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How to use the Amazon Fire TV Stick

A hand using the Fire stick remote control

Learning how to use the Fire TV Stick isn't exactly easy, as its menus are a bit laborious and features can seem a bit hidden. But you're going to want to smarten up about how to use your Fire stick to stream live TV or binge-rewatch The Boys again (when is season 3 getting here?). Amazon's affordable family of streaming devices pack most of their neatest features deep in its menus. 

Plus, the Fire TV Stick has tons of Alexa integrations built in, and depending on the remote you have, some are accessible with the touch of a button. So, we've got everything you need to setup your new Fire TV device (getting it ready can be a chore), so you can master it today. The Fire TV OS interface also just got a fresh coat of paint, and we've updated this guide for the new look

And once you master the Fire TV Stick you'll use it for everything from streaming shows and movies to controlling your smart home. You can even get the weather without turning on a channel.

This story applies to both the Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Stick Lite and the Fire TV Stick 4K compatriot. These streaming devices are largely similar, with streaming quality and remote control buttons being the major differentiating features. 

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max and Fire TV Cube (our Amazon-made picks for the best streaming devices list) operates in a similar way because they has the same OS. The Cube, though, is physically different, while the 4K Max is a mirror image for the normal 4K Fire Stick.

So, here's our guide for how to use the Fire TV Stick, which is one of the company's most popular and affordable streaming devices.

How to update the Fire TV Stick

In late 2020 and early 2021, Amazon began rolling out a new interface for the Fire TV Sticks and Cube. If your device hasn't updated yet, it's easy to get it there in 5 easy steps, listed below. The new interface is a bit slicker, but is still full of ways to maximize your Prime membership, if you have one.

  1. Open Settings at the top of the home screen. 
  2. Scroll right to select Device.
  3. Select About.
  4. Select Check for System Update.
  5. Follow the prompts to update your Fire TV Stick. 

How to set up the Fire TV Stick

The Amazon Fire TV stick and its remote on a table

Yes, that USB Micro cord and power adapter that came with the Fire TV Stick might not be necessary for getting the Fire Stick up and running, but you'll want it to ensure faster performance.

Here's everything you need to get the Fire TV Stick up and running and streaming all of your favorite content. 

1. Plug the USB Micro cable into the power adapter.

The Fire TV Stick power adapter with a USB cable positioned to be plugging into it

2. Plug the other end into into the Fire TV Stick.

The Fire TV Stick and the USB power cord going into it

3. Plug the Fire TV Stick into an HDMI port in your TV.

The fire tv stick plugged into a TV's HDMI port

4. Press Home on your remote.

the fire tv setup screen asking to press Home

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

If you have trouble with this step, try using the remote control closer to the Fire TV Stick, holding Home for 10 seconds and changing out to fresh batteries.

If those steps don't work (they didn't for us), just unplug the power supply from the Fire TV Stick, wait a minute and plug that back in.

the fire tv setup screen asking to troubleshoot the remote connection

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

5. Press Play/Pause on your remote.

the fire tv setup screen asking to press play/pause

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

6. Select Your Language.

the fire tv setup screen asking to choose the language of your preference

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

7. Select your Wi-Fi network.

the fire tv setup screen asking to select a wi-fi network, with a network highlighted

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

8. Enter your password and select Connect.

the fire tv setup screen asking to enter your network password

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

9. Select Sign In or Create an Account. Let's assume that you have an Amazon account, and the below steps follow selecting Sign In.

the fire tv setup process asking to sign in or create an account

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

10. On a phone, tablet or computer, open amazon.com/code, sign in and enter the unique activation code you get in step 2. 

the fire tv setup screen asking to open an amazon page and enter a code

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

11. Select Continue, because selecting Change account would imply you just signed in with the wrong ID.

the fire tv setup screen asking to proceed to log into your account by clicking continue

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

12. Select Yes or No to opt in or out of storing connected network passwords with Amazon. I personally opt for No.

the fire tv setup screen asking if you want it to save your password.

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

13. Opt in or out of parental controls.

the fire tv setup screen asking if you want parental controls

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

14. If you selected yes, enter your parental control PIN number, and make a note of it somewhere your kid won't find.

fire tv setup screen asking you to enter a parental control PIN number

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

15. Select OK after noting where Parental Controls are managed.

fire tv setup screen with parental controls info.

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

16. If your Fire TV Stick's remote is TV controls compatible, you'll now hit Next to make sure it works right

fire tv setup screen at tv volume controls section

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

17. Adjust volume and then click Yes to confirm.

Amazon Fire TV setup screen asking you to modify volume with the remote and, if that works, click Yes.

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

18. Click OK.

fire tv setup screen for remote, asking you to click OK.

