Amazon’s Echo, reviewed, is a brilliant device which gets more useful if you add more skills, especially those which can control your smart home gadgets such as lights, heating and more. Here’s how to set up Amazon Echo and Alexa.

In brief:

  1. Connect your Echo's power supply
  2. Install the Amazon Alexa app
  3. Connect your phone/tablet to your Echo's Wi-Fi network
  4. Switch to the app and choose Set up a new device
  5. If prompted, enter your Amazon username and password
  6. Select your Wi-Fi network and enter its password
  7. The Alexa assistant is ready to use

After unboxing your Echo – or Echo Dot, the instructions are the same – remove the plastic protection from the unit and its power supply and plug it into the wall. The USB connector goes in the back of the Echo Dot and into a recess on the underside of the Echo.

How to set up Amazon Echo

The unit will start up and tell you to use the app to complete the setup. So if you haven’t already done so, install the Amazon Alexa app on your Android, iOS or Amazon Fire phone or tablet.

You will need to sign in with your Amazon account (you have one of those, right?) as your Echo won’t be usable without one. You don’t need an Amazon Prime account, but you’ll miss out on a few features.

Switch from the app to your device’s settings and look for your new Echo in the list of Wi-Fi networks. Tap on it and it will connect since no password is required.

Now switch back to the Alexa app. If it doesn’t automatically start the process, tap on the three horizontal lines and choose Settings > Set up a new device. You may see existing Amazon devices in the list because Alexa is now available on the Fire TV and some Fire tablets.

You may be asked to sign into your Amazon account and accept Alexa’s terms and conditions. One is that recordings of your voice (when you invoke Alexa) are sent to Amazon’s servers for processing. You can’t use an Echo without accepting them. Also see: Amazon Echo Show

When prompted, select your home Wi-Fi network from the list and enter its password. The Echo will now disconnect from your phone and connect to your Wi-Fi network. Your phone or tablet should automatically reconnect to the same network.

Assuming your router has an internet connection, Alexa should announce that she is ready to go.

Note: if you have more than one Echo device, each has to be set up the same way. The closest one to you will respond automatically.

By default, the wake word is Alexa, but you can change this to Amazon or Echo by going into the settings in the Alexa app. You can’t choose your own wake word.

To start, try saying “Alexa, what’s the time?” and she should respond.

How to set up Amazon Echo

In order to make her useful, you should set your location in the Alexa app. To do this, swipe right to show the menu, tap Settings, tap on your Echo device under ‘Alexa Devices’ then set the location and ensure the time is correct. Here you can also change the wake word and the Wi-Fi network to which your Echo connects if you ever need to (or just hold the Action button on top of your Echo for five seconds).

It’s also on this menu page you can change the units of measurement for weather forecasts and distance.

Under the main menu in the Alexa app you will also see a Things To Try section which is a good introduction to Alexa’s capabilities. However, for a full guide see How to use Alexa and add Skills.

Plus, we’ve also complied a wonderful list of funny things you can say to Alexa.