If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re going to have at least one conversation with a digital assistant today. Whether it’s Google Assistant, Siri, or Alexa, many of us have come to rely on these voice-activated AIs so much they almost feel like a part of the family. In the case of Alexa, that kinship is helped along by how conversational and customizable Amazon has made the voice behind its Echo smart speakers and displays.
Not only can you use your Echo to answer questions, control your smart home devices, and master your media playback, but you can combine all of these tasks and more into Routines. These multi-step, programmable actions can be created using a massive number of variable in Amazon’s Alexa app. Today, we’ll be focusing on the final step of running a routine: how Alexa responds to you.
Sure, you can just let her give her standard “Ok” response, but that’s boring. Instead, why not create a response like the one I use for my Solar Flare Routine? This hyperbolic-sounding command turns up all of the lights around my desk to max brightness for when I need to do detailed work. But the best part is when Alexa says “Shade thine eyes!” every time I run it. Want to know how to pull off some equally nerdy tricks? Read on.
How to change Alexa’s response to routines
- Materials needed: A smartphone with the Alexa app installed, any Echo smart speaker or smart display
Step 1: Open the Alexa app and create a new routine, or edit an existing one
Either create a new routine (by tapping the + at the top right of the Routines page) or open one of your existing routines. In both cases, you’ll need to tap on the last of the three primary options: Add Action. This section allows you to add smart home functions, briefings, communications actions, media controls, and much more. Most important, it’s also the section where you can control how Alexa responds when you run the Routine you’re editing.
Step 2: Open the Alexa Says menu
Within this section, you’ll need to find the option named Alexa Says. This controls what Amazon’s digital assistant will say each and every time you run this routine, usually from whatever smart speaker or smart display you’re speaking to.
Step 3: Choose your response phrase
Within this menu, you’ll be able to choose from a wide selection of premade responses Alexa can give anytime you activate a Routine. These range from simple options like “Good morning” or “Good night” to having Alexa tell you a joke or a fun fact to welcoming you home at the end of a long day. There’s also a section called “Phrases” (seen above), where you can find more event-specific options for each of the aforementioned scenarios as well as for occasions like birthdays. Any of these are available for any Routine you’d like to create or edit.
Step 3a (optional): Create your own response
If none of the pre-made responses suit your needs or if you just want to get creative or prank your family and friends, you may want to customize your own response. To do this, simply tap the Customized option on the Alexa Says screen and type in what you’d like Alexa to say in response. Your response can be any phrase up to 250 characters. If you’re wondering (let’s be real, you are wondering), you can’t make Alexa curse. Any profanities you use will be bleeped out. Aside from the character cap and self-censorship, the only limit is your creativity.
Step 4: Confirm your chosen response and save your Routine
Once you’ve entered your chosen response and hit the Next button, you’ll see the Confirm screen shown above. This will give you one last look at exactly what Alexa will say before adding the response to your Routine. If you’d like to change something about it, you can go back using the < in the top left of the display. If you’re happy with it, tap Next (circled in red) to return to the main page of the Routine you’re editing. Once you’re there, just remember to hit Save (on the top-right of the display) if you were creating a new routine, or hit the < (if you were editing an existing routine) before exiting the app. Doing this saves your new response to the Routine.
Note: it sometimes takes up to a minute before any new Routines or edited Routines will play correctly from your Echo smart speakers and displays.
More: How to change Alexa’s voice