If you bought an Amazon Echo Show for the built-in display, you might be wondering how to make the most of it.
There are literally hundreds of “Alexa...” voice commands to try, from reading the news to bringing up your calendar. For more inspiration when it comes to voice commands, say “Alexa, what can you do?” in earshot of your Echo Show.
But with a screen, your Echo Show is capable of so much more. Here are the 10 coolest features that make the upgrade from a regular Echo speaker worth it—some of which you may never have heard of before.
Watching YouTube videos on an Amazon Echo Show is possible, even though the process is a bit awkward. Say, “Alexa, open Silk,” to open Amazon’s own web browser, or, “Alexa, open Firefox,” to start browsing the web.
From here you can tap your way to the YouTube website (mobile version) and start watching videos. You can log into your YouTube account if you want to, and also make videos full-screen. The bigger your Amazon Echo Show, the easier on-screen navigation is.
If you place your Echo Show in the kitchen, the screen makes a great visual guide for recipes. You get a list of ingredients and some step-by-step instructions, plus estimates of how long the recipe takes to make and how many people it will serve.
Just say, “Alexa, show me a recipe for...,” followed by the dish of your choice. As you can imagine, you can be fairly flexible in what you say for the dish or meal, because the web is filled with recipes to follow. Use the touchscreen to browse through the matching results.
If you want to use your Echo Show as a digital photo frame, it’s easily done, provided you’re happy to use Amazon Photos as the source. Just say, “Alexa, show my photos,” to see a slideshow, or mention a specific folder in Amazon Photos by name.
Swipe down from the top of the screen and choose Settings, Display, then Photo Slideshow to set the slideshow speed and cropping options. To use Facebook as a photo source, add it via the Alexa app on your phone (Settings, Photos from the app menu).
The Amazon Echo Show comes with its own Do Not Disturb mode, just like your smartphone does, which means you won’t be interrupted by any notifications or requests from the device. People won’t be able to call you through the smart display, either.
You can enable Do Not Disturb manually by swiping down from the top of the screen and tapping Do Not Disturb. It’s also possible to have it run on a schedule: Swipe down from the top of the screen, then select Settings and Do Not Disturb to set up the timings.
The Drop In feature on the Echo devices is essentially a video or audio call that connects automatically, so you don’t have to pick up. That obviously raises privacy concerns, but it can be useful for checking in on pets at home or keeping an eye on elderly relatives.
The feature needs to be enabled first: In the Alexa app on your phone, tap Communicate then Drop In to do this. You’re then able to give specific contacts permission to drop in on you unannounced, so the feature isn’t available to everyone in your address book.
Your Echo Show can play music from Spotify directly, once you’ve connected your account through Settings and Music in the Alexa mobile app. With the Spotify app open on your phone, tap Devices (bottom left on the Now Playing screen), and choose your Echo Show.
One of the advantages of having an Echo Show rather than an audio-only Echo is that you’re able to control playback on the touchscreen. You can still use Alexa voice commands to pause your music and skip tracks as well.
The Echo Show devices offer an accessibility feature you can use to add extra touchscreen shortcuts for common functions. To enable it, swipe down from the top of the screen, then choose Settings and Accessibility to find the relevant Tap to Alexa toggle switch.
A new icon appears on the screen of the Echo Show, which you can tap to get at functions you might otherwise use your voice for: starting timers, asking questions, stopping audio playback, bringing up the weather forecast, accessing your shopping list, and more.
One of the ways Alexa can be most helpful is through the use of Routines, which are supported by all Echo devices and combine several different actions into one. To get started, open the Alexa app on your phone; from the app menu, choose Routines.
Tap Featured to get some inspiration or the Plus icon to create a new routine. You specify a voice command, and then a series of actions that it triggers. For example, you could say good night to Alexa and the Echo Show will then turn off all your smart devices and play a bedtime playlist.
The rolling display of news headlines, weather forecasts, and other information that the Echo Show shows when not in use is one of the most useful features of the gadget. You can further customize how the home screen works from the device’s settings page.
Swipe down from the top of the screen and choose Settings then Home & Clock. If you then tap Home Content, you can choose what the Echo Show displays on the home screen: calendar events, Alexa skills, sports scores, reminders, trending topics, stock prices, and more.
You can say, “Alexa, open Prime Video,” to launch Amazon’s on-demand video-streaming service (if you subscribe to Amazon Prime, of course). Using the touchscreen, you can browse through movies, TV shows, Amazon Originals, and Prime Video categories.
You can also ask to see specific shows or specific movies, or to see a selection of results (“Alexa, show me comedy movies”). Alexa will also pause playback, fast forward and rewind, and take you back to the beginning of a video if you ask.
(Updated 3/4/22 with new details)