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

19. Sign up for Amazon Kids+ (it may show you a message for Prime if you don't have Prime) or opt-out. Wondering why you'd want Prime? Check out our guide to the best Prime Video movies and shows to learn more.

fire tv setup screen offer for Amazon Kids+ with the No Thanks box highlighted

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

20. Select Get Started to walk through Amazon's app downloads on-boarding, or click No Thanks to skip past. It's always very weird to see what apps get suggested and which don't.

fire tv setup screen offering to walk you through suggested apps

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

21. Select the popular services you want, and click right to TV channels. The selected apps below are the ones I'd actually use.

fire tv setup Popular Service apps suggestion screen

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

22. Select the TV channel apps you want, and click right to sports apps.

fire tv setup TV Services apps suggestion screen

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

23. Select the sports apps you want, and click right to the featured apps. If you can't watch the apps you want in your country, you may want to check out our Do you need a VPN on Fire Stick? explainer.

fire tv setup Sports apps suggestion screen

24. Select the featured services you want, and click Play to proceed.

fire tv setup Featured apps suggestion screen

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

25. Click Finish to download apps.

fire tv setup screen with summary of the apps you're downloading, asking you to click Finish

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

26. Click Got It to proceed.

fire tv setup new features screen for updated Fire TV OS

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

27. Enter Parental Controls PIN (obviously, skip this step if you didn't set up a Parental Controls PIN).

fire tv's enter your parental controls PIN screen

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

28. Select a user profile (check out our guide for how to add Fire TV profiles if you need this feature).

fire tv's user profile selection screen

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

You've set up your Fire TV Stick!

And if you're curious about how the other big streaming device platform is, check out our Roku vs. Amazon Fire TV Stick face-off.

fire tv home screen

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

How to set up the Fire TV Stick's text banner feature

Those with vision impairments will be happy to hear that Amazon's rolling out a new feature called Text Banner. Once enabled, the Fire TV interface will make it much easier to tell what section of your screen is highlighted or selected. 

To enable it, open Settings and Accessibility and select Text Banner. It may not be on your device yet, so look out for upcoming system updates.

fire tv with Text Banner blocks

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

How to use the Fire TV Stick with Alexa

The Fire TV Stick comes with an Alexa Remote that allows you to perform voice-commands. Not only does it let you pause, rewind and fast-forward content with just your voice, but it also provides bonus features, including the Jeopardy game and help with Weather forecasts.

Below is a master list of the Alexa commands that work with the Fire TV Stick, which we'll be updating as more skills become available. 

Watching content

"Alexa, watch The Handmaid's Tale."

The Fire Stick interface with The Handmaid's Tale playing

"Alexa, open Netflix."

"Alexa, open PlayStation Vue."

"Alexa, Pause."

The Fire TV Stick interface paused in a Bob's Burgers episode

"Alexa, play."

"Alexa, stop."

“Alexa, fast-forward”

The Fire TV Stick interface fast-forwarding through The Handmaid's Tale

"Alexa-rewind"

“Alexa, forward 5 minutes”

“Alexa, skip 30 seconds”

“Alexa, play next”

"Alexa, next episode"

Finding content

"Alexa, show me nearby restaurants"

The Fire TV Stick interface with local restaurants on screen

“Alexa, show me [show or movie title]”

“Alexa, show me [insert genre]”

“Alexa, show me Bruce Willis movies”

“Alexa, search for Westworld”

"Alexa, add this to my watchlist"

"Alexa, show my watchlist"

"Alexa, search for the NPR app"

"Alexa, watch HGTV [or any show] on PlayStation Vue [or Hulu]"

"Alexa, watch [insert Prime Video Channel name]"

The News

"Alexa, play my flash briefing" [if enabled in Alexa app] or "Alexa, what's the news?"

The Fire TV Stick interface with a CNN flash briefing

The Weather

"Alexa, what's the weather?"

The Fire TV Stick interface with the weather

"Alexa, what's the forecast?"

"Alexa, what's the weather in [insert city]?"

"Alexa, what's the weather like on [insert day]?"

Games

"Alexa, play Jeopardy" [enable in the Alexa app]

The Fire TV Stick interface with a jeopardy game

Music

"Alexa, play Beyoncé"

"Alexa, play All Star by Smash Mouth"

The Fire TV Stick interface playing Smash Mouth's All Star

"Alexa, play [insert genre] music"

How to Install Apps on Fire TV Stick

Installing apps on the Fire TV Stick is pretty easy, thanks to Alexa. Sure, you could spend your time clicking around the interface, selecting the magnifying glass and typing in an app's name, but you don't have to.

Instead of clicking around the on-screen keyboard (found by selecting the magnifying glass at the far left end of the menu), you can just talk to Alexa, by holding down the Alexa/microphone button, and saying the name of an app.

Alternatively, you can do this the old fashioned way:

1. Select Find on the Fire TV home screen.

Fire TV home screen with Find highlighted

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

2. Select search (yes, skip the AppStore button, it's cluttered and doesn't have a search option.

Fire TV home screen with Search highlighted

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

3. Here you could use Alexa, by pressing and holding the mic button and talking for voice search, or you could type out an app's name and select the connected results.

Fire TV search screen with Peacock highlighted

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

4. Select that app from the results screen.

Fire TV results screen with Peacock highlighted

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

5. Select Get.

Fire TV app store Peacock TV screen with Get highlighted

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

6. Select Open.

Fire TV app store Peacock TV screen with Open highlighted

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

You've downloaded and opened an app!

The Peacock app launch splash screen open on a TV with a Fire TV Stick

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)
Henry T. Casey

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past six-plus years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.