When I asked for an Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas, I thought it seemed like a cool thing for a geek like me to have. I didn’t know that much about it, but soon after I set it up, I was blown away with what Alexa can do.
Alexa’s basic commands are pretty straightforward. For help, say “Alexa, help.” To stop, say “Alexa, stop.” To mute or unmute, “Alexa, mute” or “Alexa, unmute.” Alexa will even change the volume by command instead of using the buttons – “Alexa, louder,” “Alexa, set volume to 3,” or “Alexa, turn down the volume.”
Amazon has also added the ability to change Echo’s “wake word” in the Alexa app, so you can pretend you’re in Star Trek and say “Computer” instead of “Alexa.”
Alexa offers a bunch of smart home commands that I won’t cover here since I don’t have smart home devices to control with Alexa.
I’m sure I haven’t even scratched the surface of what Alexa can do. Here are my favorite things so far. How about you? What are your favorite things to ask Alexa?
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Play Some Music
Usually, I’ll say something like “Alexa, play some Abba” or “Alexa, play Uptown Funk.” I haven’t subscribed to Amazon’s premium music service, so Alexa only pulls songs that are part of Amazon Prime Music. If I ask for a song that’s not part of Amazon Prime Music, Alexa will play a sample of the song. One time, I asked it to play Who’s on First, and it did!
If you say “Alexa, play some music,” it’ll pick some music it thinks you’ll like based on your previous listening or buying habits. You can also say “Alexa, play the latest Lady Gaga album” or even “Alexa, play that song that goes ‘gotta kiss myself, I’m so pretty.'”
You can also play music from other streaming services by saying “Alexa, play Elvis Presley on Pandora” or “Alexa, play [name of playlist] on Spotify.” You can even tell it “Alexa, play [radio station] on TuneIn.”
You can restart a song by saying “Alexa, restart,” or find out song information by saying “Alexa, what’s playing?”
Here are some additional examples of things you might ask Alexa related to music:
“Alexa, what’s popular from [artist]?”
“Alexa, who sings the song [song title]?”
“Alexa, who is in the band [name]?”
“Alexa, what year did [artist] release [song or album]?”
Wikipedia and General Information
Alexa can find out more about a topic listed on Wikipedia (which means almost anything you can think of). Say something like “Alexa, Wikipedia Alan Alda” or “Alexa, Wikipedia Abbott and Costello.” If you want Alexa to continue reading a Wikipedia article, say “Alexa, tell me more.”
You can also ask questions like “Alexa, how many people live in Brazil” and “Alexa, give me a Star Wars quote,” and “Alexa, what’s the capital of Alaska?”
Time, Dates and Alarms
You can ask Alexa what time is it and what’s the date. You can ask when is Christmas this year or when is Halloween this year.
Alexa will give you a daily wake-up alarm: “Alexa, set a repeating alarm for weekdays at 6 a.m.”
“Alexa, wake me up at 6 in the morning.”
“Alexa, set a sleep timer for 20 minutes.”
“Alexa, stop playing in 20 minutes.”
“Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes.”
“Alexa, set a second timer for 8 minutes.”
“Alexa, how much time is left on my timer?”
“Alexa, cancel my alarm for 5 a.m.”
“Alexa, cancel all alarms.”
Ask Alexa how your favorite team (or any team) did in their latest game. For example, “Alexa, what was the score of the Steelers game?” or “Alexa, did the Steelers win?” or “Alexa, when do the Pirates play next?”
In addition, you can say “Alexa, give me my sports update.” In the Alexa app, you can enter your favorite teams to include in your sports update.
If you play Yahoo Fantasy Football, you can say “Alexa, ask Yahoo Fantasy Football if [player] is playing this week” or “Alexa, ask Yahoo Fantasy Football for a score update.”
Alexa Reads Books to You
Want to listen to your Kindle book while you work or do household chores? Say “Alexa, read me my Kindle book” or “Alexa, read Lonesome Dove from Kindle.” Alexa will read any Kindle book you own or have checked out on loan, such as from Kindle Unlimited or a library’s Kindle collection.
If you subscribe to Audible, you can say “Alexa, play [book title] on Audible” or “Alexa, play the book [book title]” or “Alexa, read [book title].”
