How to Use Alexa With Your TV

Amazon Echo TV control is just a voice command away

Using Alexa with a TV
Using Alexa with a TV. Image provided by Amazon

The Alexa voice assistant through Echo (including the Echo Dot, Show, and Tap) or similar smart speakers (Sonos One, Phorus PS10) not only play streamed music, makes phone calls, provide information, help you shop, and control smart devices around your house, it can work with your TV too.

Here are some of the ways you can use Alexa with your TV.

Use Alexa with Fire TV Devices

Amazon 4K Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, and Fire Edition TV
Amazon 4K Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, and Fire Edition TV. Image provided by Amazon

The most basic way you can use Alexa with your TV is via a plug-in Amazon Fire TV stick or Fire TV 4K media streamer, or by using a Fire Edition Smart TV (a TV that has Fire TV functionality built-in).

If using an external Fire TV device with your TV (HDMI connection required), go through the required setup procedure. You can then speak voice commands using Alexa by pressing the microphone button on the remote control.

If you have a Fire Edition TV, you can use its provided Alexa Voice-enabled remote control in the same way.

However, if you have an Amazon Echo or similar Alexa-enabled smart speaker in your home, you can link it to a Fire TV streamer or Fire Edition TV and operate Fire TV features using hand's free voice commands instead of having to press a microphone button on a remote control first.

To link an Alexa Echo-type device to a Fire TV or Fire Edition TV, perform the following steps using the Alexa App that you installed on your smartphone when you initially set up your Echo or similar device:

  • Open the Alexa app and tap the Menu icon (three white lines on the top left corner - just left to the word Home.
  • Tap Music, Video, and Books.
  • Tap on Fire TV.
  • Follow any additional setup instructions.
  • Tap on Link Devices - make sure this is confirmed.

After the link is confirmed you can use your Echo to control Fire TV features and content access, which can be viewed on your TV

If your TV has the HDMI-CEC feature, you can also use Alexa to send a voice command to a plug-in Fire TV streamer that will switch the TV to the HDMI input that the Fire TV is connected to.

In addition, HDMI-CEC allows Alexa to tell Fire TV to turn your TV on or off.

NOTE: When an Amazon Fire Edition TV is off or in standby mode, it cannot receive any commands from Alexa unless you have enabled the setting "Turn on TV with Alexa". This setting is automatically enabled after the TV receives the first command from Alexa.

For Fire Edition TVs, you can also use Alexa to access some of the TV's setting options. This means that you can use an Echo-type device to replace the Alexa-enabled TV remote for many TV functions.

Use a TV That "Works With Alexa"

Alexa-enabled Vizio TV
Alexa-enabled Vizio TV. Image provided by Vizio

Linking Alexa and FireTV devices is one way to use voice commands to stream video and control your TV, but there a number of TVs that are not FireTVs but can "Work with Alexa" via an Echo-type device.

"Works with Alexa" capability is currently available on select TV models from LG (2018), Sony (2016, 2017, 2018), and Vizio (2017 and 2018), and will be available on forthcoming select 2018 models from Hisense.

For LG TVs:

  • Launch the Set-Up TV for Amazon Alexa App from the home screen of your LG TV running the webOS 4.0 TV operating system or higher).
  • Follow the directions and log into your LG account (or create one) and select the name of your TV.
  • Go to the mobile setup guide page, and go to the Alexa App on your smartphone to enable LG SmartThinQ Alexa skill and link your accounts.
  • Complete any additional setup instructions prompted by your TV

For Sony TVs:

  • Open the TV Control Setup with Amazon Alexa App from the Home screen of your TV.
  • Select your Google account (or create one) and name your TV.
  • Follow instructions and find and enable the Sony TV Alexa App on your smartphone and follow additional instructions to link the TV and Echo-type devices.

For Vizio TVs:

  • Launch the ​Vizio TV SmartCast home screen.
  • Using your TV remote, press up and click on the Extras tab on the menu bar.
  • Select Voice Settings, and then Pair Display.
  • Using your smartphone go to dms.vizio.com/alexa  and ​enter the PIN shown your TV screen.
  • When prompted, return to the Alexa App on your phone to enable Alexa voice skills, link accounts, and devices.

Use Alexa With Logitech Harmony Remote Control System

Linking Alexa with a Logitech Harmony Remote Control System
Linking Alexa with a Logitech Harmony Remote Control System. Image provided by Logitech Harmony

Another way you can use Alexa with your TV is via a Logitech Harmony Elite, Ultimate, Ultimate Home, Harmony Hub, Harmony Pro remote control system.

Linking Alexa with a compatible Harmony system allows remote control and content access functions for your TV using Alexa voice command through the Alexa App, or Amazon Echo devices.

Here are the initial steps to link Alexa with a compatible Harmony Remote system.

  • Open the Alexa App on your Smartphone.
  • Tap on the  Menu icon.
  • Go to Skills and search for Harmony.
  • Tap the blue Harmony icon to enable the Alexa/Harmony Skill.
  • Go to the Select Activities page to further customize what devices and commands you want Alexa to associate with the Harmony remote control system.
  • Next, you will be taken to a screen that says Now For The Fun Part - at the bottom of the screen, click on Link Account to complete the setup.

For a review of the link steps, as well as how to customize Alexa/Harmony link features further, including sample commands and voice control shortcuts, check out the  Logitech Harmony Experience with Alexa page.

