9 Annoying Alexa Issues and How to Fix Them Yourself

When our smart devices don't work the way we want them to, it very quickly becomes annoying. I have done my fair share of research while troubleshooting my own Echo speakers, and I hope my insights can help you resolve any problems that your Alexa device may be giving you.

Alexa devices have become extremely popular in recent years, and the reason why is simple: they are fun! Beyond that, if you use it correctly it can add a lot of convenience to your life by automating and controlling various devices, even running your To-Do lists and calendar.

Whether you have an Echo Dot speaker for music or use your Echo Hub to control all of your smart home appliances, you are bound to have issues from time to time. Luckily, you can always follow a few basic steps to troubleshoot these problems yourself, before Alexa issues drive you up the wall!

Before we start troubleshooting, it is helpful to know what the color of the light ring on your Alexa device means.

  • Intermittent Yellow means you have a notification.
  • Blue means Alexa is listening.
  • Red means the microphone is muted.
  • Spinning blue means your device is starting up.
  • Orange means you are in setup mode.
  • Flashing Green means you are receiving a call.
  • Purple means there are Wi-Fi issues.
  • And finally, a spinning white light means Alexa is in away mode

This article covers:

My Alexa device won’t connect to or disconnects from Wi-Fi
My Alexa device won’t activate when I talk to it or doesn’t understand
My Alexa device won’t stream music or it is inconsistent
My Alexa device won’t connect to other Wi-Fi enabled devices
My Alexa activates without being prompted
My Alexa plays music on the wrong speaker
My Alexa won’t allow me to make calls
My Alexa won’t connect to BlueTooth devices
My Alexa device won’t perform a certain skill
When all else fails

I have encountered some of these issues with my own Echo Dot speakers, most notably my Audible account not connecting to my Alexa account (that one was a doozy to fix!). I have needed to resolve other small issues as well, including Alexa not understanding my wife’s accent and occasional accidental activation.

Even with these small hiccups, I really enjoy having Echo Dot speakers throughout my home to control lighting and other smart appliances, including my robot vacuum cleaner and robot lawn mower. I have stuck with Alexa, flaws and all, and generally I am happy with my decision, even though my Google Nest speaker has better sound quality in my opinion.

In this article I have listed 9 common issues that occur with Alexa devices, and detailed steps on how to fix these yourself. Also, don’t forget that Amazon customer care is open 24/7 to help you with any issue, big or small.

My Alexa device won’t connect to or disconnects from Wi-Fi

An Alexa device that doesn’t connect to Wi-Fi can be infuriating. Wi-Fi connectivity problems can turn what is supposed to be a fun speaker into a paperweight if you can’t fix it. Before you send it flying in frustration, and trust me I understand, try the following steps to see if you can resolve the issue:

  1. What color is the Alexa ring showing? If it is purple, this is confirmation that Alexa is not connected to your Wi-Fi network.
  2. Try running your Alexa-compatible device through the Wi-Fi setup again, and save your Wi-Fi password.
Device settings Wi-Fi network setup screenshot
  1. Now switch off or unplug your router, and wait for 20 seconds or more before you start it up again. Do the same with your Alexa device.
  2. This should re-establish the Wi-Fi connection on your device.
  3. Lastly, check if your Alexa app and router need to be updated.
  4. If the problem has more to do with your device disconnecting from Wi-Fi, follow the steps above. If that doesn’t do the trick, you can try moving your Alexa device closer to the router, and away from walls and metal objects that can interfere with the Wi-Fi signal. Also try to connect Alexa to the 5 GHz instead of 2.4 GHz frequency of your Wi-Fi router.

My Alexa device won’t activate when I talk to it or doesn’t understand

Alexa devices are always listening, waiting for you to use its set “wake word”. Commonly enough, Alexa will respond with, “Sorry, I don’t know that one”. Some may find that their Alexa device won’t activate at all. Here are a few things you can try to fix it:

  1. Ensure your Alexa device is plugged in, switched on, and connected to Wi-Fi.
  2. Check the color of the Alexa light ring. If it is red instead of blue, your device is muted. Fix this by pressing the microphone button on your Alexa device.
Picture of a muted echo speaker, with an orange light ring. Part of troubleshooting Alexa issues
  1. If the device is still not responding, ensure that both your Alexa device and phone are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
  2. Try changing the wake word by opening Alexa Settings > Devices > All Devices, and then select your specific device. In the list below General select Wake Word: the four options you can choose from are in the picture below.
Alexa wake word options screenshot
  1. Switch off your Alexa device and Wi-Fi router and switch them on again after 20 seconds. Ensure that the speaker is close enough to your router as it might be out of range.
  2. If it is more a case of your Alexa not understanding you, follow the steps above. If that doesn’t solve the problem, here are a few more things to try:-
  3. Move your Alexa away from any noisy appliances in the room and don’t place anything near it that could potentially block the sound.
  4. If Alexa still fails to understand you, you can try Alexa voice training. This can be found under Your Profile on the Alexa app, and next to the Voice option select Create. This will help Alexa to better understand your voice and accent by creating a unique voice profile for you.
Alexa app profile screenshot

My Alexa device won’t stream music or it is inconsistent

The main reason smart speakers are so popular is that they make streaming music effortless. Whether you want to relax or get pumped, when your Alexa won’t play your music, or stops playing for unknown reasons, it can be very frustrating. Either way, follow these steps to try and resolve the issue:

  1. Open the Alexa app > Settings > Music & Podcasts
Alexa settings screenshot
  1. Select the music streaming service that you use, whether it is Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn or iHeartRadio.
Alexa music and podcast menu screenshot
  1. Now select Disable Skill and confirm the action.
Alexa app Spotify skill screenshot
  1. Next, select Enable To Use and proceed to reconnect your music streaming account to your Alexa account.
  2. If these steps still won’t resolve the problem, it might be a Wi-Fi connectivity issue. Restart your router and Alexa device and move your device closer to the router.
  3. Alternatively, it could be an account setup issue. In this case, contacting Amazon’s customer service is your best option.

