I received an Amazon Echo for Christmas a few years ago (it’s no Echo Studio, but still…) and I have to admit, at first I was a little skeptical. What is all the buzz about anyway and what can I actually do with an Amazon Echo?
I wasn’t sure it could really do more for me than Siri or my iPhone, but after having Alexa (reminder: that’s the voice’s name, though it’s come to stand for the device) in my home for a few years now, connected to my WiFi and linked to my Amazon account, I have to say that it’s been life-changing.
It’s helped with everything from little things, like checking the weather, to bigger tasks, like grocery shopping and meal planning — even homeschooling. Hooray for technology!
This post has been updated for 2023
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44 Cool Alexa Skills for the Amazon Echo
PRO TIP: if you happen to have a family member actually named Alexa — like, say, you happen to be reading this post, Alexa Chung or Alexa Ray Joel — you can change the command name in your settings to Amazon so your Alexa is not turning on every time you speak to a living, breathing Alexa. However if you have relatives named both Alexa and Amazon, you’re out of luck.
Also note that some of these commands will need to be enabled in your Skills tab in the Amazon Alexa app
1. Alexa, play David Bowie.
Purchase streaming music on Amazon then stream it right to the excellent Bluetooth speaker in the Echo. Your Echo can also play content from Amazon Prime, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Audible and Kindle Books. So, pretty much anything. All without draining my phone battery or using up data.
2. Alexa, when’s the next time we’ll have a Saturn and Jupiter conjunction?
You can ask Alexa to look up any info you’re curious about, like sports schedules and scores; who won the Golden Globe for best actor in 2020; or which year Cleopatra was born.
3. Alexa, set timer for 10 minutes.
4. Alexa, start 7 minute workout.
The results offer simple exercises like jumping jacks and sit ups, but maybe this Amazon Echo command will get you moving — or your kids — especially if you tend to get stuck indoors during the winter months.
5. Alexa, play NPR.
I love how easy it is to catch up on the news in the morning, since Alexa plays streaming radio on request. Just enable the NPR Alexa skill, NPR News Now for a quick catch-up on recent events, The Weather Channel, or possibly even your local news station.
6. Alexa, what’s traffic like right now?
Alexa can tell you the roads to avoid on your morning commute, which is especially nice if you don’t want to wait ten minutes for a traffic report on your local station. You can even get the estimated time of your drive! If you live in a major metro area, check out out Total Traffic for pretty much any big city in the US.
7. Alexa, turn on my humidifier. Check the air quality. Or turn off my bedroom light.
Alexa can connect to any WeMo Smart Switch enabled outlet, ecoBee smart thermostat (above), Ring Smart Video Doorbell (keep an eye o those holiday deliveries outside your front door!), and similar smart home devices. Name it according to what’s plugged in there, and Alexa it will turn on and off for you.
8. Alexa, I need a recipe for homemade mint chip ice cream. And add eggs to my grocery list.
Alexa will provide measurement conversions (Alexa, how many cups are in a pint?), add ingredients to your shopping list, and even give you step-by-step recipes for so many dishesusing the top-rated Recipe Keeper skill. Users love it for its ability to sync all your favorite recipes across multiple devices, and even sort them by category like chicken, cheese, vegetarian, breakfast. You also even tell Alexa to set your Instant Pot Smart Cooker to a certain temperature for that Instant Pot Veggie Curry recipe you’ve been craving.
9. Alexa, how many calories are in this pint of mint chip ice cream?
Ask her questions…but be sure you want to know the answers.
10. Alexa, what wine goes with a mint chip ice cream?
11. Alexa, forget wine. Find my Starbucks coffee.
Using Find My Coffee – Starbucks At Home skill, you can take a fun quiz, learn your flavor profile, then have your new favorite beans added to your Amazon cart and delivered right to your home.
