4 Amazon Echo features that still work when the mic is turned off

From Alexa routines to waking you up in the morning, here's the best things your Echo device can do even with its mic off.

Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
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Your Echo still retains some functions even when it isn't listening.

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You don't have to say " Alexa " to get everything you want from your Amazon Echo speaker. Actually, Amazon's smart speaker can perform several tasks even when the microphone is turned off. 

For example, say you want to use the Echo as a passive speaker in one room of the house, or you're having a private conversation and want to make certain Alexa isn't overhearing. Whatever your reason, it's good to know what your Echo can and can't do when it isn't actively listening for the wake word. 

Remember, with the microphone turned off, you won't be able to interact with Alexa in the same way, and you'll need to use the Alexa app to set up tasks. Here are the Echo features that still work as long as the Echo's plugged in.

Scheduled routines: If you've got scheduled routines set up on your Echo device, like turning on the lights at 7 a.m., they'll still continue without a hitch. However, if your routine requires you to say a command to Alexa to get started -- like "Alexa, good morning" -- you'll have to use the Alexa app to activate it.

Alarms: Even if your mic is turned off, your alarms will still wake you at the right time. This could either be good or bad, depending on how you feel about your alarms. The good news is that you'll actually have to get up to turn off the alarm, making it more likely for you to stay awake and not hit snooze. The bad news is that you can't say "Alexa, stop" or "Alexa, snooze" and you'll actually have to get out of bed.

People can still drop in on you: When your mic is turned off, anyone you've given access to drop in on you can still do so. However, they won't be able to hear a reply. To talk to them, you'll have to unmute your microphone. So if you're concerned about your privacy , but still want to give your friends and family the option to drop in on you, turning the mic off is one way to do that.

Note that you will still hear audio chimes that a drop in is starting. If you have a device without a screen, like Echo or Echo Dot, the visual indicator will show a drop in call is happening. If you have an Echo Show, you'll see a drop in is happening on the screen.

You can still play music on your Echo speaker: While you may not be able to ask Alexa to start playing a song while the mic is off, you can use the Alexa app. To get started, open the Alexa app and tap the Play icon. 

From here, you can see playlists you've recently played on your Echo speaker, as well as your preferred music streaming service -- for example, Amazon Music or Pandora. Select a playlist and choose which speaker or speakers you'd like to listen on. The music will automatically start playing on the device you've selected.

For more Amazon Echo tips, check out these four Amazon Echo features only Prime members can use, how to use your Echo's new privacy features and the 10 weirdest things Alexa can do on your Amazon Echo.

Watch this: Amazon's hardware chief talks Alexa, privacy and flying home security drones

What's new with Alexa? Amazon announced the new Echo Show 15 smart display at its September 2021 fall product launch event, along with several other Echo and Ring products

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