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New Alexa Device? Change These Settings ASAP

Update these six Alexa settings now for better privacy and ease of use -- trust us.

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You should change these six Alexa settings now.
Tyler Lizenby/CNET

This story is part of Home Tips, CNET's collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

Whether you just bought a new Amazon Echo device during Cyber Week sales or you've had your trusty Echo Dot for years, you might have already figured out the basics of using Alexa, like how to use your Echo to call someone, how to connect Alexa to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and more, and even how Alexa can help you in the kitchen. But have you really considered all the settings Alexa offers? 

No matter which Alexa device you have -- an Amazon Echo Dot, an Echo Dot with Clock, a compact Echo Flex, a chunky Echo Studio or a smart display such as the Echo Show 15 -- there are a ton of customizations to make Alexa behave exactly how you like. And these few small changes could make a big difference. 

For example, you'll be glad you made updates to your privacy settings, including automatically deleting recordings and turning off the setting that lets Amazon employees listen to the same recordings. Read on for the six Amazon Echo settings I've found to be most useful. 

1. Update your Amazon Echo privacy settings

One of the first concerns with owning an Echo speaker is privacy. Fortunately, Amazon is unwrapping more privacy settings going forward, including updates to both Ring and Echo products that make incremental advances on user privacy

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Your Echo can automatically delete your recordings. To turn that setting on in the Alexa app More menu and go to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage Your Alexa Data > and toggle the Automatically delete recordings switch on.

You can delete your entire voice recordings history, too. To do this, open the Alexa app and go to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Review Voice History. Next, tap the downward-facing arrow next to Displaying and then the arrow next to Filter By Date. Then you will tap All History > Delete All My Recordings. 

And you can also keep Amazon employees out of your conversations and from listening to your voice recordings. In the Alexa app, go to Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage Your Alexa Data. From here, select Choose How Long to Save Recordings > Don't Save Recordings Confirm. Next, scroll down to Help Improve Alexa, and switch the Use of Voice Recordings to off. 

For more safety tips on any of your smart home devices read our privacy guide on how to keep Amazon, Google and Apple out of your conversations

Now playing: Watch this: Alexa gets new features to make it a better listener
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2. Enable Brief Mode on your Amazon Echo

When you ask Alexa to do something, like play a song or turn on the lights, Alexa will say something like "OK, turning on the lights." This is to help you determine why Alexa did something if it didn't perform what you asked. However, if you don't want Alexa repeating what you just said, you can change that setting so that it only plays a short sound instead of a voice response.

To do so, open the Alexa app More menu and select Settings. Under the Alexa Preferences section, tap Voice Responses, then toggle the switch on for Brief Mode.

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Turn on Brief Mode so your Echo will play a short sound instead of a voice response.

Dale Smith/CNET

3. Set up your preferred music streaming service

When you set up your Amazon Echo, the music service automatically defaults to Amazon Music. However, if you're a Spotify, Apple Music or another music service subscriber, you may want to link your Echo to that streaming service instead. 

Go to Settings > Music & Podcasts > and link to a service. On the same page, tap Default Services and switch to your preferred music provider. Now the Echo will play from the music streaming service of your choice when you say "Alexa, play music."

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

4. Change the wake word from Alexa

If TV commercials keep triggering your Amazon Echo when they say "Alexa," you can change the wake word to something that's less likely to wake the speaker. The other traditional options to call the voice assistant are Computer, Echo and Amazon, but there are several newer wake word additions you can use like Ziggy and Hey, Disney

If you want to change the name, just say "Alexa, change the wake word" and make your selection. You can also open the Alexa app, go to Settings > Device Settings > select your device > tap Wake Word and make a choice. Unfortunately, you can't come up with your own name for the speaker, like Tallulah or Digital Overlord.

5. Enable voice purchasing on your Amazon Echo

You don't always have time to perform an Amazon search and buy something you're out of, like toilet paper. That's why it can be helpful to set up voice purchasing on your Amazon Echo so Alexa can order products for you.

To get started, you'll need to turn on voice ordering and 1-Click ordering. Open the Alexa app and navigate to Settings > Account Settings > Voice Purchasing and toggle Voice Purchasing on. Next, on the same screen, you should set up a voice code or profile so that only you can make purchases. Where it says Purchase Confirmation, tap Enable and select either Voice Profile (only your voice will activate purchasing) or Voice Code (a four-digit code).

6. Set up household profiles on your Amazon Echo

If you have multiple people in your house, you'll want to set up voice profiles for each member who uses the Echo speaker. This will help Alexa learn your voice and distinguish you from others in the house. To create voice profiles, go to Settings > Account Settings > Recognized Voices > Create a voice profile and follow the onscreen prompts to set it up.

You can make sure your voice profile has been correctly set up by asking "Alexa, who am I?" The voice assistant will say "I'm talking to [your name]."

If you have your favorite customizations and settings, share them in the comments. Now that you've updated these six Echo settings, here are five creative uses for your Amazon Echo device, five essential tips for your new Echo device and CNET's roundup of every Alexa command you can give right now