34 Alexa suggestions and tips — CNET

34 Alexa tips and tricks — CNET


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Your Alexa device can really do it all. Whether you need a TV speaker or a home security camera, — or you want to turn your smart home into a haunted house for Halloween — your Amazon Echo has you covered. With all of these neat tricks and the list of Alexa commands ever-growing, it can be easy to overlook the basic — yet useful — things your Echo device can do for you. 

Here’s a list of the 34 most essential tips that will help you get the most from Alexa.

Read more: Amazon announced the new Echo Show 15 smart display at its September 2021 fall product launch event, along with several other new Echo and Ring products

1. Make profiles for every family member

If multiple people in your home have Amazon accounts, you can add them to your Alexa household profile. To check which profile is currently being used, simply ask, “Alexa, which profile is this?” And to switch profiles, say, “Alexa, switch profiles.”

While adding additional members doesn’t give you separate shopping or to-do lists, it does allow you to share content libraries. Beware, though, as it also allows them to use your Prime account to order items.


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2. Create voice profiles

In addition to having multiple accounts linked to a single Alexa speaker, you can set up voice profiles, which enables Alexa to distinguish who is issuing commands and provide personalized results. For instance, if you say, “Alexa, what’s on my calendar?” Alexa will read the upcoming events from your calendar. And if your significant other tells Alexa to play music, it will select music based on their personal music tastes.

3. Change the wake word

Whether you have someone in your house by the name Alexa or you’re tired of Amazon’s commercials waking your speaker, changing the device’s wake word is often the best course of action.

Unfortunately, you can’t set your own wake word (yet), but you can choose between Alexa, Amazon, Computer or Echo. To select one of the three alternate wake words, open the Alexa app or alexa.amazon.com, open Settings, choose your Echo device, click Wake Word, choose one of the four options from the dropdown menu and click Save.

4. ‘Can you say that again?’

If you ever miss one of Alexa’s responses or need her to repeat something, just ask. Say, “Alexa, can you repeat that?” or, “Alexa, can you say that again?” She will repeat what she just said as many times as you need.

You can also look up recent responses in the Home tab of the Alexa app, as well as listen to the recordings of the things you’ve said to Alexa.


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5. Delete all your Amazon voice data

Speaking of which, everything you say to Alexa is recorded and uploaded to Amazon’s servers. If you don’t like the idea of hundreds of voice recordings of things you’ve said to your speaker floating around in the cloud, there are two ways to get rid of all those old recordings. Just know that even after purging all the recordings, a new one will be added every time you speak to Alexa.

6. Solve quick conversions and math problems

Primarily, I use Alexa for controlling my smart home using my voice. It’s far more convenient than digging through my phone to open one or two applications just to control the lights.

The second most convenient use of Alexa for me is quick calculations or conversions, especially while cooking or making coffee. You can convert currencies or measurements and even do mathematic equations. Just say, “Alexa, 15 times 32” or “Alexa, 10 dollars to pounds.”


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7. Add non-supported smart home devices

If you’ve got a mixture of smart-home devices, chances are, there may be a few that aren’t officially supported by Alexa. But you may not be out of luck.

First, double-check that there isn’t an Alexa Skill for that smart device. It there isn’t, check the online connection sites Yonomi and IFTTT to see if your devices are supported. If so, get to know Yonomi or IFTTT, as they can greatly expand the usefulness of Alexa, allowing you to tie several actions to a single voice command, export your Alexa to-do or shopping list to Apple Reminders or Todoist and much more.

Here are some Alexa IFTTT recipes to get you started.

8. Create routines


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Routines allow you to perform multiple actions with a single command. For instance, you can create a routine for the phrase “Good night” that will lock the doors, turn off the lights, lower the thermostat temperature and play your Flash Briefing. Routines can also run on a schedule.

9. Stream any audio using Bluetooth

By default, you can listen to Amazon Prime Music, Audible audiobooks, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio, Pandora and Spotify with the Alexa speakers. You can even have your Kindle books read to you by Alexa herself.

But if you’re looking to play Apple Music, Google Play Music, your own music library or some other unsupported audio, you will need to first pair the Alexa device to a computer or mobile device using Bluetooth. Then you can stream any audio you want, using it as a Bluetooth speaker.

10. Set the default music service to Spotify

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The Amazon Echo is not stuck with Amazon Music when you want to listen to songs.


