Amazon Echo

Alexa is the beating heart of the Amazon Echo and the platform upon which all of its abilities — called Skills — are based on. Skills are what let your Echo do all kinds of things like turn on your lights, control your WiFi and tell you what's happening in the world today, but for most Skills, you need to enable them before they will work.

Products used in this guide

  • Buy the cornerstone of the Alexa ecosystem: Amazon Echo ($100 at Amazon)
  • Set up and control Alexa with its dedicated app: Amazon Alexa (Free at Google Play)

How to enable a new Alexa Skill

  1. Open the Alexa app on your phone.
  2. Swipe in from the left edge of the screen to open the menu.
  3. Select Skills & Games from the sidebar menu.

    OpenSwipe inSkills and Games

  4. Select your desired skill.
  5. Tap on Enable to Use.


Finding skills for Alexa is as easy as just searching for them. If you know specifically what you're trying to find type its name in the search box and you should see it front of you.

The Alexa app does a decent job at highlighting interesting skills you might want to try, too. When it comes to connecting your smart home devices you'll have specific requirements, but there's a lot out there that isn't related to home automation.

Did you know you can play a version of Skyrim on your Amazon Echo?!

How to turn off an Alexa Skill

If you enable a skill but don't end up liking it, you can turn it off so it doesn't interfere with any other Skills on your Echo device.

  1. Open the Alexa app on your phone.
  2. Swipe in from the left edge of the screen to open the menu.
  3. Select Skills & Games from the sidebar menu.
  4. Tap Your Skills.

    Swipe inSkills and GamesYour Skills

  5. Tap the Skill you wish to disable.
  6. Tap on Disable Skill to remove the skill.
  7. Tap Disable and your skill will be removed.


Showcase your Alexa Skills

Skills work on all Amazon Echo smart speakers and smart displays, but they can also work with a wide variety of peripherals, too, such as Alexa Skills for Ring cameras, Philips Hue lights, and more.

The Star

Amazon Echo

The brawn of this set up.

The Amazon Echo is the key to utilizing the skills that you set up in the Amazon Alexa application. Beyond the skills, it's capable of streaming music and managing your smart home.

At $100, the Amazon Echo is an solid option for families looking to ease into the smart speaker space. It's got a bigger sound than the compact Echo Dot while being less expensive and showy than the Echo Show and Echo Plus. If you're looking for something simple with a lot of potential while you figure out if the Alexa ecosystem is the one for you, the regular Echo is your best bet.

Got Skills?

Amazon Alexa App

The brains behind the Echo brawn.

The Amazon Alexa application is the nerve center for getting up and running with Amazon Echo and the Alexa skills and features that make the speaker smart and useful.

Whether you're setting up new Echo devices, adding new skills and content sources, or adjusting the content settings for your child's FreeTime profile, the Alexa app is where you can come for a one-stop settings experience.

Alternative Options

The regular Echo isn't the only Alexa speaker to choose from anymore, and in fact Alexa isn't limited to speakers alone anymore! Here are some other options if you want to go deeper into the Alexa ecosystem.

Amazon Echo Plus ($150 at Amazon)

The Echo Plus integrates a Zigbee smart device hub into the device, allowing for a single product solution for all your smart home devices.

Amazon Echo Show ($230 at Amazon)

If you want an Echo with a screen, the Echo Show is the choice for you.

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