Use Alexa to your advantage with these must-know commands.
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
For example, you probably knew that you could ask Alexa to turn on the lights when you're home, but did you know you can remotely turn the lights off within the Alexa app?
Read on for six essential tips you'll use daily, and check out even more Alexa tips at the end.
Turn your Echo into a free TV speaker
Your Echo not only is useful for turning on the TV -- but can actually take your TV's speaker's place. For example, if you're having a hard time hearing what's on TV and your Echo is sitting next to you, you can start streaming the sound from your speaker. To get started, make sure your Echo is within reach of the TV and say "Alexa, connect." On your smart TV, navigate to the Bluetooth settings to find the Echo speaker you're wanting to connect. For example, I might see "Katie's Echo Dot" or "Living Room Echo Plus." It's the same process if you have a Fire TV.
Note that all smart TV's are different, so the setup may not be exactly the same for you, though it should be close. When you're ready to disconnect the speaker from the TV, just say, "Alexa, unpair."
Connect your Echo to your smart home devices
First things first, whenever you get a new smart home device, connect it to your Echo (just make sure it's Alexa compatible). This helps you to turn off any lights or plugs you missed while rushing out the door and you can even control your thermostat while away.
After you've got your smart home devices installed and Alexa skills enabled, just say "Alexa, discover my devices."
While you're away from your house, you can open the Alexa app and say "Alexa, turn off the porch light" or "Alexa, turn off the bathroom plug."
Set an alarm from home or while on the go
Option 1: If you're around your Echo, you can say "Alexa, set an alarm for 6:30 a.m."
Option 2: If you're out of the house and want to set an alarm, go to your Amazon Alexa app menu. Tap Alarms & Timers > Alarms > Add Alarm. You can also have Alexa wake you up with music with any song of your choice.
Listen to music, audiobooks and podcasts
Once you have your Amazon account linked to your Echo, you can immediately begin listening to music. However, unless you have Prime or Amazon Music Unlimited, you may run into some songs and artists that aren't available, so it's a good idea to have your other music services linked to your account.
Connect Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora,
, TuneIn: In the Alexa app menu, tap Settings > Music and select the music service.
Connect to Deezer, SiriusXM, Tidal, Apple Podcasts, Vevo: If you're connecting to one of these, tap Link New Service, select the service and enter your login info.
Connect to YouTube Music: If you have YouTube Music, you can only use your Echo as a speaker. You will have to manually select the songs you want to listen to on your phone. Go to your phone's settings and turn on
. Then say "Alexa, pair." Select your Echo when it appears on your Bluetooth screen.
Watch this: The first 5 things to do with a new Amazon Echo
Play games with your friends or kids
This one can be fun if you've got no board games and you're trying to entertain friends or kiddos. Alexa has a ton of games you can play, like Jeopardy, Harry Potter trivia, music games, kids games and many more. You can also play multiplayer games with Amazon Echo buttons.
Just say "Alexa, play a game," or if you know exactly what you want to play, say "Alexa, play [name of game]."
Alexa will explain how to play each game.
Ask for measurement conversions
When you're cooking and need to know how many ounces are in 3 cups, just ask Alexa. You can say "Alexa, how many ounces are in a cup?" and your Echo will immediately give you a conversion.