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Kim's column

5 frustrating Amazon Alexa and Echo settings to update

If you have an Amazon Echo at home, you need to dive into the privacy settings.

There are a few important things to lockdown. Don’t forget to turn off voice purchasing if you never use that feature, or at least set up a PIN. Tap or click here for steps, along with four other vital security steps.

While you’re in your Amazon account, I recommend you opt-out of Amazon Sidewalk. This shared neighborhood network sounds good in theory, but I’ve said “No thanks” for now.

Then it’s time to tackle your Echo’s annoying habits. With just a few setting changes, you’ll like Alexa a whole lot more. 

1. Switch on Follow-Up Mode

This one is all about saving time. Instead of having to get Alexa’s attention for each and every request, you can shortcut the process with Follow-Up Mode.

After it follows your first command (like, “Alexa, turn on the hall light”), wait for Alexa to say, “OK.” Then, fire off your next command (“Turn on the bedroom light”) and you’re good to go. After you’re done, say “Stop,” “Thank you” or “Go to sleep” to stop Alexa from waiting for further commands.

Follow-Up Mode is off by default. To turn it on:

  • Open the Amazon Alexa app and tap Devices at the bottom of the screen.
  • Choose the device you want to use this feature on, then scroll down. Under “General,” tap Follow-Up Mode.
  • Slide the toggle next to Follow-up Mode to the right to enable the feature.

Keep in mind, this mode won’t work if:

  • Audio is playing. If you tell Alexa to turn on a light, play a song and then give another command, it won’t follow that third command.
  • Alexa doesn’t recognize your voice as talking to her. It may think your words are background noise if you don’t address it by name.
  • You end the conversation.

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2. Get rid of Hunches

The Hunches feature alerts you when any of your smart home devices are on when Alexa thinks they should be off, or the other way around. If a light is on after you’ve said “Good night, Alexa,” for example, you’ll get an alert.

If you find those suggestions intrusive instead of helpful, just switch off the Hunches feature.

You can do it just with your voice. Say, “Alexa, disable Hunches” and you’re good to go.

If you prefer, you can turn this off in the app:

  • Open the Amazon Alexa app. Tap More at the bottom of the screen to open the menu.
  • Tap Settings.
  • Scroll down to the “Alexa Preferences” section and select Hunches.
  • Tap the settings icon in the corner. Here you can toggle Hunches on or off.

 3. Better voice recognition

How often do you hear your speaker say something like, “Sorry, I didn’t quite get that”? It can be frustrating if you have to repeat yourself multiple times.

To help Alexa out and save yourself the frustration, create a voice profile.

  • Open the Alexa app. Tap the More button and select Settings.
  • Tap Your Profile > Voice.
  • Select Continue, say the on-screen phrase out loud and you’re good to go.

Still having trouble? Try this: Whenever you give a command, you can ask Alexa to tell you what it heard. This feature is a great way to pinpoint the places where your Echo slips up.

GET MORE: Top 20 Alexa commands you’ll wish you knew before

 4. Say no to ratings

Sometimes, Alexa will ask you to rate your past Amazon purchases. It can be unnerving to suddenly get this request — especially if Alexa’s asking you about something you bought a long time ago.

Here’s how to shut it down:

  • Open your Alexa app and tap More > Settings.
  • Tap on Notifications.
  • From there, hit Amazon Shopping and toggle the Requests to rate Purchases setting to off.

 5. End the repetition game

Alexa often repeats you to make sure she understands. If you say, “What’s 34 minus 13?” you’ll hear the entire equation back before you get the answer. This copycat routine gets old fast.

To stop Alexa from verbally repeating every command, follow these steps:

  • Open your Alexa app and tap More > Settings.
  • Scroll down to “Alexa Preferences” and tap Voice Responses.
  • Click the toggle to enable Brief Mode.

Speaking of keeping quiet, did you know you can text Alexa commands? Tap or click here to set up the new Text with Alexa feature. (This one is handy for pulling pranks … Not that I would know.)

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