How to Stop Alexa From Listening

Prevent your Echo from listening in or saving your conversations

What to Know

  • Press the microphone button on your Echo device to immediately stop Alexa from listening.
  • When the button or indicator light is red, it means Alexa is no longer listening.
  • Stop recordings being sent to Amazon: Settings in Alexa app > Alexa privacy > Manage your Alexa data > Don't Save recordings.

This article explains how to stop Amazon Alexa from listening to you through your Echo devices, including instructions to disable the microphone temporarily and how to prevent Alexa from sending recordings to Amazon workers for analysis.

Is Alexa Always Listening?

Echo devices constantly monitor input from the microphone for the wake word. That means Alexa is effectively always listening to everything within range of the Echo microphone array. While that raises some issues regarding Alexa data privacy, it's necessary to fix these devices' core functionality. If it weren’t always listening, it wouldn’t be able to hear its wake word and respond to your commands.

If you don’t want Alexa to listen in all the time, you can switch off the microphone on your Echo device. The problem with this option is it prevents you from using the Echo device. If you want to use it, you have to tap the microphone button again physically, say the device’s wake word and the command or question you want it to execute, and then press the mute button again.

Does Alexa Record Conversations?

Alexa regularly records your commands and uploads the audio files to Amazon for analysis, refining, and other purposes. It’s technically only supposed to do this with commands and questions following the wake word. Still, anyone who has used an Echo device for any amount of time will know Alexa tends to misinterpret random snippets of unrelated conversations as its wake word.

While Alexa is always listening, it isn’t constantly recording, and it doesn't record conversations. However, it definitely can record conversations accidentally if it thinks it hears its wake word. By default, these snippets are uploaded to Amazon’s servers right alongside actual commands and questions.

How to Stop Alexa From Listening

The fastest way to stop Alexa from listening is to shut off the microphone. You have to do this manually on each Echo device you want to prevent from listening, and you can only reverse it manually. There is no voice command to disable an Echo’s microphone.

Here’s how to stop Alexa from listening:

  1. Locate the microphone button on your Alexa device.

    The mute button on a 4th generation Echo.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire 

    The button will look like a microphone with a strike through it or a circle with a strike through it.

  2. Press the microphone button.

    Pressing the mute button on an Echo.
    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire 
  3. Verify a short tone plays, and the indicator light has turned red.

    A red mute button on an Echo.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire 

  4. As long as the indicator light remains solid red, it means the microphone is off, and Alexa isn’t listening.

    A 4th generation Echo with a red indicator light.

    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire 

    Most Echo devices have a circular indicator light on the top or base. Echo devices that have a screen will instead show a red line at the bottom of the screen.

  5. If you want to use your Alexa, press the microphone button so it is no longer red, say the wake word and command or question, then press the microphone button again.

    Pressing the mute button on an Echo so that it will listen.
    Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire

How to Stop Alexa From Uploading Conversations

Suppose you want to use your Alexa without pushing the microphone button all the time, but you don’t like the idea of people listening to your commands, questions, and conversations. In that case, you can disable the upload function from within the Alexa app.

Your Alexa doesn’t have the processing power to understand and respond to questions and commands independently. It records and uploads every question or command you pose to Amazon’s servers for processing. There is no way to prevent that. By performing the following steps, you will instruct Amazon to delete your recordings immediately after processing and never to provide them to human workers for analysis.

  1. Open the Alexa app, and tap More.

  2. Tap Settings.

  3. Tap Alexa Privacy.

    Steps to take to get to Alexa's privacy settings, with "More," "Settings," and "Alexa Privacy" highlighted in the Alexa app
  4. Tap Manage Your Alexa Data.

  5. Tap Choose how long to save recordings.

  6. Select Don’t save recordings and tap Confirm.

    Alexa app Settings with "Manage Your Alexa Data," "Choose how long to save recordings," and "Don't Save Recordings" highlighted
  7. Scroll down to the Help improve Alexa section, and switch the Use of voice recordings toggle to the off position.

  8. Tap TURN OFF.

  9. If you use Alexa to send messages, switch the toggle or toggles in the Use messages to improve transcription section off as well.

    Alexa app with voice settings toggled off and "Turn Off" highlighted
  • How do I stop Alexa from saying "playing from" when it connects to a device?

    Unfortunately, this feature can't be disabled, although many users have expressed annoyance about it. There are third-party tools that claim to solve the issue on Windows devices, but always be careful when downloading software.

  • How do I get Alexa to stop listening to my kids?

    You can't get Alexa to completely ignore your kids, but you can set parental controls to stop your kids from making unauthorized purchases. In the Alexa app, tap More (three lines) > Settings > Account Settings > Voice Purchasing > enable Purchase Confirmation. Then, select Kids Skills Purchasing > turn on the Purchases Require Approval toggle.

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