Alexa not working? Here’s what to do

“Alexa, fix thyself.”
Brianne Sandorf
Mar 16, 2021
Icon Time To Read3 min read

We love Alexa, and Alexa loves us . . . most of the time. But now and again, she stops working and leaves us in the lurch.

We got tired of combing the internet for troubleshooting help, so we decided to create a one-stop guide for all your Alexa smart speaker issues . Read on to get tips to jump-start Alexa.

Testing, testing
Info Box
We use an Amazon Echo Dot for our Alexa tests and research. But our tips also apply to other Echo versions, like the regular Echo, Echo Spot, Echo Plus, or Echo Show.

Alexa doesn’t respond to you

This perplexing issue is what caused us to write this piece in the first place. Once in a while, Alexa completely ignores us. Super rude of her TBH.

Here’s what you can do to fix the problem.

Check if the Echo’s muted

If Alexa doesn’t listen to you, your Echo could be on mute. How do you know? The light ring turns red when the speaker is muted and can’t hear you.

Luckily, this issue is super easy to fix. Luckily, this issue is super easy to fix. Just press the button with the microphone crossed out. That’ll turn off the mute mode.

Disconnect the Echo power cord

When Alexa isn’t muted but still won’t acknowledge you, try unplugging the plug from the Echo base and plugging it back in again. That always works for us.

Alexa can’t complete a task

When Alexa’s struggling, you usually know (because she tells you). But that begs the question of why she’s struggling and how you can help. Here’s what we’ve found.

Check the Wi-Fi connection

The Echo’s light ring turns purple when it can’t connect to the internet. If that happens, troubleshoot your WiFi connection.

If the issue isn’t on the ISP or modem or router side, you can try resetting the Echo.

The reset button

If all else fails, reset your device entirely. Use a pin to press the tiny factory reset button on first-generation Echos. For newer generations, hold the microphone and volume buttons down simultaneously. This will set your Echo device back to its factory defaults, so use it only if you’ve tried everything else.

Download skills

Sometimes, you haven’t downloaded the Alexa skill for the task that you want to complete. Alexa usually tells you if this is the case, but it’s good to double-check when Alexa frequently struggles with an action.

You can find and download skills on the Alexa app.

Alexa frequently misunderstands you

Sometimes we meet people we can’t understand very well. Maybe they pronounce words differently than we do, or they tend to mumble.

Alexa has a hard time understanding some people.

In that regard, Alexa’s just the same as us. She has a harder time understanding some people than others. But don’t worry; there are ways to get Alexa to understand you better.

Desensitize Alexa to your voice

Get Alexa used to the sound of your voice. Under Settings > Your Profile > Voice, you can try saying different phrases so that Alexa recognizes you better. (You may have to delete and re-add your voice profile to do this.)

Work on your diction

What does Alexa think you’re saying when you talk to her? Say, “Alexa, tell me what you heard,” and she’ll repeat a recent request. This feature helps you know if there are certain words or phrases she’s really stumbling over.

For more insights, you can also look up transcripts of your conversations with Alexa by visiting Settings > Alexa Privacy > Review Voice History on the Amazon Alexa app.

Dusting your Echo

Sometimes, your Echo speaker fills with dust. That can affect how well Alexa can hear you. To solve this problem, use compressed air to dust your Echo. Don’t stick a pin in the speaker—you might damage it.


If Alexa’s ghosting you, most of the time, it’s fixable. There are several things you can do to re-establish the connection.

Other smart hubs

The Amazon Echo’s primarily a smart speaker, but most people also use it as a smart hub to control their devices. If you’ve had too many problems with Alexa and want to replace her, here are some of our top smart hub suggestions.

Other smart speakers

If Alexa’s not cutting it for you, the following brands sell speakers with voice control that are similar to Amazon Echo devices:

Brianne Sandorf
Written by
Brianne Sandorf

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