For the most part, addressing your Amazon Echo speaker by saying 'Alexa' is trouble-free. However, it will occasionally respond to the wrong word or phrase - like when someone says 'I'll text her' - or wake up more often if someone in your home is called Alex, or indeed, Alexa.
Talk about Manchester United footballer Alexis Sánchez and, even if you say his full name, Alexa will spring into life, listen for a few seconds, then promptly say she can't help. Or she might crack a joke, or read out the weather forecast. In a house of football fans this can quickly become annoying.
Thankfully, the Alexa app allows you to change the 'wake word' from Alexa to one of three alternatives. Here's how:
How to change the name Alexa responds to
- Open the Alexa smartphone app or visit alexa.amazon.com
- Tap on the menu icon in the top-left corner
- Tap on Settings
- Find the Echo device you would like to edit and tap on it
- Scroll down and tap on Wake Word
- Tap where it says Alexa in blue
Now you can pick from the following alternatives:
Tap on the one you want, then tap done and wait a moment for the change to be made. Now tap Save and exit the app.
As our housemates tend to refer to the Echo speaker as Alexa in conversation, we thought we would change the wake word to Echo. We at first thought this would cause the speaker to wake up every time we said 'the Echo' or 'Amazon Echo', but to our surprise this wasn't the case.
Saying 'Echo' on its own works just as well as 'Alexa' did before, but saying a sentence with the word 'echo' in it did not cause the speaker to wake up accidentally.
Similarly, changing the wake word to 'Amazon' did not cause the speaker to wake up every time we mentioned the company name. If we started a sentence with the wake word, it would often start listening, but sentences containing Amazon after the first word could be said as normal with no interruptions from Alexa.
For contrast, the a Google Home Mini which sits next to our Echo Dot very rarely listens accidentally. We actually can't remember it ever doing so in the four months we have owned it. The wake word for Google Home cannot be changed, but either 'okay Google' or 'hey Google' can be used interchangeably.
Check out these GearBrain guides to unlock new Alexa features:
- Amazon Echo: What are Alexa Smart Home Groups and how do I create them?
- How to set up a second Amazon Echo, and why your smart home should have more than one
- How to play music in several rooms at once with Amazon Alexa and Multi-Room Music
- Alexa Drop In: How to turn your Amazon Echo speakers into a home intercom system
- How to make Alexa go several things at once with Routines
- The GearBrain: What works with Amazon Alexa
Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility checker to see the other compatible products that work with Amazon Alexa devices.