How to Set Up Alexa Routines

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Hey Alexa! How do I make mornings more bearable? With routines!

Alexa routines can make your day run smoothly from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. Make a morning routine that gives you the news and weather or watches your home while you’re gone. The possibilities are up to you and the devices you connect to Alexa.

We’ll show you how to start creating routines in the Amazon Alexa app with and without smart home devices.

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How to set up Alexa routines

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How do Alexa routines work?

One of Alexa’s biggest draws is its ability to create routines for your day. They work with a simple trigger and action format that allows you to weave in your smart home gear like smart lights, plugs, and locks.

Here are examples of triggers:

  • Voice commands
  • Time of day
  • Interaction with smart home devices
  • Your phone’s location
  • Alarms
  • Sounds around your home (dogs barking, babies crying, etc)

Here are examples of actions:

  • Smart home devices powering on, off, or adjusting
  • Alexa responding
  • Audio book starting
  • News, weather, or traffic updates
  • Phone call to someone in your contacts
  • Delivery updates
  • Music or podcasts
  • Alexa skills
  • Custom

The rest is up to you!

Setting up Alexa routines without smart home devices

To start a routine, open up the Amazon Alexa app and select More on the right side of the bottom menu.

Alexa routines more menu in alexa app

Katie McEntire,

alexa routines alexa routines menu in app

Katie McEntire,

Within that menu, you can find pre-made featured routines already made for you. Alexa can remind you to drink water, give you an evening news brief, track screen time, and more. There are also more elaborate options that will play lullabies for your crying kiddos or tell you when your dog barks.

Creating your routines

Select the + sign above Create Routine to get started. From there, you’ll see three fields for you to fill out: the routine’s name, its trigger or what you say to start it, and what happens.

Katie McEntire,

First, name your routine.

Then, select a trigger (think, the “cause” to the action’s “effect”). This can be a spoken phrase like, “good morning,” the time of day, the location of your phone, or sounds around your house.

Next, select actions, or how you want Alexa to react to this trigger.

Katie McEntire,

If you have multiple Amazon Echo or Alexa devices in your home, like the Echo dot 4th gen, select which devices you want this routine applied to. Depending on the routine and how many devices you have in your home, this could come in handy for really localized routines like putting the kids to bed or starting the day in your home office.

Setting up Alexa Routines with smart home devices

Alexa works with a whole zoo of smart home gadgets that can do anything from closing your blinds and garage door to simple things like controlling lights and switches.

You’ll follow the same steps in the Alexa app to set up a routine with smart devices, but instead, you’ll select Smart Home as the trigger or the action.

Katie McEntire,

In the Alexa app, go to Routines and Create Routine or + in the top right corner. Next, name the routine and select the trigger. This can be a smart home device like a motion sensor, door sensor, smart lock, or anything else added to your Amazon ecosystem.

Next, select an action, or what you want to happen after that trigger.

You’ll need to make sure your device is connected to Alexa before including it in routines. Gear like smart light bulbs, smart plugs, and smart locks, for example, are easy ones to include into routines.

In the Alexa routines menu, select Smart Home under the actions menu. Here, you’ll be able to see all your smart home devices that Alexa recognizes. You can choose any of these to act with the routine.

Here’s what our example looks like:

“Hey Alexa, I’m done for the day.” This voice command is the trigger that causes the smart light bulb outside of the home office to turn off. We selected the light bulb in the Alexa app, then the “power” option, then “off.”

Connecting Alexa to your security system

Check out our branded guides for help connecting Alexa to your security system:

Setting up Alexa routines for a loved one

With the help of the subscription-based service Alexa Together, you can remotely access a loved one's Alexa devices to set up routines. Now you don't have to wait for your next visit or try to describe each step over the phone to help older family members enjoy the perks of home automation. Be sure to check out our guide to smart home tech for seniors to explore the possibilities. 

Final word

The cool thing about Alexa Routines is that the more stuff you connect to your smart speaker, the more stuff you can do with your routines. Smart locks, security systems, smart buttons, bulbs, and more can all work together to make your day run a little more smoothly.

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