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(Pocket-lint) - Your Amazon Echo device has just arrived and you might have glanced at the quick-start guide in the box from Amazon, but beyond the basic setup, do you know the first things you should do with your new Echo? 

Alexa is the virtual assistant inside Amazon Echo devices - for a briefing on how Alexa works, check out What can Alexa do? 

We're about to run through our list of the top things to do to get started, but first check out this video for the basic steps including the initial set up with the Alexa app: 


Set up Echo with the Alexa app or a web browser

As we mentioned, your Amazon Echo guide will tell you to download the Alexa app from the App Store or Google Play.

Once in the app, click Devices and then the + icon in the top-right. This part of the app has got a little more complex in recent times as the number of Alexa-capable devices (and what they can do) has exploded. 

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Tap on Add Device, then select what type of device it is (usually Amazon Echo). Finally, select the right option from the list of Echo devices. 

Alternatively, you can use this website to set up a new device, whether that's setting up your Echo in the first place or adding other devices or services at a later date. 

Set a default music service on Amazon Echo

With a speaker built into the Echo, many people buy an Echo for music. Out of the box, your Amazon Echo will have access to your Amazon music library - in other words, anything you've purchased from Amazon and, if you have a subscription, Amazon Prime music or the Amazon Music Unlimited subscription service.

There's also the ability to connect the Echo to your Spotify, Deezer or Apple Music account, so you don't have to use Amazon's music service. You can select the default music service you want, meaning music will always be played from that account.

To do that, open the Alexa app, go to More > Settings > Music & Podcasts (under Alexa preferences) and change your default music and profanity filter at the bottom. 

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It's also worth noting that your Amazon Echo will read books to you by simple commands "Alexa, read my book" for Audible playback or "Alexa, read my Kindle book" for reading your Kindle library.

Fine-tune your Amazon Echo flash briefing and news

"Alexa, play my flash briefing" or "Alexa, play the news" will start your Amazon Echo reciting news updates.

Under Settings > News you can pick from a range of different news services including BBC News, Sky News, CNBC News and more. This will select a default news service to deliver your news.

Or you can select the content for the flash briefing which will deliver news from a range of different sources, like weather and sport. You can find those settings on the page above too.

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Sync Alexa with your Google, iCloud or Outlook Calendar

Your Amazon Echo is pretty handy at helping you keep on top of your to-do list, but it's also able to help you manage your day-to-day activities. By connecting to your Google, iCloud or Outlook calendars you can get Alexa to check what's happening today or at a specific hour on a day in the future.

To do this simply go to Settings > Calendar in the app. You'll need to authorise access to your calendar, but otherwise, setup is easy. You can also choose a default calendar for Alexa to add events to. 

Download more Alexa skills 

Alexa is pretty smart and there's a lot of things it can help out with, but you can further improve the usefulness of your Amazon Echo by adding relevant skills.

You can browse through them in the Alexa app or on the Amazon website as you can see here: 

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Skills are essentially plugins that allow you to do a variety of things. Just pop into the skills section and search for anything that fit your needs.

You can find some ideas of other skills that are fun to try in our Amazon Echo tips and tricks article. You can even do things like connecting your Fitbit to see how well you slept last night or how many steps you've taken throughout the day.

Connect Alexa to smart home devices

It might seem obvious, but Alexa is compatible with a range of different smarthome devices, giving you the power to control everything from your heating to your lighting if you have suitable technology in your home.

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Activate and connect the relevant Smart Home skills in the interface to get started. Alexa gives you the power to control all sorts of things like full control of your Philips Hue lighting or adjusting the heating on your Nest Thermostat.

We have a full guide on setting up an Alexa smart home right here.

Change your Echo wake word

This one isn't necessarily essential, but you might find it handy especially if you have someone called "Alex" living in your house.

Under each Echo device's settings, you can choose to change the wake word to something else, though the choice is pretty limited. Alas, there's no option for "Hal", but you can get your mini sci-fi nerdgasm by changing it to "computer". Other wake words include "Alexa", "Echo" or "Amazon".

You'll have to change the wake word for each independant Echo device.

Adjust media and alarm volumes

If you're struggling to hear Alexa or if music playback is too loud then you can press the buttons on the top of the Echo adjust to your preference. Alternatively "Alexa, turn it up", "Alexa, reduce the volume" or other similar commands will quickly and easily change the media volume too.

Voice commands also change the volume on a number basis with 10 being the loudest. We'd highly recommend setting an alarm volume you're confident will be loud enough to wake you up if that's what you intend to use it for.

Restrict Alexa voice purchasing from Amazon

By default, Amazon Echo devices are all set up to allow easy purchasing of products directly from Amazon. As if it's not dangerous enough being able to get a pizza delivered to your door by just using your voice, you can easily have a range of far more expensive products ordered with just a few mutterings.

To prevent family members breaking your bank account or accidentally ordering unwanted goods you can follow our guide to restricting voice purchasing using a pin

Multi-room music playback

The Amazon Echo supports multi-room audio, which is a great addition to Alexa's skill set and means you can listen to your favourite tunes throughout the house.

If you're lucky enough to have several Amazon Echos then check out our guide on how to set up and play music on multiple Amazon Echo devices.


Home Security Week (8-12 August) in association with Ezviz. Find all the latest content on our hub.

A global leader in smart home security, EZVIZ is dedicated to building next-level security solutions powered by intelligent video, advanced AI and cloud infrastructure. With footprint in 130+ countries, we've been trusted by millions of families who enjoy visual protection and tangible joy provided by our products.

Writing by Adrian Willings and Dan Grabham. Editing by Britta O'Boyle.