How to Fix 8 Common Alexa and Amazon Echo Issues

Even virtual assistants need a little help now and then

Alexa is a virtual assistant that controls Amazon Echo smart speakers and other smart devices with voice commands. Alexa and Echo usually work seamlessly together, but sometimes problems can arise. Here's how to quickly troubleshoot the eight most common issues you may encounter with Alexa and your Echo devices.

These troubleshooting steps apply to the Alexa App and Alexa-enabled devices, including the Echo Dot, Echo, Echo PlusEcho Studio, and Echo Show.

Echo sitting atop a table.
Rick Turoczy / Flickr

Causes of Common Alexa and Echo Problems

Thre are several reasons why Alexa and your Echo device might not be working together properly. There may be a simple culprit, such as a power or internet outage. Echo devices might be grouped improperly, or there might be Wi-Fi issues. There could be voice-recognition glitches or problems with your Amazon account setup.

Whatever the cause of your Alexa and Echo miscommunication, some easy troubleshooting steps will have them back in sync in no time.

Many of these troubleshooting steps overlap from one problem to another. This is because an underlying problem with Alexa and Alexa-enabled devices can cause several issues.

Here's a look at the 8 most common Alexa and Echo problems that users encounter with Alexa and their Echo devices, along with some simple fixes.

How to Fix Alexa Not Responding to Voice Commands

Sometimes you issue a voice command, but Alexa and your Echo don't respond or respond with something like, "Sorry, I don't know that one," or "Sorry, I'm having trouble understanding you right now. Please try a little later." If Alexa isn't responding properly, there are some easy fixes to try.

  1. Make sure your Echo has power and internet access. This is a simple, basic troubleshooting step, but it's worth it to make sure. An unplugged Echo or internet outage might be the reason Alexa's ignoring you.

  2. Make sure the Echo's microphone is turned on. The microphone is turned off if you have a solid red light ring or bar instead of a solid blue one. Press the microphone button on top of the device to turn it on again. See if Alexa can respond to your commands.

    Another low-tech tip is to move the Echo closer to where you're speaking. Maybe Alexa just can't hear you.

  3. Make sure your smartphone and Echo are on the same Wi-Fi network. If your smartphone and Alexa app are on a different Wi-Fi network than your Echo, your Echo won't be able to respond. Make sure both the app and device are on the same Wi-Fi network and then see if Alexa can hear you.

  4. Make sure the Alexa-enabled device is in Wi-Fi range. Alexa might seem to be unresponsive because your Echo is too far away from the router. Move it closer to the router and see if this solves the problem.

  5. Restart the Alexa-enabled device. A simple restart often solves a host of mysterious tech problems. See if restarting your Echo solves the problem of Alexa not responding.

  6. Check the Wi-Fi connection. If your Wi-Fi is down, reset it and see if that gets Alexa responding again.

  7. Check what Alexa heard. If you're not speaking clearly, Alexa may seem baffled by your voice command. When you review your Alexa history, you may find that she thought you said, "Play mushroom" instead of "Play music."

  8. Change the wake word. If Alexa and your Echo aren't responding, try changing the wake word and see if that gets your smart speaker and digital assistant back up and running.

  9. Reset the Alexa-enabled device to factory defaults. If all else fails, try resetting the Alexa-enabled device back to factory defaults to fix the issue.

If you choose this option, you'll need to register the device to your Amazon account and enter device settings into the Alexa app again.

How to Fix Alexa Playing Music on the Wrong Device

Multi-room audio lets you control music playback on Echo speakers. If you're asking Alexa to play music on an Echo device in one room, but another Alexa-enabled device starts playing music somewhere else, there are a few solutions to try.

  1. Make sure you've set up a smart home device group. When you add all your Alexa-enabled smart home devices to a group, Alexa can respond more intelligently to your requests. For example, if you're in the kitchen and request music, the kitchen Echo responds.

    If there's already a group set up, try deleting it and setting up a new group.

  2. Make sure the right Echo is set as your preferred speaker. If you want to set one of your Echoes as your default speaker, designate this in Alexa's settings. This way, whenever you request music, only the designated Echo responds.

  3. Name your Echo devices accurately. It's easier to keep track of your Echo speakers if they're named logically. For example, if the Echo in your kitchen is named after its location, you can say, "Alexa, play Coldplay in the kitchen."

How to Fix Alexa Not Streaming Music

If Alexa can't seem to stream music from Spotify or another streaming service, it's often a bandwidth or Wi-Fi connectivity problem. Here's what you should do:

  1. Check the Wi-Fi connection. If your Wi-Fi is down, reset it and see if that gets your music playing.

  2. Reduce Wi-Fi congestion. Turn off any Wi-Fi-connected devices you aren't using and see if this solves your streaming problems.

  3. Make sure your Echo is in Wi-Fi range. Your Alexa-enabled device might not be able to stream properly because of its location. Move it closer to the router and away from walls, metal objects, or other possible sources of interference.

  4. Restart the Echo. Restarting your Alexa-enabled device is always worth a try. See if this solves your streaming problems.

  5. Restart your modem and router. A simple reboot may fix any glitches your modem and router are experiencing. Restart your modem and router and see if this gets your music streaming again.

  6. Connect to your router's 5 GHz channel. This may help minimize Wi-Fi disruptions on the 2.4 GHz band. After switching channels, try streaming music again.

