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Set up your new Amazon Echo like this

Amazon's Alexa assistant will only be as helpful as you let it be, so do these 11 things first.

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Follow these steps to set up your Amazon Echo device.

Chris Monroe/CNET
This story is part of Holiday Survival Guide 2019, featuring tips on the best ways to manage the holiday season.

You got your new Amazon Echo, Echo Dot with Clock or Echo Studio on Black FridayCyber Monday or perhaps on a really good sale, and now it's time to set it up. Easy enough, unless you don't realize everything you can do with your smart speaker

For example, did you know Alexa can recognize your voice, along with anyone else in your house, as long as you've set up voice recognition? And that Alexa can let you know what's on your plate for the day if you set up your calendar?

Alexa won't tell you everything you need to do to get your new Echo device running at its full potential, so that's where we come in. Read on for the step-by-step process of getting your smart speaker set up and how it can benefit you the most.

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Echo Studio is the Amazon speaker to get if killer audio is on your mind.

Sarah Tew/CNET
STEP 1

Download the Alexa app on your phone

Before you even plug your new Echo device into the wall, make sure you download the Alexa app on your Android phone or iPhone -- otherwise, your speaker is useless. After it has downloaded, you can plug your speaker into the wall using the charger that came in the box.

STEP 2

Add your new Echo device to the Alexa app

You'll need to add the device to the Alexa app in order to start using it. Open the app on your phone, select Devices and tap the plus sign in the top right corner. Select Add device > Amazon Echo > and choose the name of the device you're using.

STEP 3

Connect your Echo to Wi-Fi

Next up, you'll connect your new Echo to Wi-Fi. Select your home or office's Wi-Fi network. Once it's connected to Wi-Fi, your Echo will say "your Echo is ready." Tap Continue in the Alexa app to move on to the next step.

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STEP 4

Set your device location -- don't skip this

You'll need to decide which room you'd like to keep your Echo in. A great spot is in the kitchen or living room since those are common spots in the house to hang out (and where other smart home devices may be located). 

Then, you need to add the location the Amazon Echo will live (like your home address or zip code). This is beneficial for when you ask Alexa what the weather is like, so it can give you an accurate description. You can always go back into your settings later and change this by going to Devices > name of speaker > Device Location

STEP 5

Link your email and calendar

Amazon's Alexa assistant can remind you of upcoming events and help you manage your schedule, but you have to connect your email account through the Alexa app. Navigate to Settings > Calendar & Email > and select from Google, Microsoft, Apple and Microsoft Exchange. 

If you only want to connect your calendar, you can turn off the email setting on the next page, then tap Next. Enter your email address and follow the onscreen instructions.

STEP 6

Set up your Flash Briefing

Just like your news preference on TV, your Amazon Echo can play news only from the sources you choose. You'll need to go to Settings > Flash Briefing > and select where you'd like to hear the news from. Your options include NPR, CNN, Fox News and more.

When you're ready to listen to what's going on in the world, just say "Alexa, play my Flash Briefing" or "Alexa, what's in the news?"

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Hear the daily news from your preferred source.

Sarah Tew/CNET
STEP 7

Set up your favorite music streaming service

Once your Amazon Echo is set up, you can start listening to music from Amazon Music. But if you prefer listening to Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, iHeartRadio or another streaming service, you'll need to link the service.

Go to Settings > Music & Podcasts > and link to a service. To change the default settings, select Default Services and switch to your preferred music provider. Now when you say "Alexa, play music," the Echo will play from the music streaming service you chose.

If your preferred music service isn't supported by Alexa (like YouTube music), you can still play your favorite tunes with your speaker. All you have to do is pair to your phone, tablet or computer using Bluetooth. To do this, say, "Alexa, pair." Then open Bluetooth settings on your phone or tablet, locate the Alexa speaker on the device and select it to pair.

Once paired, any time you want to connect your device to Alexa, just say, "Alexa, connect." Then you can play any audio through your Alexa speaker.

STEP 8

Let Alexa learn your voice

Once Alexa gets to know you a little better, it will give you more personalized responses. You'll need to set up a voice profile so that Alexa can distinguish you from other users in the house. To get Alexa to learn your voice, open the Alexa app on your phone and go to Settings > Account Settings > Recognized Voices > Create a voice profile and follow the onscreen prompts and read four phrases aloud. 

Then you can say "Alexa, who am I?" and it'll tell you who's speaking. You can add any members in your household so they'll have a personalized experience, too.

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Alexa can learn and recognize your voice.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET
STEP 9

Enable Follow-up Mode

If you give Alexa multiple commands at once, it'll just say "Hmm, I don't know that." But if you enable Follow-up Mode, you'll be able to ask questions back to back without saying "Alexa" each time. To enable, just say "Alexa, enable Follow-up Mode."

STEP 10

Turn on voice purchasing

When your hands are too busy to open your phone and hunt down something you need to purchase on Amazon, you can just ask Alexa to do it. For example, if you notice you're out of paper towel or hand soap, you can ask Alexa to order it for you. However, you'll need to enable voice ordering and 1-Click ordering. 

To do so, open the Alexa app > Settings > Account Settings > Voice Purchasing and toggle the Purchase by voice setting on. On the same screen, you can create a voice code so that only you can make Amazon purchases using your Echo.

STEP 11

Start exploring everything your new Echo can do

Now that the setup is done, you can start exploring everything Alexa can do. Use the Alexa App to download new skills, add more smart home devices, drop in on friends and more.

If you need more help with other things you can do with your Amazon Echo smart speaker, check out these four places you don't want to place your Amazon Echo, things you haven't tried with Amazon Echo yet and these five surprising things you didn't know your Amazon Echo could do.

Periodically updated with new information.