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How to set up your new Amazon Echo

Get off to the best start with your new smart speaker

Amazon Echo setup

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. 

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With the Echo range getting bigger all the time, 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 smart home collection.

In fact, Amazon has just refreshed the range to bring us the upgraded Amazon Echo (2019), the Echo Studio, and the Echo Dot with Clock – that means older models usually come with a discount.

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.

Echo setup step 1: get everything you need

To get start 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.

Echo setup step 2: the Alexa app

Amazon Echo setup

Alexa app

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 setup step 3: plug in the Echo

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.

Amazon Echo setup

Some models of the Echo also include a 3.5mm output, but this is optional

Echo setup step 4: wait for it to initialize

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. 

Echo setup step 5: open up the app

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

Select 'Set up a new 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. 

Echo setup step 6: select your device

Next, select which Amazon Echo speaker you want to set up. For the purposes of this guide we've been assuming that you're setting up a full-size Amazon Echo, but these instructions will also work just as well if you're setting up the mini Echo Dot, the Echo Plus, or even the battery-powered Amazon Tap (the four are all controlled through the same app). Select the right device, and then pick the correct language from the next page. 

Amazon Echo setup

Your Echo is going to have to be connected to the internet if you want it to work

Echo setup step 7: connecting to Wi-Fi

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.

Echo setup step 8: don't want to say "Alexa"? Change it

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 setup

Amazon Echo setup

In order to change this wake word you'll need to jump into your Echo's settings, which you can do from the app's main settings menu. Tap on your Echo, and then scroll down to where it says 'Wake Word'. Tap this to get four options: 'Alexa' (the default), 'Amazon', 'Echo', and 'Computer'. Unfortunately none are completely unique words, but hopefully one should work for you. 

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).