Update these settings now if you want more privacy and a personalized experience.
Katie TeagueWriter 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.
ExpertisePersonal Finance: Social Security and taxes
No matter which Alexa device you have -- an Amazon Echo Dot, a compact Echo Flex, a chunky Echo Studio or a smart display such as the Echo Show 15 -- there are a ton of customizations to make Alexa behave exactly how you like. And these few small changes could make a big difference.
For example, you'll be glad you made updates to your privacy settings, including automatically deleting recordings and turning off the setting that lets Amazon employees listen to the same recordings. Read on for the six Amazon Echo settings I've found to be most useful.
You can delete your entire voice recordings history, too. To do this, open the Alexa app and go to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Review VoiceHistory. Next, tap the downward-facing arrow next to Displaying and then the arrow next to Filter By Date. Then you will tap All History > Delete All My Recordings.
And you can also keep Amazon employees out of your conversations and from listening to your voice recordings. In the Alexa app, go to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage Your Alexa Data. From here, select Choose How Long to Save Recordings > Don't SaveRecordings > Confirm. Next, scroll down to Help Improve Alexa, and switch the Use of Voice Recordings to off.
Watch this: Alexa gets new features to make it a better listener
2. Enable Brief Mode on your Amazon Echo
When you ask Alexa to do something, like play a song or turn on the lights, Alexa will say something like "OK, turning on the lights." This is to help you determine why Alexa did something if it didn't perform what you asked. However, if you don't want Alexa repeating what you just said, you can change that setting so that it only plays a short sound instead of a voice response.
To do so, open the Alexa app More menu and select Settings. Under the Alexa Preferences section, tap Voice Responses, then toggle the switch on for Brief Mode.
3. Set up your preferred music streaming service
When you set up your Amazon Echo, the music service automatically defaults to Amazon Music. However, if you're a Spotify,
or another music service subscriber, you may want to link your Echo to that streaming service instead.
Go to Settings > Music & Podcasts > and link to a service. On the same page, tap Default Services and switch to your preferred music provider. Now the Echo will play from the music streaming service of your choice when you say "Alexa, play music."
Note that you can select defaults for family or personal listening.
If TV commercials keep triggering your Amazon Echo when they say "Alexa," you can change the wake word to something that's less likely to wake the speaker. The other traditional options to call the voice assistant are Computer, Echo and Amazon, but there are several newer wake word additions you can use like Ziggy and Hey, Disney.
If you want to change the name, just say "Alexa, change the wake word" and make your selection. You can also open the Alexa app, go to Settings > Device Settings > select your device > tap the Settings icon and select Wake Word to make a choice. Unfortunately, you can't come up with your own name for the speaker, like Tallulah or Digital Overlord.
You don't always have time to perform an Amazon search and buy something you're out of, like toilet paper. That's why it can be helpful to set up voice purchasing on your Amazon Echo so Alexa can order products for you.
To get started, you'll need to turn on voice ordering and 1-Click ordering. Open the Alexa app and navigate to Settings > Account Settings > Voice Purchasing > Purchasing controls > Select who can make purchases. For instance, you can set up a voice code or profile so that only you can make purchases when you type in a four-digit code.
6. Set up household profiles on your Amazon Echo
If you have multiple people in your house, you'll want to set up voice profiles for each member who uses the Echo speaker. This will help Alexa learn your voice and distinguish you from others in the house. To create voice profiles, go to Settings > Your Profile & Family > Voice ID and follow the onscreen prompts to set it up.
You can make sure your voice profile has been correctly set up by asking "Alexa, who am I?" The voice assistant will say "I'm talking to [your name]."