New to Echo Show? Here are the first things you should ask your smart display

From streaming your favourite TV shows to monitoring your home, the Echo Show has it all.

The Echo Show is a smart display that combines the best of both worlds: the voice control of an Amazon Echo speaker and the visual capabilities of a touchscreen display. 

The display allows you to do things that you can’t do with a regular Echo smart speaker, like stream videos, make video calls, and turn your device into a digital photo frame

Amazon Echo Show 8 on a side table, showing the view from a smart doorbellCredit: Amazon
The Echo Show is a super versatile smart display, especially when you know what to ask Alexa

While the touchscreen is one of the Echo Show’s most powerful features, it can be a bit daunting at first – but we’ve got you covered. Here are some of our favourite tips and tricks to get you started. 

1. Personalise your home screen 

“Alexa, go to ‘Settings’”

There are lots of ways to make your Echo Show your own, whether you choose to display your favourite photos (more of that later) or want to customise the clock. 

All of these options can be accessed via ‘Settings’, so just say, “Alexa, go to ‘Settings’”, and then choose the ‘Home & Clock’ option. 

To change the look and feel of your clock, go into the ‘Clock’ option. There are lots to designs to choose from, including modern and playful, so you can change your clock to match décor or even the seasons.  

Image showing an Echo Show and how to personalise your home screen to illustrate things to ask the Echo ShowCredit: Saga Exceptional
You can choose from various pre-sets as to what Alexa shows you on the home screen

If you want to change the type of content that is served to your home screen, follow the above steps but choose ‘Home Content’ instead of ‘Clock’. You can choose from various options, including popular questions, exploring local places and general notifications from Alexa.   

The more you engage with certain home screen content, the more likely you’ll see that type of content displayed. It’s useful in that it only serves you the type of stuff you engage with more, but it can mean you miss some of the other content that you’ve chosen. 

Tip: If ever you need to return to the home screen on your Echo Show, you can either say, “Alexa, go home, or swipe down from the top of the screen and select Home. 

2. Display your photos

“Alexa, start ‘Photo Frame’”

To truly personalise your Echo Show, you can upload some of your favourite photos through the Alexa app on your phone, turning it into a digital photo frame.

  1. First, choose your device in the Alexa app and click on the settings cog in the right-hand corner.  
  2. Then, scroll down to ‘Photo Display’.  
  3. Once you click, you’ll have a few options, from uploading images directly to the app, syncing your phone with images or linking your Facebook account.  
An Echo Show with the photo of the day on itCredit: Saga Exceptional
Just say “Alexa, show photos from this day” to see any images that were taken on the same day

You can also turn on ‘Daily Memories’, which shows a selection of photos chosen by Alexa each day or ‘This Day’, which shows photos from this day in previous years.

Another option is to ask Alexa to show you photos from this day even if you don’t want it permanently enabled.  

You can find out more in our how to use your smart display as a digital photo frame article.

Tip: Other voice commands you could use with photos are: 

“Alexa, launch photos of my holiday in Greece”
“Alexa, tell me more about this photo”
“Alexa, show photos from last Christmas” 

3. Stream movies and TV shows

“Alexa, show me romantic movies”

While the Echo Show’s smaller screens may be a large step away from your main television, the device does provide you with another way to catch up on your must-watch movies and shows.  

Amazon smart displays currently support not only their own Prime service but also Netflix, although you need to ensure you have an account.

It’s then just a case of asking Alexa to stream what you want to watch, for example, “Alexa, play This Is Us on Prime” or “Alexa, play Black Mirror on Netflix.”  

An Amazon Echo Show streaming the show This Is Us on the smart display to illustrate what to ask echoCredit: Saga Exceptional
You can stream shows from Netflix, Amazon and a couple of other providers on your Echo Show

While streaming you can also use your voice to control the screen, whether that’s asking Alexa to pause, go forwards or backwards by a set time, or even turning up the volume.  

If you want some inspiration as to what to watch, try asking Alexa to “Show me moves with [your favourite actor]” or “Show me [genre] movies.”

If you want to watch something from another streaming service, such as the BBC iPlayer, there is a workaround. Ask Alexa to open ‘Silk’, which is the inbuilt web browser, and then search from there.  

It won’t be a seamless experience and you won’t be able to use voice commands to control it while watching, but it does allow you to catch up on your favourite shows if the main TV is otherwise occupied.

4. Set multiple timers

“Alexa, set a timer”

Want to know when that pasta will be cooked but also need a timer to count down the end of your laundry cycle? The Echo Show allows you to set and monitor multiple timers all at once.  

