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How to Smarten Up Your Home With Alexa Routines

Alexa. Alexa. Alexa. It can be tiring calling on Amazon's virtual assistant for every command to turn on a variety of smart home devices in succession. But did you know you can set up Alexa routines and create a single voice command that triggers a series of different actions?

To design routines, you need to use the Alexa app. Once you make one, you can use an Alexa speaker, smart display, or another smart home device with built-in Alexa to trigger a routine. You can also schedule routines, or trigger them via third-party smart home devices, by dismissing alarms, or with Echo buttons. 

Not using Alexa in your home? We also have guides on How to Create Google Assistant Routines and How to Use Siri Shortcuts.

How to Set Up an Alexa Routine

Open the Alexa app on your phone or tablet, tap the More tab at the bottom, then choose Routines. You will find some preset routines on the Featured tab. To create your own routine, tap the plus icon and you’ll be prompted to choose a name for it.

Tap on When this happens to select your trigger, and Add action to pick what should happen. Here's an example: When I say, "Alexa, good night," lights power off, bedroom curtains close, and Alexa says "sweet dreams."

You can add as many actions as you like. Most actions are self-explanatory, from starting a call to sending an email to triggering a music playlist. The Smart Home section is where you can trigger actions on devices like smart lights, security cameras, and robot vacuums, provided you have already added them through the Alexa app. If you haven’t, just tap on the More tab and choose Add a device at the top.

You can always edit or delete routines later, so it’s worth experimenting. If you can’t find the action you want, try the Customized option at the top and type what you want Alexa to do.

If that doesn’t swing it, then consider using IFTTT (If This Then That). You can create “applets” to do just about anything via the IFTTT website and, if you link your Amazon account, the applets you create will appear via the IFTTT option in the Add action list when you’re creating an Alexa routine. This can be a good way of having an Alexa command trigger a device or service that isn’t directly compatible. 

You can find more information about Alexa routines and ideas for new ones here.

What You Can Do With Alexa Routines 

You can use routines to trigger the usual array of answers, announcements, and actions that Alexa is capable of, but they can be layered to suit different ends. With the right devices connected, you can also trigger lights, cameras, TVs, music, and all the fun and useful Alexa skills you have installed. The possibilities are nearly endless.

There are too many to go through every single option here, so here are a few example routines you might find useful:

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Set the action of dismissing your morning alarm to trigger a weather report, news headlines, and open your curtains.Say “Alexa, goodbye” to turn all smart lights off, trigger your robot vacuum to start, and have Alexa reply “Catch you later.”Say “Alexa, quiet time” to turn on Do not disturb for an hour, trigger a relaxing music playlist, and switch your smart lights to a relaxing scene.Set a press of your smart doorbell to trigger a sci-fi alert sound and make your smart lights flash red.Say “Alexa, Amy’s bedtime” to switch your smart lighting to a subdued level, play soothing sleep sounds, and close the curtains.

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