How to See and Delete Alexa's Recordings of You

Senior Writer
Updated

Updated May 29 at 7:23 p.m. ET with new voice commands for deleting conversations.

Worried that Alexa might be holding onto your conversations longer than it should? Amazon's making it easier to delete conversations its voice-powered digital speakers might have recorded — and you can do it all with the sound of your own voice.

At the same time it was announcing a new Amazon Echo Show — this model has a physical shutter to cover the camera when you're not using it — Amazon was also launching an Alexa Privacy Hub that provides explanations on Alexa privacy controls as well as access to your settings. There are also two voice commands — one available now, one coming in a few weeks — that give you immediate control over Alexa recordings.

MORE: Best Amazon Alexa Skills

Fears about Alexa-based smart speakers sending private conversations are nothing new, and only heightened last month amid reports that Amazon employees listen to Alexa recordings. The retail giant says it's all in the name of improving the service's voice recognition algorithm, but that's unlikely to soothe your concerns about privacy.

Deleting Alexa conversations with your voice

If you really want to make sure that Alexa isn't keeping a recording of what you've said, you can take advantage of a new voice control that Amazon's just added that erases everything you've said that day. Say "Alexa, delete everything I said today," and anything recorded between midnight and the moment you utter that command will be erased.

It's not a perfect solution: It only takes care of conversations you've had in a given day, and presumably, Alexa starts capturing things anew from that point forward.

You also have to opt into the feature to be able to delete conversations by voice. In the Alexa app, go to Settings, and select Alexa Account, then Alexa Privacy, and finally Review Voice History. From there, you can toggle on the "Enable Deletion by Voice" feature.

In a few weeks, Amazon says it's adding another voice command to manage conversation storage. Saying, "Alexa, delete what I just said" will erase your last request to the voice assistant.

Clearing your Alexa history

If you're uncomfortable with the idea of leaving around old voice recordings, there's an old-school way to clear the data on your Alexa devices, though it involves a lot of tapping. Before you start deleting, remember that you're essentially wiping the AI's specialized memory, as it's retaining this information to better serve you.

Still, here's how to clear your Alexa history and delete recordings.

1. Open the Alexa app on your smartphone and tap the menu button to open the sidebar. Select Settings.

2. Select Alexa Account.

3. Select History. Here you can see audio recordings retained by your device. 

4. Select a recording.

5. Select Delete voice recordings. If you want to scrub Alexa clean of all recordings, you've got a lot of tapping ahead of you.

Or you could visit Amazon's Content and Devices page to erase all of your recordings at once. From there, select Your Devices, click on the Alexa device you want to clean up and select Manage Voice Recordings. Select the option that allows you to delete everything.

MORE: For more Alexa-related tips, tricks, and how-tos, check out our complete guide to Alexa.