I read a lot of out of copyright (and sometimes out of print) books, which I download from Gutenberg.org and then transfer from my Mac to my Kindle, usually with the excellent Calibre app. I just connected my Kindle to my Mac with a regular micro USB cable, and while the Kindle charged okay it didn't show up as a storage device on my Mac and Calibre didn't recognise it, either.

I then tried another micro USB cable, and that didn't connect the Kindle as a storage device, either (it charged it, though, just like before). Finally, I dug out the micro USB cable that shipped with my Kindle and this one worked: my Mac recognised my Kindle as a storage device, and Calibre was able to send books to my Kindle.

So, should any micro USB cable work fully with my Kindle (i.e., connects it to my Mac as a storage device, as well as charging it)? If not, what's special about the cable that shipped with my Kindle?

  • I found the same, after trying with various OTG cables. I can only connect to my Mac via the original Kindle cable. – pieemme Oct 8 at 9:25
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Additionally, there are some USB cables that are with charge-only feature. They have less pins, usually a lot cheaper or come with devices that are not made for a pc-device storage connection. For example, a Chinese cable for 0.99$ or a cable that came with a portable charger (power bank). I've come across quite a few of these in my life, they will not work with your Android phone also, or your camera, or any other device that needs the data transfer pins.

[Edit] oh, and NO, the cable that goes with your Kindle is NOT the only one it can use, it's only the ability to transfer data with it that is required, as already stated by the other answerer :-)

I don't have a Kindle Paperwhite, but I have used other Kindle devices.

The cable is generic. Any matching cable should work. Most of my file transfer I did by sending the books as email attachments (downloading) rather than copying over USB (sideloading). Both worked for me. With USB I used a standard micro USB cable but not the one that shipped with the Kindle. There was nothing special about the cable shipped with the Kindle in my experience.

This post on the mobile read forum has three people saying they used generic cables with the paperwhite 2

This answer on ebooks.stackexchange.com has details on how to get books on your device if your USB cable is not working.

On your Mac, using each cable one at a time, what do the Apple menu > About This Mac > System Report > Hardware > USB details say? Does the paperwhite cable show a kindle device and the other two a different device?

Is it possible that two of the cables are old/broken and the cable with the paperwhite is the only one functioning?

Interesting I have 2 kindles. a paperweight and a voyage. The older paperweight allows me to download books from iMac via calibre on it. The newer paperweight (voyage) - no joy with the same cable! I have tried multiple times. Works with one so not the other. So the cable works differently across different kindles.

There are several possibilities that may explain your problem.

First, as was suggested by Непитерская Кошка in his answer, it could be that the cables you tried are charge only. Some very cheap USB-like cables are intended only to make electric connections in order to charge devices, but they will not carry any data. I own such a cable, which actually features a multiplicity of connector, not all in USB physical format, including many that would not be usable for anything but charging.

However all other connectors I acquired, including those provided with an electric charger, were capable of carrying data, so that I expect charge only USB cable to be fairly rare.

Another problem may arise because there are several USB standards, today basically USB 2 and USB 3 (though subversions exist, such as USB 3.1).

These standards are supposed to be compatible, working at the speed of the components using the oldest version. Bu that is not always the case, from what I can read on some sites.

Basically you have 3 elements involved:

  • the connector on the computer
  • the connector on the kindle
  • the connecting cable

Each can be USB 2 or USB 3, or some sub-version of them.

According to https://www.howtogeek.com/222400/do-usb-3.0-connections-require-usb-3.0-cables/ it is possible that a USB 2.0 cable will work (at USB 2.0 speeds), for some, but not all, USB 3.0 devices.

This could be the reason for your problem, depending on the kind of cables and connectors you have.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.