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Custom Voice Commands: Create a Routine with Alexa

Custom Amazon Alexa Command

Create your own custom voice command with Alexa!

Create a phrase and choose what Alexa will do when it is said. A custom Amazon Alexa command is a great way to control your smart lights with your voice.

This guide will show you how to create an Alexa routine with a custom voice command in the Alexa app.

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What is an Alexa Routine?

Routines in the Alexa App are a series of steps performed by Alexa when the routine is triggered or started. There are two triggers to start the routine:

  1. When You Say Something - Build your own Amazon Alexa command! You can create any phrase you want to start the actions you choose. Custom voice commands are the greatest feature of Alexa routines.
  2. At a Scheduled Time - The time based trigger is primarily for Amazon Echo users that want simple home automation, but don't have a smart home controller such as SmartThings. Learn more about why I recommend the SmartThings Hub

When a routine is triggered, you can select the actions that will be performed. Here is a current list of actions that your Echo device can do:

  1. Alexa Says - Have Alexa speak a phrase from a pre-defined list. The list consists of phrases related to birthdays, compliments, coming/going, good morning/night, etc.
  2. News - Alexa will play the Flash Briefing that you setup in the app.
  3. Smart Home - Control any smart home device, group or scene in the Alexa app. This is the area we will primarily focus on in the tutorial.
  4. Traffic - Get a report on current traffic your area.
  5. Weather - Get a weather report from your area.

You can create a list of actions from any or all of these categories in your routine. I created a routine with 21 actions without a problem so it is likely to meet your requirements. 

Create a Custom Amazon Alexa Command and Light Routine

With one command, Alexa can perform a series of steps on multiple lights in your smart home.

Alexa. I'm going to bed.

Alexa immediately turns off all of your downstairs lights except the lamp you need so you can see to walk upstairs. After that, Alexa turns the bedroom lights on and sets the hallway lights to 50%.

You can create any command and control any of your smart lights in your home. This is easily done with the Routine feature in the Amazon Alexa app.

Alexa Routine: What do You Need?

You can create an Alexa routine with just your Echo Device if you aren't controlling a smart home product. In this project, we are controlling smart home lights so you will need the following:

1. Amazon Echo Device - There are several Amazon Echo devices to choose from. Learn how you can use the Amazon Echo in your smart home or check the price on Amazon below.

2. Smart light switch or smart light bulbs

No lights, no problem. You can quickly add or expand smart lights throughout your home with the Philips Hue Hub. Check out why I recommend the Philips Hue Hub.

Let's create a custom Amazon Alexa command and routine in the Alexa app.

Step 1: Navigate to the 'Routines' section in the Alexa menu

Open the Routines section in the Amazon Alexa App menu.

Open Echo Settings
Select Routines

Step 2: Click the + icon in the top right corner to add a new Routine

When you open the routines section, you will see a list of all enabled or disabled routines. Press the "+" button in the top right corner to add a new routine.

Add new Alexa Routine

Step 3: Select 'When this happens" and then 'When you say something' to create your custom Amazon Alexa command

First, create the trigger that will start the routine. This is in the "when this happens" area in the menu. Second, create a voice trigger or a time based trigger for your routine. For this routine, we are going to create a custom voice command.

Select When This Happens
Select when you say something

Step 4: Enter your custom phrase to trigger this routine

Type in your custom phrase that will be the voice command you say to Alexa to start the routine. Don't put a period on the end of your phrase.

Create your Custom Amazon Alexa Command

Step 5: Select 'Add action', select 'Smart Home' and choose the device, group or scene to control

Now we will create the actions that happen when you say the trigger command. Select 'add action' and choose the 'Smart Home' list. You can then choose to control a device, group or scene. 

Add routine action
Select smart home action
select device category

Step 6: Select the actions you want to take on the device

Scroll through your device list and select the item you want to control. Next, select the actions (on/off, dim level, color, etc.) that you want to happen and select next. The final screen will show a confirmation that summarizes the device and actions that will be taken. Click add to place it in your routine.

choose smart home device
choose device action
Confirm and add device action

Step 7: Repeat the steps above to add as many actions as you want.

Complete your routine by adding all of your actions to the routine. As a test, I successfully added 21 devices to one routine. This would be an uncommon situation, but it shows the capability of Alexa routines. Once you add all of the actions, click create to finalize your routine.

Review Alexa Command and Routine detail

Step 8: Review and test your Alexa routine

Your routine should be listed in the enabled routines section. Test your routine by speaking it to Alexa.

Alexa. I'm going to bed.

Routine list of custom Amazon Alexa commands
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Alexa, __________.  Create your own custom voice command with Amazon Alexa! Learn how here. @smarthomefocus

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You can edit your custom routine by selecting it the Routines section of the app. Also, you can temporarily disable the routine so Alexa won't respond to it. Routines can control any of your smart home devices. Just have fun with it and be creative!

What else can I do?

The Amazon Echo devices give you a lot of options to control your smart home lights with your voice. Here are some other guides on controlling lights by voice with Alexa:

  1. Create Light Groups - Control groups of lights or light bulbs with one command.
  2. Create Context Aware Lights - Just say "turn on lights" and Alexa knows which lights you want to turn on.

P.S. Please leave a comment below to ask a question, help someone else or share your experiences. Thanks!

About the Author Jason

Husband, father and Smart Home enthusiast. I look forward to discussing Smart Home products and projects with you. I have over 100 connected devices in my home, and I'm excited to share what I have learned to help you build a Smart Home that works!

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