How to set up an Amazon Echo

Tyler Lacoma

Congratulations, you’ve got yourself an Amazon Echo device. You’ll be on your way to asking the voice assistant Alexa stupid questions in no time! This hands-free, voice-controlled speaker can do so much more than meets the eye.

Enabled with Alexa, the Echo can respond to voice commands and play your music, read you audiobooks, report the weather, break down the news, and so much more. With seven built-in microphones, the Echo is designed to hear your voice commands no matter where you are in the room, even if there’s background noise or there’s music playing. Excited to get started? Here’s how to set up your brand-new Amazon Echo, so you can start asking Alexa to tell you jokes.

Step 1: Download the Alexa App

The free Alexa app is a must-have if you’re the owner of an Amazon Echo. You’ll need it to get your Echo device set up. Download it on any smartphone or tablet with iOS 9.0 or higher, Android 5.0 or higher, or Fire OS 3.0 or higher. Simply open up the app store that comes with your device and search “Alexa app.” Downloading the app on a computer? Make sure you’re connected to Wi-Fi, then visit the Amazon Alexa website to download it.

Step 2: Plug in the Echo

This is probably the easiest step in the whole set-up process, as the Echo doesn’t require any batteries in order to function. Simply plug the included power adapter directly into the Echo, then hook it up to a power outlet. When the light ring turns blue, that means the power is connected. Then, wait for it to turn orange, as this is a sign that Alexa is preparing to greet you. When that is done, you’ll hear Alexa’s voice telling you the device is ready for set-up.

Step 3: Connect the Echo to Wi-Fi via the app

Next, you’ll need to connect your Echo device to your home Wi-Fi network. The latest versions of the Echo should guide you through this process. However, if you get stuck, simply open up the Alexa app and search through the available networks until you find yours. If you have multiple Echo devices, make sure you go to Alexa Devices in the menu and choose the right device. Under the Wireless heading, you should be able to see the state of the Wi-Fi network connection.

Once you’re connected, you have the option of saving your Wi-Fi password to Amazon, which makes it easy to connect to smart home devices or set up a new Alexa device on the same network — should you decide to purchase more Echoes for other rooms. You also have the choice of connecting your Echo to a public network, although the password won’t be saved on Amazon.

Step 4: Start talking to Alexa

To get started, say the wake word, which by default is “Alexa.” But maybe there’s already a human Alexa in the house and you want to change the wake word to something else? Simply tell the Echo, “Alexa, change the wake word.” You can also change the wake word manually by opening up the Alexa app, tapping help and feedback, and selecting change the wake word. Currently, you can change the Echo to respond to “Echo,” “Amazon,” and “Computer.” No word on when Amazon will allow you to customize Alexa so you can call her “Mr. T,” “Honey Bunny,” or “Jelly McJerkface.”

Step 5: Start using your Echo

Congratulations, your Amazon Echo is all set up and ready to be used in your day-to-day life. To make sure everything’s working properly, you can conduct a simple test by trying out a few basic commands. For example, say the wake word and “Hello.” If your Echo is properly set up, Alexa should respond with a simple “Hello” in return.

But the Echo can do much more than greet you. In the Alexa app menu, you will see two sections called Skills & Games and Things to Try. These are both excellent ways to see what Alexa is capable of. Skills in particular can help you customize Alexa by giving her certain abilities–think of them as mini-apps from many different creators that you can use for entertainment, organization, news, and much more.

You can start using your Echo device to make to-do lists, find out the weather, check on traffic conditions, call your friends, send text messages to your family, stream podcasts, or connect smart home devices. Alexa has thousands of essential and not-so-essential skills you can add, too. Check out some of the most useful things that the Amazon Echo can help you do.

Optional Step 6: Connect smart home devices or an external speaker

Alexa Smart Devices

Head to your Alexa app menu, and select Smart Home (Alexa may show you an ad at this point, which you can exit out of). In this mode, Alexa will try to find any nearby and connected smart devices so you can pair them up. You can also choose to Add Device if Alexa is having trouble locating the device you have in mind. You can also organize devices into Groups here, and create more complex Scenes where multiple devices interact at once. Check out our post on Routines for more information.

The Amazon Echo can play also play music, and the sound quality has only improved with the second generation model. To ensure you’re getting a top-notch listening experience when you jam out to music or listen to audiobooks, you have the option of hooking up an external speaker to your Echo device. For best results, get a Bluetooth speaker that’s certified to be compatible with Echo devices. Keep in mind that your Echo can only connect to one Bluetooth device at a time, so if there’s already unit already connected to your Echo, you’ll need to un-sync them before you can connect your external speaker.