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A comprehensive list of Alexa voice commands you can use with your smart devices

  • Alexa voice commands can respond to general queries or tasks, and can also accommodate variations of those commands.
  • To get Alexa’s attention, you need to use the wake word, which is “Alexa” by default. You can change the wake word to one of several others in Alexa’s settings.
  • Here is a detailed list, divided by common categories, of the most important and useful Alexa commands. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

While it’s not sophisticated enough to be sentient, Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is an amazing feat of engineering. It can respond to hundreds of commands, often in almost conversational ways. If you’re new to Alexa or just want a primer on what the digital assistant is capable of, here’s a roundup of the most common and useful commands.

The commands in this list are just a guideline; like any good assistant, Alexa often can respond to variations of these commands, shortened versions, and alternate phrases. 

How to wake Alexa on your devices

Although Amazon originally promised that Alexa’s name would be fully customizable, the reality is that you can configure it to wake to one of four words: Alexa (naturally, the default), Amazon, Echo, or computer. You can specify the wake word in the Alexa app and customize it for each of your devices. Here’s how:

1. Start the Alexa app on your phone.

2. Tap “Devices” at the bottom of the screen and then tap “Echo & Alexa” at the top of the screen.

3. Tap the device for which you want to change the wake word. 

4. Tap “Wake Word” and then choose which of the four words you want Alexa to respond to for the selected device.

Most Alexa devices respond to your voice just by saying the name. A few devices — namely, the Amazon Fire TV remote and the now-discontinued Amazon Tap and Amazon Dash Wand — require you to first press a button to wake Alexa. 

Every command you give Alexa generally needs to be prefaced with the wake word, which is how the list of commands below is structured. However, if you enable Follow-up Mode, Alexa will briefly listen for additional commands after the first one, without requiring the wake word repeated every time. If you want to enable Follow-up Mode for a particular device, do this:

1. Start the Alexa app on your phone.

2. Tap “Devices” at the bottom of the screen and then tap “Echo & Alexa” at the top of the screen.

3. Tap the device you want to use Follow-up Mode with.

4. Tap “Follow-up Mode” and then turn it on by swiping the button to the right. 

Whether or not you choose to use Follow-up Mode, here are the most common and important commands you can use with Alexa.

Volume and pausing

Alexa, stop: This stops whatever activity Alexa is performing.

Alexa, pause/continue: Some activities, like playing the Flash briefing, can be paused and resumed later. 

Alexa, mute/unmute: This mutes whatever audio Alexa is playing. 

Alexa, louder/set the volume to six, turn down the volume: Alexa can vary the volume in a variety of ways.

Timers and conversions

Alexa, set a one-hour timer: Creates a simple timer.

Alexa, cancel the one-hour time: Cancels the timer before it’s complete.

Alexa, set a 10-minute timer and name it “eggs”: Useful for situations like cooking in the kitchen, when you might need several timers at once — naming them makes it easy to tell them apart.  

Alexa, how much time is left: Alexa will report how much time is left on each timer that’s currently running. You can also check on a specific timer, such as “Alexa, how much time is left on the egg timer?”

Alexa, stop: This cancels the timer when it starts the alarm notification. 

Alexa, how many ounces are in a cup: You can convert quantities between any tow sets of units — feet to meters, pounds to kilograms, and so on. You can also ask for specific conversions, such as “how many grams are in 10 ounces?”

General questions 

Alexa, what does [word] mean/define [word]?: Get instant definitions. 

Alexa, how do you spell [word]?: Ask Alexa to spell a word for you. 

Alexa, how do you boil an egg?: Many common questions have been answered by the crowdsources Alexa Answers service, so you can ask a huge range of trivia, general interest and cooking questions. 

Alexa, what’s 15% of 400?: You can ask common math problems, including ones to help you determine discounts and tips. 

Alexa, roll an eight-sided die: You can use Alexa as a replacement for dice or just to generate a random number. You can ask for any sided die, including ones that couldn’t possibly exist (Alexa, roll a 10,000-sided die.”)

Alexa, flip a coin: Gets heads or tails.

News and weather

Alexa, play the Flash Briefing: This plays a curated news summary you can customize in the Alexa app’s settings.

Alexa, play the news: If you specify a news source in Alexa’s settings, you can hear a longer-form news report. 

Alexa, what’s the weather?: Hear a weather report. 

Alexa, what’s the traffic/what’s my commute?: Get traffic information between the home and work locations you’ve specified in the Alexa app.

Time and alarms

Alexa, what time is it?: Use Alexa as the world’s most sophisticated clock. 

Alexa, set an alarm for 8 a.m.: You can quickly set an alarm. If you don’t specify a.m. or p.m., Alexa will ask you to clarify. 

Alexa, set an alarm to The Beatles for 6 a.m.: You can specify what kind of music to wake to. 

Alexa, set a repeating alarm for weekdays at 7 a.m./wake me every morning at 7 a.m.: You can tell Alexa to create unique alarms for any day of the week. 

