Alexa is a helpful AI assistant that isn’t as sassy as Siri, yet it is more knowledgeable than Cortana. While these fun names personalize our helpful digital assistant, they are, after all, simple computer programs that help us set timers and tell us today’s news. So, before we can interact with our new helper, we have to learn how to program Alexa.
Programming Alexa shouldn’t be too difficult. The AI assistant is available on a wide array of Amazon devices, from the Echo to the Firestick. Fortunately, programming Alexa is a breeze for all of them because the steps are nearly identical.
We’ll start by teaching you how to program Alexa; then, we’ll show you some of the various settings and features you can toy around with once it’s working.
How to Program Alexa
Before you can use your Alexa device, you’ll need to pair it. This process means you’re syncing the device to your Amazon account, attaching it to the Alexa app on your smartphone, and connecting it to Wi-Fi.
Programming Alexa does take a few steps. But ultimately, the process is quite seamless if you follow the steps.
Step 1: Install the Alexa App
Start the process by installing the Alexa app on your smartphone. iPhone users can install the Alexa app from the App Store using this link. Android users can get the Alexa App from the Google Play Store here.
Step 2: Connect Your Smartphone to Wi-Fi
You will need Wi-Fi to program Alexa. Your phone will act as a mediator between your Wi-Fi router and Alexa. Go to Settings and tap WiFi. Connect to the Wi-Fi network you’d like to use with Alexa.
Step 3: Give Alexa Power
While this part may seem slightly obvious to the more tech-savvy users, it actually isn’t. Of course, you need to plug your Echo into a wall outlet to get started. Then, your need to ensure it’s ready to pair.
If you have an Echo device that doesn’t have a touch screen, it will automatically go into pairing mode. If it doesn’t, press and hold the button with a circle on it. The light circle and Alexa will tell you it’s ready for set up.
Those of you with an Echo Show device (devices that have a touch screen) will plug in the device and follow a few simple steps on the screen to begin pairing.
Step 4: Open the Alexa App
Now, open the Alexa app and sign into your Amazon account.
Step 5: Tap Devices
After signing into the Alexa app, you’ll see the home screen and a few options at the bottom of the screen. Tap Devices.
Step 6: Tap the + Sign
In the upper right corner of the Alexa app, tap the small + icon to add and program your new Alexa.
Step 7: Program Alexa
The Amazon app will start looking for the Alexa device you want to pair (assuming it’s still in pairing mode). When it appears in the list, tap on it, and the Alexa app will do the rest!
Helpful hint: If your Alexa device won’t go into pairing mode, try unplugging it and plugging it back in with its original charging cord.
How to Navigate Alexa Settings
Programming Alexa doesn’t stop after the initial setup process. Now, it’s time to tweak, tailor, and customize the settings to get the most out of your device.
The Alexa app has the majority of settings you’ll need on your Alexa device. From setting up reminders to adding Samuel L. Jackson’s voice, you can’t program your Alexa device without an in-depth review of the settings because different options appear under different headings.
Let’s break down the Alexa app settings UI, so you know where to find the features you want to program.
To access these options, open the Alexa app and tap Devices at the bottom. Tap Echo & Alexa to see all your devices. Or, tap your Echo in the device list if it appears.
Now, you can tap the Settings cog in the upper right corner to change these features:
- Audio Settings
- Do Not Disturb
- Communications (Announcements and Drop In)
- Time Zone
- Wake Word
- Alexa’s Voice
- Follow-Up Mode
- Adaptive Listening (when available)
- Photo Display (Echo Show only)
- Measurement Units (Metric, Imperial, etc.)
Finally, you can also deregister your device in this menu if you need to factory reset it or if you want to gift it to someone else.
Another place you can customize Alexa is in the Alexa settings. Open the Alexa app and tap More in the lower right corner.
On the initial page, you can quickly access features like lists, reminders, alarms, and routines. But if you want more options, tap Settings. In the Alexa app settings, you can change these functions:
- Your profile and family settings
- Account settings
- Privacy (voice history, detected sounds, skill permissions, etc.)
- Voice responses
- Music & Podcasts (sync Spotify, Pandora, etc.)
- TV & Video (Echo Show only)
- Food & Recipes, News, Commute, Sports, Finance, etc.
- Amazon Kids
- Device Discovery
- Alexa Together (an alert system for family members to contact each other by saying “Alexa, call for help”)
There really are too many features to count, but you can change nearly anything in the Alexa app settings.
How to Program Alexa Features
Alexa’s a lot more fun when you customize it. You can create funny alarms, set quirky routines to start your day, or let Alexa’s hunches help you with closing the house in the evening. Here are some more ways to program Alexa to fit your lifestyle.
Set an Alarm
Most of us use Alexa for timers, but did you know you can set alarms too? Perhaps you want to wake up every morning to Spongebob screaming, “I’m Ready! I’m Ready.” If so, you can program Alexa to give you a custom alarm.
The easiest way to set up a new alarm is to simply say, “Alexa, set an alarm Monday through Thursday for 5:30 am,” and she’ll do the work for you.
If you want to customize the alarm even further, go to Menu>Alarms>Alarm to change sounds, dates, times, and more.
Alexa’s Hunches are pre-set commands the AI follows. For example, Alexa can remind you if you left a door unlocked (if you have an Alexa-paired door lock), or it can turn off lights for you. While you can’t set up your own hunches (they work with other smart devices), you can go to More>Settings>Hunches to enable or disable the feature.
Add a Skill
Alexa skills are similar to apps because you have to go get them. Essentially, an Alexa skill is a new thing your Echo can do, like showing you a new workout every day, reminding you to take your vitamins, or asking a celebrity to tell you a joke.
You can program new Alexa skills by opening the Alexa app and grabbing one from the home page. Or, you can tap More and get one from the Skills and Games section.
Set up a Routine
You can also program an Alexa routine. A routine is something Alexa does every day for you. More commonly, the Wake-Up routine can turn on lights, give you the time or weather forecast, play music, and so much more.
Customize routines or use the pre-programmed routines by going to Menu in the Alexa app and tapping Routines.
Alexa, Are You All Set?
Programming Alexa is an in-depth process with a lot of functions, features, and customizations. However, it’s so worth the hard work you put into it. Especially if you have cool features like Alexa-friendly light bulbs.
After you connect to Wi-Fi and set the app up on your smartphone, Alexa can do just about anything for you. All you have to do is ask.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Karsten Neglia/Shutterstock.com.