Alexa’s become smart enough to constantly surprise us – you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to questions it can comfortably answer, and Amazon is updating it with new features so often it’s difficult to keep up.
To make sure you don’t miss out on some of the more genuinely useful tricks you can experiment with, each week, our experts will be selecting their favourite Alexa commands for you to try out, plus sharing some helpful tips too.
Read on to see what made the cut this week, and be sure to check back this time next week for more.
Not on board yet? Browse all our reviews of speakers with voice assistants to get started.
Alexa trick of the week
What’s it for? The days of waking up your partner when you ask Alexa to turn off the alarm are over. Whisper mode is a feature that allows you to whisper to Alexa, who then whispers when responding to you.
Alexa command: “Alexa, turn on Whisper mode”
Alexa tip of the week
Reorder your shopping lists: If you use Alexa to create shopping lists, you might have noticed you can’t change the order of items you’ve added. If you know the lay of the land in your local supermarket, ordering your list by your route through the aisles can save time and make sure you don’t forget anything.
Try an app called Anylist. It connects with your voice assistant and automatically transfers shopping from Alexa’s list when you add it in the usual way – plus you can reorder items by dragging them around.
Alexa Skill of the week
Try the Skill: ‘Sleep and relaxation sounds’: If you like the idea of falling asleep with rain hitting the window, or want to relax to the sound of waves, this Skill has over 125 nature sounds to choose from. Once you’ve installed the Skill, say ‘Alexa, ask sleep sounds to play rain’, for example, to get started. Try experimenting, or read the app description for a full list of supported sounds.
Voice assistants are an integral part of the smart home, but there’s plenty more on offer if you’re looking to treat yourself to some tech. Read our guide on how to set up a smart home.
Our top 10 most useful Alexa commands
Make sure you’ve tried out all of the below at least once – these are our experts’ favourite and most frequently used features and commands.
- Set a reminder for a time and activity – ‘Alexa, remind me to take the bins out tomorrow at 8am.’ You can also set recurring reminders: ‘remind me every Tuesday at 8am to take the bins out.’
- Build a shopping list – ‘Alexa, add milk to my shopping list’. You can also create new lists through the Alexa app, for example ‘Poundshop’ – then just ask: ‘Alexa, add cling film to my Poundshop list.’ You can even now add multiple items at once, and they will appear separately: ‘Alexa, add milk and cheese to my shopping list.’
- Listen to the radio – ‘Alexa, play BBC Radio One’. Alexa can play dozens of radio stations by default, and you can use Alexa Skills to add more.
- Set a sleep alarm – if you like listening to music or other audio before bed, tell Alexa to set a sleep alarm. It will stop playing automatically so you don’t disturb your slumber telling Alexa to ‘stop’. Just say: ‘Alexa, set a sleep alarm for 20 minutes.’
- What’s the weather like? – most people know you can ask this, but you can also find out the weather tomorrow, or over the next week, and if you like, in a different location. Say: ‘Alexa, what’s the weather like in Marseille next week?’.
- Get help planning trips – ‘Alexa, how long will it take to get the train to Bristol?’. If you’re wondering what to do at the weekend, get the lay of the land with some approximations from Alexa, without having to look it up.
- Listen to audiobooks – with a subscription to an audiobook service, Alexa can be the perfect companion for an evening read. For example, ask: ‘Alexa, read Treasure Island from Audible.’ Amazon’s service Audible has a 30-day free trial.
- Broadcast messages around the home – if you have more than one Alexa device at home, no need to shout – simply use the broadcast feature with the ‘announce’ command to send your message to all the Alexa devices in your home. ‘Alexa, announce: takeaway has arrived!’
- Call friends – Save money on your phone contract. If you have an Amazon Echo device (this isn’t supported on all third-party Alexa devices), you can call most UK mobiles and landlines for free once set up in the Alexa app (excluding emergency numbers). ‘Alexa, call Diane.’
- Get some culinary inspiration – Finding you’ve been running out your cookbook recently? Alexa can give you some easy fresh ideas, and even take you through the recipes step-by-step. ‘Alexa, find quick dinner recipes.’
Browse more commands, and get some tips for Siri and Google Home devices, in our guide to Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa commands.