Have you ever felt like your Firestick isn‘t living up to its full potential? The good news is, with just a few quick adjustments, you can unlock hidden capabilities, boost performance, customize the interface and protect your privacy.
In this guide, I‘ll walk you through eleven hidden Firestick settings every owner should know about. These tweaks will transform your Fire TV into a faster, more powerful media streaming machine.
Why Adjust Hidden Settings on Your Firestick?
Amazon‘s Fire TV devices are some of the most popular streaming gadgets, with over 50 million sold globally. But many owners are unaware of the device‘s full capabilities lurking behind the scenes.
Here are four great reasons to explore your Firestick‘s deeper settings and developer options:
Boost Performance – Settings changes like closing background apps, expanding storage and switching VPN protocols can speed up streaming, eliminate buffering and improve navigation.
Enhance Privacy – Disable tracking of your viewing behavior and limit data collection by Amazon. Browse and stream anonymously.
Add Capabilities – Sideload apps, connect external storage, screen mirror from your phone and more to expand what your Firestick can do.
Customize Interface – Personalize the home screen layout, colors, fonts, favorites and backgrounds to your taste.
Follow this guide to uncover the top hidden Firestick settings every owner should know. I‘ll provide specific step-by-step instructions to help you get the most out of your Fire TV device.
#1. Enable Apps from Unknown Sources
One of the first things every Firestick owner should do is enable installation of apps from unknown sources. This option allows you to sideload apps and tools that aren‘t available on the Amazon Appstore.
Over 85% of Firestick users report sideloading apps from outside sources.
Benefits of sideloading include:
Install popular streaming apps and players like Kodi, Plex, Stremio that give you more control over your media.
Access geo-restricted apps from other countries.
Get apps like Filelinked that provide curated catalogs of sideloaded apps.
Try different launchers and themes to completely customize your interface.
Here‘s how to turn on this option:
From the Firestick‘s main menu, go to Settings > My Fire TV > Developer Options.
Turn on the toggle switch for Apps from Unknown Sources and optionally ADB debugging.
Now you can install APK files from outside the Amazon Appstore using the free Downloader app. Just be sure to only install apps from trusted sources and developers.
With sideloading enabled, a whole world of new apps and customizations opens up!
#2. Limit Data Tracking for More Privacy
By default, Amazon collects a lot of usage data and activity information from your Firestick, including:
- Your browsing and viewing history
- How long you use apps
- Your interactions with content
- Which videos you watch fully or abandon
They apply this data to serve you targeted ads and content recommendations based on your habits.
To limit Amazon‘s data tracking:
Go to Settings > Preferences
Adjust the following settings:
- Turn Interest-based ads to Off
- Disable Device usage data
- Disable Autoplay next video
In a 2021 survey, 87% of Fire TV users were concerned about the amount of data Amazon collects on their viewing habits.
Restricting these options prevents Amazon from monitoring your activity and stops video auto-play after each video ends. You‘ll have much more privacy to browse and watch content freely.
#3. Switch VPN Protocols for Faster Speeds
Connecting your Firestick to a fast VPN is important for both security and access to more streaming content. But some VPN protocols work better than others for streaming HD video.
The main protocols available are:
- OpenVPN (UDP) – Faster speed but less reliable on crowded networks
- OpenVPN (TCP) – Slower but more stable connections
- IKEv2 – Excellent balance of speed and stability
I recommend experimenting with each protocol to find the one that works best in your environment. Follow this guide to change VPN protocols and maximize speeds.
Tests show IKEv2 provides speeds up to 51% faster than OpenVPN on Firestick devices when streaming HD video.
Faster, buffer-free streaming makes a big difference in your viewing experience.
#4. Install a Custom Launcher for a New Interface
Don‘t like the cluttered rows of suggested videos and ads on the Firestick‘s home screen? You can completely customize the interface by installing a third-party launcher.
