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Home / Tips and Tricks / Alexa routines can seem overwhelming, but these shortcuts make them a breeze

Alexa routines can seem overwhelming, but these shortcuts make them a breeze



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While still not exactly child’s play, Amazon’s new and improved ways to implement Alexa routines are much easier to deal with than before.

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Admit it. You are curious about Alexa routines. You may have friends or family who sometimes show off their own home-brewed Alexa automations, but every time you start making up your own smart home wizardry, it blows in your face. The unfortunate and often unspoken reality is that smart home routines are cumbersome and frustrating to set up, so most people choose to live without them.

That’s a shame, because routines are the pixie dust that can make your smart home setup feel almost magical. Imagine a morning routine where you turn on the lights, play stimulating music, and start your coffee pot. And all you have to do is say, “Alexa, good morning.” Or imagine an evening routine that turns everything off and plays white noise or a podcast to help you fall asleep, right behind ‘Alexa, good night’. Wouldn’t that be spectacular?

I know routines can look intimidating, but what if I gave you the cheat code? What if setting up an Alexa routine was hardly more difficult than, say, typing a command? Or as simple as scanning a QR code or clicking a link?


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Well, you’re in luck because in the past few months, Amazon has created four easy options for setting up Alexa routines. We’ll take a look at them all, starting with one that was already easy, but we’ve made it even easier.

The easiest: Click these links for Alexa routine templates

There is simple – and then there is easySetting up an Alexa routine doesn’t get any easier than this. In a blog post from last fall announcing shareable Alexa routines (check out the next tip for full details), Amazon not only told us how to share routines with your friends and family – it also shared some of its own routines.

alexa app routines

Now you can create routines in the Alexa app with the same commands you normally use to speak to the digital voice assistant.

Ry Crist / CNET

You can click through to the Amazon blog and follow the links there if you want. (If you’re using a desktop or laptop computer, you’ll need to scan the corresponding QR codes with your phone to open the links in the Alexa app.) But if you’re already reading this article on a phone, just keep reading – we’ll have collected them all here.

Tap one of these links and your Alexa app open automatically – then tap View Routine to edit and enable the routine. Beyond that, the most you may need to do is choose which device (smart light, Amazon Echo device, and so on) will work with the routine. That is it.

  • Family routine – This is a good one if your mornings need to wake the little ones from their sleep and motivate everyone to tackle the day. You will receive inspiring messages, cheerful music, the weather forecast of the day and lots of other fun things throughout the day. After you tap Save say in the top right corner “Alexa, family routine“to get it going.
  • Fitness day routine – If you like to start the morning with some exercise, but maybe need a little nudge to keep it going throughout the day, this routine is for you. Say, “Alexa, start my fitness day
  • Headspace routine – For current users of Headspace guided meditation (or if anyone would like to try it), this routine will set the tone by dimming the lights, turning on “do not disturb” devices and picking up where you left off last time that you meditated.Alexa, grab some Headspace
  • NPR routine – Exactly what it sounds like. If you like to start your day with NPR news, this routine is triggered when your morning alarm is ignored – you don’t have to say or do anything else.
  • History Channel routine – Similar to the NPR routine, but for This Day in History. Activate by saying “Alexa, good morning
  • iHeartRadio routine – Ditto, the previous two, but for things you need to know. Activated when you ignore the alarm.
  • Focus on time routine – 30 minutes of uninterrupted classical music to help you find school, work or another project.Alexa, start the focus time
  • Screen time routine – Start an hour countdown to keep your screen time under control.Alexa, start screen time
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Amazon has made it easier to share routines directly with other Alexa users.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Simple too: tear off your friends and family’s routines

Outsourcing is the oldest productivity hack in the book, and now you can do it with routines. Start with your boyfriend, old college friend, uncle, dad, teenage brother, or anyone else you know who has Alexa, what their favorite routines are and, if you hear one you think you’d like, let them do it :

1. Open the Alexa app

2. Crane More in the lower left corner.

3. Crane Routines (fifth from the top).

4. Tap the routine you want to share.

5. Press More icon (three stacked dots) in the upper right corner.

6. Crane Share routine

7. Crane Continue to recognize that you may be sharing personal information with whoever you routinely send to.

8. Share like any other link.

From there, the recipient only has to tap the link they received, which will open the routine in its own Alexa app, where you can then save it.

Still pretty simple: choose from the list of recommended routines in the Alexa app

As you might imagine (although surprisingly easily overlooked), there are some basic routines available from within the Alexa app. Setting it up basically works just like the aforementioned methods, only instead of clicking links you want to navigate directly to the list in the app. Here’s how:

1. Open the Alexa app

2. Crane More in the lower left corner.

3. Crane Routines (fifth from the top).

4. Crane Featured in the upper right corner.

5. Choose which routine template to install, tap it and edit it if necessary.

6. Crane Switch in the upper right corner.

The least easy yet effortless way to create a custom Alexa routine

If none of the aforementioned routine templates please you – or if some do, but you’d really like to get started inventing your own – instead of navigating all the cluttered, layered menus with sections like Scheme Smart home Place or Alarms, just tell Alexa what you want it to do, using the exact same words you would say with a voice command, but instead of saying them out loud:

1. Open the Alexa app

2. Crane More in the lower left corner.

3. Crane Routines (fifth from the top).

4. Press more ticks ) in the upper right corner.

5. Name your routine and tap The next

6. Crane When this happens

7. Crane Vote in the upper right corner.

8. Type the trigger phrase you want to say to start this routine.

9. Crane Add action then tap Customization

10. Type exactly what you would say to Alexa (‘turn on kitchen lights’, ‘play Nickleback’, ‘make fart noises’, etc.) then tap The next

11. Repeat steps 9 and 10 as often as necessary to create your routine.

12. Crane Save in the top right corner, then choose which device you want Alexa to respond to (pro tip: nine times out of 10 you have to choose The device you are talking to

That is it. That’s literally all you need to do to create just about any Alexa routine you can think of. Now go ahead and build your routines, never again worrying that these custom Alexa commands are too annoying to mess around with.


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