Smart Home

'Alexa, Show Me My Timers': Alexa Timer and Alarm Tips

Timers and alarms are some of Amazon Alexa's most popular features. Here's how to get the most out of them.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Amazon's voice assistant Alexa is capable of doing all sorts of things for you, but it really is most helpful when tackling the tasks you might lose track of without the extra help. One of the simplest but handiest things Alexa can do is set a timer -- in fact, Amazon says it's one of the most-used features on Alexa. All you have to do is tell your Amazon Echo smart speaker or smart display, "Alexa, set a timer for [up to 24 hours]." At the end, an alarm will alert you that the allotted time has passed. Alternatively, you can set alarms for specific times, whether you want them to wake you up, or you just want to be reminded when the kids are almost ready to be picked up from school.

But there is way more that you can do with Alexa's timer and alarm feature than just setting a basic reminder. These are some of the best tips and tricks that you can use when setting a timer with Alexa so you can get the most out of the voice assistant's capabilities.  

Name and organize your timers

Once you figure out that you can set up timers with Alexa, it can become easy to rely on the voice assistant to keep track of just about everything for you. This causes a slight problem: setting too many timers. If you have multiple projects going -- say, a meal with several different dishes that you're cooking -- you may have multiple timers running parallel to one another.

No problem. Just say, "Alexa, tell me my timers." Alexa will list all the timers you set, including how many minutes are left and how many minutes it was initially set to run for. This will help you keep track of what is happening and what you're supposed to be doing. You can further simplify this by naming your timers as you set them. Simply say, "Alexa, set a [time] [name] timer," and after the set time elapses, you'll get both a chime and a verbal reminder of which particular timer has gone off.

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If you have an Echo Show smart display, you'll be able to keep track of your named timers with a quick glance.

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Set an alarm for connected smart devices

One of the great things about Amazon Echo devices is the ability to connect smart home devices and control them with your voice via your smart speaker. This extends to the ability to set alarms for specific devices throughout your house. If you want your lights to turn off or on at a certain time of day, you can do that. Just say "Alexa, set an alarm for [specified time] with [your smart device of choice]."

Alexa will set up an alarm with that device, so not only will the smart speaker alert you to the time that you set, but you'll also get an indicator from the connected smart device. 

Set recurring Alexa alarms

Some alarms you need more than once. If you'd like to wake up at the same time every day, you don't need an alarm clock, just an Amazon Echo device. Alexa can be your wake-up call with a recurring alarm.

To set up a recurring alarm, just say, "Alexa, set an alarm for [specified time] for every day." Once set, Alexa will set off this alarm every day for you, unless you cancel it.

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You can even use your Echo to time the temperature settings in your house, if you have a connected thermostat.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Set an alarm to specific music

Sometimes a standard alarm just won't do. Whether you're choosing what you'd like to wake up to or you'd just like a little variety, you can get it by setting up a custom alarm sound. The whole world of music is available to you.

To set an alarm with a specific song or style of music, just set an alarm like you normally would, but specify what you want to hear. Say, "Alexa, set an alarm for [time] to [song, artist, or genre]." Alexa will play exactly what you specify when the time comes.

Find out how much time is left on a timer

Here's a common problem that you'll run into when setting a timer with Alexa: somewhere between setting the timer and waiting for it to go off, you completely lose track of time. If you have an Amazon Echo Show or an Echo Dot with Clock, you'll be able to do a quick visual check. But if you're using a smart speaker without any display, Alexa's got your back.

Just say, "Alexa, how much time is left on the timer?" If you have multiple timers running, you can specify which timer you are asking about and Alexa will let you know how long you have until the buzzer goes off.

Integrating Alexa into your everyday life is easy, and you'll be surprised to find just how convenient the smart assistant can be when handling seemingly simple tasks like setting a timer or alarm. Being able to keep track of your tasks and making sure you're on time can really change your days for the better. Play around with Alexa and learn all the ways that your Amazon Echo can fit into your day.

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