Chris Monroe/CNET

Not surprisingly, Amazon devices always push in-house services — such as Kindle, Amazon Music, Audible and so on — anywhere they can. With the Echo speakers, however, you can replace Amazon Music as the default music library with Spotify or as the default station service with Pandora or iHeartRadio. Just open the Amazon Alexa app, go to Settings > Music & Media > Choose default music services and select your preferred services.

What this changes is the need to specify “on Spotify” every time you want to stream music. Instead, you will need to say “on Amazon Music” when queueing up a song to play it through Amazon’s music service.

11. Play music on all your Alexa speakers simultaneously

Your Alexa device can stream music to different groups of speakers — or even all speakers — around the house. All you need to do to use this Sonos-like feature is to create an Audio Group in the Alexa app and say, “Alexa, play Manchester Orchestra on [group name].”

12. Watch YouTube movies on the Echo Present

You probably have an Echo Present, you need to use it to look at YouTube movies, be it for cooking directions or simply catching up in your favourite YouTubers whereas doing chores. After YouTube unexpectedly eliminated its video service from the Alexa speaker, assist rapidly returned the next week. Although, now, you will have to entry movies by the YouTube web site.

Now you possibly can say, “Alexa, play cat movies on YouTube.” To make the video fill the display screen, say, “Alexa, zoom in.”

13. Add Alexa abilities along with your voice

In earlier iterations, you might solely add Abilities to your Alexa units through the use of the Alexa app or echo.amazon.com to browse or search the Abilities database and manually add them to your system. The method is clunky, primarily as a result of the poor group of the Abilities repository.

Now you possibly can add Abilities by voice. Assuming you already know the identify of the Talent you wish to add, simply say, “Alexa, allow Lifx” or “Alexa, allow Magic 8-Ball.” After only a few seconds, the ability might be enabled and out there to make use of. Give it a attempt with considered one of our favorites (duh) — the CNET Information ability.

14. Activate the wake-up sound

You needn’t wait on Alexa to gentle up after you’ve got spoken your wake phrase to say a command. You may say, “Alexa, activate the lights” with out pausing.

Should you’re far out of your Alexa speaker and may’t see it, nonetheless, you may wish to affirm she heard you earlier than talking the whole command. If you’d like an audible notification to know Alexa is listening, go to the Alexa app, open Settings > [Echo name] > Sounds and toggle Wake-up sound. For an audible affirmation that Alexa heard your command, you may as well allow the Finish of request sound.

Learn extra: All Amazon Echo wake phrases that are not Alexa — and what they do

15. Add a Voice Distant

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Need to stroll away from the Echo? Convey this distant to maintain the Alexa assistant close by.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Should you have a tendency to sit down too far-off out of your Alexa speaker to reliably management it, equivalent to from the kitchen whereas the speaker lives in the lounge, take into account selecting up a Voice Distant for Amazon Echo. It sells for $30 or £20 and works for each the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot (not the Faucet).

Pair the distant within the Settings menu within the Alexa app, and you may remotely speak to your Echo from throughout the home, in different rooms, and even whereas exterior. It does join utilizing Bluetooth, so the vary is restricted. However it could possibly prevent some frustration in case you’re not at all times close to your Echo.

16. Make calls and ship messages

Echo audio system can even make calls and ship messages to different Alexa customers.

Anybody within the contacts record in your telephone — who can also be an proprietor of an Echo, Echo Dot or Echo Present and has enabled calling — will present up in your Alexa contacts record. You may ship them a message by saying, “Alexa, ship [name] a message,” or name them by saying, “Alexa, name [name].” The message or name will ring all of their Echo units and the Alexa app on their telephone.

Individually, you possibly can allow Drop In with family members so you possibly can examine in on them. Drop In works very similar to voice or video calls, besides the individual on the opposite finish doesn’t need to reply.

17. Use it as an intercom

Much like calling, Amazon added an intercom choice to Echo audio system inside a family. This offers you a direct line of communication to the Echo units unfold round your own home.

Say, “Alexa, drop in on the lounge,” and something you say might be performed by the Echo speaker in the lounge.

18. Use the sunshine ring as an evening gentle


Taylor Martin/CNET

The gentle ring on Alexa audio system can let you know all kinds of knowledge, like what the quantity stage is, whether or not you’ve got missed a name or message and if the mic is turned off. However due to a nifty third-party ability, the sunshine ring can be used as a refined night time gentle. When you allow the ability, simply say, “Alexa, open Night time Mild for 45 minutes.” The sunshine ring will pulse blue for 45 minutes (or nonetheless lengthy you say) or till you say, “Alexa, cease.”

