Amazon Echo essential tips and tricks

How to get the most out of Amazon's digital assistant

Amazon Echo: Tips and tricks

Whether you've been living with the first generation Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot for years or have just picked up the second generation Echo, ears open. Yes, your smart speaker can play your music, set alerts and tell you what the weather's going to be like tomorrow just by talking to it, but that's just the tip of the Alexa-enhanced iceberg.

Beyond the basics, and even the takeaway-ordering, train-tracking, game-playing skills you can add, there's plenty these digital assistant equipped speakers can do. Including a whole lot you're probably not aware of.

We're not just talking about dropping bad jokes or reading you a story, either. Sit by your Echo and prep your vocal chords, these are the Amazon Echo tips and tricks you need to try for yourself.

Sharing accounts and switching profiles

It's time to stop being selfish and learn to share. Yes, Alexa might be your new best friend, but she's friends to others, too. To that extent, you can store multiple accounts to use on a single Echo and jump between them simply by saying "Alexa, switch profile". To add additional accounts, you'll need to login to or and head to Settings > Account > Household Profile.

Here, you'll be able to enter the Amazon account details of the person you want to add to your profile. Can't remember who's account you're logged in with? No worries, you can figure it out just by asking "Alexa, which profile am I using?"

Give Alexa a new name

Her name may have become synonymous with the Echo devices, but that doesn't mean you have to like it. Maybe your name's Alex and things are getting a bit confusing, or maybe your ex-partner's pet is called Alexa. Whatever your reasoning for wanting to change, you're in luck. You can act as the deed poll office and give Alexa a new name, or a new 'wake' word.

Sadly, you don't have free reign on the choice of replacement, but if Alexa just isn't ticking your boxes, you can use "Amazon" or "Echo" as your vocal cue instead. To make the switch, you'll need to select the speaker you want to refresh and press on the 'Wake Word' option within the companion app.

Delete embarrassing questions

Man the panic stations, this is not a drill. Alexa records everything you ask her and keeps a record of your questions that's visible on the smartphone app. Seriously. Don't worry though, if you've been asking her some slightly embarrassing or dubious questions you don't want getting out into the wider world, you can simply delete them.

You erase all trace of your shameful request, you'll need to open the Amazon Echo app and go Settings > History, Here, once you've selected the question you want to do away with, click the 'Delete voice recordings' button at the base. Phew, crisis averted. Until the next time you ask something embarrassing, anyway.

Get Alexa to repeat herself

Amazon Echo essential tips and tricks

Although she's got a slow, methodical delivery, if you're only half paying attention it can be easy to miss what Alexa's telling you. There's no need to repeat your lengthy query in order to get the answer again though. Instead, you can just ask Alexa to repeat herself. Asking "Alexa, can you repeat that," or "Alexa, can you say that again" will get your digital assistant spouting her most recent answer on repeat. She won't even get sassy for you having not paid proper attention the first time.

Resetting your Amazon Echo

As with all technology, the Echo isn't infallible. From time-to-time, things are bound to get a little squiffy. Thankfully resetting the Echo is easy and should hopefully fix your issues. To reset, just unplug then re-plug the device and wait for the Wi-Fi to connect back up. Yes, it all sounds very IT Crowd, but it usually does the trick.

Still having issues? If you can find a paperclip, you can press the small reset button on the bottom of the Echo. The light ring should turn orange, blue, off and then on again to take you through the initial setup process.

Ensuring Echo is up to date the easy way

Though your app will let you know about new goodies that need to be downloaded, you can simply ask the Echo yourself. Sometimes it's quicker and you get a rundown by voice instead of reading about it. All you have to say is "Alexa, do you have any new features?" If she does, update away, if not, well at least there's plenty of Skills to add.

Add new Skills with your voice

Speaking of which, did you know you no longer need the smartphone app to add new Alexa Skills to your Echo or Echo Dot. If you know there's a specific Skill you're after, just ask for it. Simply saying "Alexa, enable Uber," or "Alexa, enable a 7-minute workout," and the skills will automatically be added.

