6 underused Alexa tricks to try with your Amazon Echo device
If you didn't know about these useful Alexa features, now's the time to try them out.
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
You've probably noticed that Alexa won't answer certain commands, like if you tell it to say a curse word or use other spicy language. However, you can certainly get Alexa to say whatever you want by creating custom responses. For example, you can set it up so that if you ask Alexa who has the best smile, it can say, "You, of course."
You'll need to go to Amazon's Blueprints page, select Custom Q&A and click Make Your Own. From here, you can create questions for Alexa to answer with whatever responses you want.
It can be annoying when you're watching a movie that's extremely quiet and you have to turn the volume on your TV way up to hear. Fortunately, you can use your Amazon Echo as a speaker for your TV. It's convenient because you can place it on a side table next to you when you can't really hear what's happening on the show.
Your TV will need to have
capabilities to connect to your Echo device (or you can connect your Fire TV to your Echo). Place your Echo speaker next to your TV and say, "Alexa, connect." Alexa will start checking for devices to connect to -- at this point, you'll need to navigate to the Bluetooth settings on your TV to find the Echo speaker. Next, you'll need to find the sound settings on your TV and change the sound output to your Echo.
Put Alexa in your car
Alexa is a great assistant for all of your
needs, but did you know you can also use it in your car? It'll allow you to be hands-free while driving rather than constantly pressing buttons all over your dash, and there are a couple of ways you can do it. If you've already got an
, you can plug it into your car using a USB charger. However, you'll have to connect it to your phone's hotspot for it to work. Then you can pair it with your car's stereo using Bluetooth.
Or you can use an Amazon Echo Auto, the newest way to take Alexa with you in the car. It has the same capabilities as an Echo Dot, but it's designed for use in the car. You can plug it into a USB charger port or a lighter port, depending on what your car has. Be aware that you'll have to use your mobile data to power the
It happens often -- you've been listening to your favorite playlist in your car, but now you're home and you want to continue listening on your Echo device. You can use Alexa Cast to transfer the music from your phone to your speaker so you can keep playing your favorite tunes.
From the Amazon Music app on your phone, select the playlist you want to listen to. Pull up the music controls and tap the button on the lower right side of your screen. Then select which Echo speaker you'd like to cast to.
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Create a to-do list
How many times have you remembered you needed to grab paper towels at the grocery or pay a bill, and then forgot again because you didn't write it down? Instead of telling yourself you'll remember or scrambling to find a pen and paper, just create a to-do list with Alexa. Say, "Alexa, create a list" to get started. You'll want to name your lists to keep them organized. When you're finished, you can access them in the Alexa app or via one of your Echo devices.
Make a decision with heads or tails
Having a hard time deciding between cooking dinner and ordering takeout? Let Alexa make the decision for you. You'll need to download a skill, like Heads or Tails, in the Alexa app. Here's how it works: Decide which option will be heads and which will be tails. For example, ordering pizza takeout is heads and making pasta is tails. Then say, "Alexa, ask Heads or Tails to flip a coin." If it says heads, you're eating pizza, and if it says tails, pasta it is.