The Amazon Echo and Alexa
In this article, I’ll provide an overview of the Amazon Echo family of devices. And I’ll provide a list of Alexa voice commands you can use to control the device.
The Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker that can be controlled using voice commands. The Echo device connects to the Alexa Voice Service to interpret the commands. The device uses natural language processing (NLP) to convert speech into words and sounds. Then, Amazon’s servers use technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to process and interpret those words. Next, a response is sent back to the device.
You can use it to ask questions, play music, make telephone calls, set timers and reminders, get news, weather, and more. In addition to the Echo, Amazon offers the Echo Dot, Show, Spot, Look, and Plus. Also, it comes in a Kid’s version.
How it Works
To use the Alexa Voice Service, plug in the device, connect it to your wifi network, and start issuing voice commands. Regardless of your device (Standard, Plus, Dot, etc.), the voice service turns on automatically when you say the word, Alexa. Try it, and you’ll notice that the top ring on the device will light up and begin to circulate. This means it heard you and is ready to receive your command, question, instructions, etc.
List of Alexa Voice Commands
As technology continues to evolve, the number of potential uses also grows. The remainder of this article is focused on the voice commands you can try with your device.
- “Alexa, wake me up in the morning at [time].”
- “Alexa, snooze alarm.”
- “Alexa, announce Good Morning.”
- “Alexa, wake me up to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” by Wham. You can set alarm clocks to wake you up to your favorite song.
You can use the device to read audiobooks from Audible.com. Of course, you need to have an account at Audible for this to work, which is something that I highly recommend. I love this feature because I can put on an audiobook while working at the computer. Following are some helpful commands:
- Say, “Alexa, read the book ____ from Audible.”
- “Alexa, read faster” or “read slower” – This allows you to control the playback speed after starting your book.
Honestly, I think this is an underrated feature. Incredibly, I can listen to an audiobook in my car, arrive home, and pick up listening on my home devices without searching for where I left off.
Set up your device on your work desk or in the kitchen to help with calculations, define words, and look up information on Wikipedia.
- Ask – “Alexa, do you know the value of pi?”
- Ask – “Alexa, how many ounces are in a gallon?”
- “Alexa, how many days until _____?”
- “Wikipedia <topic>” – This is a great homework helper.
You can use the Alexa voice commands to control features of the device itself (e.g., turn up the sound, off, etc.).
- “Alexa, turn up the volume.”
- “Alexa, learn my voice.” – Get a personalized experience for music, making calls, setting location-based reminders, and more when the Echo system recognizes your voice.
- “Alexa, call my phone.”
- “Turn off the screen” – I use this one a lot. When I’m not using my Echo Show, it shows a “screen saver” with things like the day’s news, recipe ideas, weather, and more. It uses AI and machine learning to present information that is relevant (or is likely to be relevant) to my family and me.
Facts and Figures
- “Alexa, what is the tallest mountain?”
- “Alexa, what is the fast animal?”
- “Alexa, when is President’s Day?”
- “Alexa, tell me a black history fact.”
- “Alexa, search for <movie name>.”
- “Alexa, open Netflix.”
- “Rewind 10 seconds.”
- “Open Hulu”
- “Alexa, fart.” (Beware, children may overuse this one.)
- “Alexa, raise the shields!” (You have to enable the skill first. Once enabled, she’ll raise them Star Trek-style whenever asked)
Following is a list of games you can play. These options offer a nice mental break for both children and adults.
- “Alexa, play the Sims.”
- “Alexa, open Word Play.”
- “Alexa, open Choose Your Own Adventure.” – Relive classic adventure stories with this new Alexa skill from Audible. You choose the adventure; you decide what happens next.
- “Alexa, give me a riddle.”
- “Alexa, tell me a movie joke.”
- “Alexa, open Ultimate History Quiz.”
- “Alexa, open Ultimate Oscars Movie Trivia.”
- “Alexa, tell me a tongue twister.”
General Commands and Instructions
- “Alexa, what’s the Amazon Beta Testing Program?”
- “Alexa, what is Brief Mode?”
- “Alexa, how many days are in February?”
- “Alexa, give me a Groundhog Day fun fact.”
- “Alexa, play football on SiriusXM.”
- “Alexa, how old is Tom Hanks?
- “Alexa, start my Audible trial.”
- “Alexa, play me a love podcast.”
- “Alexa, what movies are playing this weekend?”
- “Alexa, open Angel Investor.”
- “Alexa, what are some flower shops nearby?”
- “Alexa, announce Happy Valentine’s Day!”
- “Alexa, tell me a love story.”
- “Alexa, who is Cupid?”
- “Alexa, tell me a presidential fact.”
- “Alexa, open Lemonade Stand.”
- “Alexa, surprise me.”
- “Alexa, call mom’s cell.”
- “Alexa, open Silver Linings.”
- “Alexa, what’s trending?”
- “Alexa, when is the first day of spring?”
- “Alexa, who is the UFC welterweight champion?”
