How to set up a smart speaker

Whether you choose Amazon, Google or Apple, there are multiple benefits to having a smart speaker. And they’re surprisingly easy to set up, too. We walk you through the steps you need to take.

We love smart speakers. They’re incredibly useful things, and we use ours for all kinds of handy tasks: setting reminders, telling us the weather forecast, playing specific songs, tuning into specific radio stations, playing audiobooks, and controlling our smart bulbs and even our central heating.

And there’s never been a better time to buy one, because the market is incredibly competitive. That means lots of choice and low prices, too. 

If you’ve been thinking about getting one of the best smart speakers, or you’ve got one sitting in a box that you haven’t got round to installing yet, you’ll be pleased to discover that setting one up is incredibly simple.

Amazon Echo Studio Speaker shot in the test centre sound roomCredit: Saga Exceptional
Smart speakers are generally very easy to set up

While the specifics differ very slightly between manufacturers – Google does things very slightly differently from Amazon, which does things very slightly differently from Apple – the process is much the same no matter who you buy your smart speaker from.

To set up a smart speaker, simply take it out of the box, plug it into a wall socket and then use the app on your phone or tablet to personalise it and connect it to your wireless network.

Once your phone or tablet has found your new speaker, you’ll find that the appropriate app – Alexa for Amazon speakers and Google Home for Google ones – does almost all the work for you. 

In this tutorial we’ll be describing how to set up brand new speakers. If you bought yours second-hand, you may need to factory reset it before you can add it to your home. The process for that differs from device to device.

Instructions on how to factory rest a smart speaker can be found on the Amazon, Apple and Google websites.

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How to set up a smart speaker

Project overview

You’ll need your smartphone with the associated app for your brand of smart speaker downloaded to it, in order to set up your speaker.

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Set up Amazon Echo speaker

How to set up an Amazon Echo speaker

Setup works the same way for all Amazon Echo smart speakers. The only difference is where the lightbar, which shows you the speaker’s status, is located: on the Echo Pop and Echo Studio it’s on top but on the Echo Dot and standard Amazon Echo it’s just above the base of the speaker. 

Before you can set up your new Echo, you’ll need to have an Amazon account and the latest version of the Alexa app on your phone or tablet. If this is your first Echo device, you’ll also need your wi-fi login details so that the Echo speaker can connect to your wireless network. 

1. Plug it in

Plug in your Echo and wait until its lightbar glows orange to show that it’s in setup mode. If that doesn’t happen within a minute or so, press and hold the action button: it’s the one with a big black dot in the middle. After about 10 seconds your Echo should then enter setup mode. 

Amazon’s Echo speakers have a light bar to show their status – on this one it’s at the base. It’ll glow orange when the speaker is in setup mode.

2. Find your speaker

In the Alexa app, tap on Devices at the bottom of the screen. Now tap on the big plus sign at the top right, and you’ll see the first screen from our screenshot: tap Add Device and then select Amazon Echo from the list. Now, tap on Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Pop and more. 

3. Select your speaker

You’ll now see a list of available Echo speakers; if you’re just setting up one speaker, there should only be one entry in the list. Previously installed speakers won’t appear here.

Pick the new one and the app will now take you through the rest of the setup process. 

Now you’re up and running, why not try out these things you didn’t know you could ask Alexa.

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Set up Google Nest speaker

How to set up a Google Nest speaker

As with Amazon Echos, Google’s setup process is the same for all its Nest speakers. Before you begin, you’ll need to have a Google account and the latest version of the Google and Google Home apps on your phone or tablet. 

Once you’ve plugged in your new speaker, the process is nice and simple.

1. Add your device

If this is your first time using the Google Home app, it will take you straight into the new device search shown above.

The first thing you’ll be asked to do is to choose which smart home you’re managing; the default option is Home, so select that. The app will now locate your smart speaker and take you through the remaining steps to install it. 

2. Do it the DIY way

If you’ve used the Home app before, for example because this is another Google-powered device, you can add your smart speaker from the app home screen by tapping on Devices and then on Add +.

For a Nest smart speaker, you’ll want the New Device option. For third-party speakers or smart-home kit, tap Works With Google instead.  

That’s the complicated bit done. You’ll now be asked to pick a home from the list of available options – Home is the default – and then the app will locate and complete the installation of your smart speaker.

Once you’re done, why not try these things Google Nest speakers can do that you didn’t know.

Set up Apple HomePod speaker

How to set up an Apple HomePod speaker

Apple’s setup is the simplest of all because it only works with Apple devices.

1. Plug in

To set up a HomePod mini or HomePod, simply plug it in within a few metres of your iPhone. 

2. Place your iPhone on the speaker

After a few seconds you should see a pop-up on your iPhone with a picture of the speaker and a Set Up button.

Press that and you’ll be asked to use your iPhone camera to place the top of the speaker in the frame.

Once you’ve done that the speaker is then paired with your iPhone and ready to use. You can then change its settings in the Home app on your iPhone, iPad or Mac.

What now?

Once your smart speaker is connected, you can now get it to do things. To do that, simply use the correct “wake word” – the word the speaker is programmed to listen out for – and then the command or question.

For example, you could say: “OK Google, what’s the weather forecast?”; “Alexa, play new music by Taylor Swift”; or “Hey Siri, add bread to my shopping list”.  

All Google, Amazon and Apple smart speakers come with the ability to control apps, play media and add items to calendars and reminders, and if you go into the accompanying app, you’ll be able to change settings such as the wake word (in Alexa) or the speaker’s voice and accent.

In the case of Amazon’s Alexa, you’ll also find useful accessibility options that you can use to make Alexa pause for longer, or speak more slowly.

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Carrie Marshall

Written by Carrie Marshall she/her

Updated:

Writer, broadcaster and musician Carrie Marshall has been a technology journalist for 24 years. Her CV is a who’s-who of magazines, websites and newspapers ranging from T3, Techradar and Woman & Home to the Sunday Post and People’s Friend, and she has been providing no-nonsense technology help and buying advice to BBC Radio Scotland listeners since the early 2000s.

Carrie has written and co-written nearly twenty books as well as a BBC radio documentary series, and her memoir Carrie Kills A Man is on sale now.

Carrie is particularly interested in how technology can make our lives easier, especially if that gives her an excuse to buy yet another kitchen gadget.

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