If you think you’ve mastered your voice assistant, you’re probably wrong. The wide range of things you can do with Alexa is astonishing, and it’s learning all the time.
To make sure you don’t miss out on genuinely useful tricks you can experiment with, each week our experts will be selecting their favourite Alexa commands for you to try out, plus sharing some helpful tips too.
Find out below what made the cut and be sure to check back next week for more.
Not on board yet? Browse all our reviews of smart speakers with voice assistants to get started.
Alexa trick of the week
Follow your favourite sports teams
If you want to see how your favourite sports team is performing without having to reach for your smartphone or tablet, you can use your Alexa-powered smart hub to get the job done.
You’ll need to work through some device settings before you can take full advantage of Alexa’s sports commands. In the Alexa mobile app, head to the main menu and tap Settings. Under Sports, run a search for your favourite team. For example, try tapping in ‘Arsenal’ or the name of any other teams you’d like to keep an eye on – there’s a range of sports on offer.
Once you’ve told the Alexa app which teams you care about, you can simply say ‘Alexa, give me my sports update’. Your keen AI buddy will then run through the latest scores and upcoming fixtures.
Alexa tip of the week
Connect to another Bluetooth speaker
If you own a smaller Echo device (the Echo Dot, for example), pairing it with a second Bluetooth speaker will give you a stronger sound with more of a kick to it. For music fans that want a better listening experience, it’s a feature worth experimenting with – especially if you want to create a surround sound setup.
To partner your Alexa device with another Bluetooth speaker, open the Alexa app, select Devices, then Echo & Alexa. Tap your device, then select Bluetooth Devices. From there, select Pair A New Device. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the setup.
Next time you want to connect your Echo to that speaker, simply say “Pair Bluetooth”.
Alexa Skill of the week
Red Riding Hood
Download the Red Riding Hood Alexa skill and you can enjoy an immersive, interactive story with your little ones. There are two tales to choose from, both of which allow you to make decisions along the way that affect the story.
To get started, simply say ‘Alexa, open Red Riding Hood’ or ‘Alexa, open Hansel and Gretel’.
Voice assistants are an integral part of a smart home, but there’s a wide range of possibilities if you’re looking to invest. Read our guide on how to set up a smart home, including the best smart speakers and household products to buy.
Our top 10 things to ask Alexa
These are our experts’ favourite and most frequently used features and commands.
- Set a reminder for a time and activity ‘Alexa, remind me to take the bins out tomorrow at 8am.’ You can also set recurring reminders: ‘remind me every Tuesday at 8am to take the bins out.’ Reminders can be more useful than alarms, since you can tell Alexa what they’re for: ‘Alexa, remind me in 20 minutes to add the sauce’ is more useful than ‘Alexa, set an alarm for 20 minutes’.
- Build a shopping list ‘Alexa, add milk to my shopping list’. You can also create new lists through the Alexa app, for example ‘Poundshop’ – then just ask: ‘Alexa, add clingfilm to my Poundshop list.’ You can even now add multiple items at once, and they will appear separately: ‘Alexa, add milk and cheese to my shopping list.’
- Listen to the radio ‘Alexa, play BBC Radio 1’. Alexa can play dozens of radio stations by default and you can use Alexa Skills to add more.
- Set a sleep alarm If you like listening to music or other audio before bed, tell Alexa to set a sleep alarm. It will stop playing automatically so you don’t disturb yourself telling Alexa to ‘stop’. Just say: ‘Alexa, set a sleep alarm for 20 minutes.’
- What’s the weather like? Most people know you can ask this, but you can also check the weather tomorrow, for the following week or even for a different location. Say ‘Alexa, what’s the weather like in Marseille next week?’.
- Get help planning trips ‘Alexa, how long will it take to get the train to Bristol?’ If you’re wondering what to do at the weekend, get the lay of the land with some approximations from Alexa, without having to look it up.
