How to Stop Alexa from Listening in 3 Steps

An Amazon Echo Dot 4, which runs Amazon's smart assistant, Alexa

How to Stop Alexa from Listening in 3 Steps

It is hard to imagine our life without voice assistants like Alexa. After all, it manages all the major and minor functions of our smart home, including turning on and off the lights, organizing your schedule, making phone calls, giving you weather and traffic updates, and whatnot. The best part? Alexa does all these things just by your voice command!

However, there is one downside to these perks. Alexa listens to you all the time and even records and saves your daily conversations in Amazon Cloud. It’s understandable since the voice assistant is everywhere, from your Echo speakers to thermostats. 

Of course, it does seem like a breach of privacy. But the good thing is that you can stop Alexa from listening to you by changing the device’s privacy settings. Don’t start sweating already; the process is pretty easy and includes just a few steps you can efficiently perform with minimal tech knowledge.

Follow along with us!

Step 1: Find the Microphone Button

Whether you have Amazon Echo or the newer Echo Show, the first step is to find the microphone button on the device. Look for a button that looks like a microphone but with a strike over it. In some Amazon devices, the button is represented by a circle with a strike. 

amazon echo
Find the microphone button.

©George W. Bailey/Shutterstock.com

Step 2: Press the Microphone Button

Press the microphone button once you find it. Soon, a short tune will play, indicating that the microphone has been turned off. The indicator light will quickly become red, meaning that Alexa will no longer listen to you.

Some Echo devices have a screen. They show a red line on the screen’s bottom when the microphone is turned off. Alexa is not listening to you now!

Step 3: Say the Wake Word to Trigger Alexa

If you want to use Alexa again, you’d need to press the microphone button until it is no longer red. You can also say Alexa’s wake word, a command, or a question to turn on the device again. The device will turn blue, showing that it’s listening to you. 

Note: You can only allow or forbid Alexa from listening to you manually. You can’t disable the microphone on Echo through voice command.

amazon alexa echo dot
Use a wake word, command, or ask a question, or press the microphone button, to trigger Alexa.


How to Stop Alexa from Recording and Uploading Your Conversations

You can also stop Alexa from recording your commands, conversations, and questions, so other people won’t be able to access them. To do that, you’d have to disable the upload function from the Alexa app installed on your smartphone. 

Alexa works by recording and uploading every command to its servers. Amazon servers then process the uploaded command or question to help Alexa respond and perform the task. 

Of course, you cannot stop this, but you can ask Amazon to delete all your recordings instantly after its servers complete the processing. You can also instruct Amazon to never provide your information to any other person, even upon asking.

Here is how you can stop Alexa from saving your recordings on Amazon servers:

  1. First, launch the Alexa app installed on your smartphone. If you haven’t downloaded it already, you can do so from Google Play on your Android and App Store on your iPhone. 
  2. After that, tap More and Settings in the app.
  3. Next, find Alexa Privacy and tap on it. 
  4. Then, choose Manage Your Alexa Data.
  5. Now, select Choose how long to save recordings.
  6. Finally, tap on Don’t save recordings and choose Confirm.

You should also turn off the Use of voice recordings toggle in the Help improve Alexa option. Then, press Turn Off on the next pop-up screen. You must also switch off the Use messages to improve transcription toggle if you send or receive messages via Alexa. 

Does Alexa Always Listen to You?

All Echo devices constantly optimize and monitor microphone input. This allows Alexa to listen to everything you talk about within the device’s range. For some people, that is good since they don’t have to do anything manually. However, it raises many questions about Alexa’s data privacy policy

You can manually turn off the microphone button on your Alexa devices anytime to stop them from listening. But it could prevent you from reusing your Echo device until you press the button again or say wake words.

In short, Alexa will always listen to you when you’re within the device’s range, and its microphone button is turned on. 

Will Alexa Record All Your Conversations?

Alexa records all your commands, conversations, and questions on Amazon’s servers and uploads them regularly. It allows the servers to analyze and process the command to help Alexa respond efficiently. 

Remember, Alexa only records those conversations that start with a wake word, including Alexa, Amazon, Computer, Echo, and Ziggy. But sometimes, Alexa may confuse random words with any wake word and upload your conversations on the server.

So while Alexa listens to you all the time, it isn’t recording and uploading your every conversation. Yes, it does record some conversations accidentally, along with real questions. 

How to Disable the Drop-in Feature on Alexa?

The drop-in feature on Alexa allows Amazon devices to work as an intercom. Simply put, the drop-in feature enables you to listen to or see someone else from the other device and even have two-way conversations with them. When this feature is enabled, the Echo flashes green, showing it is connecting to another device. 

If you’re uncomfortable with this feature, you can stop everyone from listening to your Alexa conversations:

  1. Launch the Alexa app on your phone.
  2. Then, tap on Devices.
  3. Choose Echo & Alexa and then select your device.
  4. Finally, tap on Communications and then drop-in. Here you can decide which features to disable and enable. 

