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Amazon Alexa Routines: A Step-By-Step User Guide

Alexa can automate your day with one simple command. Here's how to set up Alexa routines and what to ask your Amazon Echo.

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Create customized routines on your Amazon Echo to make your day easier.
Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You know how it goes. You give Alexa a command and then wait for her to process the action before giving your next command. But did you know it can be so much simpler than that?

Giving Alexa one command at a time can be inconvenient when you're pressed for time (we know how it chaotic it can get when getting ready for work). Fortunately, you can create routines on your Amazon Echo ($30 at Amazon) so that you can have several commands performed at one time. For example, when you wake up in the morning, you can have Alexa turn on the lights, read you the daily headlines and start the coffee pot by simply saying "Alexa, good morning."

Customized routines can also include making the lights brighter in the morning, reporting the traffic for your daily commute and playing your favorite songs -- basically automating all the things you would usually do anyway. The goal of Alexa routines is to make your day seamless and productive. Here's what you need to know to get started. 

Read also: Want to Set Up an Amazon-Centric Smart Home? Here's What It Will Cost You

How to create an Alexa routine on your Amazon Echo

1. Open the Amazon Alexa app on your mobile device.

2. Tap Routines.

3. Tap the plus (+) sign in the top right corner. 

4. Select When this happens and choose how you want to trigger the routine. These are your options:

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Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET
  • Voice: Your voice command will begin the routine. For example, "Alexa, I'm awake" or "Alexa, start my day."
  • Schedule: Set a time for Alexa to begin your routine. You won't need a wake word for this.
  • Device: Alexa will complete the actions using your Amazon Echo Hub.
  • Location: When you arrive somewhere, like home, Alexa can begin your routine for that location.
  • Alarm: When you dismiss an alarm, your routine will begin.
  • Echo Button: Press your Amazon Echo Button to start a routine.

5. Next, tap Add action and select everything you want Alexa to do during this routine.

6. Choose From to select which of your Amazon devices will control the routine.

7. Hit Create

Hey, Alexa, help me wake up

Alexa can start your morning routine before you're even awake. Set a schedule that tells Alexa to slowly start turning up lights and start brewing your coffee. Once you're awake, say, "Hey, Alexa, good morning" to trigger your morning routine. Set actions so that the Amazon Echo will read you the weather, give your email summary, run down what's on your calendar for the day and let you know what's going on in the news.

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Alexa can make your commute more enjoyable

Your favorite morning commute playlist is essential to waking up (aside from all the coffee you just drank). You can tell Alexa to start playing your wake-me-up music, and if you commute through a busy city, it could also be useful to have Alexa read the traffic report. 

Use a voice command like, "Hey, Alexa, I'm commuting to work" to activate Alexa. You might also want to add an action that tells Alexa to turn off your smart lights and plugs too, just in case you forgot.

Read also: Music on Your Alexa Speaker Can Sound Better. Here's How

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You can make sure your lights turn on when you get home.

Tristan Rinehart/CNET

Alexa can turn on the lights when you get home

Wouldn't it be nice to arrive home to a well-lit house, rather than trying to navigate up the dark stairs leading to your front door? You could set up a voice routine, but we like the location routine for this one. 

You'll just need to select Location from the options and enter your home address so that getting near your home will trigger the routine. Once you've done that initial setup, you can add actions to the routine like turning on the porch lights when you arrive home.

Alexa can help you fall asleep faster

Once you're cozied up in your bed and ready to snooze, start your bedtime routine by using another trigger phrase -- it can be something like, "Alexa, I'm ready for bed." For this routine, you'll want to make sure you've enabled the action that lets Alexa turn off your lights. 

If you typically have a hard time falling asleep, use the Music action to play rain sounds or relaxing music. You can play songs and playlists from your Library, Amazon Music, iHeartRadio,  Pandora and TuneIn. Don't forget to set a timer to turn the music off so it's not playing all night.

Want more Amazon Echo pointers? Here's tips for getting the most out of your Alexa timers and alarms. We can also help you decode what all those colored lights on your Amazon Echo mean