5 Amazon Alexa Settings that Make It More Useful

Amazon Echo Chat Alexa Easier

From streaming your favorite songs to reminding you of upcoming appointments, there are plenty of things you can do with Alexa – if you can understand each other! Here we will share five Amazon Alexa settings that can improve the communication between you and Alexa.

1. Already have an Alexa in your life? Changing Alexa’s wake word

By default, Amazon’s personal assistant responds to the wake word “Alexa.” However, this can cause issues if you live with someone named Alexa, or if you know someone called Alexa. Simply talking about your co-worker Alexa in the vicinity of your Amazon Echo may be enough to trigger Amazon’s personal assistant!

If Alexa shares a name with someone in your life, you can configure Amazon Alexa/Echo to respond to an alternative wake word:

1. Launch the Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet.

2. In the upper-left corner, tap the “Menu” icon.

3. Tap “Settings -> Device Settings.”

You can make a number of settings to your Amazon Alexa, by accessing the "Settings > Device Settings" menu.

4. Select the Echo device you want to respond to an alternative wake word.

Although Amazon's digital assistant responds to "Alexa..." by default, you can choose from a number of alternative wake words.

5. Scroll to “Wake Word” and give it a tap.

The "Device Settings" menu shows the wake word that Alexa will currently respond to..

6. Choose from the available wake words: Alexa, Amazon, Echo and Computer.

You can choose from the following wake words: Alexa, Amazon, Echo and Computer.

Now, Alexa will no longer respond to “Alexa,” so you can talk about your co-worker Alexa with zero fear of waking your Amazon Echo!

2. Ask Alexa follow-up questions

Tired of having to say “Alexa…” before every single command?

When you enable Alexa’s Follow-Up Mode, Amazon’s voice assistant will continue listening for five seconds after your initial request, so you can submit multiple requests without having to use the “Alexa” trigger word multiple times.

Follow-Up Mode allows you to have a more natural conversation with Alexa, although Alexa will assume that everything she hears within this five-second window is directed at her, so she may react to other conversations that are happening within earshot.

1. Launch the Alexa app.

2. In the upper-left corner, tap the “Menu” icon.

3. Tap “Settings -> Device Settings.”

4. Select the device that should use Follow-Up Mode.

5. Select “Follow-Up Mode.”

6. Tap to enable the “Follow-Up Mode” slider.

Don't fancy using the "Alexa" wake word every time you wan to speak to Amazon's digital assistant? Try enabling follow-up mode.

Now, try starting a conversation as usual the “Alexa … ” wake word. For example, “Alexa, what’s the weather like this afternoon?” You can then submit follow-up queries without using the Alexa command. For example, “Is it going to rain this afternoon?” and then, “Is it going to rain tomorrow?”

Interacting with Alexa without using the wake word may take some getting used to, but Follow-Up Mode can make it easier to interact with Alexa, especially if you regularly issue multiple commands in a short space of time. You can even say: “Thank you,” after a request, and she will respond with a “No problem” or similar.

3. Change Alexa’s speaking speed

Do you sometimes struggle to catch what Alexa is saying? Or perhaps you want to slow things down so you have more time to process Alexa’s words?

If you want Alexa to speak more slowly, then you just need to tell her! Simply say: “Alexa, speak slower,” within range of your Alexa-enabled speaker, and Alexa will be happy to oblige.

Alternatively, if you’re frustrated by the pace of Alexa’s dictation, then you can speed things up with the command, “Alexa, speaker faster.

If you change your mind and want to return Alexa to her normal speed, then just say: “Alexa, speak at your default rate.” Try experimenting with these commands to find the speed that works for you.

4. Cut to the chase: enable Brief Mode

By default, when you ask Alexa a question, she’ll work your original question into her response. For example, ask: “Alexa, how many ounces are in a cup?” and her response will be something along the lines of “One cup equals eight fluid ounces.

This repetition lets you verify that Alexa has heard and understood your question correctly and is providing a relevant answer. However, incorporating your question into Alexa’s response can lead to some awkward interactions and puts precious seconds between you and the information you’re looking for.

If you’d prefer Alexa to get to the point, then you may want to try Brief Mode. While in this mode, Alexa’s responses will be far more succinct. For example, “Alexa, how many ounces are in a cup?” will elicit the response “Eight fluid ounces.”

To enable Brief Mode:

1. Launch the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet.

2. In the upper-left corner, tap the “Menu” icon.

3. Tap “Settings -> Voice responses.”

4. Tap “Brief mode.”

Don't want to wake the whole house? You can whisper questions to Alexa, and she will whisper the answers back.

Try asking Alexa a question – her response should now be much more to-the-point!

5. Don’t wake the whole house: enabling Whisper Mode

Do you need to ask Alexa a question in the middle of the night? Or perhaps you live with other people and don’t particularly want to disturb them by having a full-volume conversation with Alexa?

By enabling Whisper Mode, you can whisper a question at Alexa and she will whisper the answer back.

To enable Whisper Mode:

1. In the upper-left corner of the Alexa app, tap the “Menu” icon.

2. Navigate to “Settings -> Voice responses.”

3. Drag the “Whisper mode” slider into the “On” position.

Now, every time you whisper to Alexa, she’ll automatically respond in a lower tone.

You can turn Whisper Mode off at any point by saying, “Alexa, turn Whisper Mode off.”

On the other hand, if you are concerned that Alexa is always listening to you, you can always delete the voice recordings in the Alexa app. You can also enable Flash Briefing to get a quick rundown of the daily news.

Do you know of any more Amazon Alexa settings for improving the way you interact with Alexa? Be sure to share it with us in the comments below!

Jessica Thornsby
Jessica Thornsby

Jessica Thornsby is a technical writer based in Derbyshire, UK. When she isn’t obsessing over all things tech, she enjoys researching her family tree, and spending far too much time with her house rabbits.

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