This article was published on May 10, 2022

How to turn off those hellish Popular Highlights on your Kindle

Consider this an early birthday gift

How to turn off those hellish Popular Highlights on your Kindle
Callum Booth
Story by

Callum Booth

Editor of Plugged by TNW

Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He w Callum is an Englishman in Amsterdam, but not in the way you're thinking. He's the Editor of Plugged, TNW's consumer tech vertical. He writes about gear, gadgets, and apps — with a particular focus on Apple — and also makes the occasional odd video. Basically, he's halfway between an abrasive gadget nerd and thinky art boy.

I love reading on the Kindle. It’s convenient, the novels sync across my various devices, and, importantly, I can read at night without disturbing my partner.

There is one deeply frustrating element of Amazon’s ereader, though: Popular Highlights.

I’m certain you’re aware of them already, but just in case you aren’t, they’re sections of text in a book that are underlined.

The idea is to crowdsource the most impactful and interesting sentences and paragraphs. And when enough people highlight that bit of text in a book, your Kindle decides it’s time to let you know.

The problem is it’s awful.

amazon kindle popular highlights example
An example, for your friends, of what Popular Highlights looks like on the Amazon Kindle. Image: Thomas Amberg

Many of the Popular Highlights displayed are trite, the literary version of Live Laugh Love. For example, when you’re reading Game of Thrones and your Kindle lets you know you should really pay extra attention to the line that goes: “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”

Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a bit.

This isn’t all that’s wrong with the Kindle’s Popular Highlights feature — it’s also distracting as all hell. One of the reasons I adore reading is because it’s transportive, it can take you to other worlds, all while being a personal and intimate experience.

And Popular Highlights fuck this up.

Little drags me out of my vivid hallucinations more than being reminded of some jabroni taking time out of their sad little lives to highlight a bit of text they think I just have to check out.

I’m better than that. You’re better than that. Friends, we’re all better than that.

Which is why, now I’m coming to the end of this slobbering rant, that I’m also gonna include on a short guide on how to turn off Popular Highlights on the Kindle.

Yes, you are very welcome.

Here’s how to turn off Popular Highlights on your Kindle

One of the reasons I’m writing this now is because the people at Amazon, like the sneaky hounds they are, actually changed the location for this setting in the last year.

Back in the day, you used to go into Settings, where you could toggle Popular Highlights off in the Reading Options section.

Alas, no more. We’ll come back to why I said “alas,” but first let’s look how you do it on today’s Kindles and the like:

  1. Click on the screen of your Kindle device or app to bring up the menu.
  2. From here, select the “Aa” symbol.
  3. Tap the More tab.
  4. Toggle the Popular Highlights feature off. As it should be.
settings to turn off kindle popular highlights feature
Here are the final two steps in turning off that dumbass Popular Highlights feature.

Easy, right? Even better, this works on any Amazon Kindle device, whether that’s your iPhone, iPad, Android or Fire device, or the physical ereader itself.

There is one issue though: you now have to turn this off for each book.

Remember when I said “alas” earlier? Well, that’s because previously — when turning off Popular Highlights was in regular settings — the feature would remain gone. Now, it needs to be condemned to hell each time you start a new novel.

I sacrifice a married man to Jane Austen’s ghost each day in the hope this reverses.

And until that pays dividends? I hope this piece helps. So go, friend, thrive — live your best jabroni-free, Popular Highlights-less life.

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