Amazon Alexa Hacks

If you follow me on Instagram, you are probably familiar with my deep and abiding love for Alexa. We got our first Echo in December of 2016. I purchased it as a Christmas present for Jason and we put it in our kitchen, which is the main gathering place for our family downstairs.

Amazon Echo – Sandstone Fabric – $84.99

To be honest, I’ve always felt we didn’t use Alexa to her full potential. I occasionally ask her the weather, and I use her to play my Pandora stations when I’m cleaning the kitchen, but I just have never really understood all she could do. We don’t have smart devices in our home, so using her to turn off lights/change the thermostat/etc was out.

This Christmas my mom gave Jason an Echo Dot, which we are now using upstairs in our bathroom. I love it – it’s awesome to have as we are getting ready. I will say that Echo Dot is for sure the better value money wise, but in my opinion, the sound quality is less.

Amazon Echo Dot – $39.99

As I’ve said, lately I’ve felt like I wasn’t using Alexa to her full potential, so I’ve put together some great hacks for you if you are like me and feel like you don’t completely understand everything she can do.

MUSIC

First of all, did you know you can connect your Pandora stations to Alexa? Simply say “Alexa, play my Hillsong United Pandora station” and she will comply. She will also play I Heart Radio and Spotify!

If you’re a Prime member, you can stream over 2 million songs for free. Try saying “Alexa, play Michael Jackson music” or “Alexa, play pop hits from the 90s”.

I did start to find that when I would ask for specific songs or albums, they would sometimes be unavailable. I recently subscribed to Amazon Music Unlimited. I haven’t found an album or song they didn’t have available yet. To enable a free 30-day trial, say “Alexa, I’d like to try Amazon Music Unlimited.” Warning: it will give you a 30-day free trial, and it will cost you $3.99 monthly thereafter… for the one device you enabled it on. For additional devices (if you have more than one Echo in your home), you have to upgrade to a more expensive plan. Those options start at $7.99.

Ask Alexa for your favorite music playlists: hip hop, pop music, oldies, country hits, etc. While she’s playing songs, you can also interrupt and ask her “Alexa, who sings this song?” or “Alexa, what’s the title of this song?”

SHOPPING

One way I love to use Alexa is to ask her to add items to my shopping list. As I’m in my kitchen each day, I often find items that we are running low on or need to replace soon. I simply say “Alexa, add toilet paper to my shopping list.” Then when I’m making lists for the store or am menu planning, I can open up my Alexa app on my iPhone and add items to my grocery list. This has been a huge benefit for me because I’m notorious for forgetting those little items and having to make multiple trips to the store during the week.

Another thing I love is that you can re-order Amazon items. Let’s say you order your child’s diapers through Amazon – simply say “Alexa, reorder diapers” and she’ll place the order for you.

TO DO LIST

You know how sometimes you are doing one thing, and you get sidetracked by the realization that you have something else that really needs to be done? (Maybe that’s just me.) Tell Alexa to add tasks to your To Do List. You can then access the To Do List in the Alexa app on your phone, or simply ask Alexa to remind you of a task later.

PRODUCTIVITY

Here are a few ways Alexa can help you be more productive:

  • Alexa, set a timer
  • Alexa, what time is it?
  • Alexa, what’s the weather like today?
  • Alexa, what’s the forecast for this weekend?
  • Alexa, set an alarm
  • Alexa, read me a book (if you have an Audible account)

NEWS

Here’s where I’ll admit that I’m sometimes woefully ignorant of what is going on in the world. I no longer watch the news, and our television is seldom live. I check in with Alexa each morning for headlines by saying “Alexa, give me my flash briefing.” This will give you an overview of the major headlines of the day.

You can also ask for local traffic. “Alexa, what’s local traffic like” or “Alexa, how long will my commute be today?” are two helpful commands.

COOKING

Ask Alexa for recipes. I will often ask for conversions – “Alexa, how many tablespoons are in a cup?” or substitutions “Alexa, what can I substitute for buttermilk in a recipe”.

Did you also know you can ask Alexa to help you figure out what to cook for dinner? Say “Alexa, I have ground beef, onions, and potatoes; what can I cook for dinner?”

KIDS

My kids love Alexa, and we have fun figuring out things she can do.

  • Alexa, launch spelling bee
  • Alexa, tell me a knock knock joke
  • Alexa, open a bedtime story
  • Alexa, listen to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
  • Alexa, play lullabies
  • Alexa, let’s play Simon Says

Kids MD is an Alexa app created by the Boston Children’s Hospital, and as a parent, this is a nifty tool for medical questions. Ask “Alexa, what is the Tylenol dosage for a 2 year old” or “Alexa, what are the symptoms of the flu?”

FUN THINGS

  • Alexa, use the force!
  • Alexa, tell me a random fact.
  • Alexa, play 20 questions.
  • Alexa, play Animal Game.
  • Alexa, what does the fox say?

Obviously, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of all Alexa can do. What do you use Alexa for? Do you have any Alexa hacks to share?

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