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Master Alexa on a touchscreen

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(Pocket-lint) – If you’ve just bought an Echo Show, Echo Show 5 or Echo Show 8 and want to know how to get the most from it, look no further – here are our best tips.

Set up your Echo Show

This might be obvious, but we have to begin somewhere: to get started with Echo Show, place it in a central location, whether that be your kitchen counter, your living room, your nightstand, or wherever, then plug the included power adapter into it and then into a power outlet, and follow the on-screen prompts that appear to select a language, connect to your Wi-Fi and log in to your Amazon account.


You need the free Alexa app to manage your Echo Show and feature options. To download the Alexa app, go to the app store on your mobile device and search for the “Alexa app” (or, you can use the links below). If you don’t have a mobile device, you can go to this Amazon Alexa site from Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Internet Explorer browsers to manage your Echo Show.

Navigate your Echo Show

You can navigate Echo Show using both your voice and the touch screen. Here’s how:

  • Go to the home screen: Say, “Alexa, go home.” You can also swipe down from the top of the Echo Show screen and select Home. This also works on Fire TV, coincidentally. 
  • See available settings: Say, “Alexa, go to settings.” You can also swipe down from the top of the Echo Show screen and select Settings.
  • Scroll through a list: Say,”Alexa, scroll up/down.” You can also swipe in different directions on the screen (left, right, up, and down).
  • Media playback: Say, “Alexa, pause” or “next”, “previous”, “go back,” and “rewind” or “forward [x hours, minutes, or seconds]”.
  • For other specific features, check out these Amazon help pages: Watch Amazon Video on Echo Show and View Photos on Echo Show.

Light bar definitions

The edge of your Echo Show’s screen will light up different colours as a visual indicator. Here’s what those colours mean:

  • Blue: A blue bar appears on the screen to indicate that Alexa is processing your request.
  • Red: A red bar appears when your device’s microphones and camera are turned off.
  • Orange: An orange bar appears when your device is experiencing connectivity issues.
  • Purple: A purple bar appears when Do Not Disturb is on.

Change Echo Show’s wake word

When you want to communicate with your Echo show, just say “Alexa,” followed by a command. But you can change this “wake word” to Echo, Amazon, or Computer, if you prefer. Just say, “Alexa, go to settings,” or swipe down from the top of the Echo Show screen and select Settings. Then, tap Device options > Wake word > and select the wake word you want to use instead.

Get Alexa skills

Skills are voice-enabled features that enhance the functionality of your Alexa device. These can be built-in or offered by third-party developers. Enabling Alexa skills on Alexa devices use to be complicated, but Amazon recently streamlined this process. All you have to do is say, “Alexa, enable the [name of skill] skill.” Go to the Alexa Skills store on the Amazon website to browse available skills.

To view and manage your skills, you will need to use the Alexa app. Go to the menu and select Skills, then select Your Skills (at the top).

Decide which cards rotate on screen

The feed on the home screen on Echo Show has several home cards that rotate automatically. But you can update which cards appear or don’t appear. Just say, “Alexa, go to settings,” or swipe down from the top of the Echo Show screen and select Settings. From there, select Home Screen, then select Home Card Preferences, and toggle the icon next to the card name. Simples.

Set a background photo on Echo Show

To set your own photo as the background on your Echo Show’s screen, go to the Alexa app and upload a photo from your mobile device. From the Menu, select Settings, then tap your device, and in the Home Screen Background section, select Choose a photo. Alternatively, from there, you can also set an album as your background or an entire collection of photos, as long as they’re stored in Prime Photos.

Turn Echo Show into a digital photo frame

This trick expands on the tip above; in a nutshell, you can create an album on Prime Photos and then ask Alexa to show your album for a slideshow (Alexa, show my [album name] album”). To adjust the slideshow speed, go to Settings and then Display.

Turn off the Echo Show screen

Yes, you can turn off the screen on your Echo Show. This is useful if someone suddenly walks into the room and you don’t want them to see what you were watching or doing. Just say, “Alexa, turn off the screen.” To turn the screen back on, touch it or use your device’s wake word (which, by default, is “Alexa”). You can also turn your Echo Show completely off by pressing the mute button for a few seconds.

Dim the Echo Show screen

The Echo Show’s screen automatically dims itself and reverts to the clock-only display when you haven’t touched it in a while (unless you’re watching something, such as a trailer on YouTube or movie from Prime Video). But you can also force the screen to dim at any time. There’s a manual dimmer switch on the Show’s main menu; just swipe down from the top of the screen to access it.

Start a video call

With Alexa messaging and calling, you can place a video call to any Echo Show owner (and receive one, too); all you have to do is say, “Alexa, call [name of contact].” The contact will need to be listed under the Contact screen of the Alexa app, however. Go here to learn more about how to set up this feature. To toggle the video aspect, say, “Video [off / on]” or touch the on/off button on your screen.

By toggling off the video, you’re essentially just having a voice call with the other Echo user. Now, when you receive a video/voice call, your Echo Show will sound an alarm and glow green. You can answer or ignore any call by saying, “Answer” or “Ignore” or by tapping the ignore button from the Alexa app. To end your call, just say, “Hang up.” You can also tap the end button from the Alexa app.