Disabling drop-in may not stop Alexa from listening to you, but it can restrict other people or Echo devices from doing so. 

4 Things to Consider When Stopping Alexa From Listening

You must consider multiple things when stopping Alexa from constantly listening to your daily conversations. Knowing them will help you be more aware of what you’re doing with your Amazon devices. 

Below are four things you must consider to stop Alexa from listening to you safely.

  1. Understand When Alexa is Listening

You can know when Alexa is listening and recording your conversations when the blue light flashes on the device. On some devices, you may also hear a tone. If you don’t want Alexa to listen to you, look for both these signs when talking to someone within the device’s range.

You can also change your Echo device’s settings to notify you when recording your conversations by playing a tone. You can configure it from the Alexa app’s settings.

  1. Disable the Device’s Camera

Most Echo devices have built-in cameras to allow you to make video calls or drop-in on a different device. Since you don’t use the camera to command or question the device, turn it off when not making video calls. 

You just have to switch the Amazon device’s slider button to disable the camera. The option is available on the top of the device. You can switch it back again when wanting to make video calls or drop-ins. 

  1. Delete Your Voice History 

Like every smart device, Alexa devices record your commands to know you better and understand your lifestyle. This means the longer you use Alexa, the more it will record your speech patterns, preferences, and vocabulary.

Fortunately, Amazon allows users to access their voice history anytime. You can quickly review all the questions and commands according to their dates from your Amazon account’s Privacy Settings. In fact, you can also playback your recordings. If this makes you uncomfortable, you can delete your voice history from the Alexa app. 

Go to the app’s Privacy Settings and Review Voice History. Then, add the by day filter and the Alexa device you want to delete the voice history. If you use multiple Echo devices, you can delete the history from them simultaneously.

You can also ask Alexa to delete your commands. But, to enable this feature, you will have to tweak your settings account by navigating to Manage Your Alexa Data. In this section, you can also determine how long you want the device to save your recordings and ask the device not to save any recordings.

When deleting your voice history, Amazon may warn you that doing so may decrease the quality of your experience. This option is pretty helpful when you want to clear your device’s cache to give it a new start. Deleting your voice history may not stop Alexa from listening, but it will restrict others from accessing it. 

  1. Review Alexa’s Official Privacy Settings

Before stopping Alexa from listening to your conversations, take a moment to understand Amazon’s official privacy settings. Doing so will help you discover many alternatives to restrict Alexa from listening to you. 

For instance, you can secure your Amazon account through voice PINs for Alexa shopping, locking and unlocking doors, and making bank transactions. You must also read the small paragraph written in the Alexa Privacy option in your account, especially the Help Improve Alexa part.

In this section, Amazon clearly says that training Alexa to record and upload customers’ conversations helps the device work better. This means that some of your recordings are actually reviewed by humans. However, these recordings are anonymous, and Amazon doesn’t know whose recordings it’s scanning. 

As you now know, you can disable this feature by disabling the Use of voice recordings option. Again, it will mean that your experience may degrade a little, but it’s okay, considering the relief it gives. 

Wrapping Up

Alexa listens to your commands, questions, and conversations all the time. However, you should be within the device’s range and use any wake word to be heard. Alexa records and uploads all the conversations to Amazon’s servers, which then analyze and process them to help Alexa respond. 

You can stop Alexa from listening to you by turning off the microphone button on the device. You can also delete your voice history and stop Alexa from uploading your conversations by adjusting the app’s privacy settings.

For a comprehensive walkthrough of managing Alexa privacy settings, check out the following video:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Alexa listening to you all the time?

The microphones in Alexa devices are always listening, but they only listen to commands starting with “wake words.” These include Amazon, Computer, Alexa, Ziggy, and Echo.

How do I get Alexa to stop listening?

You can stop Alexa from listening by pressing the microphone button on the device until it turns red. When it becomes red, you can’t talk to Alexa, and it won’t listen to you in return.

Does stopping Alexa from listening degrade your experience?

Amazon notifies users that stopping Alexa from listening or deleting their voice history can degrade their experience. That’s because the device uses your data to enhance your experience and offers features based on your preferences.

How do I get Alexa to stop listening to my kids?

You can stop Alexa from listening to your kids by setting parental controls. It won’t stop the device from listening but will restrict them from making voice purchases.

To do that, open the Alexa app, click on the three lines, Settings, then Account Settings, Voice Purchasing, and finally, enable Purchase Confirmation. After that, choose Kids Skills Purchasing and switch on the toggle next to Purchases Require Approval.

Is Alexa safe for privacy?

Amazon Alexa is considered safe as the company only records your data to enhance your experience. It also trains Alexa’s speech recognition feature to answer and respond to your questions instantly. Amazon never sells your personal information. In fact, the company also lets you choose whether or not you want the device to save your voice recordings.

How do I make Alexa private?

You can make Alexa private by updating its privacy settings. First, you’ll have to launch the Alexa app on your phone. Then, tap on More and choose Settings. After that, select Alexa Privacy and make the changes you want to ensure Alexa’s privacy.

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