Alexa, snooze: Verbally snooze your alarm after it starts. 

Alexa, when is my next alarm/what are all my alarms?: Find out what alarms you have set.

Smart home controls

Alexa, I’m leaving/start guard mode. Alexa has a built-in security system in which it monitors your home for unexpected noises like breaking glass and smoke alarms, and will send you a notification if it senses something is wrong.

Alexa, I’m home/stop guard mode: Alexa disables Guard Mode monitoring. 

Alexa, where’s my phone?: Alexa can call your phone to help you find it. 

Alexa, turn on the kitchen light/turn off all the lights: You can turn any smart lights in your home on or off using the name of the light or the room it’s in, or turn them all on or off at once. 

Alexa, dim the light/set the living room light to 50%: You can change the brightness of your smart lights. 

Alexa, set the temperature to 65 degrees/raise the temperature five degrees: If you have a smart thermostat, you can control it by voice. 

Alexa, lock the front door: You can lock and unlock compatible smart locks. 

Alexa, pair: This puts your Bluetooth -enabled Alexa device in pairing mode so you can connect a Bluetooth portable speaker.

Playing media

Alexa, play some music: Alexa starts streaming music from the default music source specified in the Alexa app’s settings. 

Alexa, play/pause/restart/skip: You can control your music playback by asking Alexa almost any media control command. 

Alexa, set a sleep timer for 10 minutes: If you’re currently playing music, you can set a sleep timer and Alexa will stop playing when the timer is done. 

Alexa, play [artist name/album title]: You can ask Alexa to play a specific artist or say “play the album [album name] to hear that specific record. You can also specify which device to play it on, such as, “Alexa, play Bob Mould in the kitchen.”

Alexa, play [selection] on [music service]: The combinations are almost limitless. You can ask Alexa to play an artist on Spotify, a playlist on Pandora, a radio station on TuneIn, or an audiobook or podcast on Audible, for example. 

Alexa, play [artist name/album title] in the kitchen: You can request music (in general) or a specific artist or album to start playing on a different device. You can also tell it to stop: “Alexa, stop playing music in the kitchen.” 

Alexa, what song is playing?: You can find out the name of a song if you’re currently playing a track via Amazon Music. 

Alexa, wake me every day at 6 a.m. to music: This sets up a recurring alarm clock with a random selection of music.

Echo Show commands

Alexa, show me my calendar: Displays your meetings and appointments in whatever calendar you’ve connected to Alexa using the Alexa app. 

Alexa, show me my photos: Displays photos from your personal photo library. 

Alexa, show me pictures of dogs: You can ask Alexa to find photos of any subject and it will display them from the web. 

Alexa, show me the weather/show me the forecast: See a weather report. You can also ask for the weather for a specific time, such as “this weekend,” or a certain city or location. 

Alexa, show a recipe for apple cobbler: Alexa can find and display recipes from the web. 

Alexa, show me the timers/how much time is left: Shows a list of all timers currently running.  

Alexa, show me cat videos on YouTube: You can’t ask Alexa to display a specific video, but you can ask Alexa to search for videos by topic or subject.

Fire TV commands

Alexa, turn on/turn off Fire TV: You can turn compatible TVs on and off. 

Alexa, go to [channel number of network name] on Fire TV: If you’re watching live, over-the-air television, you can change channels by voice. 

Alexa, set the volume to four on Fire TV/turn down Fire TV: Much like controlling the volume of Alexa itself, you can command the volume of a Fire TV by voice. 

Alexa, pause/play/stop on Fire TV: You can command Fire TV and Fire Stick devices by voice. You can also say other media control commands, like fast-forward, rewind, and pause. 

Alexa, find [name of show or movie] on Fire TV: You can ask Alexa to search for the streaming program you want to watch. 

Alexa, show me titles with [actor’s name] on Fire TV: You can search by a specific actor.

Shopping and purchases

Alexa, track my order/where’s my stuff: Find out the status of any open Amazon orders.

Alexa, add olive oil to my cart: You can add items to your Amazon shopping cart. Alexa may ask for clarification or for you to choose a specific product. 

Alexa, what are your deals?: Ask for today’s list of top Amazon deals. 

Alexa, buy this song/buy this album: If you’re listening to Amazon Music, you can instantly buy the music you’re listening to. 

Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride: If you enable the Uber skill, you can summon Uber from Alexa. 

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

  • How to change Alexa’s voice on your Amazon Echo speaker by changing her accent or language

  • How to make your Alexa speaker’s volume louder or softer in 3 different ways

  • How to pair an Alexa-compatible remote with your Amazon Echo, so you can control Alexa without your voice

  • How to remove a paired device from Alexa, and disconnect it from your smart home setup

  • Yes, Alexa can identify songs that it’s playing for you — here’s how to do it manually, or set Alexa to identify automatically

  • How to change Alexa’s location on your Amazon Echo to correct features like time and weather