How to install and use Amazon Echo skills

Teach Alexa more

If you’ve just bought an Amazon Echo, or the smaller Amazon Echo Dot, then you’ll probably be impressed with how well the voice-activated assistant Alexa works – but you can make these devices do so much more by installing additional Amazon Echo ‘skills’, which are essentially apps for Alexa. 

These skills enable the Amazon Echo to access various apps, websites and services, allowing you to customise your Amazon Echo or Amazon Echo Dot so that it can interact with the smart appliances in your house, check public transport for your area, read the headlines from your favorite newspaper or website, and a whole lot more. 

In this guide we’ll show you how to find the best Amazon Echo skills and add them to your device.

Install the Amazon Alexa app

As part of the setup process for the Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot, you’re advised to download the Amazon Alexa app. 

This can be found in the Google Play Store for Android devices, and in the App Store for Apple devices.

Once installed, the Alexa app should find your Amazon Echo device and begin interacting with it. You can see the recent commands you’ve given Alexa, and how Alexa responded.

This is handy when you install skills, as it asks you if Alexa responded the way you wanted it to, so you can make sure the Amazon Echo understands you correctly.

By saying 'yes' or 'no' you can help the Amazon Echo calibrate itself to understand your voice better, which will enable you to use Amazon Echo skills effectively.

Browse for Amazon Echo skills

To find out what skills you can install on the Amazon Echo, tap the options icon in the Alexa app (represented by three horizontal lines in the top-left hand corner of the screen). Next, tap on ‘Skills’  and you’ll see a list of available skills to install.

These are broken up into categories such as ‘Local skills’, which collects skills that work with local services, such as public transport information; ‘Things to try’ and ‘Learn something new’.

For a full list of skills categories, click the ‘Categories’ button at the top of the app, or scroll down to the bottom of the page. You can also search for specific skills using the search box at the top of the app.

How to install Amazon Echo skills

If you see a skill that you like, click its name and you’ll be taken to a page that lists more information about the skill. This includes a detailed description about what it does, and some examples of voice commands you can use with the skill.

There are also customer reviews, which can help you decide if the skill is worth adding to your Amazon Echo.

To add the skill, click the ‘Enable Skill’ button. Some, such as the Hue skill, require you to connect your account so that the Amazon Echo can access the service, so a new window will appear asking you to sign in and allow Amazon Echo to access your account.

Once done, the Amazon Echo can use the skill – just say ‘Alexa’ followed by one of the example voice commands to get started.

How to uninstall an Amazon Echo skill

If you want to uninstall an Amazon Echo skill, open up the Alexa app, tap on the options menu and select ‘Skills’. 

On the main skills page, tap ‘Your Skills’ to see a list of installed skills. Tap on the skill you want to uninstall and select ‘Disable Skill’. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

How to editor

Matt (Twitter) is TechRadar's How To editor. Having written for a number of magazines and websites, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about. From gadgets to games, he's here to provide the best how to guides to help you get the most out of your gizmos. If you're encountering a problem or need some advice, drop him a line on Twitter.