By the way, did you know Alexa's annoying suggestions can be turned off? Here's how

Echo Dot with Clock review
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This week I learned one simple phrase that eliminates my biggest frustration with Amazon's Alexa devices, and today I'm going to teach it to you.

See, for years I've been trying to figure out how to stop Amazon's chatty smart speakers from bugging me with additional suggestions after you ask them to do something. Ask for an update on the weather, a package delivery or the definition of a word and often as not Alexa will answer, then throw in an extra “by the way, did you know I can…” suggestion advertising another feature or service.

I'm sure some people find this helpful, but I hate it. When I bought a cheap Amazon Echo Dot in 2020 for basic tasks like setting timers, playing music and answering questions, I felt like I got a great deal. Sure, I had an Amazon device listening to me at all times, but it's in the kitchen and if Bezos & Co. want to listen in on my cooking playlists they're more than welcome. I figured the small sacrifice of privacy was worth it to get one of the best cheap smart home devices on the market.  

But then the annoying suggestions started. I initially found them harmless, even cute in a way, but the charm soon wore off. Pretty quickly I found myself shouting at this cheap little orb to shut the hell up on a regular basis, much to the chagrin of my neighbors next door.

Of course, like any good Millennial I immediately turned to the Internet for help. Multiple times over the past few years I've tried to research how to turn these annoying Alexa suggestions off, but until this week I never found the right answer. Instead, I'd find guides outlining how to diminish these suggestions by disabling various features and notifications in the Alexa mobile app. 

You just need to say 'Alexa, stop by the way' and your device should stop it immediately."

So at various times in the past I've hopped into that app and scrolled through every single menu looking for any setting I can tweak to stop Alexa's nagging. And while there are a lot of potentially unwanted behaviors you can put an end to via that app, the "By the way, did you know..." suggestions were never one of them. At least, I never managed to figure out how to stop them—until now. And all I had to do was ask an Amazon representative for the answer.

The solution, as it turns out, is simple: You just need to say "Alexa, stop by the way" and your device should stop it immediately. 

Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (5th Gen)

Saying "Alexa, stop by the way" can quiet your Echo's suggestions for good. (Image credit: Future)

I know because I tried it, and sure enough the little smart speaker chirped back "Sure! I'll avoid sending follow-up suggestions in the future," which was music to my ears.

According to Amazon, this won't just turn the feature off for a little while or diminish the frequency of suggestions, either—it should stop them for good. 

However, note that this only disables the "by the way" follow-up suggestions. If you want to quiet other Alexa notifications, do things like disable Alexa's invasive Drop In feature or delete Alexa's recordings of you you'll still need to dig into the Alexa app's labyrinthine settings menus.

But now, after years of frustration, I can finally rest easy knowing the most annoying feature of my little Echo Dot has been silenced for good.

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Alex Wawro
Senior Editor Computing

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice. 

  • ted91169
    In the last few months, after telling Alexa to add something to my shopping list, she will say "Ok, 'item' added to your shopping list." Then adds "If that wasn't right, just say..." Anyway to turn this off? She says it about 50% of the time.