Set it up right and it will become indispensable.

Ian Knighton/CNET

Congrats, you just got an Amazon Echo ($85 at Now what?

It’s time to unbox it and set it up. Amazon will walk you through the setup process, but it won’t clue you in to all of the settings that you should deal with first.

That’s where we come in. Here we’ll show you those crucial first settings you need to adjust so you can get the best experience out of your Alexa-enabled speaker.

Download the Alexa app

The first thing you need to do, before even plugging in the Echo, is to download the Alexa app (available on AndroidiOS, and Amazon Fire).

You can’t set up your Echo speaker or proceed with these tips without it. Beyond that, you’ll need it to adjust your Echo’s settings down the road.

Set your location

It seems obvious, but you need to set your speaker’s location to get relevant weather and traffic reports from Alexa. What’s not obvious, however, is how to do that.

In Settings, go to Devices and then select the name of your speaker — such as “Sarah’s Echo Dot ($40 at” Scroll to Device Location and tap to set it. You don’t have to given an exact address if you don’t want to — a ZIP code will suffice.

Here’s what’s tricky; you can set your location in Settings > Devices > [Your name]’s Alexa Apps and in Devices > This Device, but doing that won’t mean your Echo speaker will have the correct location.

Connect your calendar to Alexa to allow it to schedule events.

Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Link your calendar

If you want Alexa to remind you of upcoming events or help you manage your schedule, you’ll need to log in to whatever account you use for your calendar. You can choose from GoogleMicrosoftOutlook, Apple and Microsoft Exchange.

Once logged in, Alexa can create and modify events, and tell you about your upcoming ones.

Enable Follow-up Mode

Currently, you can’t ask Alexa multiple things at once, like, “What time is it and what’s the weather?” However, with Follow-up Mode, you can ask multiple questions back to back without having to say the wake word (Alexa, Computer, Echo or Amazon) each time.

So long as the blue ring light is visible on your speaker, you can keep asking questions. To enable this, go to Settings, tap your speaker’s name and scroll to Follow-up Mode.

Decide if you want to use Voice Purchasing

“Alexa, order paper towels.” With a voice command, you can tell Alexa to purchase anything on Amazon. However, you need to enable the feature first by going to Settings and scrolling down to Voice Purchasing.

This feature works like Amazon’s 1-Click purchasing, and you need to have 1-Click set up in your Amazon account to use Voice Purchasing.

For an extra layer of security, set up a Voice Code to prevent your kids or mischievous house guests from ordering stuff without your consent. A Voice Code is a 4-digit PIN you speak to Alexa to confirm your voice purchases.

If Voice Purchasing is turned off, you can still shop on products on Amazon, but they will be added to your cart and you’ll need to check out through the app or website.

Add a household member

Have multiple adults in your home with Amazon accounts? You can add household members to a single Echo device so they can all use it. Just go to Settings > Household Profile to get started.

This allows you and the other people to have a personalized experience, where each one of you has access to your own music, shopping lists, news settings and commute information.

Warning: When you add another adult to your household, that person will be able to use your credit card to make purchases. To prevent unauthorized purchases, set up a Voice Code PIN.

Now, explore what Alexa can do

Once the basic setup is done, you can start exploring all that Alexa can do. Open the Alexa App, open the menu and select Skills.

Here you can browse and search the thousands of Alexa Skills available, which range from games and trivia to educational and business apps.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the choices? Check out the first seven Alexa Skills you should enable. When you’re ready to dive in, consult our list of the 50 most useful Alexa Skills, or the complete list of all Alexa Skills. You can even make your own Alexa Skills using Alexa Skill Blueprints.


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