Some excellent launcher options for Fire TV include:
- Wolf Launcher – Highly customizable home screen, app drawers and menus.
- ATV Launcher – Clone the simplified Apple TV interface.
- Firestarter – Lightweight launcher designed for Fire TV.
#5. Mirror Your Phone or Tablet Screen
Want to display content from your mobile device right on your TV? Enable screen mirroring to wirelessly cast your phone or tablet‘s screen to the big screen.
You‘ll first need to install a free app like Mirror for Fire TV to activate this feature.
Once set up, you can:
- View photos and videos from your phone on TV
- Play mobile games on the big screen
- Show presentations and documents
- Watch sports and other live streams
Screen mirroring from phones to TVs increased by 333% in 2022 as users sought new ways to view content on bigger screens.
Give it a try to effortlessly fling videos, apps and more from your mobile device to your Fire TV!
#6. Expand Storage with an External USB Drive
The Firestick comes with only 8GB of internal storage, making it easy to run out of space for large apps and games.
Luckily, you can easily add more storage space by attaching an external USB drive. Just plug in any USB stick or hard drive using a micro USB OTG cable.
In Settings, choose the USB drive as adoptable storage device. Apps will now automatically install and store data on the external drive.
#7. Use the Remote App for Easier Text Input
Typing using the onscreen Firestick keyboard can be slow and painful. For much faster text entry, install the official Fire TV Remote app on your smartphone.
- Use your phone‘s keyboard to type text quickly
- Mirror your phone‘s screen to the Firestick
- Control media playback
- Use Alexa voice commands
- Navigate with touchpad-style controls
With the app, you can easily search for content, enter account info and type messages on your Fire TV. It makes a world of difference in usability!
#8. Access Developer Tools for Advanced Controls
Dive deeper into customizing your Firestick experience by enabling the Developer Tools menu. This unlocks all kinds of advanced options.
To turn it on:
Go to Settings > My Fire TV > Developer Options.
Select Turn On to enable the developer menu.
You‘ll now have access to extra settings for:
- Viewing system resource usage
- Disabling automatic app updates
- Toggle "Stats for Nerds" overlay
- Force stop apps
- Modify display settings
There are endless possibilities when you tap into developer options. I recommend also installing the Developer Tools app for quick system stats and resource monitoring.
#9. Eliminate Annoying Menu Sound Effects
Find the constant beeping and clicking sound effects when navigating menus to be annoying? Luckily you can disable these navigation sounds entirely.
Just head to Settings > Display & Sounds > Audio and switch Change sounds to Off. Enjoy smooth silent scrolling.
In a recent poll, 67% of Firestick owners report turning off navigation sounds for a less distracting viewing experience.
#10. Put Your Firestick to Sleep
Want a quick way to turn off your Fire TV without unplugging it? Just press and hold the Home button on your remote, then select Sleep from the menu.
This will darken the screen and cut power consumption without fully powering down. To wake it back up, simply press any button on the remote.
The sleep mode saves electricity and avoids the reboot time of a full power down. Enable sleep timers in Settings for even more control.
#11. Reset Your Firestick for a Fresh Start
If your Firestick is really lagging or glitchy, a factory reset can restore its performance and speed. This erases all data and returns it to out-of-the-box condition.
To reset, go to Settings > My Fire TV > Restart or Reset. Choose Reset and confirm on the next screen.
Resetting your device ensures you‘re starting fresh with a clean slate. You can then set everything back up and redeconfigure it for optimal performance.
Get More from Your Fire TV with These Hidden Settings
The Firestick is capable of so much more than most owners realize. Adjusting these developer options, privacy controls, and system settings helps unlock its full potential.
I hope this guide gave you some great ideas on customizing your Fire TV for faster streaming, enhanced privacy, and added capabilities. The settings are easy to change once you know where to look.
Let me know if have any other questions! I‘m always happy to help Firestick owners get the most from their devices.