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Installing Kindlegen and Kindle Previewer

This explanation augments the guide in the manual and book, since users can have trouble with installing and configuring these applications, especially on Windows. For now this page is for Windows users - users of other operating systems can refer to the Configuring Jutoh appendix in the Jutoh book.

What are they?

First, what are these utilities? It's important to be clear about their different roles:

  • Kindlegen is a utility to help Jutoh (and other applications) generate .mobi (Mobipocket/Kindle) files. The name is from "Kindle Generator".
  • Kindle Previewer is an application to view .mobi files, so you can see what they will look like on various devices.

Jutoh can be configured to make use of both of these utilities from Amazon. Kindlegen is a utility that you don't normally run standalone - it's something Jutoh must run. On the other hand, Kindle Previewer can be run standalone as well as from Jutoh.

Installing and configuring Kindlegen

You can get Kindlegen from Amazon, but it's easier to get Jutoh to download and install it. Click on Options in the toolbar to get to the Preferences dialog; then click on Helpers in the list on the left, and scroll down until you see the button Help Me Install Kindlegen. (You can also see this button in the Setup Wizard.)

This will show the Kindlegen Installation dialog; now click on Download and Install. If all goes well, Kindlegen will be installed and Jutoh will now know where to find it. If there was a problem, you can download the Zip file from Amazon, extract it to a folder, and then click Browse in Preferences/Helpers to tell Jutoh where kindlegen.exe is.

To test out the ability to create Kindle files, open the Lena sample from Browse Samples on the Help menu (or open your own project), select the Mobipocket configuration in the Control Panel, and press Compile. If Jutoh told you that Kindlegen could not be found, check that you didn't delete or move the original installation folder, and choose the correct location of the kindlegen.exe file in Preferences/Helpers.

If the automated Kindlegen download failed, it may be because Amazon has changed the version and location of Kindlegen. Please email us about it and we'll update the web site file that tells Jutoh where to find Kindlegen. Meanwhile you can download it from Amazon directly.

Installing and configuring Kindle Previewer

As before, you can get Kindle Previewer from Amazon, but it's easier to get Jutoh to download and install it because it saves you the configuration step. This time, you can only invoke automatic installation from the Setup Wizard invoked from the View menu (or shown when you first run Jutoh).

Click Help Me Install Kindle Previewer. Jutoh will attempt to download Kindle Previewer - it's quite a large download - and install it. Jutoh will then add a Kindle Previewer command to the list of commands that Jutoh uses when you click on the Launch button.

If Kindle Previewer is already the default association for .mobi files in Windows, Jutoh will disable its Kindle Previewer command. Otherwise, when you press Launch, you would get a choice of 'Default' and 'Kindle Previewer' which both do the same thing. However, you might later install Kindle for PC which takes over the .mobi association. In that case you might wish to enable the Kindle Previewer command as an alternative viewer. To do this:

  1. Go to Preferences/Helpers;
  2. choose 'Mobipocket files (mobi)' from the drop-down control at the top;
  3. click Configure, click on 'Kindle Previewer' and tick (check) the Show this command checkbox;
  4. click OK to confirm this choice, and click OK again to dismiss the Preferences dialog.

Now when you press Launch, you will be given a choice of the default viewer and Kindle Previewer.

More about installing Kindle Previewer

The Kindle Previewer installation has a few quirks that are worth pointing out. For a start, it's installed in a rather weird location. It's easy to find it hard to locate if manually configuring Jutoh. On Windows XP, the location is:

C:\Documents and Settings\Joe Bloggs\Local Settings\Application Data\
  Amazon\Kindle Previewer\KindlePreviewer.exe

On Vista and Windows 7 it might be:

C:\Users\Joe Bloggs\AppData\Local\
  Amazon\Kindle Previewer\KindlePreviewer.exe

You can also find this location by right-clicking on the Kindle Previewer icon, clicking on Properties, and copying and pasting from the Target field.

You might expect Kindle Previewer to be associated with the .mobi file format after you have installed it. However, this is not the case. Double-clicking on a .mobi file will not invoke Kindle Previewer. This is probably to avoid interference with Kindle for PC if installed. If using automated download and install, Jutoh will add its own association between .mobi and Kindle Previewer. However, if you want to add the association for all Windows applications, you can do the following:

  1. Double-click on a .mobi file in Windows Explorer;
  2. choose Select the program from a list;
  3. if Kindle Previewer is available on the list, select it, otherwise click on Browse and select the kindlepreviewer.exe file using the above locations as a guide for finding it;
  4. check Always use the selected program to open this kind of file;
  5. press OK.

You should now be able to double-click on Mobi files to show them in Kindle Previewer. When you press Launch in Jutoh, 'Default' will invoke Kindle Previewer. You may wish to switch off the Kindle Previewer command in Preferences/Helpers to avoid a choice of viewer.

One user found that Kindle Previewer wasn't working at all on Vista, when double-clicking on Kindle Previewer in the Start menu. Nothing was happening, with no error message. He found that he had to right click on the program and choose "Run this program in compatibility mode for Windows XP (Service Pack 3)".

Using Kindle Previewer to convert Epubs

In a word - don't! If you launch an Epub using Kindle Previewer, it will automatically convert the Epub to Mobipocket. So you might end up with a .mobi file even though you haven't installed or configured Kindlegen. However, this is potentially bad because it bypasses Jutoh's Kindle optimization. As a result you may find broken list items in the Kindle file, and other poor formatting. So always:

  1. Configure kindlegen correctly in Jutoh;
  2. select the Mobipocket configuration and click on Compile;
  3. generate different formats using different configurations to avoid confusion (don't select multiple formats for one configuration).