If you’ve got an Echo smart speaker sitting on your kitchen counter and only ever used it to set an egg timer, play music, and maybe enjoy the occasional “Pull my finger” joke, you’re missing out.
Alexa, the virtual assistant built into Echo devices and other speakers (and a thermostat) is a powerful tool that can help your household run more smoothly, reminding you to take out the trash and trying to help you entertain – among many other things. All you have to do is set up a few routines, and Amazon’s digital butler will do things for you.
An Alexa Routine is a shortcut for all of the things – or “actions” – that Alexa can do. A routine can perform one or more actions, from playing your favorite Spotify playlist at the same time every day, to running an intricate good morning routine that triggers a cacophony of actions.
My good morning routine gradually brightens the lights throughout my house, opens the blinds, adjusts the thermostat, tells me the weather, traffic on my way to school and my calendar for the day, and turns on the kettle. It also plays my favorite radio station on every speaker in the house.
A routine can be triggered in a number of ways: say “Alexa, good morning” to your Echo Show to trigger a good morning routine, or have it go off at 8am every morning or when you set your alarm on your Echo Dot close o’clock.
I’ve set mine to start on my Echo speaker when the sensor by my bedside detects motion between 6am and 7am on weekdays and 7am and 9am on weekends. Other smart devices can also trigger routines, e.g. B. locking a smart door lock or when someone presses your video doorbell. Routines can also be run based on your location, e.g. B. when you leave or arrive somewhere.
First, here’s the basic step-by-step guide to setting up an Alexa Routine, and then I’ll go into more detail about the different triggers and actions you can use in your routine.
To set up an Alexa Routine:
- Open the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet.
- Choose More from the bottom navigation area.
- Beat routines from the menu.
- Tap the plus icon in the upper right corner.
- Enter a name for the routine and tap Next.
- Choose what to use to trigger the routine (see below for some options) and tap Next.
- Select the actions you want Alexa to take (see below for more information) and tap Next.
- Choose which Echo device the routine will play from (whether it has a sound component like music or an announcement, or if it’s voice triggered).
- Beat Save on computer and your routine will appear in the list of routines.
- You can access the routine from this list to change it, disable it, or start it manually by tapping To play button next to it.
Pro tip: If you want to create multiple routines that do the same thing, just with a different trigger or from a different device, select the routine from the main view routines page, tap the menu button with the three dots in the upper right corner of the To edit routine page and select Copy actions to new routine.
What triggers can you use to start an Alexa Routine?
To start a routine, you need a trigger – something that tells Alexa to run the routine when it does. There are several ways to activate a routine; Some are completely hands-free – like time and place. Others involve an interaction, such as B. a voice command or your dog barking. Here’s a look at some of the most common triggers:
Voice: Ask Alexa to start the routine. Create a Snack Time routine that pauses your Fire TV and turns on the kitchen lights when you say “Alexa, Snack Time.” Or a bedtime routine that turns off the lights, locks the door, adjusts the thermostat, and plays sleep sounds when you say, “Alexa, it’s bedtime.”
Time of day (schedule): Routines can be triggered at a set time. Have the lights turn off automatically at sunrise and then turn on an hour after sunset. A mealtime routine that turns off the WiFi at 6:30 p.m. is an effective way to get everyone to the dinner table.
Smart home: Smart home devices, including sensors, cameras, and a device’s status (eg, locked or unlocked) can trigger routines. If a motion sensor detects movement in the hallway between 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., leave the lights on dimly; If the door is left unlocked after 10pm, lock it.
Location: With the Alexa app on your smartphone, Alexa can know when you enter and leave your home. This is good for a “Welcome Home” or “I’m Leaving” routine that adjusts your smart thermostat, turns on your lights, and plays music when you get home, then does the opposite when you leave. You can also have your robot vacuum start cleaning when you leave the house and stop when you return.
Alarm: A good morning routine can be played when you stop the alarm clock.
Sound: The sound of running water, a person coughing or snoring, a dog barking, a baby crying, and a beeping device are noise triggers for routines. Start a good morning routine when you turn on the bathroom shower, or set a routine that sends an app notification when Alexa hears your dog bark and starts playing soothing music.
What actions can you add to an Alexa Routine?
There are almost 30 different categories of actions you can add to a routine, for a total of hundreds if not thousands of actions to trigger. You can also add multiple actions to a routine. These include:
- Smart home: Activate smart home devices such as lights, robot vacuums, smart fans or blinds and a door lock.
- Alexa says: Let Alexa say anything you want.
- Audible: Have Alexa read an Audible book to you.
- Calendar: Announce your next event or calendar for the day or for tomorrow.
- TV: Control a Fire TV.
- Music or Podcasts: Start playing a playlist, song, or podcast.
- Be able: Activate any linked Alexa Skill.
After choosing your actions, you can arrange them in the order you want by holding and dragging them edit routine Side. You can also add one Wait Command of up to four hours between actions.
Alexa Routines have a lot of potential and options for customization. If you can think of it, Alexa can probably do it for you. But if you don’t know where to start, Amazon offers some pre-built routines (or recommended routines) in the Alexa app to get you started. Looking through these can also give you inspiration on how to set up your own routines. And once you start, it’s hard to stop! I’ve set up over 45 routines to run around my home.