My favorite Amazon Alexa commands (updated)

July 14, 2016

The Amazon Echo is one of my favorite pieces of tech in my apartment because it enables me to do so many things easily and hands-free. Here are a few of my favorite things to say to Alexa.

Seamlessly switch Spotify playback from a phone to Echo

“Alexa, play Spotify”

If you’re playing music from Spotify on a phone (or tablet/PC), you can seamlessly switch the music playback over to Echo’s speaker by simply saying “Alexa, play Spotify” (after setting up Spotify). Alexa will continue playing your music exactly where it left off, never skipping a beat. It will also continue to play your playlist, album, etc. after the song is over.

This is perfect for me when I’m in my apartment playing music on my phone and want to switch to a better speaker to fill my apartment with sound. It’s also perfect for when you were listening to music in the car and want to keep playing it when you walk in the door.

Turn lights on and off

“Alexa, turn off the lights”

I have two Philips Hue light strips in my apartment, one behind my desk and another behind my bed. They are perfect for mood lighting. I’ve set up some simple automation using the Philips Hue app to wake me up in the morning using the sunrise feature, and I’ve also set them up to turn on in the evening after sunset. However, when I’m ready for bed, I need to turn them off manually. Alexa makes that easy. When I’m ready for bed, I simply ask “Alexa, turn off the lights” and both light strips turn off immediately. Simple and convenient.

Show your school spirit!

“Alexa, start the We Are cheer”

Part of the magic of Alexa is all of the skills she’s learned. For fun, I taught Alexa my alma mater Penn State’s iconic “We Are Penn State” cheer. To get started, ask “Alexa, enable the ‘We Are’ cheer skill” and then say “Alexa, start the ‘We Are’ cheer.”

Here’s a video of the ‘We Are’ cheer skill in action:

What happens when you mix school spirit, free time, and Alexa? Alexa leading the ‘We Are’ cheer, of course. #WeAre

— Eric Papamarcos (@epaps) September 5, 2016

Identify a song on Pandora

“Alexa, what song is this?”

When a song catches your ear while listening to a song on Pandora using Echo (after setting up Pandora), simply say “Alexa, what song is this?” and Alexa will tell you the current song. It’s a great way to know what the current song is without having to pull out your phone.

Order stuff

“Alexa, order trail mix”

My first magical moment with Alexa came when I was standing in front of my kitchen cupboard and realized I was low on trail mix. I reached in my pocket to grab my phone, but then I paused. Although I had never tried it before and wasn’t sure if it was going to work, I said “Alexa, order trail mix.” Sure enough, Alexa looked in my Amazon order history to get the exact brand of trail mix that I like, read the price, and asked if I would like to buy it. After a quick confirmation virtual high five, the order was placed and I got an email confirmation a few moments later.

If you haven’t ordered a particular product type before, Alexa will respond with something like “Amazon’s choice for [product type] is [product name]…” and you can decide whether you’d like to buy the item sight unseen.

(By the way, if you have an Amazon Echo, is there really a need for an Amazon Dash Button?)

What else?

What are your favorite Alexa commands? Let me know on Twitter.

Update (7/30/17): I updated this post to include my two new favorite things: turning lights on and off and starting the ‘We Are’ cheer!