The Fire TV Stick, reviewed, is easy to set up and here we’ll show you what you need to do to get up and running so you can watch YouTube, Netflix and Amazon videos, listen to music, get catch-up TV and more.
Note that if you have an Amazon Echo, you can now use Alexa to control your Fire TV using only you voice.
How do I connect a Fire TV Stick to my TV?
Once you’ve got everything out of the box you’ll have the Stick itself, plus a short HDMI extension cable.
Hopefully you’ve already checked that your TV has an HDMI input, as without one you won’t be able to use the Fire TV at all.
Depending on the location of the HDMI input you may or may not need the extension cable. If you end up having problems with Wi-Fi reception and you're not using the cable, install it as it's likely to fix the issue.
What’s important is to use the power supply and USB cable that comes in the box: Amazon says any USB ports you might find on your TV won’t provide enough power for the Stick to work properly, and it won’t work at all until you connect the power cable: it doesn’t take power from the TV’s HDMI port.
Once plugged in and powered up, you just need to select the correct input (or source) on your TV to see the picture from your Fire TV Stick. Usually that’s done with the ‘AV’ button on your TV’s remote, but it may be an icon: a square with an arrow pointing into it.
Note the name or number of the port into which you plugged the Fire TV Stick (usually something like HDMI 1 or HDMI 2) and select that in the list when you press the input button on your TV’s remote control.
How to control the Fire TV Stick
Pop the two AAA batteries from the box into the back of the Voice remote: the whole back slides upwards and off.
Unlike most remotes where the batteries sit in opposite directions, this one requires both batteries to be put in with the + side facing the top. If the remote doesn't automatically pair with your Fire TV Stick, press the home button (you'll see this instruction on your TV screen as well).
Follow the instructions on your TV. One of the first things you’ll need to do is connect the Stick to your home Wi-Fi network. A list of networks should be shown on screen – use the direction controls on the remote to select your network and press the button in the middle to select it.
You can now use the on-screen keyboard to enter your password. If you don't know it, you should find it on your router, and it’s crucial to enter it correctly with upper- and lowercase letters as needed: Wi-Fi passwords are case-sensitive.
Once connected the Fire TV will check for any software updates and install them automatically before you can sign into your Amazon account.
If you don’t have one, it’s easy to sign up with an email address and a password you choose. You’ll be asked if you want to set up a one-click payment for buying (or renting) movies, music, apps, games and TV shows, but you don’t have to. You can optionally require a PIN code to be entered before anything can be purchased to prevent kids from spending your money.
Then you’ll see the welcome video which will explain the home screen and how to navigate around the interface: it’s simple and intuitive.
You’ll then be asked if you want to enable parental controls to restrict the content that can be used without a PIN.
If you have an Amazon Echo - any model is fine - you can ask Alexa to play videos on your Fire TV.
If you have just the one Fire TV, you merely need to ask Alexa (on your Echo) a question involving the Fire TV, such as “Alexa, play the Grand Tour on my Fire TV”. All being well, it should pair automatically and you’ll have hands-free control over searching for shows, fast-forwarding and more.
If you run into problems, open the Alexa app on your phone or tablet and go to the settings to pair your Echo and Fire TV.
You may wonder why you'd want to do this if you have an Alexa remote for your Fire TV. Put simply, it's much more convenient to ask Alexa to search for a programme or "rewind 20 seconds" without having to pick up a remote control and press a button.
If you don't have an Echo, you can buy one from Amazon from just £49.99 / US$49.99.
How to use the Fire TV Voice remote
For the most part, using the remote is fairly obvious: you have play, pause, rewind and fast forward controls, plus back, home and menu buttons above them.
Tip: press and hold the home button to access a shortcut menu to get to settings, put the Stick to sleep and enable screen mirroring.
Press the menu button while watching a video to see options for subtitles and audio languages. And if you’re watching on Prime video, you can press pause to see information on actors which are in that scene, and even select one to get more information about them.
At the top is a microphone button: you press and hold this, wait for the tone on the Fire TV and then say what you want to say.
Mostly, this will be to search for films, TV shows and music, but as the Fire TV Stick also has Alexa, you can say quite a lot, such as “Find action movies”, “Launch BBC iPlayer”, “Next episode” and “Dim the lights”.
Obviously that last one will work only if you have Alexa-compatible smart light bulbs such as Philips Hue or LIFX, but you get the idea. In fact, it’s well worth reading our How to use Alexa guide, as there’s a lot on offer.
How do I install apps on the Fire TV Stick?
That’s very easy. Simply select Apps from the menu that runs across the top of the screen, then browse to find the one you want and select ‘Install’.
You can install apps such as Netflix, iPlayer, ITV Hub, All4 and Demand 5.
Unfortunately, there's no YouTube app (or none that works) because Google is currently blocking Amazon devices from accessing YouTube videos. This is frustrating, but a workaround is to install the Firefox web browser from the app store. This has a handy shortcut to YouTube on its homepage, and you can then search for videos, sign in and access your subscriptions and more.
Although it's fiddly, it's better than no access to YouTube. But we're hoping Amazon and Google can sort out their differences soon and restore proper access via the YouTube app.
Naturally, you don’t need to install any apps to access Amazon content such as videos and music. You can buy or rent films and TV shows, but a more cost-effective way is to buy a subscription to Prime. Our Amazon Prime guide explains everything you need to know.
You can ignore Amazon’s content entirely if you like: you may prefer to sign up to Netflix or install the Plex app and stream video from a computer or NAS drive. Or you might only want to use the Fire TV for watching catch-up TV.
Within the Apps section, you’ll also find games. A lot are free and can be played using the included remote control. But you can also buy a Bluetooth gamepad – Amazon sells one for £39.99 but you can pair others too.