12. Alexa, play Bingo.
Download some free printable bingo cards, like these from Aspen Jay, and ask Alexa to join you for an easy family fun night. Unfortunately, she won’t pop the popcorn for you — unless you have a popcorn popper hooked up to a WeMo, actually. (Bonus: For a more advanced game, try Alexa, Open Escape the Room for six fun Escape Room games of different levels. There are even walk-throughs and hints if you get stuck.)
13. Alexa, what’s the pollen level today? And will it rain?
Wondering whether to pop an allergy pill or bring an umbrella to work? The Weather Channel is a favorite skill of ours, especially with the weather as wonky as it’s been. You can find out the current temperature, the highs and lows, the pollen count, the UV index and of course, any chance of rain or slow.
14. Alexa, how do I poach an egg? Jump start my car? Get six-pack abs?
The WikiHow Alexa skill is packed with info about nearly anything. Really. If you know the site, then you know.
15. Alexa, what would my mortgage be on that $12mm house on Zillow?
If you’re a Zillow dream shopper (sigh), the Mortgage Calculator skill can help you calculate the monthly principal and interest payment based on numbers you provide. Also helpful if you’re trying to figure out whether you should refi.
16. Alexa, what are the best Black Friday deals?
Find out the best Black Friday deals on Amazon and beyond–Target, Macy’s Best Buy and more. Just be sure that if you’ve turned Voice Purchasing off, you’ve got it turned back on if you want to shop. (And of course, we always hook you up with the best Black Friday deals here, too!)
17. Alexa, reorder dog food.
When you empty the last bit of dog food (or AAA batteries or bulk paper towels), just shout out for Alexa to add it to your shopping cart on Amazon. In fact, you can add any purchase from your recent Prime shopping history– so no, your kids can’t order a new PS4 without you knowing.
18. Alexa, turn down the lights.
19. Alexa, what’s on my calendar today?
With this Alexa skill, she’ll search through connected calendars in the app, like your Google Calendar, and pull up your day’s activities while you’re making your cup of coffee in the morning. Nice to remember oh…those 400 things parents have to do every day. You might even get a helpful reminder to sign that permission slip that you’d otherwise have forgotten if you didn’t check that morning.
20. Alexa, add “call the dentist” (or, anything else) to my to-do list.
Voila, you’ve now got a reminder saved. While you can use the Alexa app as your daily to-do list, it now offers more comprehensive integration with popular apps like Todoist so you’re not managing multiple lists.
21. Alexa, read my book.
When Amazon Echo is connected to your Audible account, a number of Alexa voice commands allow you to hear any book read to you through the speaker. You can pick up front where you left off, skip chapters, pause, resume — and even change books if this one isn’t doing it for you.
It’s not just audiobooks by the way — Alexa will now read books from your Kindle library. While I wouldn’t use it as an alternative to hearing Dave Grohl read his memoir, it could be helpful for certain non-fiction books. like reference materials or cookbooks, where the narrator’s own voice isn’t essential.
22. Alexa, read the New York Times parenting column….
Alexa can also read articles — say ones you’ve saved through the Pocket app, which is a great way to save things you mean to come back to. And now it’s even easier!
23. Alexa, Simon says…
Alexa will repeat whatever you say immediately following “Simon says,” which is a really fun trick to play on your kids. Especially if you use the Echo’s remote control from another room and suddenly they hear Alexa say, kids, take the trash out. I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces.
24. Alexa, begin Dungeon Adventure!
This super popular Alexa skill is a digital fantasy RPG, as you might have guessed from the name. Alexa is the dungeon master, and you are…whoever you want to be. You get to fight monsters, cast spells, drink potions, track down gold, go on quests, purchase items to help you fight bigger monsters..so much fun! You don’t even have to buy 20-sided dice, because Alexa rolls it for you.
25. Alexa, open Name the Movie
You film fans will love this skill, which gives you four questions to help you…guess a movie title! The levels can get harder too, which is fun for families with older kids who’ve moved beyond the latest Disney release.
