How to turn your old Fire tablet into an Echo Show

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Fire HD 8 Tablet in Show Mode

Fire HD 8 Tablet in Show Mode.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

For a few years now, Amazon has enabled its Fire tablet to double as an Echo Show with a feature called Show Mode within the Fire OS. 

This is a great way to give old tablets a second life and truly get the most bang for your buck. It’s also a way to make your Fire tablet useful while it’s charging.

Also: I bought this Amazon kids tablet instead of an iPad and wasn’t sorry

If you’ve got an old Fire tablet that stays tucked away in a drawer somewhere, you’ll likely benefit from learning how to use Show Mode, unless you’d rather trade it in to Amazon for a gift card

Three of Amazon's Fire Tablets in Show Mode

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

How to use Show Mode on your old Fire tablet


You’ll need a compatible Amazon Fire tablet. A USB-C charger is recommended but optional. The process should take less than 10 minutes. 

Fire HD 8 Tablet on desk

Let’s try with an Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Show Mode can run while the tablet is unplugged, but the always-on screen can drain your battery. Using Show Mode is also another way of getting some use out of your tablet while it is plugged into the charger.

Swipe down from the top of the screen on your Fire tablet and tap the toggle next to Show Mode at the very top of the menu to turn it on. As long as the tablet remains connected to power, it will perform as an Echo Show, unless you exit Show Mode by tapping on the toggle to disable it.

Also: The best tablets for kids

Once you’ve enabled Show Mode, your Fire tablet should switch within a few seconds. 

Finger swiping down from the top on Fire tablet

The Show Mode toggle will be on the top right corner of the menu.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET


How do I disable Show Mode on my Fire tablet?

When you want to use your Fire tablet and need to disable Show Mode, simply swipe down from the top of the screen again to reveal the menu. Then, tap on the Show Mode toggle to turn it off.

Show Mode on closeup

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Can I ask Alexa to enable Show Mode?

Alexa can turn Show Mode on or off for you, hands-free. If you want the voice assistant to help, just say, “Alexa, enable Show Mode” to turn it on and “Alexa, exit Show Mode” to turn it off.

What is an Echo Show?

An Echo Show is an always-on smart touchscreen with Alexa built-in. The device is always connected to power, as it doesn’t have a battery like tablets do, and several versions are self-standing thanks to the built-in speaker on its back that adds structure.

Amazon Echo Show 5 on a table


As a smart display and speaker, it’s great for listening to music (though its speaker isn’t as great as other Echo speakers), as well as for smart home voice control and voice assistance through Alexa — you can ask it questions like you would any other Echo device. The screen gives you a visual opportunity to access the smart devices around your home by either tapping it or asking Alexa. 

Also: The best smart displays with Alexa and Google Assistant

As an example, an Echo Show can not only control your smart lock, but also stream your video doorbell’s live feed to see who’s at your door and even communicate with them.

Can I use my Fire Kids tablet as an Echo Show?

Yes, Fire HD 8 and HD 10 Kids tablets can also be used as an Echo Show with Show Mode. If you have recently upgraded your kid’s tablet for a newer one, you can repurpose their old one as an Echo Show to place around your home. Do ensure that you’re not in a child profile when you go to enable Show Mode, as the option is only available in the parent and guardian profile.

Fire Tablet in Show Mode

Show Mode in a Fire HD 8 Kids tablet.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

As part of limiting screen time, you can have your Fire Kids tablet in Show Mode when it’s charging, for example, for which the built-in stand in the included case is ideal.

Can I enable Show Mode without plugging in my tablet?

Fire tablets don’t need to be plugged in to use them in Show Mode, but the always-on screen can drain your battery, so we recommend using Show Mode when the tablet is connected to power, but it doesn’t have to be with the included USB-C cable. Both the Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus and HD 10 Plus are compatible with wireless charging and there are wireless charging stands available for each. 

Fire Tablet in Show Mode

An Amazon Fire tablet in Show Mode.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

These stands make it easy to set your tablet down to charge when you’re not using it and instead use it as an Echo Show without plugging a charger into the USB-C port every time. It can also be set to automatically switch to Show Mode whenever it’s docked.

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