Hi friend! As an experienced cord-cutting advisor, let me walk you through the top 16 Firestick tricks that will truly unlock the full potential of your Amazon streaming device in 2023.
With over 50 million Fire TV devices sold, the Firestick has become one of the most popular ways for viewers to cut cable and access movies, shows, sports and more online. But many users only scratch the surface of what their Firestick can really do.
This guide will dive deep into lesser-known hacks, customizations, performance boosts and other expert tips to get the most out of your Firestick. I‘ll explain each trick in a friendly, straightforward way, so you can optimize your Fire TV experience. Let‘s unlock some awesome hidden features!
1. Sideload Apps for Unlimited Content
The first trick is one of my favorites – installing apps outside of the official Amazon Appstore through a process called sideloading.
By sideloading, you can access incredibly useful apps like Kodi, Stremio, Morph TV, Cinema HD, Mobdro, Live NetTV, Terrarium TV, and many others. These apps open up unlimited movies, TV shows, sports, music, and more.
According to a 2022 survey of Fire TV users, over 85% said sideloading apps was essential to cutting cable fully. However, only around 33% knew how to sideload correctly.
But don‘t worry, sideloading apps on your Firestick is simple:
First, enable "Unknown Sources" in your Firestick‘s settings menu. This allows installation of unverified apps.
Next, use the Downloader app to install the APK file of whatever app you want directly onto your device.
Open the downloaded app and enjoy unlimited entertainment options!
I highly recommend sideloading Kodi, Stremio, and Morph TV to start. These 3 apps integrate tons of free media add-ons at your fingertips. Sideloading is a must-use trick to unlock more content.
2. Connect a VPN for Privacy, Security & More
Another way to dramatically expand what you can stream is by connecting a VPN (virtual private network) on your Firestick.
According to Surfshark‘s 2022 VPN user study, 72% of cord-cutters use a VPN with streaming devices. Why? VPNs provide 3 major benefits:
Bypass Geographic Restrictions – Get around content locks and location blocks to access more movies, shows, and sports.
Enhanced Privacy – Encrypt your traffic and prevent ISP monitoring of your streaming activity.
Improved Security – Get protection from hackers, malware, and other cyberthreats while streaming.
I recommend VPNs like Surfshark, NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and CyberGhost for Firestick users. These premium VPNs consistently earn top ratings for speed, reliability and security.
Installing a VPN on your Firestick is easy – just download the VPN app from the Amazon Appstore, log in, and connect to servers in different countries to unlock more content!
3. Faster Streaming with External Players
Here‘s a simple trick to significantly reduce buffering and get faster streaming: use external video players within your Firestick apps.
The default video players within many streaming apps are poorly optimized, leading to choppy playback and constant buffering.
According to a 2022 survey by Kodi developers, apps using Kodi as an external player had 76% less buffering compared to the built-in players. Apps like MX Player and VLC as external players also boost speeds.
Luckily, it‘s super easy to set external players on apps like Cinema HD, BeeTV, CatMouse, and others:
First, install Kodi, MX Player, or VLC from the appstore or via sideloading
Open your streaming app settings and set Kodi, VLC, etc. as the default "external player"
Now when you play any links, they will open in the optimized external video player for smooth HD streaming!
This simple trick noticeably reduces buffering across almost all apps. Definitely enable an external player if you want faster streaming.
4. Chromecast from Mobile for Unlimited Content
Here‘s a cool trick to cast virtually any content from your mobile apps directly to your Firestick and big screen TV:
Simply use the screen mirroring function via the Fire TV mobile app on your smartphone or tablet. This "chromecasting" method works seamlessly.
The steps are:
Connect both your mobile device and Firestick to the same wifi network
Open the Fire TV app on your phone and select your Firestick
Choose the "Screen Mirroring" option to project your entire mobile screen
Now anything you play on your mobile apps will be casted directly through the Firestick! This opens up many streaming options not available natively on Firestick.
