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Why is Alexa blinking yellow or flashing green? Amazon Echo ring light colors explained

What does it mean when your Alexa smart speaker turns yellow? Or green, or purple, or red, or...? Here's how to decode the flashing rings of colored light.

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When your Echo lights up with blue and cyan, it means Alexa is listening.

Dale Smith/CNET

Since the original Amazon Echo smart speaker was released, one of the brand's defining design characteristics has been the light ring -- or in the case of Echo Show smart displays, the light bar. When you say "Alexa," the light turns blue and then swirls around as Alexa processes your voice command. But when the light blinks yellow, flashes green, swirls white or alternates blue and cyan, what does it mean? 

The light ring serves as a status indicator and a notification light for all kinds of information, it turns out. When the Echo's ring or Show's bar light up with different colors, Alexa is trying to tell you something important. 

Read more: 22 tips for your new Amazon Echo

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Most of the time, the light ring stays off. If the device is plugged in and there are no lights showing, it means the speaker is active and waiting for you to speak the wake word. When you interact with Alexa, you will see white and various tones of blue. The light ring will tell you if there are any problems with Alexa, as well. Status indicators are red, purple or orange. Now that Alexa lets you send messages and make calls, Amazon has introduced two new colors for notifications: green and yellow. You can just ask Alexa what the colors on your Echo device mean. Or you can read on to learn more.

Blue and cyan: Why is Alexa spinning or flashing a blue ring?

  • If you speak the wake word or manually wake Alexa, the light ring will turn solid blue, and a small section of cyan will point in the direction of the person speaking.
  • Solid blue with spinning cyan after you've spoken a command means Alexa is processing your request. This also happens when the speaker is powering on.
  • Alternating blue and cyan means Alexa is responding to a command or query.
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When the green light is on, a call is coming in.

Amazon

Green: Here's why Alexa is flashing or blinking green

  • A pulsing green light indicates an incoming call.
  • A spinning green light means you're currently on a call or an active Drop In.

White: What it means when your Echo turns white

  • The light ring will show the volume percentage in white when you manually turn the light ring on the Amazon Echo or the first-generation Echo Dot, press the volume up or down on the second-generation Echo Dot or tell Alexa to adjust the volume.
  • continuously spinning white light means Alexa Guard is on Away Mode.
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When the red light is on, the Alexa microphone has been turned off.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Purple: Do Not Disturb, or a Wi-Fi problem?

  • Pulsing violet indicates that there was a problem during Wi-Fi setup.
  • spinning blue light that ends with a purple flash indicates that Do Not Disturb has been activated.
  • flash of purple after you interact with Alexa means that Do Not Disturb is still enabled.

Yellow, orange and red: The rest of Alexa's light ring colors decoded

  • Spinning orange means the device is currently connecting to your network.
  • Solid red means the microphone has been turned off and Alexa is not actively listening for your commands.
  • pulsing yellow light is telling you that you have messages in your inbox. You can say, "Play my messages" or "Check my notifications" for more information.
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The Echo Show has a handy screen to communicate with users... but it still uses bands of colored light on the bottom of that display.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Echo Show color bar meanings

Unlike the Amazon Echo smart speakers, the Echo Show benefits from having a full display. But the device still uses similar light signals to its speaker counterparts, and they appear on the bottom of the screen in a thin band. Here are the color meanings:

  • A solid band of blue with a cyan spot indicating the direction of the speaker will appear when you speak the wake word.
  • A solid band of red means the microphone and camera have been turned off. After a few seconds, the light will turn off, leaving a microphone/camera-off symbol in the upper right hand corner of the display.
  • A band of orange means your Echo Show is experiencing network connectivity issues.
  • A band of violet means you have set the Echo Show to Do Not Disturb mode. After a few seconds, the light will turn off, leaving a crescent moon symbol in the upper right hand corner of the display.

For more Amazon Echo tips, here are some Alexa settings you won't regret changing, how to turn off Amazon Sidewalk, which automatically shares your Wi-Fi with neighbors, 5 surprising Alexa features that make working from home easier, and the best Alexa devices for 2021.