10 things you didn’t know you could ask Alexa

Alexa is so much more than a voice-activated virtual assistant that you sometimes have to yell at…

From lesser-known features to hidden gems, Alexa holds a treasure trove of surprises waiting to be discovered. Some are downright invaluable, while others offer more of a novelty value.

In the era of voice-activated virtual assistants, Amazon’s Alexa has become a household name, capable of performing a variety of tasks with just a simple command.  

While many of us have already come to rely on Alexa for weather updates, music streaming and general information, the extent of its capabilities goes far beyond that.

So if you want to get more out of your Echo smart speaker or smart display, here are some good things to ask Alexa today.

An Amazon Echo Dot speaker on a table alongside a phone and plant to illustrate things you didn't know you could ask AlexaCredit: Shutterstock/Panthere Noire
There are a world of possibilities when it comes to Alexa commands

1. Wake up with personalised music

“Alexa, wake me up to The Beatles at 7am”

It’s one of the simpler things you didn’t know you could ask Alexa, but you can ask Alexa to wake you up with an artist or song at a set time. 

Alternatively, choose your favourite radio station or playlist from your Amazon Music app to help you get up in the morning. 

We asked Alexa to wake us up with some Kylie Minogue at 6.30am, and after a little beep, her latest song played, which certainly made for a more pleasant awakening than the usual alarm.  

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2. Get a conversation starter

“Alexa, change the subject”

If you’re facing conversation stalemate at home, get Alexa to suggest a new topic to chat about by simply asking it to change the subject.  

We asked Alexa this question a variety of times and got a real mixture of topics, from “Is ‘Die Hard’ a Christmas movie?” to “What’s been the highlight of your year, and why?” They certainly got the conversation flowing – and may or may not have created a household divide over “Die Hard”. 

3. Play whole home audio

“Alexa, play music everywhere”

If you have more than one Echo device, you can play music in multiple rooms at the same time. Before you can ask Alexa to play music across your home, you’ll need to create speaker groups in the app.  

You can also ask Alexa for help with this by saying: “Alexa, how do I play music in multiple rooms?” 

Screenshots showing how to set up multi-room speakers on Amazon Alexa app to illustrate things you didn't know you could ask AlexaCredit: Saga Exceptional
Get your favourite tunes blasting throughout the entire house with a simple tweak on the Alexa app

Otherwise, go into your app and… 

  1. Choose “Devices” at the bottom of the app 
  2. Click on the plus sign at the top right-hand corner
  3. Select “Combine speakers” 
  4. Choose “Multi-room music” 
  5. Select the speakers you want to combine  
  6. Choose a name. You can either go for a pre-set name such as “Upstairs” or choose something more personalised. This is where you will ask Alexa to play your music; for example, “Alexa, play music upstairs”, so make sure it’s something you can remember easily.  

Once you’ve sorted out your groups, it’s simply a case of saying something like “Alexa, play the latest hits upstairs” to get that particular group of speakers playing the same thing at the same time. 

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4. Get fit

“Alexa, start a seven-minute workout”

We all know the benefits of exercise, but sometimes life can be too busy to fit it in. Cue Alexa and the seven-minute workout. While Alexa can never beat a real-life personal trainer, if you’re looking for a little daily exercise routine, this command is a pretty good substitute.  

On first asking Alexa to start the workout, you’ll be asked some set-up questions, including the level of workout and the type of music you’d like to hear while exercising. Alexa will then instruct you to do an exercise, such as abdominal crunches, for a minute, counting down until your time is up. 

Older couple exercising at home to illustrate things you didn't know you could ask AlexaCredit: Shutterstock/Halfpoint
Alexa has a seven-minute workout for you if you fancy getting fit

If you don’t know how to do the exercise, you can ask for help and Alexa will explain the move. It’s probably better if you have a basic understanding of core moves, such as push-ups, before you start.  

If you need a breather, when Alexa asks you to start another exercise just say you’re not ready. Alexa will then ask you again in ten seconds. You also get a little Alexa pep talk. All-in-all it’s a fun and easy way to add exercise into your daily routine. 

5. Decide on an outfit

“Alexa, Ask Wear Assistant what I should wear today”

Are you at a loss for what to wear? Alexa can help you decide. For this one, youll have to enable the Wear Assistant skill on your app.  

How to set up a skill on Alexa to illustrate things you didn't know you could ask AlexaCredit: Saga Exceptional
  1. In the Alexa app, go to “More” at the bottom right-hand of the screen
  2. Click on “Skills & Games”
  3. Search for “Wear Assistant” in the grey search box at the top 
  4. Click on the top result and then choose “Launch” 
  5. You can then choose which device to use it on
  6. Once chosen, click “Launch” again

On that chosen device, Alexa will immediately tell you some clothing recommendations based on the forecasted weather at your location. 

In future, you can ask Alexa directly – just remember to include “ask Wear Assistant” in your command. While she can recommend you wear shorts rather than trousers to fit in with the forecasted weather, sadly she can’t tell you what colours go well or what style will suit you best. 

How do you find more information?

If Alexa tells you that it’s sending something to your app – usually more information – how do you find it?

