirements. 

It didn't take much for me to switch over to Chrome, which I've been playing with for a number of months, and have been very impressed with. It seems faster and more robust, is at the forefront of HTML5 adoption, and I like the simplicity, the integrated search+address bar, built in translation, and security features (and many more features that I've yet to explore). Since it is a WebKit-based browser like Safari, I felt more confident that the web sites I typically visit would continue to work as well as they did in Safari.

So once I discovered what 'Send to Kindle' could do for me, I was ready to switch to Chrome.

Once you have installed Chrome, installing Send To Kindle is simple:
- choose 'Extensions' from the Window menu
- click 'Get more extensions...' link
- search for 'Kindle'; 'Send to Kindle' should be listed. (there are at least 2 other Chrome extensions that appear to do the same thing; I reserve the right to prefer one of those once I've had a chance to try them!)
- click to install - a box with a checkmark should appear next to the address bar
- right click on the icon and select Options
- follow the instructions to complete configuration (includes adding '' to your Kindle's 'approved email' list, specifying the Kindle email address to send to, etc.
- now when you want to send a web page to Kindle, click on the Send2Kindle icon (you can configure '1-click', otherwise you'll see a preview before clicking on 'Send')
If your Kindle is listening on Whispernet, it will soon receive a azw-format rendering of the web page.

The extension is under active development. I sent a couple of suggestions; one was already implemented, and the developer will implement the other in the next iteration.

UPDATE (10Feb2010): Another option for Chrome users is 'Later On Kindle'. It's very similar to 'Send To Kindle', but adds the option of sending a PDF that you're viewing in the browser to your Kindle (with an option to attempt 'convert' to azw). It seems to be a little more agressive in terms of cleaning up web page formatting, which may or may not be to your liking. I'd like to see it include the originating URL as a link in the resulting ebook, so it is easier to go back and look at images, etc. that get stripped out.

UPDATE (16Feb2010): 'Send To Kindle' has been updated and the two issues I had have been fixed. Still, I would install both extensions, as each offers features the other lacks.

It would be really nice if this function were added to Kindle's web browser for any page that can be viewed in Article Mode. Instead of needing to send it wirelessly, they could just save the HTML to the documents folder as a .txt file (assuming they cannot 'cook' an .azw file on the fly). Kindle renders such HTML with basic formatting.

UPDATE (20Feb2010): 'Send To Kindle' is also under development as an extension for Safari and Firefox, with plans to support images and deal better with 'formatted text.' At this point I'm using Later On Kindle only to send PDFs.

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