If you have ever owned an Amazon Echo smart speaker or other Alexa-enabled devices, you're already familiar with the basic vocal commands that you can issue to Alexa and what the virtual assistant can do for you. You know that you can use Alexa to play music, get news bulletins and updates, control your smart home devices, and even set timers and reminders. However, while you may have heard about Alexa Skills, you may not really know how powerful they can be.
Historically, it has been challenging to wade through the thousands of Alexa Skills to find useful ones, and even more difficult to remember which skills you'd already enabled...
We've taken a lot of the guesswork out of finding great Alexa Skills and compiled them into this list for your quick and easy reference. This list is by no means exhaustive or comprehensive, but hopefully, it'll help you try new Alexa Skills so you can truly get the most out of Amazon's virtual assistant. Note that any of these skills can be enabled from Amazon's website, by asking your Alexa device, or in your Alexa app. All are free to enable, though some may have in-skill purchase options.
The best News and Entertainment Alexa Skills
You can find news and entertainment skills from a wide variety of local, national, and international media outlets such as NPR, ESPN, and The Weather Channel, not to mention Hulu, Disney, and game shows like Jeopardy. Set up a Flash Briefing or add news updates to custom Alexa Routines. Whatever your preferred source, chances are there's an Alexa Skill for it.
NPR, or National Public Radio, is one of the most recognized and trusted news sources in the U.S. Mostly funded by donations and grants, the organization focuses on in-depth reporting on politics, science, social, and cultural issues facing Americans.
The NPR Alexa Skill allows users to stream a live feed from their local NPR station or any station they set as their default in the Alexa app or by asking Alexa. Users can ask for specific programming such as Morning Edition, and they can skip past stories they don't want to hear by asking Alexa to skip.
The ESPN skill plugs you right into the action of ESPN's radio network. You can listen to specific programs and hosts or peek into live programming. There are also ESPN Alexa Skills for flash briefings, and many ESPN radio stations have their own skills. This skill is particularly easy to enable with just your voice. Simply ask Alexa to "Play ESPN Radio," and you'll be basking in sports highlights in no time.
The Weather Channel
The official Weather Channel Alexa Skill can give you the temperature, weather, and allergy forecasts in your area, as well as provide updates on the Coronavirus outbreak and much more. On Echo Show and Fire TV devices, you also get live radar and weather maps.
This Day in History
Even if you're not a history buff, this is a fun Alexa Skill to have in your quiver. Each day the History Channel delivers new updates based on what happened on — you guessed it — this day in history. You can request the update at any time or build it into your morning flash briefing. You can also skip to specific dates by asking Alexa something like, "Alexa, ask This Day in History what happened on May 2nd," for example.
This Alexa Skill is perfect for the little ones in your life. Alexa channels Disney characters that can read stories from Monsters, Inc., The Lion King, Frozen, and more. Some stories are free while others require a small in-skill purchase. Alternatively, Freetime Unlimited (now Amazon Kids+) subscribers have access to all of the stories as part of their subscription.
Jeopardy is one of the longest-running and most popular game shows in TV history for one main reason: it's lots of fun! The quiz show where you are given the answers and have to provide the questions is one that players of all ages can enjoy, and the game is well-suited to the Alexa Skill format. This skill is free to enable, but there are in-skill purchases available as well.
The best Health and Fitness Alexa Skills
This is one of Alexa Skills' fastest-growing categories. From guided workout routines that you can follow along with checking up on your fitness band stats, Alexa has many ways to keep you in shape and line. There are also many skills to help with holistic health, wellness, and mental well-being, such as apps for yoga, guided meditation and reflection, and skills for rest and relaxation.
With many of us spending much more time at home and away from the gym, we are looking for other ways to stay in shape. 7-Minute Workout provides a series of over 25 exercise programs from low-impact up to advanced. Best of all, you can complete them in under 10 minutes (hence the name). The skill is free to enable and offers in-skill purchases for additional workouts and reporting.
Adults aren't the only ones who need to burn off some energy now and then. Thankfully, there are fitness skills available for kids as well. Animal Workout makes exercising fun for younger kids, allowing them to pretend they're different kinds of animals while they move about. The skill is free but offers in-skill purchases that add new workouts and animal characters.
If you wear a Fitbit to monitor your basic health metrics and track your workouts, then you'll want to enable this Alexa Skill. When you connect your Fitbit account, you can ask Alexa to tell you how you're doing for the day, how you slept last night, or how many steps you've taken. What a great way to stay on track!
