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 footballer Alexis Sánchez and, even if you say his full name, Alexa may 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 – and remember, everything Alexa listen to during these accidental recordings is saved to Amazon's server.
Thankfully, the Alexa app allows you to change the 'wake word' from Alexa to one of three alternatives. You can change the wake word for each Alexa device in your home, or set them all to have the same word. Here's how:
How to change the name Alexa responds to
- Open the Alexa smartphone app or visit alexa.amazon.com
- Tap on the Devices icon, then on the Echo & Alexa button at the top
- Now find the device you want to change the wake word of and tap it
- Scroll down to the General section and tap on Wake Word
- Tap on the one you want, either Alexa, Amazon, Echo or Computer
Tap on the one you want, then wait a moment for the change to be made and close the app. To change the wake word of another Alexa device in your home, repeat the process above. There's no way to change the wake word globally – that is, on all of your Alexa devices at once.
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.
Changing Alexa's wake wordGearBrain
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 without interruptions from Alexa.
This ability to change the wake word is unique for Alexa, as it can't be done with Apple's Siri or the Google Assistant. Albeit the latter does have two wake words active at one, 'Hey Google' and 'Okay Google'.
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.