In this article, I will take you through some of the FireStick settings that will improve your streaming experience, enhance your privacy, and better the overall experience with the device. You can apply the same to other Fire TV devices too including FireStick 4K and Fire TV Cube.
When you set up your Amazon FireStick for the first time, your device is assigned the default settings (also called factory settings). You may keep using FireStick without feeling the need to change any of the settings. However, changing some of the settings may customize FireStick which is more suited to your needs.
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Best Settings for FireStick
Coming up next is the list of the various FireStick settings you can change. Even though you can always revert to the default settings, I recommend that you keep these settings to enjoy FireStick to its best capability and also to maintain your privacy.
We will talk about the different settings one by one (not necessarily in any order of priority)
1. Enable ADB Debugging & Install from Unknown Apps
This is probably one of the first settings you should change on your FireStick / Fire TV, especially enabling the option Install Unknown Apps.
When Apps from Unknown Sources is enabled, you can sideload and install third-party apps onto FireStick. Not all the apps you want are available on the Amazon Store; many of them must be downloaded manually.
With ADB Debugging enabled, you can use certain apps like Mouse Toggle. You would want this option turned on if you want to connect your FireStick to a computer.
Here is how you can do it:
1. Access the Settings option from the home screen of FireStick / Fire TV / FireStick 4K. You will find it in the menu bar on the top
2. Choose the option My Fire TV on the next window
3. Now, you want to open Developer Options
4. Turn on ADB Debugging
Now, click Install Unknown Apps
5. When you click Install Unknown Apps, you see a list of the apps. Turn this option ON for the app which you want to use to sideload apps on FireStick
Downloader is the most popular sideloading app for FireStick. Install the Downloader app and then turn this setting on for this app.
2. Manage your Privacy Settings and disable Data Monitoring
Amazon rolled out an update for FireStick late in 2018 that enabled data monitoring by default and allowed the company to collect user data related to app usage and device usage.
Even though Amazon is a renowned organization, we do not want anyone stealing or using our data in any way that could compromise your privacy.
While the FireStick privacy settings are ‘ON’ by default, you can easily turn them OFF. Follow the steps below:
1. Go to the FireStick Settings from the home screen
2. Open Preferences on this window
3. Click Privacy Settings when the following set of options are displayed
4. Turn OFF the following options: Device Usage Data & Collect App Usage Data
Note: It is totally up to you whether you want to keep ‘Interest-based Ads’ ON or OFF. To be on the safer side, I have disabled this option
5. Now, press the back button once to go the Preferences menu again (or from the FireStick home screen navigate to Settings > Preferences)
6. Click Data Monitoring
7. Make sure Data Monitoring is OFF on the next screen
3. Change the Amazon Appstore settings
There are a few options in the Appstore settings you might want to change for a better experience with FireStick. Here is what you can do:
1. Open the FireStick Settings again from the home window
2. Choose and then click the option Applications
3. Next, go ahead and open Appstore
Here is how you would want the various settings to be:
- Automatic Updates: Keep it ON so that the apps update automatically whenever there is an update. This option works only with the apps installed from the Amazon Appstore and not any third-party apps you might have sideloaded
- External Market Links: Certain apps have links that redirect you to the Amazon Appstore for the installation of other apps. Click this option and either choose Ask Before Opening (recommended) or Don’t Open.
- In-App Purchases: Keep this option OFF. It will make sure you don’t end up making in-app purchases accidentally. This will also prevent kids from making in-app purchases.
- Manage My Subscriptions: This option does nothing. It simply asks you to go to www.amazon.com/appstoresubscriptions to manage your subscriptions
- Notifications: You may turn this option OFF if you don’t want to be bothered by the Appstore notifications
4. Change App Notification Settings
Notifications are often more annoying than they are useful. There are some apps that you need, but they keep throwing irrelevant notification. This could get a bit frustrating and may even affect your overall FireStick and streaming experience.
Thankfully, you can disable app notifications universally for all apps or choose to turn the notifications OFF for specific apps. And, you can do that for apps from Amazon Store as well as the third-party apps that have been sideloaded onto FireStick.
Follow these steps:
1. Open FireStick Settings one more time
2. Open the option Preferences
3. Click Notification Settings
4. If you want to disable notifications from all the apps, turn ON the option DO Not Interrupt
On the other hand, if you would like notification disabled for specific apps, click App Notifications and choose the desired app
5. Disable Video and Audio Autoplay
The home screen of FireStick displays the ‘featured content’ around the top, underneath the menu bar (and above the row Recent).
The video and audio and preview of the content start playing automatically when you leave the home screen idle even for a few seconds. I personally find it a little annoying and if so do you, here is how you can disable it:
1. Go to the Settings Menu on FireStick
2. Click Preferences
3. Click Featured Content on the next screen
4. Turn OFF the following options: Allow Video Autoplay and Allow Audio Autoplay
6. Change the FireStick Display settings
Choosing the right video and display settings is important if you want smooth and judder-free streaming experience. The default display settings of FireStick often work with most streaming applications. However, at certain times, tweaking the settings may give you more satisfactory streaming results.
Follow the steps below:
1. Open FireStick Settings
2. Open the option Display & Sounds
3. Click Display on the following screen
Here are the options you can explore:
- Video Resolution: Choose the desired video resolution. However, I recommend the Auto mode so that FireStick selects the best available resolution for you
- Match Original Frame Rate: FireStick usually either works at the 60Hz or 50Hz frame rate. However, a lot of videos are usually shot at 25 Hz or lower frame rate. If the frame rates aren’t matching, you might see occasional judder during the playback. You may turn Match Original Frame Rate ON to allow FireStick to match the frame rate of the native content, provided you are using a supported app. Also, the Video Resolution setting must be set to ‘Auto’ for this option to work
- Color Depth: Choose between 8 (default), 10, or 12 bits. Your TV must support the color depth setting you have chosen
- Color Format: Set it to ‘Auto’ and best let FireStick choose the most suitable format for you
- Calibrate Display: For the best streaming experience, you would want the videos to be fully displayed. If they aren’t, choose this option to calibrate the display and contain the videos within the 4 sides of your TV
- Dynamic Range Settings: You can choose between ‘Always HDR’ and ‘Adaptive’. Choose the former only if your TV supports HDR
When you are streaming with Kodi, free movie apps, or IPTV, your first concern should be your privacy. Though the above settings will help you safeguard your privacy from Amazon and its partners, you are still exposed to your ISP, your Government, and the hackers.
To overcome this issue, I always use ExpressVPN on all my streaming devices. It keeps all my browsing and streaming activities hidden from prying eyes. If you are not using a VPN already, I suggest you give it a try. A good VPN not only helps to protect your privacy, but it also unblocks geo-restricted content, bypasses ISP throttling, and helps in buffer-free streaming.
ExpressVPN is the top VPN for FireStick. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee allowing you to freely use its services for the first 30-days and then you can request a refund if you don’t want to continue. Thanks to the Holiday season, there is also an ongoing offer where you can save 49% over its regular price.
So, here are some of the most useful settings for FireStick that, when changed, improve your overall experience with the device. However, if you do feel we missed something important or interesting, let us know via the comments section below.
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