You do have to know the Skill by name, and thanks to Echo's open API and growing support, that's getting increasingly tricky. Amazon Echo Skills have been rolling in thick and fast over the past couple of years. Not just random Skills Store fodder, either, but software that's ready to transform your smart speaker into a pizza-ordering, taxi-booking genius. Enjoy adding them.

Set reminders

Who needs a pen and paper when you have Alexa by your side. You can now say something to the effect of "Alexa, remind me to pick up James from his Taekwondo class at 8pm". When the time comes, Alexa will light up and give you a reminder to pick up your beloved child. You'd better - he knows Taekwondo.

Get help with your maths homework

If you need to do sums but can't remember which 'random crap' folder your phone's calculator is hidden in, why not just ask Alexa for some help? If you're dealing with a particularly large set of numbers that's easier to read off a screen than type out, you can rope your Echo in to do the work. Asking questions such as "Alexa, multiply 67 by 13" or "Alexa, what's 23% of 4,320" should see near instantaneous answer offered. She can do pretty long equations now, along with adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, square roots, power and factorials.

Use Alexa to call your friends names

Okay, so this is probably a slight abuse of power, and not what the feature was really intended for, but getting Alexa to call your mates all the names under the sun the next time they pop round is still pretty entertaining. To do this, you'll need to start by saying "Alexa, Simon says" followed by whatever nonsense comes to mind. Whatever you say, she'll repeat back, and there's just something funnier about her calling your mate something else other than their name.

Be wary of the swears though. Although Alexa will beep out the s-word, anything stronger simply won't register and you'll get some jumbled message instead.

Make calls using Alexa

Another nifty new trick Alexa has learned over time is to make calls. So long as the recipient has an Echo or the Alexa smartphone app, you can dial them up for a natter. Alexa uses your phone's address book to see who else has a Echo or is using the app, and to find them you just need to hit the chat bubble at the bottom of the app. You can simply say "Alexa, call Dad" or call them by tapping the on their name in the app. To answer an incoming call on your Echo, just say "Alexa, answer".

Mute the Echo

Amazon Echo essential tips and tricks

As we've mentioned, Alexa is always listening. Sometimes, however, you just want a bit of privacy and for your speaker to stop holding out for its wake word. It's a good thing then that you can plug its ears and mute the Echo for a while. Simply push the button with a slashed through microphone. A red ring will appear and the Echo will be muted. Push the button again to turn it back on.

Roll a die

If, like us, the last time you played Monopoly your other half tipped over the board rather than paying that massive rental fee, chances are you're probably down a couple of dice. Fret not though, your board game sessions need never be interrupted again thanks to Alexa.

Ask "Alexa, roll a die," or "Alexa, roll two dice," and she'll read out the results your digital die cast. Game On!

Call an Uber

There are thousands of Skills out there now. This has to be one of the most practical, though. Add the Uber Skill through the Amazon Alexa app, sync your accounts to allow access and, once you've double checked your location is correct, you're in the taxi-ordering hotseat.

Saying "Alexa, ask Uber for a ride," will cover the basics, although stipulating the type of Uber you want can secure you an UberX, UberXL or UberBlack too. What's more, with the right commands, Alexa can tell you the arrival status or cancel your request.

Use non-supported smart home tech

Your Nest, Honeywell or SmartThings connected devices might already play nice with the system, but there's a workaround for connected tech trying to go it alone. By downloading apps like Yonomi or IFTTT, you can find recipes or ways to sync up your smart devices. For example, while Echo supports Philips Hue and Lifx, there may be other smart lightbulbs the apps can control as well.

Set Spotify as your primary music source

If you've been looking out for an Amazon Echo Spotify Skill, you've probably noticed there isn't one. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy your Spotify playlists with Echo-enabled voice commands though.

Instead, you can set Spotify as your Echo's default audio provider. 'How?' we hear you cry with thinly veiled urgency. Well, in the app, head in the direction of Settings > Music & Media and you'll be able to select your go-to streaming service of choice. There's still no Apple Music support mind.

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1 comment

  • Suraj

    I've not yet purchased an echo but have done a lot of research, and I hope that Echo will be able to do as much as the Google search does. so with the audio capability, I will no longer depend on the computer screen. and my eye strain problem can be reduced.

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