How to use an Amazon Echo
To get started with your Amazon Echo, it helps to know what the individuals buttons and lights mean.
The majority of the Amazon Echo devices are controlled in a similar way and each model comes with an action button, volume controls, a light ring and a microphone off option.
The Action Button, which you’ll need to use during setup and troubleshooting, is the button with a single white dot in the centre. You can use this button to turn off the alarm and timer as well as wake up Echo.
The Volume controls are either represented with plus and minus buttons or via a ring. On the latter, you can increase the volume by rotating the volume ring in a clockwise direction.
The button to disable the microphone, which stops Alexa from being able to listen to you, is depicted by a microphone with a line through it. Once disabled, the light ring will turn red. Pressing it again will turn the microphone back on.
To start using your Amazon Echo following setup, simply say “Alexa” followed by your question or command. If it has recognised your voice, the light will turn blue to indicate it’s listening.
By the way, you can change the wake word from “Alexa” if, for example, you have an Alexa or Alex in your home or office, so it doesn’t activate when you don’t want it too.
The Amazon Echo and Echo Dot on their own don’t do a whole lot – or they’re certainly not as useful without enabling Alexa Skills – which brings us onto our next guide.
How to enable Alexa Skills
1. Open the Amazon Alexa app, open the menu using the three lines in the top left-hand corner and select Skills. You can also find the full list of Alexa Skills store on the Amazon website.
2. You can browse for skills by category, such as Business & Finance, Food & Drink and Games. Alternatively, use the search box to find a specific skill. You can see which Alexa Skills you've already enabled by clicking Your Skills in the top right-hand corner.
3. Once you've found a skill you want to use, select it to open its dedicated detail page and hit Enable. Some skills may require you to create an account or subscription with the Skill provider, or to type your username and password for existing accounts.
4. In each Skill page you'll be able to see what the Skill does, supported languages and what you need to say in order to launch the app. You can also say “Alexa, open [Skill name].” If you need help with a skill, you can say, “[skill name] help.”
Amazon Echo setup problems
My Amazon Echo won’t connect to Wi-Fi
Amazon Echo devices can only connect to dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz) networks that use the 802.11a/b/g/n standard. Your home Wi-Fi will run these bands/this standard but peer-to-peer networks or hotspotting won't, for example.
Test your Wi-Fi network and security
- If you can't connect your Amazon Echo to your Wi-Fi network turn the device off at the plug, wait 10 seconds and repeat the setup process above.
- Make sure you know your network password - this is the password needed to access your Wi-Fi network and is typically found somewhere on your router. This password is not your Amazon account password.
- Check to make sure other devices, such as your phone or smart TV, are connected to the Wi-Fi. If they're not, this may signal that your Wi-Fi isn't working rather than your Amazon Echo.
- If your main Wi-Fi network isn't working, reboot the router by turning it off at the plug. If it's still not working you may need to update the firmware for your router or modem hardware and the instructions will depend on your router. You can also contact your internet service provider.
- If you saved your Wi-Fi password to Amazon previously, but you recently changed the password, you'll need to re-enter your new password to connect the Amazon Echo to your network again.
- By default, your router may use both WPA+WPA2 for security. To resolve connection issues, switch the router security type to either WPA or WPA2 only. If the router also has an option to set the type of encryption, setting it to AES only is recommended.
Reduce Wi-Fi congestion
If you have multiple phones, tablets, Amazon Echo, smart devices, TVs and computers on your Wi-Fi network, or you're downloading or streaming apps and content, you may find your Wi-Fi struggles to keep up.
- Turn off devices you aren't using to free up bandwidth.
- Move your Amazon Echo closer to your router.
- Keep the Amazon Echo away from possible interference, such as microwaves or baby monitors.
You can additionally connect to your router's 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequency band where possible. Many devices automatically connect to the 2.4 GHz band which can leave that band a little crowded.
Reset Amazon Echo
If this doesn't solve the problem you can also reset your devices and start from scratch. To reset your Echo device:
- Find a paper clip, earring or the SIM card tool found with new phones to press and hold the Reset button on the Echo device on the base of your device. The light ring on your Echo will turn orange, and then blue.
- Wait for the light ring to turn off and on again.
- The light ring should turn orange, and your device will enter setup mode. You can try repeating the following steps at the top of this article.
What about my privacy?
Digital assistants like Alexa become more effective as they learn more about you, and that means sharing your data with one of the world’s biggest tech companies.
Remember also that unless you press the disable microphone button, the mic is potentially always on. According to Amazon, Alexa is only activated when you speak the wake word, but it can be turned on accidentally, and ultimately, you are trusting Amazon with a lot of your information and audio recorded inside your home or office.
Thankfully, however, you can access, listen to and delete all your recorded dialogue with Alexa – and in fact, all your Amazon interactions.