All you need to say is: “Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes.” You can personalise that timer by saying, “Alexa, set a pasta timer for 10 minutes,” so when you see the various timers on the screen, they all have a label.

You can use voice commands to control your timers, for example saying, “Alexa, how much time is left on the pasta timer?” or “Alexa, stop the laundry timer.” 

An Echo Show displaying multiple timers on the display to illustrate what you can ask EchoCredit: Saga Exceptional
You can set multiple timers and see them counting down on your Echo Show screen

If you have an Echo Show 8 or 10, you can also control the timers with hand gestures. First, you need to enable gestures by doing the following on your Echo: 

  1. Swipe down from the top of the screen 
  2. Select ‘Settings’ 
  3. Select ‘Gestures’ 
  4. Toggle ‘Dismiss’ timers to ‘On’ 

To dismiss a timer on your Echo Show this way, hold your palm in front of the camera. Make sure you are within five feet of the device and that your hand is in the camera’s view. If your hand is too close to the edge of the screen, the gesture may not be detected.

How can I tell what Echo Show model I have?

This has a 5.5in screen (14cm). To measure screen size, take a tape measure from one corner to the other diagonally (excluding borders) to find the exact dimensions.

This has a slightly larger screen than the Echo Show 5, at 8in (20cm). 

As well as a larger 10.1in screen (26cm), this smart display has a motorised base that lets the screen follow you so you’re always in view.

The largest of the Echo Show smart displays has a 15.6in screen (40cm). It can also be mounted on a wall. 

You can also check what Echo Show you have by visiting this Amazon customer services page. 

5. Follow a recipe

“Alexa, find me a quick pasta recipe”

Is there anything more annoying than having to turn a page while following a recipe, especially if you have messy hands? 

This is where the Echo Show comes in. With just your voice, you can find recipes, save them, and, our favourite part, follow step-by-step cooking instructions.  

Alexa will read out the steps, as well as showing them on your screen. When you’re finished with one step, simply ask Alexa to read the next step to you.  

If your fingers are clean, you can also use the touchscreen to navigate through the steps. 

A recipe on the Echo Show screen to illustrate what to ask EchoCredit: Saga Exceptional
Alexa will guide you step-by-step through a recipe so you can don’t have to touch the screen

Tip: When using your Echo Show, you may need to ask Alexa to perform multiple actions in a row, such as moving on to the next step in a recipe. 

To simplify this process, you can turn on the follow-on mode. Just go to your device settings in the app (the top right-hand cog in the app) and toggle to ‘on’. Once you’ve activated Alexa by saying her name, you can give her subsequent instructions without repeating her name. 

Bear in mind, Alexa doesn’t remain active in every situation. If you have music or audio playing or if there is background noise, Alexa may need the wake word to operate. 

6. Play YouTube videos

“Alexa, show me yoga videos on YouTube”

Whether you’re looking to get started in the gym or want some bedroom colour ideas, Alexa can help. With a simple voice command, you can ask Alexa to search for any type of video on YouTube and she will deliver. 

From the results, you can then just click on your chosen video and watch directly on the screen of your Echo Show.  

7. Create a virtual post-it note

“Alexa, new sticky”

Alexa’s sticky notes are a more sustainable way to keep track of your to-dos. 

To create a sticky note, simply say, “Alexa, new sticky,” and then dictate your note. Your notes will be synchronised across all of your Echo Show devices, so you can access them from anywhere.  

A close up of an Echo Show with a sticky note on the home screenCredit: Saga Exceptional
Sticky notes can be a great way to help you remember certain things

Sticky notes do not appear on your home page permanently. You can only see them by asking Alexa to show your sticky notes. However, there is a small icon of a note at the top right-hand corner of the screen to indicate that you have active notes. If you have an Echo Show 15, you can pin a sticky note as a widget to your home page, so it will always be visible. 

Tip: There are other things you can do with your sticky notes, including adding images and videos. You can also set due dates and share them with others. 

8. Make a video call

“Alexa, Skype Helen”

There are a couple of ways to make a video call. The easiest is to video call others who have an Echo Show. You just say, “Alexa, drop in on (name of the device)” and you’ll be put through to them. It doesn’t ring, so you’ll have to say a loud ‘Hello’ in case people aren’t in the room that they have their device in.  

You can also call or video call any of your contacts with Alexa. You can add contacts to Alexa by importing them from your phone or by adding them manually in the Alexa app.

Once you have added your contacts, you can call them by saying: “Alexa, call [contact name].” If the person you are calling has an Echo device with a camera, you will be given the option to make a video call. To do this, just click on the image of the camera that appears on your Echo Show screen. 

