A Beginner’s Guide to Alexa Commands: What Can Alexa Do?

Since its release in 2014, the Amazon smart speaker, the Echo Dot, has sold more than 100 million units. The phrase, “This is so sad, Alexa play ‘Despacito’” has become a meme. And more and more, the Amazon digital assistant, Alexa, has become a ubiquitous part of our lives.

Whether you have an Echo Dot already or are considering getting one, there are probably a lot of features that Alexa offers that you may not know about. From making your coffee to pulling up your Netflix account, there are a ton of ways Alexa can make your life easier every day. Read on to discover some of the coolest Alexa commands.

Control Your Smart Home

One of the biggest things that your Echo Dot can do is control your smart home. From turning the lights off and on to setting the thermostat, Alexa can make your home system control easier than ever. And with more and more smart devices making their way onto the market, we’re heading for a world straight out of Star Trek.

When you’re getting into bed, you can ask Alexa to make sure the doors are locked. You can even set up an entire bedtime routine where, when you say, “Alexa, I’m going to bed,” she shuts down all the lights in the house, locks the doors, lowers the thermostat, roll down the blinds, and set the alarm system. You can also have her preheat the oven for dinner, dim the lights, and get a movie going on your smart TV.

Control the TV

If you have an Amazon Fire TV, you can use your Alexa to control your TV. If you’re the kind of person who lost your remote down the back of the couch months ago, this can be a lifesaver. You’ll need to spend some time working on setup, but once you get that done, you’ll be able to control your TV almost entirely with voice commands.

You can tell your Alexa to turn the TV on and off and to control the volume settings. You can also ask her to open Netflix and play your favorite show. You can even have your Alexa work with a Logitech Harmony remote to pause whatever you’re watching.

Play Music

If you’re the kind of person who needs a soundtrack for your life, Alexa has got you covered. The digital assistant can play any song available through Amazon Music on command so you can bop along to your favorite beats. You can also say, “Alexa, play chill cooking music,” or “Alexa, play a pump-up playlist,” and she’ll pick one that she thinks you’ll like.

If you already have your playlists set up, Alexa can handle those, too. She can pair with your phone to act as a smart speaker, including multi-room coordination. If you have a Spotify Premium account, you can also play that music through your Echo Dot.

Get Help with Dinner

Have you ever wished you had some help fixing dinner? While Alexa can’t quite cook for you yet, she can make the process easier. Your Echo Dot can look up recipes, set timers, manage oven temperature, and check what’s in your smart fridge.

And on the nights when you don’t feel like cooking, Alexa is there to help out. If you’ve ordered from Just Eat or another Alexa-enabled food delivery app lately, you can ask her to order the same thing for you again. Thursday night lo mein, here we come!

Do Conversions

Do you ever have a hard time remembering how many ounces are in a cup versus a pound? How much sugar should you use when you’re halving a recipe that calls for a quarter cup of sugar? Can you substitute baking powder for baking soda?

Alexa has the answers to all the kitchen conversion conundrums you run into while making dinner. Ask her how many tablespoons are in an eighth of a cup and she’ll remind you that it’s two tablespoons. She cal also do other conversions, such as distance, temperature, and currency.

Make Coffee

Do you ever dream of waking up in the morning and having hot, fresh coffee ready to go? If you have an Echo Dot and a smart coffee pot, that could be a reality for you. Before you ever get out of bed, you can say, “Alexa, turn on the coffee pot,” and by the time you get to the kitchen, you’ll have a hot cup of coffee waiting.

Of course, this method will still require some preparation. You’ll need to set up the coffee pot with your Alexa (and make sure you get a smart coffee pot that’s Echo-compatible). And, of course, you’ll still need to load the coffee on the maker the night before; Alexa hasn’t developed thumbs yet.

Help You Get in Shape

Many of us want to get into a little bit better shape, and Alexa can help you do that, too. For one thing, she can give you nutrition information about the food you’re snacking on. So if you ask her, “Alexa, how many calories are in an avocado?” she can let you know how much of your daily calorie budget that avo toast will use.

Alexa can also help you keep up with your Fitbit stats if you have one of those. She can even give you a workout to run through. Say, “Alexa, start a seven-minute workout,” and she’ll give you a short workout routine.

Keep a Shopping List

Have you ever gotten to the grocery store and realized that you left the list at home? This can lead to buying food you already have and don’t need, forgetting to get things you do need and impulse buying things that you really shouldn’t. It’s a waste of money, and it can lead to unhealthier choices.

