Amazon Alexa gives your voice a few superpowers. It was the first digital assistant in the market until the battle of the smart assistants started with the arrival of Google Home. Now it can be found in hundreds of small devices from tiny speakers that play music to automated smart homes

Let’s learn how to set up the Amazon Alexa app with Alexa-enabled equipment.

Install The Alexa App On Your Phone

Amazon Alexa is a cloud service, but you must download the free Alexa app if you want to pair it with any device.

You can download the app on any smartphone that runs Android or iOS. You can also use the Alexa app on the Fire OS, of course. 

The installation is straightforward:

  1. Open Google Play store or the Apple App Store on your mobile device.
  2. Search for the Amazon Alexa app.
  3. Click on Install.

You can also access Alexa on any compatible web browser. Sign in with your Amazon account.

Even though Windows has Cortana, you can use Alexa to shop on Amazon with your voice. Alexa is available as a free download from the Microsoft Store. Though, using Alexa might not be that useful as Cortana is the assistant of choice for Windows devices. 

Smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot are one of the most common Alexa-enabled devices you will see around. In fact, there are eight types of Echo devices. The Alexa setup is similar for all. Let’s look at how to set up Amazon Alexa with an Echo Dot to show how easy it is. 

Connect The Echo To a Power Outlet

  • The Echo uses AC mains for power. Connect the Echo Dot to the nearest power outlet with the supplied power adapter. 

The light ring around the speaker will light up with blue and a shade of turquoise. In an instant, the light will turn orange and a nice soft voice will greet you with:

“Hello, your device is ready for set up. Just download the Alexa app and follow the instructions.” 

The Echo dot will stay a shade of orange to signal the setup mode. It will stay in this color till the configuration is complete. 

Connect The Echo To The Wi-Fi Network

  • Sign into your Alexa app with your Amazon credentials and give the app all the permissions it needs. 

Note: The setup screens can differ slightly from the versions of the device you own. For instance, the Echo Second Generation and the Third Generation. But the differences are minor.

  • Go to the More menu icon on the bottom right. Click on Add a Device.
  • Select the type of device from the Setup Screen. In this example, it is an Amazon Echo Dot. Amazon has a range of Echo devices, so make sure to tap on the one you own.
  • Alexa checks if your device is on and displaying the orange light. Hit Yes to continue with the next steps that involve choosing your preferred language and turning on your phone’s Bluetooth.
  • The app connects to the smart device via Bluetooth. It can take a bit of time so keep them within 10 feet of each other. 
  • Once, the Bluetooth pairing is achieved, the Alexa app will prompt you to go to the phone’s Settings and connect to an ad-hoc Amazon Wi-Fi network with an address format that reads “Amazon-XXX”. 

Selecting this Wi-Fi network switches your phone from your main Wi-Fi network and connects it directly to the Amazon Echo.

  • Once connected, Alexa will prompt you again to switch over the Echo to your main Wi-Fi network. Select your network from the Wi-Fi networks list. Enter your Wi-Fi password and Echo is now linked to your own Wi-Fi. 

Note: This special network is temporary. Amazon creates it to make the device the access point and exchange setup info with the Alexa app. The access point disappears as soon as setup is complete, and then the orange light turns off. 

Change The Wake Word

Alexa lights up ready to hear your commands when you use the default wake-up word, “Alexa.”

You can change the wake word to something else. This might be necessary if there’s someone else in the house with the same name. Just ask the Echo, “Alexa, change the wake word.”

It tells you to go to Devices and select your specific device. Go to Device Settings and scroll down to Wake Word. Tap on it and choose a wake word from these limited options: Alexa, Amazon, Echo, and Computer. You still cannot give it any name of your choosing. 

Enable Alexa Skills

Alexa Skills are like tiny automated bots that do your bidding when you speak to the device. There are thousands of Alexa Skills you can choose from

Explore them on the Alexa Skills page on Amazon and also discover them on the Alexa app. You can enable them from either source. 

Here’s how you can enable the skills from the app.

On the Amazon Alexa app, you see a short list of three most popular Recommended Skills. The screen also suggests a few more skills you can try. 

  • Click on the Browse Skills button if you want to drill into them by categories, such as Business & Finance, Education & Reference, Food & Drink and Games & Trivia etc. Alternatively, use the search icon to find a skill. 
  • The Discover tab is just what it says and is useful to find Editor picks and hidden gems.
  • Once you have enabled a few Alexa Skills, you can find them all listed under Your Skills.

Once you’ve found a skill you want to use, hit the Launch buttons. You can also tap on the skill for its dedicated detail page and read more about the different ways to use a skill. Click on Enable to Use from this page. 

You can also just say “Alexa, open [skill name]”. If you want to know more about a skill, you can say, “[skill name] help”.

You can connect the default Amazon skills like “Pay With Alexa” or “Amazon Prime Music”. Do note that some skills may need a subscription and a log-in with the Skill provider. For instance, Spotify. 

Once you get comfortable with single purpose Alexa skills, look into creating more powerful Alexa routines. Alexa Routines allow you to control multiple devices with a single command. 

Work On Your Alexa Skills

Alexa understands conversational English (and other languages too). A smart speaker can do a lot more than play streaming music. Pick the right commands and you can automate some of your everyday tasks. 

If you have an Echo speaker, practice these Amazon Echo Skills and see if they help to save a few minutes. 

Which is an Alexa skill that you cannot do without? Tell us in the comments.