How to set up an Amazon Echo: top tips for your new Alexa speaker

new amazon echo
(Image credit: Amazon)

One of the most appealing aspects of the Amazon Echo (and probably one of the many reasons it's become so popular so fast) is just how easy it is to use.

But even for the tech-lovers, navigating a new piece of tech sometimes isn't as simple as you expect. That's why we're here to help you make sure you're set up as quickly as possible and can start bossing Amazon's smart assistant Alexa around in no time. 

With the Echo range expanding nearly year-on-year, and the built-in Alexa assistant getting smarter all the time, there's never been a better time to buy an Echo or add one to your growing collection of smart home devices.

In 2020, Amazon updated the range with the new spherical Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Dot with Clock, and Echo Show 10 – and that means older models are cheaper than ever before, and still well worth considering.

Whether you've picked up one for yourself or someone else, this is our step-by-step guide to setting up a new Amazon Echo smart speaker. You certainly don't want to be showing off your new toy to guests only to find it doesn't understand you or it's otherwise not working – but we can help with a smooth introduction.

Once you've got your new Amazon Echo unboxed, get this guide in front of you, and in just a few minutes you'll be enjoying everything the smart speaker has to offer.

Setting up your Amazon Echo

To get started you, of course, need an Echo and whatever power adapter came with it. These speakers don't run on batteries, so make sure you've got the right power cable ready and waiting (and not some generic replacement).

On the software side, you'll need a phone or tablet (Android or iOS) ready to install the Alexa app. Since this is an Amazon device, you can also use an Amazon Fire tablet to configure your Echo for its first use if you have one at home.

When your Echo is up and running it feels almost like a standalone device, but to get started we need to use a phone or tablet to tell it what to do... before we literally start telling it what to do.

Head on over to the app store on your device of choice – on an iPhone this is the App Store, on Android it's the Google Play Store, and on Fire devices it's the Amazon Appstore.

Once in the store, find and download the official Amazon Alexa app, which shouldn't be too difficult to find. 

echo dot with clock 2020

Some models of the Echo also include a 3.5mm output, but this is optional.  (Image credit: TechRadar)

Now we've got the required software, it's time to get the Amazon Echo hardware itself set up. Take the speaker and turn it over to find the power jack, then take the Echo's power adapter and plug it into the power jack on the Echo speaker.

Finally, take the power adapter's other end and plug it into the wall. Great work! Your Amazon Echo now has power, and should start glowing as it configures itself. We're on our way to setting it up.

You're nearly there! Once your Echo is connected to the mains, you'll have to wait a couple of seconds for it to initialize. Its light ring will turn blue for a couple of moments, then switch to orange, and then play a short audio greeting. At this point the Amazon Echo is ready for the final setup step. 

Next, open the Alexa app you downloaded earlier on your phone or tablet, then tap the 'More' menu in the bottom-right to get to Settings for the next set up stage.

Select 'Add a device' to start the Wi-Fi connection process. You now need to teach the Echo how to log into your home Wi-Fi, so it can get online on its own in future. 

alexa app

(Image credit: Amazon)

Next, select which Amazon Echo speaker you want to set up and then pick the correct language from the next page. 

Select 'Connect to Wi-Fi' from the next page to continue the set up process and get connected: first, the instructions ask you to check that the device is currently displaying an orange ring.

If not, you'll have to hold the 'action button' for five seconds first to put the device into setup mode. With that done, you'll need to hop out of the Alexa app and into your phone's own settings menu.

Go to Wi-Fi settings. Turn on Wi-Fi (if it's not on already), then select the Amazon Echo device from the list of access points – the Echo's name should start with the word "Amazon". Once connected, go back into the Alexa app.

The Alexa app should now say it is connected to the Echo. Tap 'Continue', then select yours from the list, then enter your Wi-Fi password. (Don't remember it? Your access password is most likely printed on a sticker on your router.) 

Tap 'Connect' in the app once the password is typed in. Depending on your home's Wi-Fi speed, it might take a few moments for the device to connect, but once it has done you should be taken back to the settings menu, with your Amazon Echo now listed as being online. On the device itself, the light ring should turn off.

By default your Amazon Echo will be set to activate when it hears the word "Alexa", but there are a few reasons why you might want to change this.

Maybe one of your family members is called Alexa and you don’t want your smart speaker to activate whenever you're talking to them? Or maybe you just like having a smart home that's configured differently to everyone else's?

Thankfully, it's a fairly simple process to change your wake word to something that's more convenient for you.

amazon echo studio

(Image credit: Amazon)

You're done!

Congratulations, your Amazon Echo is now fully set up, connected to your Wi-Fi, and ready to start running errands for you, automating tasks and answering pointless trivia. 

If you want a test to make sure that it's working, you can try out few a simple commands to get started: try saying your wake word, followed by "hello". If everything's working as expected then your Amazon Echo should say "hello" back. Simple, really.

If you're having problems, don't worry. If your Echo simply won't hook up, try giving it a factory reset: while the device is switched on, press and hold the microphone off and volume down buttons simultaneously for 20 seconds to do this.

Some Alexa devices also have pinhole reset slots, which just need to be pushed in with a paperclip or SIM removal tool until the LED light color changes (check the supplied instructions if you're not sure).

Original article by Jon Porter.

  • Looking for something to do with your new Amazon Echo? Check out our guide to the best Alexa skills
Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.