Ask Alexa for help with words by saying “Alexa, how do you spell Mississippi?” or “Alexa, what’s the definition of discombobulated?”
You can ask Alexa to do basic math problems like “Alexa, what’s 157 times 32?” or conversions such as “Alexa, how many pints are in 5 gallons?”
Find out what movies are playing locally by asking “Alexa, what movies are playing?” or “Alexa, what horror movies are playing tonight?” Get more information on current movies by saying “Alexa, tell me about the movie Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Other examples include:
“Alexa, tell me about Whose Line Is it Anyway.”
“Alexa, what is the IMDb rating for [TV show or movie]?”
“Alexa, who plays [character] in [TV show or movie]?”
“Alexa, who plays in [TV show or movie]?”
“Alexa, what’s George Clooney’s latest movie?”
News, Weather and Traffic
By default, you can ask “Alexa, what’s my flash briefing” or “Alexa, what’s in the news? or “Alexa, what’s going on?” for a news update. You can also enable a variety of different Skills in the Alexa app to customize the news providers in your briefing, including some local TV stations.
For a weather forecast, say “Alexa, what’s the weather like?” or “Alexa, will it rain today?” or “Alexa, will I need an umbrella today?” You can also request a travel forecast by saying “Alexa, what’s the weather like in Las Vegas?” or “Alexa, what’s the weather like in Pittsburgh?”
Plus, you can ask “Alexa, what’s the weather going to be like this weekend?” or “Alexa, what’s traffic like?” In the Alexa app, you can enter your home and work addresses so that Alexa knows what traffic information you need.
Buying and Shopping Lists
Amazon no doubt hopes shopping via Alexa catches on. Ask “Alexa, what are your deals?” to hear special sales exclusive to Alexa users.
You can also say “Alexa, buy more batteries” or “Alexa, reorder toilet paper.” Alexa will use your purchasing history to select an item and then it’ll ask if that’s what you want to order. If you’re not ready to order yet, you can say “Alexa, add AA batteries to my cart.”
One special perk from ordering via Alexa is free return shipping for all physical items purchased through Alexa. To prevent unintentional ordering or keep your kids from ordering stuff, you can use the Alexa app to set a four-digit security code for purchases.
You can track your Amazon orders by saying “Alexa, where’s my stuff?” or “Alexa, track my order.”
Alexa will keep track of your to-do list. Say “Alexa, I need to get my car’s oil changed” or “Alexa, I need to make a vet appointment for the cats.”
To add an event to your calendar, say “Alexa, add vet appointment to my calendar for February 4 at 10 a.m.”
Create a grocery shopping list by saying “Alexa, add bread to my shopping list” or “Alexa, I need to buy carrots.” Check your list by saying “Alexa, what’s on my shopping list.”
For retail shopping, say “Alexa, find the business hours of Sam’s Club” or “Alexa, find the address for CVS.”
Fun and Games
The most fun thing about Alexa, especially for kids, is its “Easter Eggs.” There’s an entire Reddit page devoted to Alexa Easter Eggs, but I’ll touch on some highlights here.
“Alexa, tell me a joke.”
“Alexa, my name is Inigo Montoya.”
“Alexa, beam me up.”
“Alexa, tell me a fact.”
“Alexa, who lives in a pineapple under the sea?”
“Alexa, how many roads must a man walk down?”
“Alexa, may the force be with you.”
“Alexa, show me the money.”
“Alexa, surely you can’t be serious.”
“Alexa, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?”
“Alexa, do you know the muffin man?”
“Alexa, where in the world in Carmen Sandiego?”
“Alexa, these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”
“Alexa, flip a coin.”
You can also enable a game skill such as Jeopardy, then say “Alexa, play Jeopardy.”
Stocks and Market Coverage
You can ask Alexa for a stock market update or for a stock price quote by company name or symbol. For example, you can ask “Alexa, what’s the stock price of Simon Properties?”
Cooking and Food
Get Alexa’s help in the kitchen by asking questions such as “Alexa, how many teaspoons are in one tablespoon?”
Prefer to eat out? Say “Alexa, find me a nearby Chinese restaurant.”
This post was originally posted in January 2017 and updated in April 2019.
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