How to use Alexa: Tips, tricks and general instructions

How to use Alexa: Tips, tricks and general instructions
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Knowing how to use Alexa will help you make the most of your virtual assistant. Alexa, the brain that powers all the best Alexa speakers, is an asset in your smart home as long as you're using it properly.

Alexa is available in all shapes and sizes. If you own any Echo speaker, including the fourth-generation Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot, and Amazon Echo Show 10, the Alexa voice assistant is ready for you to use. 

When you know the best Alexa skills, you can ask the assistant to navigate you to a destination, keep track your schedule, order products off of Amazon, read books, find local restaurants and answer your questions.

Several third-party gadgets have Alexa built in, too, especially in the smart home category. All of the best Alexa compatible devices, be them the best smart light bulbs or best smart plugs, can be controlled using Alexa.

The voice-controlled assistant lives inside the Fire TV Cube and other Amazon streaming devices, too. There's also a free companion app for Android and iOS devices that shows you how to use Alexa wherever you are, so you can control the best smart home devices while you're out. 

You’ll want to make sure you're taking full advantage of this personal assistant. These tips on how to use Alexa will help you set up your Alexa speaker, connect it to your smart home devices, play music, and much more.

How to use Alexa

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How to set up Alexa

Best Alexa speakers
Before you 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
The Amazon Echo is the company's flagship smart speaker. Here are our instructions for getting it up and running.

How to set up Amazon Echo Dot
The Echo Dot is Amazon's least expensive and most popular Alexa speaker. Here's how to get it set up.

How to set up Amazon Echo Dot with Clock
It’s not all that much different from the standard, third-generation Echo Dot. But the added LED display supports certain settings you might not know about.

Amazon Alexa setup
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. 

How to connect Alexa to Wi-Fi
An internet connection is essential for Echo devices to work fully. Here's how to set up a Wi-Fi connection through the Alexa app.

How to make Amazon Alexa understand your voice
By using the Echo in conjunction with the Alexa app, you can train the personal assistant to better understand your vocal patterns. 

How to make Alexa speak faster or slower
Alexa's default voice isn't for everyone. Whether you want your voice assistant to slow down or speed up, all you need to do is ask.

How to change the Amazon Echo wake word
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 follow-up mode
You don't need to keep saying "Alexa..." every time you want her to do something.

What is Alexa voice shopping?
Did you know you can order stuff from Amazon just by talking to Alexa? Here's our brief explainer on Alexa Voice Shopping. 

Best Alexa skills
There are a lot of things that you can ask Alexa to do. Here are some of our favorites. 

How to change Alexa's voice
Give Alexa a different accent, use a completely different language or switch to Alexa's male voice

Alexa tricks and easter eggs
Amazon's Alexa can keep you and your family entertained if you know the right words.

Why is Alexa flashing?
Seeing a strange-colored light on your Echo? Here's what it means.

How to use Alexa

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How to use Alexa to make voice and video calls

How to use Alexa on Android
You don't need an Echo in order to use Alexa; you can access the voice assistant from Amazon's Alexa app, too.

How to use Alexa on iPhone
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.

How to make a video call using the Echo Show
Stay in touch with video calls on your Echo Show, no matter the model.

How to change the background picture on Echo Show
Personalize the background of your Echo Show by adding your own photos.

How to use Alexa Drop-In
Did you know you can make voice and video calls from one Alexa device to another? Here's how it works.

How to use Alexa

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How to manage Alexa settings for kids

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.

I use this one Alexa skill to keep my child from waking us up too early
Pair your Alexa device with an Echo Glow to keep your kid in bed.

How to use Alexa

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How to manage Alexa privacy settings

How to view and delete recordings from your Alexa history
Concerned about your Alexa search history? Here's how to delete everything you spoke to it.

How to disable Alexa Drop-In
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 reset an Alexa device
If you're getting rid of or gifting an Echo, Echo Dot, or other Alexa speaker, you'll want to reset it. Here's how.

How to use Alexa

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How to use Alexa with smart home devices

Best Alexa compatible devices
Now that you have an Echo, here are the best smart home devices that will work with it.

Every smart light that works with Alexa
One of the most popular devices people use with Alexa is smart LED lights. Here's all of them, and what they do.

Alexa smart light colors
You can use Alexa to change your colored smart LED bulbs to any of 123 colors; here's a list of all the colors.

How to connect Alexa to IFTTT
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.

How to connect Philips Hue lights to Amazon Alexa
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. 

How to connect a Nest Thermostat to Amazon Alexa
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.  

How to connect your Ecobee to Alexa
The Amazon Echo directly supports the Ecobee smart thermostats right out of the box.  

How to connect WeMo smart plugs to Alexa
The WeMo smart plugs are the best smart plugs, and are useful for turning a lamp or light into a smart device. Here's how to control them with Alexa. 

How to create an Alexa smart home routine
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.

How to set up and use Alexa Guard
Alexa Guard can let you know when it hears a concerning sound in your home. Did you know the best skill for keeping your home safe is also free?

How to use Alexa

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How to use Alexa to play music and podcasts

How to play Amazon Music using 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.

How to connect your Echo to a Bluetooth speaker
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.

How to set up multi-room music with the Amazon Echo
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.

How to fine-tune your music With Alexa
You can adjust the bass, mid-range, and treble tones of your music with Alexa. Here's how

How to control Sonos speakers with Alexa
The Sonos One is one of the best-sounding smart speakers; here's how to control it with Alexa.

How to play Apple podcasts on an Amazon Echo speaker
Listen to your favorite Apple podcasts with any Echo speaker

How to use Alexa

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How to use Alexa for smart TV and streaming

How to connect Amazon Alexa to a Harmony remote
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 use a Fire TV Stick
here's our guide for how to use the Fire TV Stick, which is one of the company's most popular and affordable streaming device

How to connect Alexa to your Samsung Smart TV
Want more voice control for your Samsung smart TV? Pair it with an Alexa smart speaker to give you added functionality.

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.

How to use Alexa for reading books

How to get Alexa to read you a book
Alexa can read select Amazon Kindle books to you. Here's how.

How to use Alexa

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How to use Alexa to increase productivity

How to send a text message using Alexa
You can use Alexa to text someone—if you're using an Android phone. Here's how to do it.

How to order an Uber using Alexa
Uber is just one of hundreds of Skills Amazon has added to Alexa. Now you can order a car simply by talking.

How to link your calendar with Alexa
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.

How to use Todoist with Alexa
Todoist is a great tool for creating and managing to-do lists. Here's how to sync the service with Alexa.

How to use Alexa

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Other fun things to do with Alexa

How to pair your Fitbit with Amazon Echo
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. 

How to Uue Amazon Alexa’s Crystal Ball
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. 

How to play Batman Adventure Game on Amazon Alexa
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.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.