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Best Alexa settings to update right now

No one expected smart assistants to take hold like they have, but many people can hardly imagine a world without their Amazon Echo in it. The amount of utility that Alexa provides is unprecedented. Its ability to turn lights on and off, deliver news updates, play music, and so much more make Alexa a welcome part of most smart households today.

With that in mind, people do have complaints about the way Alexa works. If you find Alexa to be a bit too chatty or you get tired of her constantly playing music from the wrong platform, you can change these settings to ensure the assistant works exactly as you want. Here’s how to change the settings that will create a more harmonious union between you and Alexa.

Switch Alexa to Brief mode

Often, Alexa will go above and beyond in her response to your query. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, sometimes you don’t want an incredibly long response to a simple question. You can change that. Go into Settings > Voice Responses and activate Brief mode, Alexa will respond with fewer words and will sometimes simply play a tone to indicate that she heard you. This adjustment will also help eliminate unnecessary offers (like telling you about new features) when you ask Alexa a question.

Update your news sources

Amazon Echo Show 10 Smart Display with Alexa.

Alexa is one of the best ways to stay up to date on current events, especially when you have a busy day ahead and you don’t want to spend time watching the news. Everyone has their preferred news source, but unless you set those sources as the default option in Alexa, she will read your morning news brief to you from a variety of sources. Go to Settings > News > Edit My News Channel and select the news provider you like best. A checkmark will appear beside the name, and that will be the source Alexa defaults to for news in the morning.

Disable the use of voice recordings

Privacy is one of the main concerns newcomers have when purchasing a smart assistant. The good news is that Amazon has added a slew of features to make Alexa more secure than ever before, as well as give you more control over your own data. By default, Alexa will use voice recordings and requests to help improve the platform. You can opt out of this program by opening Settings > Alexa Privacy > Manage Your Alexa Data and turn the toggle for Use of Voice Recordings to the off position.

Change your wake word

Now that Alexa has become part of the mainstream zeitgeist, TV shows and advertisements constantly say her name. This can result in unwanted activations. To avoid this, change the wake word from Alexa to one of the other options. Personally, I think “Computer” is the best choice — you can pretend to be Captain Kirk. Open Settings > Device Settings > choose your device from the list then select Wake Word and choose a new option. “Ziggy” is also an option, albeit a new one.

Enable follow-up mode

Alexa can make use of context clues to carry on a more natural conversation, especially if you give a lot of commands or ask a lot of questions consecutively. If you have to say the wake word before each and every question, it defeats the purpose. Instead, turn on follow-up mode to add a more natural conversational flow to your interactions with your smart assistant. Open Settings > Device Settings > choose your device and select Follow-up Mode and slide the toggle to the on position.

These five settings can turn Alexa from a pretty good smart assistant to an amazing one. Take the time to figure out exactly how you use your smart assistant and then change the necessary settings until you get the responses you want to your prompts.

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Patrick Hearn
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Patrick Hearn writes about smart home technology like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, smart light bulbs, and more. If it's a…
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