The Amazon Echo is all about convenience. The smart speaker and its virtual assistant Alexa help you automate things all in one place. Using just your voice, you can order stuff on Amazon, play music, and even control your smart home devices.
So it’s particularly annoying when things aren’t working.
That’s why we’ve put together a quick guide of the most common Amazon Echo problems. And how to fix them. These should get you back on your feet in no time.
Alexa can’t find devices
If you’re finding that Alexa fails to activate your smart home devices when you ask her to, a few things might be standing in your way.
First, make sure the Echo supports your smart devices. There’s a decent chance it will, as the Echo is compatible with a lot of name brand smart appliances and devices. Still, it won’t work with everything.
But if your problem is that you connected your devices and Alexa simply can’t find them, something’s clearly wrong.
First off, double check that you’re using the right commands. It may sound silly, but some devices require extremely specific commands, like, “Hey, Alexa, dim the lights,” rather than, “Hey, Alexa, turn the lights down a bit.” Just check the specific device’s commands, and you’ll be all set.
Alternately, maybe the device is having connectivity issues. This happens depending on the brand or what you have connected at once. The way to deal with this is to power the device off, wait a few seconds, then turn it back on. On the off chance it’s the Echo that dropped the connection, try the same thing with it.
Alexa “wakes up” on her own
Alexa is always awake and listening, on the off chance that you’ll summon her for assistance. That’s why you need to use her “wake word” to confirm that you’re actually talking to her.
If you say, “Hey, can you turn on the light?” Alexa won’t budge, for example. Which is good. Maybe you were talking to your spouse and didn’t want Alexa to interfere. If you do need Alexa’s help, you’ll want to say, “Hey, Alexa, can you turn on the light?”
But sometimes you’ll get the opposite problem. Maybe your wife or daughter is named Alexa, and you’re calling out to her several times a day. Or maybe your favorite show features someone who has an Echo. Things can get confusing for everyone pretty fast.
If TV activation is the problem, your easiest option is to mute the Echo when you’re watching the tube, or to just move it farther away from the set.
Luckily, you also have the option to change Alexa’s wake word, effectively changing her name. Here’s how to do it:
- Open the Alexa app.
- Click on Settings.
- Select your device.
- Click on Wake Word.
- Pick from four choices available: “Alexa,” “Amazon,” “Echo,” or “Computer.”
Unfortunately, you can’t really get creative and come up with your own original, funny, or weird name for Alexa. Instead, you’ll have to choose between Amazon, Echo, or Computer.
Keep in mind that “Computer” and “Amazon” might cause some problems when you say things like, “Hey, honey, can you grab my computer? I think I left it in the living room,” or “I wonder if I can order Froot Loops on Amazon.” (Note: you can indeed buy Froot Loops on Amazon).
Alexa loses Wi-Fi
This is one of those issues that tends to affect any connected device, and it can be due to any number of issues. Maybe your Echo is fine and the source of the problem is, well, the source itself: your internet connection.
Your first step is to power down everything: Echo, modem, router, and any device you’re trying to control with Alexa. Then boot it all up again.
Problem solved? Give the speaker a try and let it run for a few minutes to see if all is well.
If you’re still having problems, try to move your Echo as far away from other devices as possible, or as practical. Keeping it close to your router might help. And if you can, make sure it’s connected to a 5GHz network channel to avoid interference.
Still having problems? Might be time to get in touch with Amazon.
Streaming sites aren’t working
One of the best features you’ll find on the Amazon Echo is its ability to stream music from a variety of sources. These include Spotify, TuneIn, Pandora, and iHeartRadio.
So what happens when your streaming services are spotty, coming in with intermittent skips and stops?
The most likely problem is Wi-Fi interference. Luckily, we’ve already addressed that above.
Spotify tends to have more problems than most, and you have to make sure you have a Spotify Premium account to stream using Alexa.
Unlinking your account and relinking it may be the answer if your Wi-Fi is good and you have a Premium account but are still experiencing problems.
Here’s what you’ll want to do:
- Open the Amazon Alexa app.
- Click on Settings > Music & Media > Spotify.
- Click on Unlink account from Alexa, then confirm by clicking Unlink.
- Click on Link account on Spotify.com.
- Follow the prompts to log back into your account.
Alexa takes your calls
Amazon’s Echo Devices offers a voice call feature, which lets you make phone calls through Alexa. This is a great feature, with obvious uses in the home. Unfortunately, it has also led to some issues with received calls.
When setting up calling through Alexa, you have to provide a phone number, which most people naturally assume is a prompt to provide your own phone number. Unfortunately, this means that any call coming in through that number might go through Alexa, which might not be your preference.
You could go ahead and just disable the feature entirely, or set your speaker to “do not disturb” mode.
A way to sidestep this is to create a new number with something like Google Voice and use that when setting up Alexa calls.
It’s not perfect, as your new number will still likely show up on a lot of people’s caller ID, but it’ll work in a pinch, at least until Amazon solves the larger problem.
Alexa can’t hear you
Sometimes you speak to Alexa and she just doesn’t seem to hear you. This could be due to a number of problems.
Maybe you have a specific regional accent she struggles with, or just a voice or manner of speaking that doesn’t fully click. Not to worry! The beauty of machine learning is that it can, well, learn. And that includes learning your voice.
Go into your Alexa app, click on Settings, and select Voice Training. You’ll get 25 sample commands to read aloud, and your Echo will record them to remember your speech patterns and accent. Done!
Maybe something is obstructing sounds though, which has nothing to do with your voice or accent..
Try moving the Echo away from any objects that might be interfering, including noisy appliances, and keep it at least eight inches away from the nearest wall.
That ought to get the job done.
Your Echo is too loud
Sometimes notification sounds are too loud or too soft, and they may sound out of sync with Alexa’s volume — for example, a timer alarm may go off and startle you.
Alarm and timer volume are controlled seperately within the Alexa app, so fixing this problem is easy as pie.
- Open the Alexa app.
- Click on Settings.
- Select your device.
- Click on Sounds.
- Adjust the volume slider where applicable.
That’s it. Now you’re all set to receive notifications at a reasonable volume. Or an unreasonable volume if that’s your jam. You do you.
Those are the most common Amazon Echo problems we came across. Hopefully we helped you troubleshoot whatever stood in your Echo’s way.
Have you encountered other Echo hiccups you couldn’t work around? Let us know in the comments and we’ll track down the cure.