Help! Alexa Won’t Do What She’s Supposed to Do

How to fix the most common problems Alexa users experience

Like all technology, the Alexa voice-activated assistant is prone to problems now and then. Try the following troubleshooting tips to resolve them.

Cause of Alexa Problems

Difficulties with Alexa can arise from several issues. Because she needs internet connectivity to operate correctly, any glitches with Wi-Fi can become problematic.

Since Alexa is also software that runs other software, there may be compatibility issues at times. And, because she’s associated with specific devices (mainly in the Amazon Echo line), device malfunctions or the connection between the two can be troublesome. Add in smart home equipment, and that creates another layer of potential problems. Even the seemingly simple matter of where you place an Alexa-based device can become a challenge if done incorrectly. Finally, there’s the matter of the human-machine interaction, which can fail as well.

How to Fix Problems With Alexa

Troubleshoot the most common Alexa issues to get your devices working as expected once more.

  1. Alexa won’t connect to the internet. If you see a spinning orange light on your Echo device or Alexa responds with, "I'm having trouble connecting," troubleshoot Alexa not connecting to the internet.

  2. Alexa won’t operate specific skills. If Alexa has trouble running individual skills, such as Spotify or Pandora, it could be because of a bad Wi-Fi connection (see above). It could also be that your internet speed is below the 0.5Mbps needed to run these skills. Or maybe a particular skill wasn’t installed correctly. Try disabling and enabling the skills you’re having trouble with, and also turning your Echo device off and back on again. 

  3. Alexa won’t connect to smart devices. Check to make sure the device you’re trying to connect is actually compatible with Alexa, and with the specific Alexa-enabled device you’re using. If you are using smart home groups, check for errors. Next, remove the device from Alexa, and, if needed, enable the appropriate skill to use it.

    If all else fails, you might be able to create an “if this then that” (IFTTT) command as a workaround. 

  4. Alexa doesn’t understand me. Are you giving Alexa seemingly simple commands, only to hear back, “Sorry, I don’t know that one”? Check common causes of Alexa not understanding you.

    You can also try checking what Alexa heard. On your Alexa app, select menu > Settings > Alexa Account > History to review commands you’ve given Alexa. For example, maybe you said, “Alexa, play music,” but she heard, “Alexa, play mushroom.” If you see this type of error, just enunciate a little better next time.

    Alexa should get better at recognizing you over time, but you can also do voice training through the app.

  5. Alexa won’t respond to me. The same strategies that work for “Alexa doesn’t understand me” (see above) might also work for this problem. The issue could also have to do with the microphone. Make sure the microphone is on, and the device is not in Do Not Disturb mode.

    Alexa not updating could also be a source of this problem. Ask Alexa to “download and install the latest software updates.”

    Keep in mind that Alexa is programmed to respond to commands from the nearest Alexa-enabled device. So, she might not be ignoring you but responding to you from elsewhere. 

  6. If all else fails and you’re having multiple problems with Alexa, or the same issue repeatedly but nothing seems to be helping, you can try restoring factory settings.

This operation will wipe out all of the settings you’ve established with Alexa. Only do it if you’re convinced nothing else will help.