Or use Skype

You can also use Skype on Echo Show, too. In the Alexa app, go to Settings > Communication > Skype to link your accounts. Then sign in using the same Microsoft account you use on Skype.

Support for Zoom is also on the way though isn’t enabled as yet (though business users can already use Zoom Rooms).

Use Drop In

Drop In lets you instantly connect with other Echo Show users. You can enable Drop In via the Alexa app and grant permission to people from your address book. (Go to Amazon’s help page for more information on granting permission.) To Drop In, say, “Drop In on [contact name],” or, from the Conversation screen in Alexa app, select the Drop In bar and then choose the contact you want to Drop In on.

When someone Drops In on you, the light bar on your Echo Show will pulse green. The person will be able to automatically connect and can hear anything within range of your device. Meanwhile, you will see a frosted glass video that transitions to clear video shortly after connecting. The purpose of this is to give you time to prepare for the call so that you are not caught off guard.

Enable Do Not Disturb

Use the Echo Show’s Do Not Disturb feature to block Alexa from alerting you about incoming calls and messages. To turn on Do Not Disturb, say, “Alexa, don’t disturb me.” To turn off the feature, say, “Turn off Do Not Disturb,” or you can tap the Do Not Disturb button on your Echo Show’s screen. You can also schedule Do Not Disturb for a specific time via the Alexa app (under settings).

Watch a film or TV show

You can watch films or TV shows on Echo Show – but only from Amazon Prime Video (included with your paid Prime membership), as well as programming from your active Amazon Channels subscriptions (like Showtime, HBO, and Starz). Just ask Alexa to show you films or TV shows by title, genre, and more. After your video starts playing, you can use your voice to control video playback.

Watch a trailer

Want to instantly watch a new film trailer? Just say, “Alexa, show me the trailer for the movie [film title],” and if the trailer is available, it will start immediately playing. 

Pair your mobile device

Your Echo Show is Bluetooth-enabled so you can stream popular services, whether that be iTunes or Google Play Music, from a mobile device. Just say, “Alexa, pair my phone.” Then, open the Bluetooth settings menu on your mobile device, and select your Echo Show. Alexa will tell you if the connection is successful. If it is, you will be free to stream audio from your mobile device to Echo Show.

Enable multi-room music

You can use this feature to play music across multiple Alexa-enabled devices in your home (including the Echo Show) at the same time. You can go here to learn how to set-up multi-room music. But, in a nutshell, just follow these steps:

  1. Select Smart Home from the Alexa app’s menu.
  2. Select the Groups category.
  3. Select Create Groups to create a group.
  4. Tap on Multi-Room Music Group.
  5. Select a pre-set group name or tap “Create Custom” and enter a name.
  6. Tap Next. The Alexa app will confirm it created your group.
  7. Once enabled, say: “Play [song or artist] [Echo devices’ group name]”.

Make Echo Show read aloud items you touch

The Echo Show has a VoiceView Screen Reader that reads aloud items you touch on the screen. According to Amazon, when enabled, you can use gestures to navigate and interact your Echo Show, and VoiceView will describe the actions you make on screen. This is an accessibility feature that people with disabilities might find useful. Go here for more information about how to set up and manage it.

Magnify your Echo Show’s screen

This is another accessibility feature. When enabled, the Screen Magnifier will let you enlarge items on your screen to improve readability. To turn on the Screen Magnifier, say, “Alexa, go to settings,” or swipe down from the top of the Echo Show screen and select Settings. From there, select Accessibility and tap Screen Magnifier. Go here for more tips on how to properly use the feature.

Used Closed Captions/subtitles

On your Echo Show, you can enable Closed Captioning for supported videos and movie trailers. To turn on closed captions, say, “Alexa, go to settings,” or swipe down from the top of the screen and select Settings. From there, select Accessibility and tap Closed Captioning. Go here for more information on how to change your Closed Captioning preferences, such as how they look.

Alexa Show and Tell

Show and Tell is an Alexa feature designed to help blind and partially sighted people. It uses the Echo Show’s camera to help identify common household grocery items. 

You can just say to your Echo Show “Alexa, what am I holding?” or “Alexa, what’s in my hand?” to start. The whole idea is that it’ll help identify items that are hard to distinguish by touch, such as canned or boxed foods. The feature is part of theAlexa Accessibility Hub. 

Reset your Echo Show

If you’re having trouble with your Echo Show, restart it to see if that solves the issues – hey, ya never know. Just unplug the power adapter from the back of the device or from the wall outlet, and then plug the power adapter back in. You can also reset it to factory settings. Say, “Alexa, go to settings,” or swipe down from the top of the Echo Show screen and select Settings.

From there, select Device Options and tap Reset to Factory Defaults. Keep in mind this will delete all your personal information and erase all your settings on Echo Show. And once the device resets, it begins the setup process, which we detailed above.

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Editing by Dan Grabham.

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