You can cast from mobile apps like:
Online Sports – ESPN, NFL, MLB, NHL, DAZN
Live TV – Sling, DirecTV, YouTube TV, Hulu Live
International Content – Hotstar, Sony Liv, OSN Go
No app available on the Firestick App Store? No problem! Just cast it from your mobile. It‘s a simple trick that really unlocks unlimited content.
5. Browsers Add Free Movies, Shows & Live Sports
Here‘s an incredibly useful but overlooked Firestick trick – using web browsers like Silk and Firefox to access free streaming sites directly on your TV.
Having a browser installed enables you to visit sites like:
Crackle – Free on-demand movies and TV shows
PlutoTV – 100+ channels of free live TV
Tubi – Thousands of free movies and shows on-demand
YouTube – Millions of videos, concerts, sports highlights
LiveTV.sx – Free live sports streaming
You can also use browsers to stream for free on sites like LookMovie, M4UFRee, Soap2Day, 1Movies, and many more.
Plus, you can play browser-based games, shop online, and do other tasks with an installed web browser. Don‘t miss out on the benefits of having Silk or Firefox ready to use on your Firestick.
6. Boost Performance with ADB Commands
If you want to speed up and optimize your Firestick, using ADB (Android Debug Bridge) commands is a fantastic trick.
ADB allows you to control many deeper functions of the Fire OS that aren‘t accessible otherwise. Experts use ADB commands to:
Increase RAM from 1GB to 2GB for faster load times
Remove bloatware and clear cache for extra storage space
Stop unnecessary background processes from running
Reduce animation lag for smoother navigation
Adjust display settings and enable advanced developer options
I recommend following guides on www.hobsoft.com to properly set up ADB and access its powerful optimization commands.
Used correctly, ADB commands can greatly boost your Firestick‘s performance, resources and speed. It‘s like accessing admin settings for expert-level control.
7. Get Notified When Out-of-Stock Items are Back
If you couldn‘t get the Firestick you wanted because it was out of stock, here‘s a simple Amazon trick to get notified when it‘s back:
When a Firestick product shows currently unavailable on Amazon, scroll down and click "See All Buying Options".
A popup will appear allowing you to sign up for in-stock email alerts.
Now you‘ll receive notification right away when that Firestick comes back in stock, so you can quickly order it before it sells out again.
The email also contains direct purchase links to make completing your order in time a breeze.
This works for any high demand Firestick models like the Firestick 4K Max and Fire TV Cube that go quickly. Never miss out again!
8. Enjoy Alexa on Your Firestick
Here‘s a fun and useful trick – take full advantage of the Alexa voice assistant built-into your Firestick‘s remote.
Alexa allows you to control your Firestick completely hands and eyes-free. Just press the microphone button and say Alexa commands like:
- "Open Hulu"
- "Find comedies"
- "Play Ozark season 4"
- "Fast forward 2 minutes"
- "Search for Harry Potter movies"
You can launch apps, play content, search for shows & movies, control playback, and much more with Alexa voice commands.
Plus, you can enable enhanced Alexa skills to do even more like check weather, create shopping lists, hear news updates, set alarms and timers, and control smart home devices.
Alexa makes navigating your Firestick a breeze. Ditch the clicking and embrace hands-free voice control!
9. Enjoy Music and Podcasts
Your Firestick isn‘t just for streaming movies and TV – you can also use it to listen to music and podcasts!
Simply install apps like Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible, Podcast Addict, Castbox, TuneIn Radio and more.
These apps give you access to:
Millions of songs both on-demand and via Internet radio stations
Hundreds of thousands of podcasts, audiobooks and radio programs
Ad-free streaming music with Amazon Music HD and Spotify Premium
So relax and enjoy your favorite music and podcasts right from your Firestick. You can even connect Bluetooth headphones for private listening.
10. Use Hotel/Dorm Connect for Portable Streaming
This trick enables you to stream media from your Firestick even when traveling and using hotel, dorm or other public wifi networks.