6-Minute Full Body Stretch
Being fit means more than just having strength and endurance. It's just as important that you stretch your muscles to prevent injury and speed up recovery. Stretching can have other therapeutic benefits as well, including helping to keep you calm and centered. With this skill, you can reap the benefits of a good stretch in the time it takes to make a pot of coffee!
Even in the best of times, life can be a bit overwhelming, but now that we're in the midst of a pandemic and other socioeconomic upheavals, we're all feeling more stressed and depressed than usual. Guided meditation has been shown to help people cope with pent up feelings and frustrations and get into a better headspace. This official Headspace skill is free to enable, and if you're a Headspace subscriber, you can follow your existing programs with Alexa or in your Headspace app.
Rain Sounds by Sleep Jar
I've been using this Alexa Skill for several years now as a white noise app to help me sleep. While you can find other Sleep Jar skills for calming sounds like thunderstorms, oscillating fans, or animals, I find the steady rhythm of a rainstorm puts me to sleep almost instantly. I even use it through the Alexa app on my smartphone when I'm away from home. Even if you don't want to use this app for sleep, it's great to block out other distracting noises to help you focus and concentrate on the task at hand. This skill is free to enable, but in-skill purchases are available for improved audio quality and enhanced looping with 10 hours of continuous playback instead of one hour with a sound gap.
The best Food Alexa Skills
Food skills are where the dream of ambient computing is realized by busy and lazy alike. You can enable numerous cooking and recipe skills to follow along with while making your next big meal, and you can even take advantage of grocery list skills so that you know what to buy for that next kitchen session. If all of that is too much work, just order something yummy from a restaurant skill or reserve a table if you want a night out.
Food Network Kitchen
The Food Network Kitchen Alexa Skill brings your favorite Food Network stars to the small screen of your Echo Show for live and on-demand cooking classes and over 80,000 recipes. You also get commercial-free access to Food Network shows and live Q&A tutorials with Food Network chefs.
Amazon has an interesting partnership with the Food Network and has been offering the Food Network Kitchen Skill and channel for free for a year with new Echo Show devices. In fact, this is a skill that works best with screened Echo devices. To enable this video skill, you will need to go to the TV & Video section within your Alexa app's Settings menu.
OurGroceries is one of the most popular shopping list apps on iOS and Android, and it's also one of the most popular Alexa food skills. You can ask Alexa to add items to your shared grocery lists, which are instantly synchronized on all of your devices, which have the OurGroceries app. It's a convenient way to keep your family grocery lists in sync while cooking or remembering a new item to add.
Interactive recipe skills and grocery lists are great, but what if you have no idea what you want to cook? That's where the Meal Idea Alexa Skill comes in to play. You can ask Alexa to give you a random meal idea or for more specifics based on the ingredients you have. Alexa will then push the idea to your Alexa app's home screen so you can decide if you want to go grocery shopping or plan for your next get-together.
This is one of my most-used Alexa Skills because of the effort to reward ratio. I can just ask Alexa to start a Domino's order and have my yummy pizza in hand shortly, or I can ask Alexa to order a saved order from my Domino's pizza profile. I can even ask Alexa to track my order's status when I'm getting impatient and hangry.
Like the Domino's Alexa Skill, with the Starbucks Reorder Skill, you can ask Alexa to reorder your favorite caffeinated beverage or pastry and have it ready and paid for when you arrive at the store. That's just about as convenient as it gets! In fact, you can actually order from between your last five previous orders. Just ask Alexa to "tell Starbucks to start my usual order."
We may not be going out to restaurants nearly as much during pandemic times, but there are still places where you can go out, practice social distancing, and enjoy a safe and healthy meal at your favorite local restaurant. You can use the OpenTable Alexa Skill to search available time slots and make a booking for you. Support local businesses and feel like a high-powered executive thanks to Alexa.
The best Productivity Alexa Skills
Alexa-enabled devices can sometimes be a distraction, but they can also keep you on track. Get Alexa to jot down an important reminder, or use a skill to find your phone if you've misplaced it. Your kids can use skills to check on their homework while you try a cleaning skill to make sure your home is as healthy as possible.
Todoist has been my favorite to-do app for more than five years. It's also one of the most popular productivity apps across just about every ecosystem. This skill syncs your daily Todoist tasks with your Alexa to-do list each morning and also syncs any tasks you add to Alexa back to Todoist. Whenever you add something to your Alexa Shopping List, it will appear in a corresponding list in Todoist, and vice versa.
Find My Phone
This Alexa Skill seems silly until you need it, and then it's the most important skill around. I've used it several times when I needed to locate where I misplaced my phone around the house (it's usually in the couch cushions). Alexa will call your phone, and then you can following the ringing, buzzing, or vibrations to location your precious smartphone.
