Make the most of your smart speaker: Alexa Cheat Sheets!

Earlier this year, I gifted both my mother and my mother-in-law smart speakers from Amazon.


Recently, I decided to check back in with them. After a few months of use, what did they think? Did they like Alexa? Did they use Alexa? What did they use Alexa for?


In a nutshell, here's what I learned:

  • That both women used Alexa only for the most basic conveniences: Playing music, checking time, retrieving news.

  • That initial enthusiasm for Alexa quickly gave way to indifference. Why? Several reasons: They didn’t know what else to ask Alexa, they couldn't remember how to properly phrase questions, and they weren't aware of all the things Alexa could actually do.

  • That neither mom was particularly motivated to take the time to learn more. (Ouch!)


As a result, I reminded them that there's a lot of helpful and easy-to-access information in the Alexa app. I also took the liberty of creating some simple cheat sheets for them. These cheat sheets summarize Alexa’s most basic capabilities, along with specific voice commands. I've shared these cheat sheets with them. I'm interested to hear whether they actually find them helpful. (Stay tuned for a report!)


The first set of cheat sheets are copy and pasted below: News & Weather, General Information, Music & Audio Books, Clocks, Calendars, Alarms & Reminders. There are also links to downloadable pre-formatted versions that can be printed out at home.


Please feel free to share any thoughts or suggestions for improving these cheat sheets. (I’ll continue to update them as I learn more from my mothers and from others in the Ayaplaces community!) Also, please note that the voice commands listed on these cheat sheets are largely limited to capabilities that are available to Alexa users straight “out of the box.” However, the possibilities are much greater! There is a catalog of additional skills you can enable on your Alexa. (Think of them as apps.) To browse this catalog, visit the skill's page on the Amazon Alexa app or at alexa.amazon.com.


Here goes...



News, Weather & Traffic


News


Listen: “Alexa, tell me the news?”

Pause: “Alexa, stop”

Resume News: “Alexa, resume news”

Listen to your Flash Briefing*: “Alexa, play my Flash Briefing.”

Skip to the next news source: “Alexa, next”

Sports scores:

  • Check game results: "Alexa, what was the score of the Dodger game?"

  • Check league standings: "Alexa, what are the NFL standings?"

  • Check team schedule: "Alexa, when do the San Jose Earthquakes play next?"

Stock prices:

  • Check stock market index: "Alexa, how's the S & P 500 doing today?"

  • Check a specific stock: "Alexa, what's Apple's stock trading at?"


Weather


Check the weather:

  • “Alexa, what’s the weather?”

  • "Alexa, how cold is it today?"

  • "Alexa, do I need an umbrella?"

Check the forecast:

  • “Alexa, what’s the forecast?”

  • “Alexa, what’s the weather going to be like this weekend?”

  • “Alexa, what’s the weather going to be like [insert future date]?”

  • “Alexa, when is tomorrow’s sunrise?”


Traffic


Check traffic: "Alexa, what's traffic like?"

Check your commute: “Alexa, what's my commute look like?”


* Flash Briefings


Customize your daily news with “Flash briefings.” These are quick summaries of the news based on your preferred news sources and based on your specific interests. They’re generally 2-4 minutes long each, and they’re perfect when you want something fast.


Flash briefings are available from almost every news outlet (and on virtually every topic) you can think of. You can add as many flash briefings to your Alexa flash briefing list as you’d like! You’ll hear one after the other.

To set up your Flash Briefings, simply go to the settings in your Alexa app. You can choose different news sources, create playlists, and change the order of playback. Super easy!

Some popular news sources include: Reuters, New York Times, CNN, NPR, Fox News, Financial Times, Cheddar. You can also add local news outlets. Just search for the name of the media outlet by following these instructions for how to add a flash briefing to your personal flash briefing list.

And for those with specific interests, a few examples of other news feeds that that you can add to your Flash Briefing: The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Front Row Entrepreneur, People, Dallas Cowboys, Gaming Observer, Two Minutes in the Garden, The Instagram Stories, Voice Marketing – Daily Beetle Moment, Future Ear Radio and Everyday Positivity.