Calling somebody from the Amazon Echo Show to illustrate what to ask EchoCredit: Saga Exceptional
For some contacts, you won’t be able to use video but you can still use your Echo Show to make voice calls

Finally, you can also make calls via Skype. You can find this under ‘Settings’, then ‘Communication’. Just add your log-in details, then say, “Alexa, Skype [name],” and you’ll be ready to chat face-to-face. If you have an Echo Show 8 or 10, you can also use Zoom for your video calls direct from your device.  

Tip: If you don’t want to be contactable via your device at any time, just say: “Alexa, do not disturb. This will not only prevent incoming video calls but also stops Alexa from disturbing you with notifications and the like. 

9. Keep your home secure

“Alexa, show the front door”

Whether you want to keep an eye on your house while you’re out or see what your dog gets up to when you leave them home alone, you can turn Alexa into your own personal Big Brother. 

You can turn it into a home monitor device in just a couple of taps. First, you need to enable the security camera option on the device itself.  

To do this:  

  1. Swipe down from the top of the Show’s screen 
  2. Select ‘Settings’ 
  3. Select ‘Camera’ 
  4. Toggle on ‘Home Monitoring’ 
  5. You’ll then be asked to sign into your Amazon account. 

Once that’s all done, you can then view a live feed in the Alexa app. Choose your Echo Show device and on the device page, you’ll see a camera icon. Click on that and you’ll be able to see your live feed. If you have an Echo Show 10, you can also control the camera in the app, for instance moving it to the right to move the camera right, so you can see around the room with ease. 

If your video doorbell is compatible with Alexa, you can also pull the live stream onto your Echo Show by simply saying: “Alexa, show my front door.” With some products such as Ring, you can also ask Alexa to answer the front door. 

Screenshots showing how to use your Alexa app as as security monitor in conjunction with your Echo ShowCredit: Saga Exceptional
The Alexa app will allow you to monitor your home when you’re out and about

10. Go shopping

“Alexa, add deodorant to my cart”

Smart displays make shopping with Alexa much easier and more enjoyable. The screen allows you to see the products, unlike when you ask your smart speaker to add things to your Amazon basket. Similar to a tablet or smartphone, the Echo Show allows you to research, compare and search products. 

For instance, if you are looking for a new pair of shoes, the Echo Show screen can show you different styles and colours in real time. You can also read product reviews and compare prices. 

You can also add products to your cart and checkout with just your voice. Make sure you’ve enabled voice purchasing in the Alexa app first. Go to ‘Settings’ (under the ‘More’ section of the app) select ‘Account Settings’ and you’ll find it there.  

Shopping on Amazon on the Echo Show to illustrate what to ask EchoCredit: Saga Exceptional
Shopping on the Echo Show is a great experience as you can use both voice controls and the touchscreen

Some of the voice commands you can use when shopping on Amazon include:  

“Alexa, what are your deals?” 

“Alexa, show me red trainers” 

“Alexa, find me a good smartphone on Amazon” 

“Alexa, reorder vitamins” 

“Alexa, where’s my stuff?” 

To place orders with Alexa, you need to make sure you have an Amazon account, as well as a valid payment method stored in it. 

Tip:If you want to add extra security so no one can purchase stuff you don’t need, you can choose a voice code (comprising of four digits) that Alexa will ask you to say before finishing a purchase. 

Shop Amazon’s Echo Show range

Featured product

Echo Show 5 (2nd gen, 2021)

RRP: £74.99

Echo Show 5 (2nd gen, 2021)

Featured product

Echo Show 5 (3rd gen, 2023)

RRP: £89.99

Echo Show 5 (3rd gen, 2023)

Featured product

Echo Show 8 (2nd gen, 2021)

RRP: £119.99

Echo Show 8 (2nd gen, 2021)

Featured product

Echo Show 10 (3rd gen, 2021)

RRP: £259.99

Echo Show 10 (3rd gen, 2021)

Featured product

Echo Show 15 (2021)

RRP: £269.99

Echo Show 15 (2021)
Jayne Cherrington-Cook

Written by Jayne Cherrington-Cook she/her


Jayne is the Senior Editor at Saga Exceptional. She cut her online journalism teeth 24 years ago in an era when a dialling tone and slow page load were standard. During this time, she’s written about a variety of subjects and is just at home road-testing TVs as she is interviewing TV stars. A diverse career has seen Jayne launch websites for popular magazines, collaborate with top brands, write regularly for major publications including Woman&Home, Yahoo! and The Daily Telegraph, create a podcast, and also write a tech column for Women’s Own.

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