19. Order something from Amazon Prime

You may order thousands and thousands of merchandise simply by asking for them. That wasn’t at all times so. Beforehand, you might solely reorder belongings you had beforehand bought utilizing Prime. Now you possibly can order something that’s Prime-eligible and isn’t attire, jewellery, sneakers, watches, Amazon Recent, Amazon Prime Pantry, Amazon Prime Now or add-on gadgets.

You may even order a Dominos pizza, or a experience from Uber or Lyft.

20. Monitor your Amazon packages

Should you do occur to order one thing from Amazon along with your Echo, Echo Dot or Faucet, you may as well observe these packages by asking, “Alexa, the place’s my stuff?” or saying, “Alexa, observe my order.”

The knowledge Alexa provides you with a few package deal is not too detailed, however it is going to let you know the day the packages are anticipated to reach. The hope now’s for an replace that may at the very least let you know which service the merchandise was shipped with so you possibly can higher anticipate the time it ought to arrive.

21. Get supply notifications

With calling and messaging on Alexa got here notifications for missed calls and unheard messages. The pure development was to have the ability to obtain different notifications from vital abilities or different updates.

For now, the one notifications out there are the package deal supply standing in your Amazon Prime orders. When your order is out for supply, your Echo audio system will let you already know with a yellow gentle ring.

To allow these supply notifications, open the Alexa app and go to Settings > Accounts > Notifications > Procuring Notifications and toggle it on. Third-party abilities will quickly be capable of ship customers notifications. To examine your notifications, simply say, “Alexa, who did I miss?” or, “Alexa, what are my notifications?”

22. Get unique Prime offers

Amazon likes to point out its appreciation for its most loyal prospects, notably those that’ve spent chilly, exhausting money on an Amazon system. Occasionally, Amazon will run particular offers which are reserved completely for Alexa speaker house owners. For example, the Echo Dot and Faucet had been initially solely out there for buy for individuals who owned an Amazon Echo.

Extra lately, Amazon provided Alexa-only Prime Day offers, the place a lot of offers had been reserved for official Amazon Alexa units solely — third-party Alexa units and providers had been excluded from these offers.

23. Settle an argument

Should you and a few mates are torn between the place to go for dinner otherwise you’re undecided the place you wish to take this 12 months’s trip, you possibly can put Alexa in management for completely random determination making. Say, “Alexa, flip a coin” to decide on between two prospects. It’s also possible to roll some cube or ask a Magic 8-Ball (in case you allow the ability).

24. Entry Alexa from a pc

You do not want considered one of Amazon’s audio system or perhaps a third-party Alexa speaker to take the assistant for a spin. All you want is a desktop net browser.

From the online, you possibly can navigate to Echosim.io and log in to your Amazon account. To work together with Alexa, click on and maintain on the microphone button and communicate a command or ask a query. Alexa will reply simply as she would from official {hardware}. Virtually all Alexa options could be accessed by Echosim.io, as effectively. You may allow abilities, management sensible dwelling units and so forth. Nonetheless, you can’t stream audio, and whilst you can set a timer or alarm, there might be no sound when the timer has elapsed or the alarm is about to go off.


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25. Use Alexa from the Amazon

Amazon has replaced the voice search function in the Amazon shopping app with Alexa. You can control your smart home, ask for facts, get unit conversions and much more.

To use it, open the Amazon app on iOS or Android and tap the microphone icon to the right of the search bar. From there, you can ask anything you would normally ask Alexa. You can even stream music, an audiobook or a podcast while you shop from your phone.

26. Remove an Alexa device

If you use one of the above Alexa emulators or build your own Alexa device, you may notice there is no way to remove them from your account in the Alexa app. Instead, you will need to head over to Amazon.com and locate the devices under Manage Your Content and Devices and deregister Alexa devices from there.

27. Order your favorite food and drink

Thanks to over 10,000 skills, you can now do a lot more with Alexa than before. For instance, you can Enable the Pizza Hut or Dominos skills to order your favorite pizzas for delivery to your door. Or you can queue up your favorite Starbucks order with your voice on your way out the door so it’s already prepared when you arrive at Starbucks.

28. Create reminders

Alexa lets you create reminders so you can remember to check the oven or that you should go to the grocery store at a certain time.