Finally, to try one new awesome thing to try with Alexa every day, check out VoiceBrew’s Daily Alexa Tip Of The Day flash briefing. It’s delivered in a minute or less and it will help you maximize your use and enjoyment of Alexa.


To download the printable cheat sheet, click here.




General Information


Facts & Trivia


General facts: "Alexa, what's the tallest building in the world?"

Wikipedia information: "Alexa, Wikipedia 'The French Revolution.'"

Quora: "Alexa, ask Quora if Crustaceans feel pain when you boil them."

Foreign languages: "Alexa, how do you say 'I love you with all my heart' in Italian?"

Quotes: "Alexa, give me a 'Game of Thrones' quote."


How To


Recipes: "Alexa, how do you make spaghetti carbonara?"

Housecleaning: "Alexa, how do I clean bathroom tiles?"

Games: "Alexa, how do you play gin rummy?"


Definitions and spelling


Get the definition of a word: "Alexa, what's the definition of [word]?"

Get the spelling of a word: "Alexa, how do you spell [word]?"

Get a synonym: "Alexa, what's another word for [word]?"


Math


Convert units: "Alexa, how many [units] are in [units]?"

Basic math: "Alexa, what's 56 times 33?"

Advanced math: "Alexa, 70 factorial." (Warning: Alexa will list numbers you didn't know existed for about a minute!)


To download the printable cheat sheet, click here.




Music & Audio Books


Music


Listen:

  • "Alexa, play some music."

  • Alexa, play The Beatles

  • Alexa, play country music

  • “Alexa, play Cat Scratch Fever”

  • "Alexa, play the song of the day."

  • “Alexa, play workout music”

  • “Alexa, play that song with the lyrics [insert lyric]”

Skip song: “Alexa, next”

Pause music: “Alexa, pause”

Stop music: “Alexa, stop”

Restart song: "Alexa, restart."

Change volume:

  • “Alexa, turn it up to eleven”

  • “Alexa, lower the music”

Change specific audio settings:

  • "Alexa, add more bass”

  • “Alexa, less treble”

Song information: "Alexa, what's playing?"

Set music alarm:

  • "Alexa, wake me up every day at 8 am to music"

Set a sleep timer:

  • "Alexa set a sleep timer for 45 minutes"

  • "Alexa, stop playing in 45 minutes."

Control speakers:

  • "Alexa, play [artist] in the living room"

  • "Alexa, play [artist] everywhere."

Playlists

  • Play Spotify music: "Alexa, play [playlist] on Spotify."

  • Play Pandora station: "Alexa, play [artist] station on Pandora."

  • Like or dislike a song on iHeartRadio: "Alexa, I like this song" or "Alexa, thumbs down."

  • Play a radio station: "Alexa, play [radio station] on TuneIn”

  • Add a song to your Prime Music library: "Alexa, add this song."

  • Add a song to a playlist in Amazon Music: "Alexa, add this song to my playlist" or "Alexa, add this to my [playlist name] playlist."

  • Create a playlist in Amazon Music: "Alexa, create a new playlist," or "Alexa, create a 'Friday Chill' playlist."

  • Start Amazon Music Unlimited trial: "Alexa, start my free trial of Amazon Music Unlimited."

Audio Books.

Please note: If you’re into audio books, Audible is a great option that integrates well with Alexa. Below or some basic playback controls. (Alexa can also read back your Kindle books at no extra charge. However, it does so with text-to-speech voice.)

Listen

  • "Alexa, read [The Hobbit] from Audible"

  • “Alexa, read my book" (plays your last books listened to)

  • “Alexa, read [Tom Sawyer]"

Pause: "Alexa, pause"

Resume: "Alexa, resume" or "Alexa, play"

Go back or forward:

  • "Alexa, go back"

  • "Alexa, go forward"

  • "Alexa, go back [45 seconds]"

  • "Alexa, go forward [2 minutes]"

  • "Alexa, next chapter"

  • "Alexa, previous chapter"

  • "Alexa, go to chapter number [7]"

  • "Alexa, go to last chapter"

  • "Alexa, restart"

Narration Speed:

  • "Alexa, read faster"

  • "Alexa, read slower"

  • "Alexa, read at normal speed"

Set a sleep timer:

  • "Alexa, stop reading in [12 minutes]"

  • "Alexa, set a [6 minute] sleep timer"

Start Audible trial: "Alexa, start an Audible trial"

Buy a new book: "Alexa, buy [Name of Book]"

Choose your own adventure fun: "Alexa, open Choose Your Own Adventure."