Another way Alexa can interact with Harmony remotes is via the IFTTT App. To use IFTTT, install the app on your smartphone, then do the following:

  • Open the IFTTT App.
  • Tap the page icon on the bottom right corner of the screen.
  • Tap the Alexa section. It Alexa does not show up on the page, tap on Search and type it in. When you find it tap it and follow the setup instructions.
  • Once Alexa is placed on your Services list, tap it, scroll down and activate the TV on/off Applets (follow any additional instructions).

The above steps will link the "Alexa, trigger turn on/off (or another phrase) TV" commands from the applet on your smartphone or Echo device to your compatible Harmony Remote control system.

Check out some additional IFTTT Applets that you can use with Alexa and Harmony.

Use Alexa with Roku via Quick Remote

Quick Remote App (Android Version) for Roku and Alexa
Quick Remote App (Android Version) for Roku and Alexa. Images provided by Quick Remote

If you have a Roku TV or Roku media streamer plugged into your TV, you can use Alexa to control what you see on your TV using the Quick Remote App for iOS or Android.

Download and install the Quick Remote app on your smartphone. After installing the app, follow the instructions outlined on the Quick Remote App download page (or watch the brief setup video) to link Quick Remote to your Roku device and Alexa.

Once you link Quick Remote with your Roku device and Alexa, you can use voice commands to tell Quick Remote to navigate the Roku menu system and select any app to start playing.

The Quick Remote app works the same way on both plug-in Roku devices and Roku TVs (TVs with Roku features built-in).

Quick Remote can be used with either the Alexa App or an Echo-type device. This means if you don't have an Echo device, you can control your Roku device or Roku TV using the Alexa app on your smartphone.

If you aren't near your Echo device, you also have the option to use the Quick Remote app keypad from your smartphone.

Quick Remote download and installation are free, but you are limited to 50 free commands per month. If you want to use more than 50 commands a month, you need to subscribe to the Quick Remote Full Pass for $.99 per month or $9.99 per year.

Use Alexa with the URC Custom Remote Control System

Amazon Echo with URC Remote Control System
Amazon Echo with URC Remote Control System. Image provided by URC

For custom installed home theater systems that include a TV, one solution is to link Alexa with a URC (Universal Remote Control) Total Control 2.0 system.

To use an Amazon Echo device with your TV and the URC Total Control 2.0 system, an installer is required to set up the link. The installer also develops the entire command infrastructure you need to operate and access content on your TV.

You have the choice of letting the installer create the needed voice commands, or you can tell him/her what commands you would like to use.

For example, you can go with something basic, such as "Turn on the TV", or something more fun like "OK - It is time for family movie nite!". The installer then makes the phrases work with the Alexa voice assistant platform.

Using the link between Alexa and the URC Total Control system, the installer can combine one or more tasks with a specific phrase. "OK - It is time for family movie nite" can be used to turn on the TV, dim the lights, switch to a channel, turn on your home theater audio system, etc...

If you have a custom installed TV/home theater system, or just lots of devices that you want or need to work with your TV, linking Alexa through an Echo-type device with the URC Total Control 2.0 system is one option to consider.

Use Alexa with Dish Satellite Boxes

Dish with Alexa
Dish with Alexa. Image provided by Dish Network

Alexa can also work with your TV via connection through Dish Satellite Boxes (Hopper, Joey, Wally). You can use Alexa, through your Echo device, to tell your Dish Satellite box what live or Dish DVR recorded content you want to watch on your TV.

To link a Dish satellite box with Alexa, start with these steps:

  • Open the Alexa App on your smartphone and select Music, Video, and Books.
  • Scroll down the list of skills until you find Dish TV.
  • Turn on an Internet-connection for the Dish Hopper or Wally.
  • Go to Menu, then Settings, Amazon Alexa, Get Code.
  • Enter the Code you are provided in the Alexa App.
  • Select Activate.
  • When you see the confirmation message, select Done.

To further link Alexa, an Echo device (Echo, Dot, Tap), and a Dish satellite box perform the following additional setups:

  • In the Alexa smartphone App, Open Devices, and select a Hopper, Wally, or Joey.
  • Hit Continue
  • Next, select the Echo device to be linked with the satellite box.
  • Hit Link Device.
  • If you have more than one box, repeat the above steps for each box.

Examples of commands you can use to control your Dish device using the Alexa App or an Echo Device include:

  • Alexa, change the channel to CBS.
  • Alexa, search for action movies.
  • Alexa, tune to channel 110
  • Alexa, play The Orville
  • Alexa, go to the National Geographic Channel
  • Alexa, show me Jennifer Lawrence movies
  • Alexa, skip forward
  • Alexa, rewind 15 seconds
  • Alexa, pause
  • Alexa, resume

Note For DirecTV Subscribers: There isn't an official Amazon-available Alexa Skill for linking directly to a DirecTV satellite system. However, if you have Alexa linked to either the Logitech Harmony or URC remote control system options discussed previously, you can ask Harmony to operate compatible DirecTV products through its control platform. Some users have actually created their own custom Alexa Skill for controlling DirecTV directly through an Echo device.

The Bottom Line

Element - Amazon Fire TV Edition
Element - Amazon Fire TV Edition. Image provided by Amazon

Alexa can serve as a central voice control hub for home entertainment and smart home devices and Alexa voice assistant compatibility is being incorporated into an increasing number of products.

There are several ways to "connect" Alexa to your TV that makes accessing content and controlling it a lot easier. In addition, to those listed and discussed above, there are some additional Alexa remote control skills available including ​Smart TV Remote, Smart TV Remote Pro, and Anymote.

If you have an Echo or other branded device that has Alexa voice assistant built-in, try connecting to your TV using one, or more, of the above options and see how it works for you.