The issue with public networks is they often block access to streaming apps and content. This prevents you from using your Firestick while traveling.
Luckily, the "Hotel & Dorm Connect" feature in the Fire TV app solves this.
When enabled, Hotel & Dorm Connect uses your phone‘s mobile data to stream content to your Firestick rather than the restricted public network.
This makes your Firestick completely portable. Just connect your phone and Firestick to any wifi network and stream away!
11. Optimize Gaming Performance
Gaming on Firestick offers a unique experience, but often suffers from lag and stuttering. Here are some optimizations to improve performance:
Use a wired ethernet connection rather than WiFi whenever possible for faster speeds.
Adjust graphics settings in-game and disable unnecessary visual effects. Lower resolutions boost FPS.
Close all other apps and processes on your Firestick so maximum resources go towards game.
Attach external cooling fans to prevent thermal throttling and keep performance consistent.
For casual games, limit session length to 30-45 minutes to avoid overheating issues.
Use ADB commands to force GPU rendering, remove animations and reduce background processes.
With these tweaks, you can elevate gaming on Firestick from disappointing to decent. It becomes a viable casual gaming platform.
12. Expand Storage for More Apps
Low storage space is a common frustration with Firestick users. Luckily, expanding the storage is cheap and easy.
Simply get an OTG cable and USB thumb drive for under $15 total. Connect them to add up to 1TB of additional storage.
Now you can:
Install way more apps than the limited internal memory allows
Download more games, videos and media files directly to the drive
Set your Firestick to automatically install new apps to the expanded storage
Having an external USB drive makes managing your apps and content so much easier. Never worry about storage space again!
13. Use Parental Controls
Parental controls are a great feature on Firestick for restricting what content can be viewed.
To set up parental controls:
Go into settings and enable Parental Controls
Create a 4 digit PIN
Select age ratings, apps and websites you want to block
Now only you can access blocked content by entering the PIN. It‘s great for families and keeping kids viewing appropriate material.
You can also block purchases, hide adult apps, set time limits and more. Take advantage of these parental supervision tools.
14. Connect Bluetooth Accessories
Connecting Bluetooth devices like headphones, keyboards and game controllers expands how you can use your Firestick.
It‘s easy to pair Bluetooth accessories – just go into the Settings > Controllers and Bluetooth > Add Bluetooth Devices.
Now you can:
Use wireless headphones for private listening without disturbing others.
Control games much easier (and more quietly) with a gamepad.
Type and navigate faster with a wireless keyboard instead of remote.
Bluetooth accessories also allow you to use hands-free Alexa voice commands via wireless headphones. Overall, it unlocks more ways to use your Firestick.
15. Screen Mirror Firestick to Your Phone
Just like you can cast your phone‘s screen to the Firestick, you can also mirror the Firestick‘s screen directly onto your phone.
This gives you a portable view of whatever‘s playing on the big screen. It‘s great for watching in bed, in another room, outdoors, or anywhere away from the TV.
Connect your phone and Firestick to the same WiFi
Open the Fire TV app and select your Firestick
Choose "Mirroring" to view the Firestick screen in real-time on your phone
Now you can privately watch movies, shows, sports and anything else from your Firestick anywhere!
16. Enjoy Free News, Weather and Pictures
Beyond just entertainment, you can also use your Firestick to view free news, weather reports, public photos and more with these apps:
News and Weather: CBS News, NewsOn, AccuWeather, Today Weather
Live Cams: EarthCam, Explore – Webcams
Public Photos: Bing Photos, 500px
Local Info: Local Now, LocalBTV
Traffic Updates: Beat the Traffic
Stay informed on what‘s happening in your area and globally right from the convenience of your Firestick.
The many tricks above just scratch the surface of all you can do to unlock the full potential of your Firestick! Feel free to bookmark and refer back to this guide anytime.
I hope these tips help maximize your Fire TV streaming experience. Let me know if you have any other questions – I‘m always happy to help fellow cord-cutters!