Take a quiz: "Alexa, play the Harry Potter quiz."



To download the printable cheat sheet, click here.



Clocks & Calendars, Alarms & Reminders


Date & Time


Check time: “Alexa, what time is it?”

Check date: “Alexa, what is today’s date?”

Check holiday date: "Alexa, when is Easter this year?"

Check daylight savings: “Alexa, when is it time to turn my clocks back?”

Alarms & Timers


Set an alarm:

  • "Alexa, set an alarm for 7 a.m."

  • "Alexa, wake me up at 7 in the morning."

Set a repeating alarm: "Alexa, set a repeating alarm for weekdays at 7 a.m."

Set a music alarm:

  • "Alexa, wake me up to [artist, song, genre, playlist or album] at 8 a.m."

  • "Alexa, wake me up to Kiss FM on TuneIn."

Cancel an alarm: "Alexa, cancel my alarm for 2 p.m."

Snooze alarm: "Alexa, snooze."

Ask when the next alarm is: "Alexa, when's my next alarm?"

Set a timer: “Alexa, set a timer for 15 minutes."

Set a music timer: "Alexa, set a 15-minute timer to [artist, song, genre, playlist or album] "

Create a named timer: "Alexa, set a ‘pizza timer’ for 20 minutes."

Set multiple timers: "Alexa, set a second timer for 5 minutes."

Check timer status:

  • "Alexa, how much time is left on the pizza timer?"

  • "Alexa, what are my timers?"

Cancel a timer:

  • "Alexa, cancel the pizza timer"

  • "Alexa, cancel the 15-minute timer."


Reminders & Notifications


Set a reminder: “Alexa, remind me to…

  • ...take my medications every day at 9 am.”

  • ...walk the dog at noon.”

  • ...water the plants every Tuesday and Friday at 3 pm.”

  • ...start the laundry today at 2 pm.”

  • ...check the mail.”

  • ...make a doctor’s appointment.”

Calendars & Scheduling


Note: Alexa is great for calendaring and keeping track of appointments. However, before you use this you’ll have to connect Alexa to your calendar app. In your Alexa app, go to the Calendar and Email section. You’ll see four options here: Google, Microsoft, Apple and Microsoft Exchange. Simply choose your preferred option and your calendar will be automatically synced with the Alexa service.


You can also have Alexa read out calendar events and start times. To set this up, you’ll simply need to toggle on Calendar Notifications in the Alexa app.


Adding and changing an event:

  • "Alexa, add an event to my calendar.” (Alexa will then walk you through event creation)

  • "Alexa, add [event] to my calendar for [day] at [time]."

  • "Alexa, delete my [time] event."

  • "Alexa, cancel my [date] event."

  • "Alexa, delete [event] from my calendar."

  • "Alexa, move my [event name] to [time or date]."

  • "Alexa, reschedule my [time or date] event to [new time or date]."

  • "Alexa, schedule a [event name] with [person's name]."

  • "Alexa, create a meeting named [event name] with [person's name]."

  • "Alexa, invite [person's name] to [event name]."

Checking on events:

  • "Alexa, when is my next event?"

  • "Alexa, what's on my calendar?"

  • "Alexa, what's on my calendar tomorrow at [time]?"

  • "Alexa, what's on my calendar on [day]?"

  • "Alexa, what's my calendar look like today?"



To download the printable cheat sheet, click here.


Stay tuned for the next set of Alexa cheat sheets. They include Smart Home Controls, Phones & Communicating, Listmaking, Fun & Games, Exercising, Meditation & Relaxation.