Tech: Six Cool Tricks You Didn’t Know Alexa Can Do

Who says technology has to be serious?  There’s so much more to Alexa than setting alarms or playing music.

If you have an Echo smart speaker device you’ve got Alexa.  Just in case you aren’t familiar with it, Amazon Alexa is a virtual assistant technology used in the Amazon Echo line of smart speakers.

It’s capable of many tasks such as voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, sports, and other real-time information, like news. Alexa can also control several smart devices using itself as a home automation system.

There’s More to Alexa

The sad truth is that most people just use Alexa as a kitchen timer.  The low end Echo is so inexpensive it’s tempting to forget about it. Or maybe Alexa just comes to life when you’re talking to your daughter-in-law who happens to be named Alexa.  That’s a waste!

Alexa is just full of tricks! There are hundreds of helpful  Alexa commands.  And never forget that Alexa can be a life-saving device because if you fall or are too ill to reach a phone you can ask it to call 911 or an emergency contact.

You  may be among the more tech-savvy seniors who rely on Alexa for music or audiobooks plus some basic chores, such as a reminder to take meds or exercise, and for the weather.

But once you’ve mastered the basics why not experiment and have some fun with Alexa? Here are some suggestions.

Alexa Tricks

  • Change Alexa’s voice to Shaquille O’Neal. Or Melissa McCarthy.   All you have to do is Purchase the Shaq voice skill for Alexa on Amazon’s website or your Echo by saying “Alexa, introduce me to Shaq.” Say “Shaq, what can you do?” for a rundown of the skill. For example, you can say “Shaq, tell me a story.” Other voices for Alexa include Melissa McCarthy, Samuel L. Jackson, Deadpool, and R2-D2.
  • Use Whisper Mode and Alexa will whisper back. If you want to take a nap and don’t want Alexa to use her usual shouty voice to wake you up, ask her to use whisper mode.  Just say “Alexa, turn on whisper mode.”   Then you can even whisper to her and she’ll respond.
  • Enable “follow up mode” so you don’t have to say Alexa before every command. Just say “enable follow up mode after giving it a command.”
  • Set the volume by voice. Say “Alexa, turn up the music (or book) to 4”  if that’s not right just tell her to change it to another number from 1-10.
  • Use your Echo as a Bluetooth speaker. Just tell Alexa to turn on Bluetooth, then use your phone to pair it with your Echo.   This enables you to tell Alexa to find your phone, or call anyone on your contact list. You can also have music stored on your phone played on the Echo.
  • Ask a weird or funny question or command. Alexa will come up with some entertaining answers.  Here are some Easter Eggs that Alexa will actually answer.  No idea what the answers are, you’ll just have to try it.

Your Turn

What fun, unique or especially helpful feature do you use with Alexa? Share your tip in the comments!

Worried about privacy? Watch this video.


Erica Manfred’s articles and humorous essays have appeared in print and online publications including the Washington Post, Atlantic, Salon, Village Voice, and the New York Times.   A self proclaimed Geezer Geek, now in her seventies, she specializes in writing about aging.  She’s the author of four books, including her memoir,  I’m Old So Why Aren’t I Wise; Snarky Senior in the Sunshine State.   You can subscribe to her newsletter at or visit her website at










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