Alexa can help you keep your shopping list with you wherever you go. When you run out of something while you’re cooking, just say, “Alexa, add butter to the shopping list.” Then when you’re at the store, you can pull out your phone and see everything you need in the Alexa app.

Check Traffic

When you wake up late and are rushing out the door, the state of traffic can tell you if you have time for that cup of coffee before you leave. Alexa can help you out there, too. She can give you traffic conditions on your morning commute so you know what to expect on the road.

You’ll need to do some setup work to have Alexa check on your specific commute. Go into your Alexa app, select “Preferences”, and go into “Traffic.” You can give her a starting point and an endpoint, and she’ll check traffic conditions between those two spots.

Call a Ride

When your friends are getting ready to go out for the evening, you may not have time to stop and set up an Uber ride. But you can have Alexa take care of setting up the ride for you.

Say, “Alexa, call me an Uber,” and she’ll get a ride headed to your location. You can also ask her to order a different kind of ride, such as Uber Black, and to give you updates on your ride. If you need to change your default pickup location or cancel your ride, Alexa can handle that, too.

Check Your Schedule

These days, it seems like we all spend our time running from one thing to another as fast as we possibly can. Kids’ sports games, work meetings, PTA meetings, dinner with friends, and your sister’s birthday party – it’s hard to keep track of it all. Luckily, Alexa is here to help.

Whenever you need to, you can ask Alexa to tell you what you have scheduled for the day. She’ll read events off of your digital calendar and can adjust those events for you as needed. You can ask her, “When is my next meeting?” or say, “Add a coffee date with Jenny to my calendar next Thursday at four.”

Give You Reminders

Do you need more than just a passive calendar keeping track of your appointments? When life gets really hectic, you might need reminders to get everything done. Maybe you meant to call the doctor to set up your next appointment or to leave early to get juice for the office breakfast.

You can ask Alexa to remind you to do things at certain times. Say, “Alexa, remind me at 2:30 to take the chicken out to thaw,” and she’ll make sure you don’t wind up with a frozen bird when it’s time for dinner.

Bring You the News

Keeping up with what’s going on in the world can be a challenge when you lead a busy life. But Alexa can make that easier by reading you the news while you make coffee or cook dinner. You can even customize the broadcast to hear from the sources you trust.

You can ask your Echo Dot to read you the news from a certain source or to read your customized news broadcast. You can ask for more information on any of the headlines or ask about a certain news story. She’ll also give you updates on the latest sports scores and let you know what topics are trending on Twitter.

Keep the Kids Busy

Have you ever been trying to make a phone call or do some cleaning and had the kids going crazy in the background? Keeping the kids busy while you work is no mean feat, but Alexa can make it a little easier. Alexa has a variety of games that will keep your kids entertained while you take care of business.

Panda Rescue allows your kids to take care of a virtual baby panda until it can be released back into the wild. Hungry Birds tests their logic skills as they try to get a bird safely through a corn maze before a fox can catch it. And Silly Things engages them in play, telling them different silly things to act out, such as “the floor is lava” or “you just ate a sour lemon.”

Play Games

We’ve mentioned that Alexa is a good way to keep the kids entertained, but she can also provide entertainment for you. One of the more popular skills is Jeopardy, which works much like the game show. There are six new clues every day, and you have to answer them in the form of a question.

Alexa also has some adventure-style games you may enjoy. Escape the Room lets you walk through a virtual room, looking for tools to help you escape. Some other skills send you on a choose-your-own-adventure type quest, following different storylines and facing challenges along the way.

Tell Jokes

If you’re ever in need of a chuckle, Alexa can handle that, too. The virtual assistant knows some jokes that can range anywhere from dad jokes and “Why did the chicken cross the road” to genuinely funny. Say, “Alexa, tell me a joke,” sometime and see what she delivers in that classic monotone.

But Alexa also has a subtler sense of humor that can be fun to play with. Try asking her sometime what the value of pi is or if she’s ever had any pets. You could also ask her if she can give you some money, if she knows the muffin man, and even to tell you a “yo mama” joke.

Discover More Alexa Commands

Alexa has rapidly become a staple element of many American homes. From making cooking easier to helping us stay on schedule, she’s making all our lives easier. And if you don’t see the Alexa commands you’re looking for here, ask her about what you need – she can recommend skills, too.

If you’d like to read more about all things smart home, check out the rest of our site at A Connected Home. We have information about smart home technology, including how to plan and set up your smart home. Learn more about problems a wireless home automation system could solve for you today.

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