The easiest way is to click on More at the bottom right-hand corner of the Alexa app, and then on Activity. Here youll see every skill youve used and any information or Cards that Alexa may have sent you.

6. Find your phone

“Alexa, find my phone”

Ever had one of those moments when you just can’t remember where you left your phone? Alexa can help with that.  

Just ask Alexa to find your phone and it will call you. If it’s on silent, this might not help much, but Alexa is an AI assistant not a magician. 

To make sure this command works properly, double-check you have the correct mobile number associated with your account. It’s easy to change if not. In the Alexa app, click the “More” button and choose “Settings”. From there, you can change your number.   

7. Discover the latest news

“Alexa, play my flash briefing”

One of the things you didn’t know you could ask Alexa is receiving your own personal news briefing. With the BBC News skill, you can stay up to date with everything that’s happening without spending hours reading a newspaper or watching the news.   

Make sure you enable the skill first in the app and then just ask Alexa to either “Play my flash briefing” or “What’s my flash briefing?”. You’ll then have the latest news bulletin read to you by a BBC newsreader. You’ll also hear the latest weather direct from Alexa. 

Not keen on BBC News? You can also enable this skill from BBC Sports News, or from other broadcasters such as Sky News and RTE News.  

8. Find something easy to cook

“Alexa, find me an easy recipe”

Struggling to find some dinner inspiration? Turn to Alexa. Thanks to teaming up with BBC Good Food, Alexa has countless recipes to brighten up teatime.  

Once you’ve asked for an easy recipe, Alexa will ask you for either a type of dish or some ingredients that you want to use. Once you’ve chosen your recipe, you can either begin, with Alexa narrating the ingredients and method, or get it sent to your phone. There are also options to add it to a list or hear another recipe. 

A man is cooking a meal in his kitchen to illustrate things you didn't know you could ask AlexaCredit: Shutterstock/Wavebreakmedia
If you’re stuck for dinner inspiration, there’s an Alexa command for that

You can also be quite specific, for example, asking Alexa “How do you make chocolate chip cookies?” 

If you aren’t planning to cook right away, you can also add any ingredients to a shopping list by saying, “Alexa, add eggs to my shopping list”. You can find the list in your app and if you want to check what’s on it at any time, just say: “Alexa, what’s on my shopping list?” 

9. Relax

“Alexa, help me sleep”

Alexa can be a wonderful companion when it comes to relaxation, offering a range of features to help you unwind, from soothing sounds to guided meditation. 

If you need assistance going to sleep, you can literally ask Alexa to help. You’ll be offered a variety of sleep sounds to choose from, the full list of which is helpfully sent to the app. Just choose one, close your eyes and let the soothing sound aid your slumber. 

Woman meditating in her lounge to illustrate things you didn't know you could ask AlexaCredit: Shutterstock/Shurkin_son
Want to get into meditation? Alexa offers a one-minute guided meditation

Aside from sleep, Alexa can also offer a guided meditation. We tried Minute Meditation. Just say “Alexa, minute meditation” and after an introductory “Namaste” from Alexa, the guided 60-second meditation then follows. Now if only there was a way for Alexa to also give you a massage… 

10. Pair wine with your meal

“Alexa, ask Virgin Wines what wine goes with roast beef”

Who would have thought that Alexa would make the perfect sommelier? Alexa will help you choose the best wine to pair with whatever you’re eating when you use the Virgin Wines Advisor. 

We asked Alexa to recommend a wine to drink with chicken. The suggestion of an Aussie Chardonnay was followed up with a specific recommendation from Virgin Wines, with further information about the wine sent to the Alexa app. On the app, you can find this in the “Activity” section under “More”. 

Try them for yourself

Amazon has a range of Alexa-enabled smart speakers and displays

If our round-up of things you didn’t know you could ask Alexa has whet your appetite to try them out, but you haven’t got a device yet, Amazon has a range of smart speakers (Echo devices) and smart displays (Echo Show devices) which you can easily add to your home.

Echo smart speakers

Featured product

Echo Pop (2023)

RRP: £44.99

Echo Pop (2023)

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Echo Dot (5th Gen, 2022)

RRP: £54.99

Echo Dot (5th Gen, 2022)

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Echo (4th Gen, 2020)

RRP: £109.99

Echo (4th Gen, 2020)

Featured product

Echo Studio (2020)

RRP: £219.99

Echo Studio (2020)

Echo Show smart displays

Featured product

Echo Show 15 (2021)

RRP: £279.99

Echo Show 15 (2021)

Featured product

Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen, 2021)

RRP: £259.99

Echo Show 10 (3rd Gen, 2021)

Featured product

Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen, 2023)

RRP: £149.99

Echo Show 8 (3rd Gen, 2023)

Featured product

Echo Show 5 (3rd Gen, 2023)

RRP: 89.99

Echo Show 5 (3rd Gen, 2023)

Featured product

Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021)

RRP: £103.22

Echo Show 5 (2nd Gen, 2021)
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Jayne Cherrington-Cook

Written by Jayne Cherrington-Cook she/her

Updated:

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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