How to Fix Alexa Not Connecting to Wi-Fi

If your device has a screen, check the light on the device. If it's orange, the Wi-Fi connection isn't working properly. Here are some ways to troubleshoot your Alexa Wi-Fi connection:

  1. Check the internet connection. If Alexa can't connect to Wi-Fi, it may be because your internet is down. See if your internet is up and running. If it isn't, take steps to restore your internet connection.

  2. Restart your modem and router. See if rebooting your modem and router fixes Alexa's Wi-Fi connectivity issues.

  3. Restart your Echo device. A simple restart may fix Alexa and the Echo's Wi-Fi connectivity issues.

  4. Make sure your Wi-Fi password is correct. If you're connecting to Alexa with the wrong Wi-Fi password, this could be the cause of the problem. Test the Wi-Fi password on another device, and if necessary, change it and try connecting Alexa again.

  5. Make sure your Alexa-enabled device is in Wi-Fi range. Your Alexa-enabled device might not be in the Wi-Fi range. Move it closer to the router and away from walls, metal objects, or other possible sources of interference.

  6. Reduce Wi-Fi congestion. Turn off any Wi-Fi-connected devices you aren't using and see if this solves your Wi-Fi connectivity problems.

  7. Reset the Echo to factory settings. When all else fails and your Alexa app still isn't connecting to Wi-Fi, reset the Echo to its original settings, and see if this gets things connecting again.

If you choose this option, you'll need to register the device to your Amazon account and enter device settings into the Alexa app again.

How to Fix Alexa Calling Not Working

Amazon Echo devices can take the place of a home phone. If calling on Alexa isn't working, there are a few troubleshooting steps to try.

  1. Make sure your contact information is correct. Alexa can make calls only when you've set up your contacts correctly. Ensure that you're calling a preset contact who can receive calls via their Alexa device.

  2. Check your Echo's internet connection. Alexa can't make calls if the Echo isn't properly connected to the internet. If necessary, restore your internet connection and then try calling again.

  3. Restart the Alexa app on your phone. A simple software glitch may be the problem. Restart the Alexa app via its Settings menu and then relaunch the app. See if this solves your calling problems.

  4. Update the Alexa app on your iPhone or Android. If restarting and relaunching the app didn't work, you may need to update the app. Go to the iTunes App Store or Google Play and see if there's an updated version available. Once you update your app, see if this resolves the calling problems.

  5. Check what Alexa heard. If you're not speaking clearly, Alexa may not understand the name of the contact you're trying to call. Check your Alexa voice history. She may have heard, "Call the chin" instead of "Call Gretchen."

How to Fix Alexa Not Finding a Device

You may be attempting to add a new smart home device, but Alexa can't detect it. Here's what to do:

  1. Make sure your smart home device is compatible with Alexa. Alexa can only detect Alexa-enabled smart devices.

  2. Complete device setup online. Go to Amazon's Alexa page and try to complete the setup there. See if Alexa can recognize your smart home device.

  3. Restart the Alexa app on your phone. Restart the Alexa app via its Settings menu and then relaunch the app. See if Alexa can now detect your smart home device.

  4. Restart your Echo device. After restarting the Alexa app, restart your Echo and then see if Alexa can detect it.

  5. Make sure your smartphone and Echo are on the same Wi-Fi network. If your smartphone and Alexa app are on different Wi-Fi networks, your Alexa won't' be able to detect an Echo or other Alexa-enabled device.

  6. Update your router settings. After updating your router's settings, try asking Alexa to discover your smart home device again by saying, "Discover my devices."

How to Fix Alexa Bluetooth Issues

If Alex's having issues connecting to Bluetooth, here's what you should do:

  1. Make sure Alexa and the Bluetooth device are properly connected. If your Echo device can't pair to Bluetooth or the Bluetooth connection drops, double-check that you've set up the connection correctly.

  2. Update the software version on your Echo. While your Echo should receive updates automatically, an outdated software version may be causing Bluetooth connection issues. Check the Echo device's software version and update it if necessary.

  3. Make sure that your Bluetooth device uses a supported Bluetooth profile. Alexa currently supports Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP SNK) and Audio/Video Remote Control Profile.

  4. Unpair and re-pair your Alexa device and Bluetooth device. Sometimes, removing your paired Bluetooth device from Alexa and then pairing it again will solve the problem.

Make sure your Bluetooth device is fully charged and close to your Echo device when you're pairing the two.

How to Fix Alexa Not Operating a Specific Skill

Alexa skills are like voice-driven apps within the digital assistant. If you find that a skill, such as Spotify or Pandora, isn't working, here's what to do:

  1. Check your device's Wi-Fi connection. Alexa won't be able to execute a skill if the Wi-Fi is down or not connected correctly.

  2. Make sure the skill is enabled. If you or another user accidentally disabled the skill, it won't work. If necessary, re-enable the skill and see if this solves the problem.

  3. Disable and re-enable the skill. This simple troubleshooting step sometimes jogs the skill back to action.

  4. Make sure you're calling the skill by the right name. You need to reference the right name when starting a skill. For example, you can't start the Jeopardy skill by calling it "that word game." Find the skill's exact name, and then try again.

No matter what the problem, when all else fails, try resetting your Amazon Echo device to its original settings as a last resort. If you reset the device, you'll need to register it to your Amazon account and enter device settings again to use it.