To create a reminder, just say something like, “Alexa, remind me to stop by the post office tomorrow at 10 a.m.” At 10 a.m. the next day, Alexa will sound an alarm, reminding you to go to the post office. You can also say things like:

  • “Alexa, reminder.”
  • “Alexa, remind me to check the oven in 15 minutes.”
  • “Alexa, remind me to call Mom four days from now.”
  • “Alexa, what are my reminders this weekend?”
  • “Alexa, what reminders do I have tomorrow?”

29. Brew a cup of coffee

If you’d rather save yourself the trip to Starbucks, you can have Alexa start your coffee maker for you. Not only can the Behmor Connected Brewer be controlled by Alexa, it integrates with Amazon’s Dash buttons to automatically reorder coffee when it starts to get low.

The Mr. Coffee Smart Optimal Brew coffee maker also integrates with Alexa through IFTTT. However, all you really need to make coffee using your voice is a compatible smart switch and a very basic drip coffee brewer.

30. Mount it on the wall

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The Echo speaker can be part of your wall’s decor.


Taylor Martin/CNET

This is less a feature and more a unique design choice, but if you can’t seem to find a place you like for the Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, consider mounting it to the wall. While it will put the speaker closer to the wall than recommended, it will also get it away from other obstructions and might allow you to place it in a more central location.

31. Stop the “OK” confirmation

When you give a command to an Alexa speaker, a lot of the time, Alexa will say, “Okay,” so long as she can carry out the task. Sometimes, however, you don’t need a confirmation that she heard you. For instance, if you’re trying to turn off or dim the lights after some people in your house have gone to sleep, you don’t need Alexa to blurt out a way-too-loud “OKAY.”

Fortunately, you can now turn off the response from Alexa. To enable this, just say, “Alexa, turn on Brief Mode.” Or you can manually enable it in the Alexa app by going to Settings > Alexa Voice Responses and toggling on Brief Mode. Alexa’s responses will be much shorter and in some cases, this mode will play a short sound instead of a spoken response.

32. String multiple commands together

You likely know the struggle of trying to get Alexa to carry out more than one task at a time. You have to repeatedly say the wake word followed by your command — one by one — until you’re finished. That is, unless you enable a new feature called Follow-Up Mode. With this mode enabled, just wait for Alexa to say, “Okay” after you’ve already spoken a command. She’ll continue listening and you have a few seconds to fire off another command. You can repeat this for as many commands as you want.

When you’re done, you can just stop issuing commands and Alexa will stop listening. Or you can say, “Stop” or “Thank you.”

33. Send text messages using Android

Out of the box, you can use Alexa to send messages to your friends and family members who also have Alexa speakers. However, if you have an Android device on hand, you can also use it to send SMS messages to virtually any phone number in your contacts list. 

There’s a short setup process and, once enabled, you can say, “Alexa, send an SMS to [contact name].” Alexa will allow you to slender down the contact outcomes (or select between the numbers out there for any given contact), then you possibly can communicate your message. As soon as you’ve got completed composing the message, will probably be despatched out of your Android telephone’s default textual content messaging app out of your telephone quantity.

34. Create music alarms

Uninterested in waking as much as the identical previous, boring alarm sounds or the rapidly tiresome movie star alarm sounds on Alexa? Now you can get up to your favourite songs. This works with Amazon Music, Spotify, TuneIn, Pandora, SiriusXM and iHeartRadio. Simply say one thing like, “Alexa, wake me as much as Fleet Foxes.”

Should you do not wish to damage your favourite songs (it occurs in a short time in case you use them as an alarm, belief me), simply say, “Alexa, wake me as much as 90’s music.”

Bonus: Easter eggs galore

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Star Trek followers could wish to make “Laptop” the wake phrase for the Echo.


Chris Monroe/CNET

When it really works as supposed, which is most of the time, Alexa is a particularly highly effective instrument, which I really like having round the home. There are numerous sensible makes use of for it.

However Amazon did not cease there. It is clearly having enjoyable with Alexa, as effectively, and attempting to creating it as personable as attainable. Proof of that is in Alexa’s intensive — and always-growing —  library of Easter eggs. CNET’s Ry Crist explored the world of Easter eggs on Alexa right here
. And in case you’re on the lookout for much more Alexa-related content material, take a look at these 5 articles:

First printed on July 21, 2016 at 3:15 p.m. EST, this text is often up to date to incorporate up-to-date info, new options and extra suggestions.

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