- Listen to audiobooks With a subscription to an audiobook service, Alexa can be the perfect companion for an evening read. For example, ask: ‘Alexa, read Treasure Island from Audible.’ Amazon’s service Audible has a 30-day free trial.
- Broadcast messages around the home If you have more than one Alexa device at home, no need to shout to your family – simply use the broadcast feature with the ‘announce’ command to send your message to all the Alexa devices in your home. Say ‘Alexa, announce: takeaway has arrived!’
- Call friends If you have an Amazon Echo device (this isn’t supported on all third-party Alexa devices), you can call most UK mobiles and landlines for free once set up in the Alexa app (excluding emergency numbers). ‘Alexa, call Diane.’
- Get some culinary inspiration Alexa can give you some easy fresh ideas and even take you through the recipes step by step. ‘Alexa, find quick dinner recipes.’
Other great tips, tricks and skills for Amazon Alexa
Best Alexa tricks
- Whisper mode – ‘Alexa, turn on Whisper mode’. Whisper to Alexa, and she’ll whisper back.
- Send a hug – ‘Alexa, send a hug to Mum’. Send a hug that will appear as a message on both the voice assistant and the phone of one of your contacts.
- Wake up to your favourite tunes – Tell Alexa to ‘Wake me up at 8am to…’ and then name a song or artist you like.
- Master Lists – Create new lists for any topic you choose: for example, ‘Alexa, create a packing list’. Say ‘Alexa, add sun cream to my packing list’ to add items to that list.
- Routines – Simplify repeating the same set of voice commands every day with Alexa Routines. Just say one command – such as ‘Alexa, good morning.’ – and it will trigger all your regular commands in one go. To set up a Routine, head to the Alexa app, tap the menu button and select Routines.
- Follow-up mode – Go into Settings in the Alexa app, choose your device and enable ‘Follow-up mode’. Then you’ll only need to say ‘Alexa’ for the first command you make in a sequence.
Best Alexa tips
- Reorder your shopping lists. Use an app called Anylist to sync your Alexa shopping lists, and you can reorder items for any purpose you like – for example to appear in the order of the aisles in your local store.
- Link your calendar and email. Visit Settings in the Alexa app, and choose Calendar & Email. Link these to Alexa and you can ask for updates on your schedule, and new emails.
- Flash briefing. Configure sources for your flash briefing in the Alexa Settings to choose the news she reports.
- Check what Alexa has recorded – Go to Settings and then Alexa Privacy. Here you can review your voice history, play back these recordings or delete them. Read our investigation into Alexa and Google voice assistants, where you’ll find more tips on safeguarding your privacy.
- Adjusting bass/treble – If you’re finding music sounds a bit tinny, try increasing the bass: ‘Alexa, increase the bass.’ and increase the treble to hear voices clearer: ‘Alexa, increase the treble.’
- Make Alexa speak slower or faster – Simply ask: ‘Alexa, speak slower.’ Or if you just missed what she said, try: ‘Alexa, repeat that.’ If you find Alexa’s answers too wordy, you can either speed her up – ‘Alexa, speak faster.’ – or use Brief Mode. With this enabled, Alexa will give shorter response.
Best Alexa skills
- Sleep and relaxation sounds. A skill with over 125 nature sounds to choose from.
- Find my phone. Get Alexa to ring your phone so you can locate it.
- Question of the day. Test yourself with a daily question and pick up some general knowledge.
- 1-Minute Mindfulness – This beginner-friendly skill aims to detach you from stresses and strains in just one minute.
- 7-Minute-Workout skill – This skill will suggest exercises to boost your metabolism, give you more energy and remove fat.
- My Better Nutrition. Offers daily advice and pep talks, including product recommendations and new recipes to try. You’ll find advice for kids, how to boost your immune system and hear about some good options for when you’re on the go.
Browse more commands, and get some tips for Siri and Google Assistant devices, in our guide to Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa commands.