With Alexa ready to obey your every command, all you need to do is ask her something. But if you've just got your first Amazon Echo and are wondering exactly what to do to make it work, our guide is what you need.

Alexa can answer questions, set timers, play the radio and give you a weather forecast. You can also use many smart home gadgets with Alexa as well, which requires a bit of extra work to allow her to control them. Here's how to go about it.

To set up Alexa:

  1. Connect your Echo's power supply
  2. Install the Amazon Alexa app on your phone
  3. Tap the Devices icon, then the + symbol
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions to connect the Echo to your Wi-Fi network and enter its password
  5. Alexa is ready for you to enable skills

How to set up an Echo or Echo Dot

After unboxing your Echo remove the plastic protection, attach the power cable and plug the power supply into a mains socket.

You'll see the LED circling on top and after a short while, Alexa will 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 phone, iPhone. You can also use the Alexa app on an Amazon tablet.

You will need an Amazon account. If you don't have one, just sign up at www.amazon.co.uk/account. Without this you can't use your Echo. You don’t need an Amazon Prime subscription, but you’ll miss out on a few features, such as the ability to play music from Amazon's library. You can, however, change the default music provider by going to Settings > Music > Link New Service.

When you open the Alexa app, tap on the Devices tab (1) and then on the + symbol at the top (2).

How to set up Amazon Echo

Tap Add Device (3) and then on Amazon Echo (4).

Tap on the correct model of Echo that you've bought and you should then see something appear under AVAILABLE DEVICES on the 'Select your Amazon Echo' page. If prompted, choose the language you want it to use.

How to set up Amazon Echo

Make sure there is an orange light on your Echo. If not, you may have to reset it. The reset procedure is different for each device, so check Amazon's instructions here. However, in most cases simply press and hold the 'action' button, which is the one with a little dot on it. Hold it for about 6-10 seconds until you see the orange light.

When you have the orange light, tap Continue and then pick the Wi-Fi network you'd like it to connect to. If prompted, enter the password for the network and after a short while you'll see a screen saying "Your Echo is online".

How to set up Amazon Echo

Alexa should announce that she is ready to go. For some Echo models you'll see a final screen (above, far right) which offer help on connecting external speakers.

But you can now start using your Echo. Try saying “Alexa, what’s the time?” and she should respond with the current time.

Note: if you have more than one Echo device, each has to be set up individually in the app using the process above.

Here's a rundown of all the current Echo models, should you decide you want to have extra smart speakers around your home.

Do I have to say "Alexa"?

No, but the default wake word is Alexa. You can change this to "Amazon", "Echo" or "Computer" by going into the settings in the Alexa app. You can’t choose your own wake word.

To find the settings, tap the three horizontal bars at the top-left corner of the app and choose Settings from the menu.

In order to make her useful, you should set your location in the Alexa app. This is again under Settings, and it’s also on this menu page you can change the units of measurement for weather forecasts and distance.

You will 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. 

How do I set up an Echo Show?

If you have an Echo with a screen, you can set it up without a phone or tablet. Simply connect the power supply and follow the instructions on the screen. An on-screen keyboard lets you type in your Amazon account details and Wi-Fi password.

Note that you can swipe down from the top of the screen on an Echo Show (or Spot) to get to the settings and shortcuts. This is the fastest way to update the Wi-Fi password or network if you ever change your router.

How to set up Alexa Echo Show or Spot

Tips for using Alexa

Now your Echo is set up, you will want to know what to say. That's covered in our separate guide on how to use Alexa

She is great for the basics, but really comes into her own when paired with compatible gadgets, such as lights, thermostats, switches and more. When your hands are full, it's really useful to be able to say "Alexa, turn on the lights" when you walk into a dark room.

If Alexa can't control something directly and requires you to enable a Skill, you may need to use its name in your command.

Say you have a Nest thermostat. You can't just say "Alexa, set the heating to 20 degrees".

Instead, you need to say "Alexa, set the [name of thermostat] to 20 degrees" or "Alexa, make the [name of thermostat] warmer".

Similarly, saying "Alexa, find my keys" may not work. You might need to say "Alexa, ask Tile to find Jim's Keys". That's because the name of the Skill is "Tile" and the tracker in question is called "Jim's Keys".

Where possible, change the names of your devices to be simple and short so Alexa can more easily recognise and understand them.

We’ve also complied a list of the funny things Alexa can say to you as well as the best games to play on Alexa.

If you spot lights doing odd things on your Echo, here's what all the colours mean.

Read next: useful tips & tricks for getting the most from Alexa.