My Alexa device won’t connect to other Wi-Fi enabled devices

One of the best perks of Amazon Alexa devices is the hundreds of other smart home devices it can control. If you have purchased a new smart home device and it won’t connect to your Alexa devices, first make absolutely sure the device is Alexa compatible. It can easily happen that you misread or overlooked this detail when buying a device, and you can potentially still control your smart home device with Alexa using IFTTT. If you have ruled out compatibility issues, try the following steps:

  1. Install the device’s operating app and connect it to your home’s Wi-Fi.
  2. Go to alexa.amazon.com and complete the setup.
  3. Disable the skill of your device in the Alexa app and re-enable it.
  4. Ensure that both your Alexa app and smart home device apps are fully updated.
  5. Ask Alexa to discover devices, or try to add a device in the app by selecting the + sign in the top right-hand corner. Your new device should appear ready to connect.
  6. One last thing to check is whether you are using the right voice commands; just using one word different to the set commands can cause issues.

My Alexa activates without being prompted

Accidental activation is a common issue with Alexa devices and can be very annoying. Alexa might activate because it mistakes a similar sounding word for being its wake word. If it’s the TV, the radio or a parrot activating your Alexa accidentally, you can consider muting your Alexa device when it is not in use. The easiest solution is to change your wake word in the Alexa app. This saves you having to move the speaker around to try and avoid the accidental activation. To change your wake word, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Alexa app, and select Settings.
  2. Select the device you would like to change the wake word for.
  3. Select Wake Word.
  4. Pick from one of the four options on the list.
Alexa Wake Word menu screenshot screenshot

My Alexa plays music on the wrong speaker

When you ask the Alexa in your bedroom to play music, and instead the Alexa device in your kitchen plays what you asked for, you most probably have a grouping issue. The following steps should resolve this issue:

  1. Open the Alexa app and select Devices.
  2. Select the group of speakers you want to ungroup.
Alexa groups screenshot
  1. Then select Edit and select Delete.
  2. Proceed to create a new group for your speakers, but don’t select a default speaker.

My Alexa won’t allow me to make calls

Making calls using Alexa is just about as convenient as it gets. Being able to call someone on their Alexa or Echo speaker anywhere in the world is a great perk. However, when you are trying to call a certain contact and Alexa doesn’t recognize it, the following steps should fix it:

  1. Check whether your Alexa device is connected to Wi-Fi.
  2. Open the Alexa app > Communicate > Call.
  3. This should open your contacts list. Check to see if the contact you want to call is listed.
  4. If the contact is listed, maybe Alexa is mishearing your request. Try to speak very clearly when you make the request for the call. You can also say to Alexa, “Tell me what you heard” to confirm that speech clarity is the issue.
  5. If the contact is not listed, then it has not been added to or updated in the Alexa app.
  6. Now update your Alexa app if the option is available, close and open the app, and check for the contact again. If it is there, try to make the call.
  7. If closing and opening the app doesn’t resolve the problem, try signing out of your Alexa account and signing back in.

My Alexa won’t connect to BlueTooth devices

For the most part you shouldn’t really need to use the BlueTooth function on your Alexa speaker. However, you might want to allow a guest to play their playlist or play music on an unsupported music streaming service. If your BlueTooth is acting up, try the following steps to resolve it:

  1. First check to see if the device you are trying to connect is BlueTooth enabled. For most devices you can activate BlueTooth under device settings.
  2. Open the Alexa app and check for any updates.
  3. Select Devices, and select Bluetooth Devices.
  4. Clear Paired devices.
  5. Check whether the device you are connecting to has adequate battery life.
  6. Restart both devices.
  7. Alternatively, you can say “Alexa, Bluetooth” and try to connect to your Alexa speaker via your devices BlueTooth settings.

My Alexa device won’t perform a certain skill

Skills are designed to seamlessly pair devices to your Alexa speaker and make using Alexa more fun and efficient. To get the absolute most out of your Alexa speaker, you will have to search for and try out skills that are useful to you. Sometimes a skill you want to activate won’t work the first time. Try the following steps to resolve the issue:

  1. As always, double check that your Alexa device is connected to Wi-Fi.
  2. Skills have to be enabled in order to work. In the app, under Skills, find the skill you want to use and enable it (if already enabled, just deactivate and reactivate it).
  3. Skills need to be activated using exact phrases. Find out what the activation phrase is and say it exactly as it is written.

When all else fails

Sometimes you can follow all the correct troubleshooting steps and still end up with the same annoying problem. When this occurs, the last thing to try is to reset your Alexa device. Know that you will have to re-register your accounts with your Alexa device when you do this. Underneath the base of your Alexa device, there is a tiny reset button that will require a paperclip or toothpick to press. On some devices, you simply need to hold in the action button until it resets. The device should first flash blue and orange, and when the light comes back as orange it means the device is in setup mode.

What to do next

If you enjoyed this article and found it informative, come read our article 13 Ways to Secure Your Smart Home in 2021


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