You’re spending a relaxing afternoon reading an e-book on your new Kindle 2 e-book reader and the thought strikes you – “I need to check my e-mail to see if I’ve heard back from my daughter!” Now normally that means that you have to stop reading, put down your Kindle, and check your e-mail account on your computer. But, if you have a Gmail account you can read and respond to e-mails right on your Kindle!

First, go to your Kindle’s built-in basic web browser (Home > Menu > Experimental > Basic Web). Next, make sure that Javascript for your Kindle’s browser is turned on (Browser > Menu > Settings > Enable Javascript). Finally, go to the Gmail Internet address (Browser > Menu > Enter URL > www.gmail.com), enter your Username and Password.

IMPORTANT – use the standard Gmail URL and not the Google URL provided by default in the Kindle’s bookmark folder. If you try to access your Gmail from the URL provided in your Kindle you will be prompted to load a Google Gmail application. Applications cannot be loaded onto your Kindle so this will fail – you need to use the URL provided above to be able to use your Gmail account.

Are you a Twitter user? If you’d like to send a “Tweet” to your friends and followers about the great new book your reading on your Kindle you can do it right from your Kindle. This popular microblogging service offers a mobile version that works great on your Kindle.

Go to your Kindle’s built-in basic web browser (Home > Menu > Experimental > Basic Web). Next, make sure that Javascript for your Kindle’s browser is turned on (Browser > Menu > Settings > Enable Javascript). Finally, go to the Twitter Mobile URL (Browser > Menu > Enter URL > www.m.twitter.com), enter your Username and Password.

IMPORTANT – The standard Twitter URL is too complex for your Kindle to display properly. Use the URL above for best results on your Kindle.

Have you ever wanted to “save” a page you were reading to share with a friend? The Kindle has two different ways to do this. The first way is to take a screen shot of the page you wish to share. To take a screen shot hold down the and the keys then press the “G” key. You will notice that the Kindle screen will “flash” showing that the Kindle created the screen shot.

The screen shots are stored in your Kindle’s “documents” folder as image files with a .gif extension. You can get them by plugging your Kindle into your computer using the USB cable that you got with your Kindle. Open “My Computer” and look for the Kindle drive icon. Double click on the icon to open up your Kindle and then double-click on the “documents” folder. Look for files that end with .gif and you’ll find the screen shots you just made.

To share them with your friends you can save the files to your computer and then attach them to an e-mail message. You also can print-out the screen shots by opening them in a graphic program such as Windows Paint or Windows Internet Explorer. The quality is not great – but is certainly acceptable for sharing several pages.

There is another way to capture and share passages from Kindle e-books. When you highlight passages from Kindle e-books and make notes your Kindle saves them to a file in the “documents” folder called “My Clippings.txt”. You can open this file with a program like Windows Notepad and copy your highlights to save in another program or share.

To do this, go to the passage you wish to share. Move the Kindle cursor to the beginning of the passage you want to save and click the navigation button. Now move the cursor to the end of the passage you want to save and press the navigation button again once all of the text is highlighted. This will save the highlighted text to the “My Clippings.txt” file.

Plug your Kindle into your computer then look for the Kindle icon in “My Computer.” Double- click on the Kindle drive icon then double-click on the “documents” folder. Locate the “My Clippings.txt” file and double-click on it to open it in Windows Notepad. Find the text you highlighted on the Kindle. It should be at the bottom of the file. You can copy the text and paste it into a program like Microsoft Word to save it. Or you can copy and paste the text into an e-mail message.

Up to now we’ve been talking about text – now let’s talk about graphics. If you haven’t noticed, your Kindle 2 offers the ability to enlarge graphics so you can actually see them! To do this simply move your cursor over the graphic and it will change to a magnifying glass. Press the navigator button and your Kindle will zoom-in on the image so that it fills the Kindle’s screen.

This is very handy when you are reading books with technical graphics or screen shots. The Kindle 2′s screen is enough better quality that these graphics are worthwhile reviewing as you read through your books. To return to the original page view, press the button or the button.

Congratulations! Now you can use your Kindle 2 to check your Gmail, Twitter, take screen shots to save or share, save or share passages from Kindle e-books, and make graphics in your e-books more relevant by using the Kindle’s “zoom” feature.