Geting Started with Amazon Alexa
Update: Amazon Prime Day is officially expanding to 48 hours. Moreover, Amazon is promising "the biggest Prime Day deals ever on Alexa-enabled devices." Bookmark our Prime Day guide for the latest news and deals on all things Amazon.
Who, er, what is Amazon Alexa, you ask? Alexa is the brain behind the Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Echo Show, Amazon Echo Show 5, Amazon Tap, Amazon Echo Plus and the voice-controlled assistant inside the Fire TV. There's also a companion Alexa app for Android and iOS devices.
Using your voice, you can ask Alexa to control your music, get the news and weather, set alarms, and control smart home devices such as lights, smart plugs, and locks. Alexa can get you directions, track your calendar, order products off of Amazon, read books, find local restaurants and answer your questions by grabbing information off of Wikipedia and Wolfram Alpha. It can do so much that you’ll want to make sure you're taking full advantage of this personal assistant. These how-tos will help you set up your Alexa speaker, connect it to your smart home devices, play music, and much more.
Before you even purchase an Alexa-enabled speaker, make sure you're getting the one that best suits your needs and budget.
How to Set Up the Amazon Echo Dot
The Echo Dot is Amazon's least expensive and most popular Alexa speaker. Here's how to get it set up.
You just bought an Amazon Fire TV, Echo or Echo Dot. Here are the settings you'll want to adjust before you start using it.
By using the Echo in conjunction with the Alexa app, you can train the personal assistant to better understand your vocal patterns.
You don't have to say "Alexa" to wake Amazon's voice assistant. Here's how to change Alexa's name.
How to Enable Alexa's Follow-Up Mode
You don't need to keep saying "Alexa..." every time you want her to do something.
Did you know you can order stuff from Amazon just by talking to Alexa? Here's our brief explainer on Alexa Voice Shopping.
Did you—or someone else—order something on Amazon that you'd rather not have? Here's how to cancel the order, if you act fast enough.
There are a lot of things that you can ask Alexa to do; here are some of our favorites.
Making Voice and Video Calls with Alexa
You don't need an Echo in order to use Alexa; you can access the voice assistant from Amazon's Alexa app, too.
iPhone users haven't been left out! Here's how to get Alexa on your iOS device.
How to Make a Voice or Video Call with Alexa
Reach out and touch someone using Amazon's assistant.
Personalize the background of your Echo Show by adding your own photos.
Did you know you can make voice and video calls from one Alexa device to another? Here's how it works.
If enabled, Drop-In lets other Alexa users call your Echo device unannounced. If that creeps you out, here's how to make sure that feature is turned off.
How to Enable FreeTime on an Amazon Echo
If you're planning to give an Echo or Echo Dot to your kid, here's how to enable FreeTime so he or she uses Alexa appropriately.
How to Kid-Proof Your Amazon Echo
Make sure that your child doesn't make any unauthorized purchases.
How to Reset an Alexa Device
If you're getting rid of or gifting an Echo, Echo Dot, or other Alexa speaker, here's how to reset it.
Alexa and Smart Home Devices
Now that you have an Echo, Echo Dot, or Tap, here are the best smart home devices that will work with it.
One of the most popular devices people use with Alexa is smart LED lights. Here's all of them, and what they do.
Through a free Web service called IFTTT (If This Then That), you can enable the Amazon Echo to do a lot more. Here's how to connect the two.
You can automatically change your home's lighting with a word. That's what happens when you connect the Philips Hue Lights to your Amazon Echo.
Voice control your Nest smart home thermostat by connecting the Amazon Echo to it. But first you'll want to connect the Echo to IFTTT.
Belkin's WeMo smart plugs are useful for turning a lamp or light into a smart device. Here's how to control them with Alexa.
You can have Alexa turn on (or off) connected smart home devices at certain times, or when you say a specific phrase. Here's how to set up a routine.
Using Music, Video, TV & Books with Alexa
It's a cinch to connect Amazon's streaming music service to Alexa, so you can request songs, playlists, and more using nothing but your voice.
The Echo puts out pretty good sound, but if you want to boost your audio, here's how to connect it to a Bluetooth speaker.
How to Play Apple Music on Alexa
Here's how you can connect and control Apple's streaming music service with Alexa.
How to Play Spotify on Alexa
If you prefer Spotify, here's how to use it with Alexa.
If you have more than one Echo device, you can set them up to play music throughout your house. Here's how to set it up.
You can adjust the bass, mid-range, and treble tones of your music with Alexa. Here's how.
How to Control Your Sonos Speakers with Alexa
The Sonos One is one of the best-sounding smart speakers; here's how to control it with Alexa.
TV and Video Streaming
Make your Harmony Remote truly universal and voice controlled by connecting it to the Amazon Echo.
How to Control Your TV with Alexa
Aside from the Harmony Remote, there are several ways you can control your TV using your voice.
How to Connect Alexa to Dish TV
If you are a Dish TV subscriber, you can control it using Alexa. How to connect the services.
Alexa can read select Amazon Kindle books to you. Here's how.
Increase Your Productivity with Alexa
You can use Alexa to text someone—if you're using an Android phone. Here's how to do it.
Uber is just one of hundreds of Skills Amazon has added to Alexa. Now you can order a car simply by talking.
You can sync your Google Calendar, Apple Calendar, and Microsoft Calendar with Alexa, so you can add events, look them up, and get reminders about upcoming appointments.
Todoist is a great tool for creating and managing to-do lists. Here's how to sync the service with Alexa.
Other Fun Things to do with Alexa
By connecting your Fitbit to the Amazon Echo you can simply ask Alexa how you're tracking without ever checking the app or looking at your wrist.
Everyone wants to know their future. With the Crystal Ball Skill enabled on the Amazon Echo you'll get Magic 8-ball like answers to all your pressing questions.
Wanna solve the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents? Simply enable The Wayne Investigation Skill and you can talk your way through this choose-your-own-adventure game.