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If You Have an Amazon Echo, Try These 5 Alexa Features

You might be surprised to learn all the tricks Alexa can perform.

Katie Teague Writer 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.
Expertise Personal Finance: Social Security and taxes
Katie Teague
3 min read
Amazon Echo 2020 sitting on a table

You can ask Alexa to order household items for you.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Your Amazon Echo device is great for simple commands like controlling your home devices or making phone calls. But there's plenty more that Alexa can do to make your life easier.

For example, did you know you can cast your music from one Echo device to another? You can also quickly send donations to a charity and have Alexa guard your house while you're away.

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We'll explain how to find these things your Amazon Echo can do and how to use these little-known features.

1. Alexa Cast to other devices

When you're really into a song that you're listening to on your Amazon Echo but need to go to another area in the house, it can be frustrating to pause the music. Fortunately, if you have multiple Echo devices, you can use the Alexa Cast feature to send that music to another speaker.

From the Amazon Music app on your phone, select the playlist you're listening 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.

You can also do this from the Alexa app. Just tap on the playlist you're listening to and select which device to play it on. For instance, all devices or just one Echo speaker.

2. Guard your home with Alexa

If you're ever worried about your house when you're out of town, you can turn on Alexa Guard before you leave the house. Just say, "Alexa, I'm leaving" and the voice assistant will start listening for signs of a break-in, like glass breaking. If it hears anything suspicious, it will send you an alert so you can decide whether to contact authorities and have them check it out.

When you arrive back home, you can say, "Alexa, I'm home," and it'll stop listening for noises.

Want Alexa to guard your home? Read our guide on how to set up Alexa Guard Plus on your Amazon Echo smart speakers and displays.

three amazon echo dot speakers

An Amazon Echo can guard your house while you're away.

Ry Crist/CNET

3. Donate to charity with Alexa

If you have a charity that you'd like to donate to that's on Amazon's list, you can use your Amazon Echo to send the donation over. When you say, "Alexa, I'd like to make a donation," the voice assistant will ask which charity you'd like to give to. Then Alexa will ask how much you want to donate. Note that you'll need to have Amazon Pay set up before trying to send your donation.

4. Shop on Amazon with Alexa

When you're running low on house supplies, like paper towels or toothpaste, you can ask Alexa to order some for you through Prime Now. You'll first have to enable voice purchasing in the Alexa app.

To do so, open the app and go to More > Settings > Account Settings > Voice Purchasing > Purchase Controls and select who can make purchases. When you're ready to buy something, say, for example, "Alexa, I'd like to buy toothpaste." The product will be added to your cart and Alexa will ask you to confirm that you want to buy it now.

You can add a PIN code in the same settings so that only you can make purchases on your Echo speaker.

amazon echo dot with clock on table

Alexa can help you order toothpaste and other house supplies.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

5. Find your lost phone with Alexa

Losing your phone in the house happens way more often than you'd like to admit. And when you don't have anyone around to call it for you, it can be frustrating trying to track it down on your own. Fortunately, you can use your Amazon Echo to find it. You can ask Alexa to call your phone, but if it's on silent, that won't do much. Another option is to download the Find My Phone skill in the Alexa app.

Want to know more about your Amazon Echo? Check out the four worst places to put your Amazon Echo in your home and how to customize Alexa for a better Amazon Echo experience.