- “Alexa, who is your favorite actor?”
- “Alexa, open Three Questions.”
- “Alexa, what time is sunset?”
- “Alexa, what’s on your mind?”
- “Alexa, what is Echo Look?” – Check your outfit of the day. Take full-length photos and 6-second videos with Echo Look, a hands-free camera and style assistant with Alexa.
- “Alexa, what should I wear?”
- “Alexa, what’s trending in fashion?”
- “Alexa, rename the living room plug.”
- “Alexa, no soup for you.”
- “Alexa, what’s the question of the day?”
- “Alexa, drop in on the kitchen.”
- “Alexa, what is your favorite hobby?”
- “Alexa, sing Woohoo Technology.”
- “Alexa, how’s the Dow Jones doing?”
- “Alexa, when is Ash Wednesday?”
- “Alexa, can you do an impression?
Also, you can use general commands at any time, such as stop, cancel, pause, repeat, and next.
Use your Echo device to control connected devices throughout your home. For example, with the appropriate smart light bulbs, you can use the Echo to turn lights on and off with your voice. Many of today’s smart bulbs use mesh technology to extend the range throughout your house.
- “Alexa, show me the front door camera.” – Stay connected to home activity with compatible smart home security.
- “Alexa, turn on the fan.”
- “Alexa, dim the lights.”
- “Alexa, open Chevrolet.” – Ask Alexa to remotely start and pre-condition your Chevrolet vehicle.
Movies, Actors, and Actresses
You can ask questions about your favorite movies, actors, and actresses. Following are a few examples:
- “Alexa, what is the IMDB rating for [movie name].”
- “Alexa, quiz me on [actor or actress name] movies.”
- “When will [movie name] be released in theatres?”
- “Who starred in [movie name]
Music and Sounds
With an Amazon Prime subscription, you can use your Echo device to play over a million songs for free. Here are some commands to try (remember, always begin the phrase with “Alexa…”:
- “Alexa, what are the Grammy nominations this year?”
- “Play the GRAMMY Nominees playlist on Apple Music.”
- “Can you beatbox?”
- “Sing a love song.”
- “Play more music like this on Amazon Music.”
- “Play Alicia Keys on Amazon Music.”
- “Open Song Quiz.”
- “What song is this?”
- Ask, “How do I play music in all my rooms?”
- “Sing-along with Queen.” – Live out your rock-and-roll dreams and sing along with the rock band Queen.
- “Play new music on Amazon Music.”
- “Play the playlist Cardio Dance Workout on Amazon Music.”
- “Open Nature Sounds.”
- “Play smooth jazz.” (my favorite and most-used command of all time)
- “Play <playlist name>.”
You can even give general requests like, “play some relaxing music.”
You can buy the music directly from the device if you find something you like.
- “Alexa, what’s the latest?” – Get the latest news headline with Alexa as the newscaster. Learn more.
- “What’s my flash briefing?”
- “Play NPR”
Podcasts & Radio
Examples include – “play Z100 radio”, “play ESPN radio,” or “play the program Radiolab.”
The device gives you complete control over your privacy. Go to the Privacy Settings in your Amazon account, or speak to Alexa to adjust things like:
- Whether your voice recordings should be saved and for how long.
- Smart Home privacy settings
- Skill permissions
Also, you can ask her for instructions on how to adjust the settings.
- Say – “Alexa, read me a poem.”
- “Alexa, add an umbrella to my cart.”
- “Alexa, open Sports Jeopardy!”
- “Alexa, open Rookies Guide to the NFL.” – Your official way to learn about the NFL.
- “Alexa, what are the odds on the Patriots game?”
- “Alexa, start ESPN.”
- “Alexa, announce that the game is starting.”
- “Alexa, who’s going to win the Big Game?
- “Alexa, when does March Madness start?”
- “Alexa, tell me about the upcoming NASCAR race.”
- “Alexa, how many threes has Steph Curry made?”
Timers & Reminders
- “Alexa, add three minutes to my nachos timer.” – Add and remove time on your timers or restart as needed.
- “Alexa, remind me to take out the trash every Thursday when I get home.” (I use this one personally, but I must admit that it scares the crap out of me every Thursday night.)
Also, you can “snooze” the timer to add five additional minutes.
- “Alexa, help me create a chore chart.”
- “Help me track my tasks.”
- “When is my dentist appointment?”
- “Alexa, who’s on dish duty tonight?” – With the Chore Chart, Task Tracker, and Whose Turn Skill Blueprints, you can create personalized Alexa Skills to help organize and simplify your life at home.
- Ask – “How is my commute looking today?”
- How long will it take me to get to work?
Weather reports and forecasts
- What does the weather look like today?
- What will the weather look like tomorrow?
- What is the forecast for this week?
- What is the UV index today?
- What is the current temperature in my area?
- Is it going to rain today?
If you have questions or comments about this list of Alexa voice commands for your Echo family of devices, post a message below.