4 top Amazon Echo features to perfect and improve now

Customize these key features to make Alexa work harder and smarter for you.

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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You should improve these Alexa features now.

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You didn't just buy an Amazon Echo speaker to ask about the weather or play games all day. You bought it to help make your life easier -- and there's no better way to do that than to make sure you've customized its features to better fit your needs.

For example, rather than telling Alexa everything you want it to do, like turning on a few lights, you can create routines or group your devices together. This helps limit how many commands you give Alexa at any given time. It's also useful to make sure you've got a personal profile set up for a better Alexa experience.

Read on for how to perfect Amazon Echo's top features and let us know in the comments unique ways you've customized your smart speaker.

Watch this: Amazon Echo Show 8 review: Alexa is getting even better

Grouping your smart devices

If you get frustrated having to clarify which light you want Alexa to turn on, it's time to group them by rooms. For example, if you've got your living room decked out in smart lights, but also have one in your bedroom, Alexa won't know which light you want to turn on. It'll just say "There are multiple devices with that name. Which did you mean?"

To prevent this from happening, you need to create a group for each room that has smart devices set up. To do so, open the Alexa app and tap the Devices icon. Select the Plus icon in the top right corner and tap Add Group. From here, you can create a name for the group or select from one of the names in the list, like Family Room and Master Bedroom. Tap Next and select all of the smart devices for that room, then tap Save.

Now you can say "Alexa, turn off the master bedroom lights" without naming each individual light you have synced.

Read more: Best smart light bulbs for your home


Group your smart devices for less Alexa commands.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Streaming music

You have many choices when it comes to music streaming services that are compatible with Amazon Echo. And while the Echo automatically defaults to Amazon Music, you can change it to your preferred music platform: Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music , iHeartRadio, SiriusXM and more.

To change the default music service, Go to Settings > Music & Podcasts > and link to a service. Then change the default settings by selecting Default Services and switch to your preferred music provider.

If you use a service that's not supported, like YouTube Music, you can still listen on your Echo speaker by pairing it to your phone using Bluetooth . Then when you're ready to listen, just say "Alexa, connect."

Read more: Best music streaming services to subscribe to

Setting up your personal voice profile

It's helpful to let Alexa get to know you better by creating a voice profile -- especially if multiple people are using your Echo device. This will help the voice assistant to give you personalized responses -- for example, it'll play the music you like by using voice recognition.

To set up your voice profile, open the Alexa app on your phone and go to Settings > Account Settings > Recognized Voices > then create a voice profile and follow the onscreen prompts, including reading four phrases aloud. When you say "Alexa, who am I?" it'll tell you who's speaking.

Creating routines

You don't always have time to tell Alexa each individual thing you need it to do, which is why customized routines can help. If each morning you tell Alexa to play the news, turn on the lights, brew coffee and tell you about the weather, make it easier on yourself by creating a morning routine. 

To do this, open the Alexa app menu and select Routines. Then tap the Plus icon to start creating routines. For example, you might say "Alexa, good morning" and the voice assistant will begin all the actions you set up. You can also create a night routine and location triggered routines.

Now that you've got your smart speaker personalized, check out my favorite Amazon Echo trick and how to find it, these three irritating Amazon Echo pet peeves and how to fix them and 6 Amazon Echo settings you won't regret changing.

Watch this: Amazon Echo Studio and new Echo Dot are big on sound and time