When I first got my Echo, I wasn’t sure what to do.
I asked for a joke, and the joke was bad. I got a lot of the dreaded “hmm, I don’t know that.” I had a few frustrating experiences with skills that didn’t seem to understand what I wanted or gave me unhelpful information.
I almost let my Echo languish on my kitchen counter, and I don’t want that to happen to you!
The 5 simple yet life-changing uses:
1. Play music
Whether you use your Echo as a speaker or connect it into an external speaker you already have like I do (I’ve had Sonos speakers for years), playing music just by saying a song, artist or genre is awesome.
- “Alexa, play Despacito”
- “Alexa, play Bruce Springsteen songs”
- “Alexa, play country music”
Pro Tips: You can also say “Alexa, skip song,” “Alexa, turn it up!” or “Alexa, turn off the music”
Set-up Tips: If you haven’t already, link your preferred music service (Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, etc.) with Alexa in the Alexa app. Then go to Settings > Music > Account Settings > Default Services to set your preferred music service as the default music library and, if relevant, default station. See this post for more detailed instructions. If you have an Amazon Prime membership, ad-free access to Prime Music’s 2 million songs is included. Lastly, connect Alexa to your external bluetooth speaker system (such as Sonos) if you have one.
2. Set timers
Alexa timers have been a game
- “Alexa, set 20 minute timer for the carrots”
- “Alexa, set 20 minute timer”
Pro Tips: You can also say “Alexa, stop” when the timer goes off or “Alexa, delete 20 minute timer.” No more manually turning off those timers.
3. Create reminders
Have you ever been tying up your shoelaces rushing out of the house and remembered you totally forgot you to text your aunt a happy birthday message? You can tell Alexa to set a reminder for a specific time, and she’ll send your phone a push notification and notify you via your Echo speaker.
- “Alexa, remind me to text Aunt Susie happy birthday today at 3pm”
Pro Tip: In addition to asking Alexa to set reminders for specified times, you can also ask her to set reminders based on any one of your stored locations. Add locations in the Alexa app under Settings > Your Locations. You can say “Alexa, feed the dog when I get home,” and Alexa will remind you when you get home. Pretty cool new feature.
4. Ask for the weather
Asking Alexa for the weather has become part of my morning routine. The default weather skill is pretty good, but if you want real feel, forecast for the next hour, sunrise and sunset times, wind gusts, humidity and more, Big Sky will have it for you.
- “Alexa, what’s the weather today”
- “Alexa, what’s the weather in Ft. Lauderdale tomorrow?”
- “Alexa, ask Big Sky what the weather is today”
Pro Tips: If you ask Alexa for the weather but don’t specify location, she’ll give you the weather for the location associated with your Echo device (likely your home or office address). Big Sky makes you pay for weather information on other locations, so I recommend just using the default Alexa weather skill for that.
5. Set your morning alarm
You can set a recurring alarm (for example, every weekday) or you can set it each night before you go to bed. You can also set multiple alarms if you’re like me and want one alarm 15 minutes before you need to get up and another to tell you that 15 minutes is up. When my Alexa alarm goes off, the sound is so much nicer than my old digital alarm clock beeping.
- “Alexa, set alarm for 7am tomorrow”
- “Alexa, set alarm for 7am every weekday”
- To set another alarm, just repeat for a different time
Pro Tips: When the alarm goes off, say “Alexa, turn off” or “Alexa, stop.” If you want to hear what alarms you have set, say “Alexa, what are my alarms.” To delete an alarm, “Alexa, delete my
While I know these things sound simple, they really are life changing.
Talking to Alexa and asking her to do these things is 10x better than taking out your phone, opening up the right app, falling into the black hole of emails, texts,