If you're someone who regularly receives packages (like, I don't know, a tech reviewer), then this is a great Alexa Skill to enable. You can track your UPS packages and ask Alexa if any deliveries are coming your way. When you link your UPS account to the Alexa Skill, you can even track packages without a tracking number!
If you have grade school-age children, chances are you're familiar with the Canvas application for managing coursework and assignments. When you link your child's account to your Alexa app, your child can ask Alexa what homework assignments they have or if there are any new announcements from the school.
We all know what Uber is, so no need to rehash that here. However, what makes this such a great skill is that you can just ask Alexa to order you a ride rather than pulling out your phone and fiddling with the app. It's actually much more convenient when you have your hands full and/or are in a hurry.
Keeping your living space clean and tidy has always been important, but it's particularly so these days. This Alexa Skill can make cleaning fun (yes, I said fun) and help keep you on task with tips, scheduling, and even music.
The best Smart Home Alexa Skills
Amazon has the largest ecosystem of smart home products, and it even owns some of the biggest names in smart home devices like Ring, Eero, and Blink. The chances are that if you have a smart home device, there is an Alexa Skill available. From bulbs to vacuums and cars to printers, this is an area where Alexa really shines.
Ring is an Amazon company well-known for its high-quality smart cameras, doorbells, and other home security devices. When you connect your Ring account to the Alexa Skill, you'll be able to ask Alexa to show you feeds from your various cameras and arm or disarm lights and security systems. If you use the Alexa Guard feature, you can connect your Ring security system to keep you notified of alarms or security breaches.
Like Ring, Blink is another Amazon smart home security company. It makes several affordable smart home security cameras that we highly recommend, particularly if you're not a fan of its Ring products. This skill works similarly to the Ring skill in that it allows you to monitor and control your Blink cameras through Alexa.
Wyze is another manufacturer of quality, affordable smart home security technology, and this skill lets you access and control it all via Alexa. Wyze makes various indoor and outdoor cameras, lights, and even smart doorbells and door locks, all of which will work with this skill.
If you have any Eufy smart home products like lights or robot vacuums, you'll want to be sure to download this Alexa Skill. Our favorite use of this skill in my home is to ask Alexa to tell "Gene," our Eufy robot vacuum, to start cleaning (Eufy sounded like Eugene, which became Gene).
These days the smart home extends into the garage and out to the driveway, where your beloved automobile lives. Many car manufacturers have Android and iOS apps that let you do things like unlock your vehicle, start your car, or turn on the heater, and nearly as many have Alexa Skills for these functions as well. We picked Toyota here on a whim, but there are similar Alexa Skills for Audi, Ford, Chevrolet, Lexus, Genesis, Ram, and many more.
You may not have realized it, but you can ask Alexa to print things like to-do lists, recipes, or crossword puzzles as long as you have the HP Printer skill enabled. Now you don't have to go to your computer or pull out your phone. Just ask Alexa! There are similar skills for Epson and Canon printers.
The best Build Your Own Alexa Skills
One of the coolest Alexa features that almost no one knows about is Alexa Skill Blueprints. Blueprints give you the power to create your own Alexa Skills based on your devices and needs. You can create a practical Blueprint with instructions for the pet sitter or create a fun Blueprint to dish out insults to your roommate. The sky is the limit here! Amazon offers templates for you to get started, or you can create something unique!
Use this template to build out a school schedule to help keep your kids on task, whether they're going to school in person or learning remotely. You can create custom reminders for different Echo devices per class period and ask Alexa to tell you what class is next on the schedule.
No more fighting with your kids or roommates over who does which chore with this custom Alexa Skill. You can create a list of household members, assign each weekly chores, and schedule them. Then you can ask Alexa what your chores are for each day and keep track of who is doing what with a "chore score."
This skill is great for those who may have an Echo device in a guest room or may lend or rent out properties to others. You can set up the skill to let Alexa tell guests where you keep common household items, how to operate appliances, where you keep important contact information, or the Wi-Fi password! That way, they can get what they need without bugging you all the time.
Like the Houseguest Skill, this Babysitter Skill is a great way to leave important information for the sitter. They can simply ask Alexa to open My Babysitter and instantly get information like where you keep the diapers or what junior's allergies are.
If none of the official third-party fitness skills suit your needs, no problem! You can create your own with this template and ask Alexa to start your personalized workout. Best of all, you can update it at any time to keep things interesting and engaging.
Build Your Own!
We've highlighted several of Amazon's Skill Blueprint templates, but the beauty of these Blueprints is that you can make them into just about whatever you want. For example, I built one to compliment my wife, which is particularly useful when I've done something stupid (which is frequently).
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.