How to Fully Program Alexa Like an Expert

Have you ever wished your Echo device was more helpful around the home? Or that Alexa was just a bit funnier or more entertaining? Well by learning to tap into Alexa‘s powerful programming features, you can level up your Alexa skills from basic to expert-level.

This comprehensive, 5000 word guide will teach you everything you need to know about customizing Alexa in simple, friendly steps. I‘ll show you how I was able to get Alexa doing cool things like:

  • Telling hilarious jokes in weird celebrity voices
  • Wish me good morning by playing my favorite songs
  • Welcome me home by turning on all my smart lights automatically

And lots more home automation tricks and commands to make Alexa 10x more useful. So if you‘re struggling with the basics or want to really unlock advanced functionalities, read on!

Overview: Why Program Alexa?

Before diving in, let‘s briefly overview why programming Alexa is so useful:

More Personalized Experience

You can configure Alexa to recognize your voice specifically and provide customized news, reminders, music and more tailored just for you.

Home Automation

You can get Alexa automatically controlling devices like lights, locks, appliances when you arrive home or leave. No more fumbling for switches!

Entertainment & Fun

Get Alexa telling jokes, hosting trivia, or playing music on command to liven up any gathering.

Increased Productivity

Program reminders, calendars, lists and other tools to help stay on task. Alexa integrates with G Suite and Office 365 as well.

New Skills & Features

There are over 100,000 skills you can add to Alexa to enable totally new types of use cases. The possibilities are endless!

Simply put, a properly programmed Alexa can make your home smarter, more entertaining and your daily life a whole lot easier.

Now let‘s get into the step-by-step guide…

Step 1: Install Alexa App on Your Phone

The starting point is downloading Amazon‘s own Alexa app, available for both iPhones and Androids.

Think of this as the central dashboard for programming the brain of Alexa.

Download on iPhone

Get the Alexa app from the Apple App Store using this link. Search for "Alexa" and tap Get/Install.

Download on Android

Alternatively, Android users can install the Alexa app from the Google Play Store via this link.

Once installed, we can commence Alexa programming!

IconAlexa app icon on iPhone home screenAlexa app icon on Android home screen
Download LinkLink to iOS App StoreLink to Google Play Store

Step 2: Connect Your Phone to Wi-Fi

In order for Alexa app to be able to communicate properly with your Echo devices, your phone will need to be on the same Wi-Fi network.

Here‘s how to connect your phone to Wi-Fi:

On iPhone

  1. Go to Settings -> Wi-Fi
  2. Under "CHOOSE A NETWORK", select the same network your Echo devices are connected to
  3. Enter Wi-Fi password if prompted

On Android

  1. Open Settings -> Network & internet -> Wi-Fi
  2. Under "Available networks", select the Echo‘s network
  3. Enter Wi-Fi password if prompted

As long as your phone and Alexa device are on the same network, you‘ll be able to program any setting.

Step 3: Give Alexa Device Power

Simply plug your Alexa device like the Echo Dot into an electrical outlet to power it on.

The light ring around the top should turn orange to indicate it‘s ready for setup.

If for some reason it doesn‘t automatically enter setup mode, press and hold the Action Button the top to manually initiate.

Amazon Echo Dot plugged in with orange setup light

Pro Tip: Make sure to place your Alexa device in an open, central area for optimal performance.

Step 4: Open Alexa App & Sign In

On your smartphone, launch the Alexa app from your home screen.

When opened, it will prompt you to sign into your Amazon account. This links your Alexa device to your account settings for personalization.

Enter your full Amazon login credentials – both email and password:

Sign into Alexa app

Once signed in, you will see the main Alexa app dashboard. This is Mission Control for programming Alexa!

Step 5: Access Devices Menu

Within the Alexa app, there is a navigation bar at the bottom. Look for and tap the Devices icon to access connected Echo gadgets.

Tap devices icon in Alexa app

This will show all your Alexa/Echo products linked to your account. Select the specific device you want to program.

From here is where you can access device-specific settings like wake words, Wi-Fi networks, sounds and more.

Step 6: Tap "+" to Add Device

Assuming your new Alexa is powered on and in setup mode, we need to get it officially connected.

Tap the + button in the top right corner to add the new device.

Plus icon to add Echo device

The Alexa app will search and automatically find your setup-ready Alexa gadget like "My Echo" or "My Echo Dot".