26. Alexa, star Trivia Battle!
If you’ve got a family who enjoys a little friendly competition, the Trivia Battle Alexa skill is a great thing you can do with your Amazon Echo. You’re even competing against everyone in your state for rankings. So this is serious business!
27. Alexa, what happened on this day in history?
28. Alexa, what Chinese restaurants are nearby?
Now you can support your favorite local restaurants through Alexa. Or, ask Alexa whether the local bakery is open right now. Because any time is a good time for croissants. Or sesame noodles. Or tacos. Or…
29. Alexa, how am I doing on my steps?
Ordering in lots of Chinese? Maybe it’s time to get out. The Fitbit skill for Alexa lets you check on how you’re doing, how well you’ve slept, track your heart rate, even start an exercise session. Just hook it up to your Fitbit, of course. (That Fitbit Inspire 3 is calling my name!)
30. Alexa, tell a Dad joke.
She’ll tell you one, but we won’t guarantee it will be a good one.
31. Alexa, roll the dice.
This is one of my favorite cool skills you can do with Amazon Echo. It’s perfect for those games that are missing dice, or for younger kids who can’t manage to roll dice without knocking over all the game pieces on the board. (And FYI for all you gamer geeks out there, Alexa will roll 10-sided, 20-sided, and other dice too.)
32. Alexa, add milk to my grocery list.
Using AnyList, Lisa’s favorite meal-planning helper, Alexa will add items to your grocery list. That way, when you hit the store, you can just check the app on your phone and everything is right there. Genius!
33. Alexa, read us a bedtime story.
Use the Short Bedtime Story skill by Webguild to –you guessed it — read your kids a bedtime story. You can even personalize the story, so Alexa reads right to your own kids. Of course it’s no substitute for you reading your kids a story, but it is a pretty cool thing that Alexa can do. Especially if you listen together.
34. Alexa, tell Sleep Sounds to play some white noise.
If you don’t already have an app like Calm, start a white noise machine using Alexa. Try Sleep and Relaxation Sounds — ocean sounds are a favorite for me, though there are also options like a fireplace, rainstorm, wind chimes, or a babbling brook.
35. Alexa, ask for a fart.
No, I have not told my kids about this one yet. But then, they probably knew it before you did.
36. Alexa, trigger “find my phone.”
Another cool thing you can do with Amazon Echo if you’re signed up for IFTTT, is to link it to your Amazon account and download any of the dozens of recipes for Alexa. That includes Find My Phone, send a voice email or SMS to someone, or print your shopping list.
37. Alexa, send a text message
Using the Alexa app on Android (sorry iPhone users!) it’s easy to use SMS to send “see you Friday” to a friend in your contact list. Even while you’re busy with your hands in the sink
38. Alexa, make a phone call.
Use Alexa to make a phone call, or call other Echo devices around your house so you can use it like an intercom system.
39. Alexa, more cowbell.
Questions and statements to try include Alexa, to be or not to be? And, Alexa, rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock. There are dozens! Movie fans might try Alexa, use the force! Or Alexa, who shot first?
40. Alexa, we need a dinner conversation topic.
Need something new to discuss at family dinner? Try a few rounds of Would You Rather? with the Either/Or skill. Don’t worry, it’s G-rated.
41. Alexa, open up The Magic Door.
Try this popular choose-your-own adventure skill as you journey through fantasy worlds filled with gnomes, princesses, wise wizards and witches.
42. Alexa, I want to play Earplay.
These are interactive story-based games for adults and teens (think film-noir mystery) that let you also choose your own adventure as the story progresses.
43. Alexa, where can I fly for $300?
Thanks to the MyVoiceTravel there are all kinds of ways that Alexa can help you plan a vacation, track a flight, compare prices and more.
44. Alexa, I need to meditate.
These days, we’re all big fans of mindfulness enabled by tech. Which is less ironic than it sounds. Use Alexa to access Guided Meditation through Stop, Breathe, Think, which is a favorite of ours. Besides, quieting our minds, if only for a moment, is something we could all use more of these days.