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5 unexpected uses for your Amazon Echo

Alexa has several hidden abilities that you should be using.

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Your Amazon Echo has several hidden abilities that you should use.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You probably use your Amazon Echo ($100 at Amazon) for playing music, powering on your smart home devices and making phone calls. But are you really using Alexa to its full potential when you're only calling on it for the basics?

After all, there are tons of things Alexa can do that you may not have thought about yet. For example, you can cast something 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.

Read on for more surprising things your Amazon Echo can do.

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 Alexa Cast 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.

Alexa can guard your home

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 to check it out. 

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

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

Ry Crist/CNET

Donate to charity

If you have a charity that you'd like to donate to, 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 -- there are over 300 options to choose from. 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.

Shopping on Amazon

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 > Menu > Settings > Account Settings > Voice Purchasing and toggle the Purchase by voice setting on. When you're ready to make a purchase say, "Alexa, I'd like to purchase 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.

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You can ask Alexa to order household items for you.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Finding your lost phone

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, 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 what your Amazon Echo can do? Check out these six unusual skills you should try on your Amazon Echo and how to customize Alexa for a better Amazon Echo experience.

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Originally published earlier this week.