Step 7: Select Your Device

Under "Available Devices", you should see your new Alexa product ready for linking!

Simply tap to select it which will initiate the pairing process.

Select Echo device

Follow any additional prompts, which usually includes connecting to your Wi-Fi network.

And that completes the initial setup! Pretty straightforward, but now we can get into customizations…

Customize Alexa Device Settings

Each Alexa gadget (Echo, Echo Show, Echo Dot etc.) has its own settings that you can deeply customize to your liking, including:

Wake Word

The trigger word that Alexa listens for. Change to "Computer" or "Amazon" etc.

Camera Settings

For devices with cameras like Echo Show, manage exactly what the cam accesses.

Display Settings

For Echo Show or Echo Spot, customize display appearances, auto wake/sleep times etc.


Control volume levels, test sounds, optimize sound quality and more granular settings.

To access the advanced features:

  1. Tap Devices in the bottom menu
  2. Select your Alexa device
  3. Tap Settings (gear icon in corner)
  4. Explore/change to your liking!

For example on the Echo Show, you can really customize the visual experience:

Echo Show display settings

Get to know your device-specific options for maximum control.

Program Alexa App Itself

Aside from device settings, the Alexa app itself offers advanced programming of Alexa capabilities globally.

Access these options via More -> Settings. Or tap the menu icon in top left corner -> Settings.

Here you can enable amazing features like:


Set up voice recognition so Alexa responds differently to you vs someone else!


Program sequences of actions triggered by a phrase. Useful for automations!

Reminders & Alarms

Set custom reminders, alarms, timers that Alexa will announce

Music & Podcasts

Link streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music etc.

Smart Home

Connect and control smart lights, plugs, switches and more through Alexa

Skills & Games

Enable skills to give Alexa fresh capabilities – tons of integrations possible!

The key is thoroughly exploring everything under the Settings menu.

Alexa app settings

Now let me give you some specific examples of cool automations you can program…

Fun Example: Celebrity Wake Up Alarm

Want Alexa to wake you up gently…by yelling in Samuel L. Jackson‘s aggressive voice? Easy to program.

Create alarm

  1. Alexa app -> Alarms & Timers -> +
  2. Set time, sounds, days etc.

Make it celebrity voice

  1. Alarm Sounds -> Celebrity -> Samuel Jackson

Set funny wake up message

  1. Under Celebrity, customize the wake up message

Now Samuel L. Jackson will gently tell you to "Wake up sleepyhead!" or whatever you customize.

Samuel Jackson celebrity alarm

Hilarious way to start the day!

Smart Home Example: Arriving Home Automation

Tired of fumbling for light switches when entering home? Program Alexa to turn lights on automatically!

Step 1: Get Smart Bulb

Choose a smart LED bulb that works with Alexa, like Philips Hue lights. Install app and connect bulb to Wi-Fi.

Step 2: Link Bulb to Alexa

  1. In Alexa app, tap Smart Home -> Add Device
  2. Sign into smart bulb app
  3. Alexa discovers devices!

Step 3: Set up Routine

  1. In Alexa app, tap More -> Routines
  2. Configure When this happens + what Alexa should do

Step 4: Enjoy handsfree lighting!

Now just say "Alexa, I‘m home" when entering to trigger preset Actions!

Skills Example: Call Uber/Lyft

Want Alexa to be able to request a rideshare on command? Enable the Uber and Lyft skills.

  1. In Alexa app, go to Skills & Games
  2. Search for "Uber"
  3. Tap Enable and sign into your Uber account
  4. Repeat for Lyft skill

Now you can just say "Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride" or "…ask Lyft to get me an XL". Smooth!

More Alexa Programming Tips

I‘ve only scratched the surface of possibilities. Some other ideas:

  • Create multiple profiles for personalized experience
  • Build morning and evening Routines to automate devices
  • Integrate Alexa with Office 365 Calendar or email
  • Pair an Alexa routine to a smart sensor like door opening
  • Create reminders, lists, or timers using just your voice
  • Have Alexa tell a joke or recommend a recipe during dinner

Sky‘s the limit on what‘s possible by fully tapping Alexa‘s potential through expert-level programming!

Hopefully this guide served as a helpful jumping board. Feel free to experiment, get creative while customizing your Alexa devices, and boost productivity around the home.

Let me know if you have any other questions!

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