Amazon Echo: Create a Custom Voice Command

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.

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Create your own custom voice command with Alexa!

Create a phrase and choose what Alexa will do when it is said. A custom 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.

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 is an ever growing list of triggers to start the routine. Currently, you can start a routine when this happens:

  1. Voice (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. Schedule (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
  3. Smart Home – Trigger a command based on actions from your smart home devices. For example, when a door is opened.
  4. Location – Start an Alexa routine when your smart phone arrives or leaves specific locations.
  5. Alarm – Trigger actions to start when your Alexa alarm clock goes off.
  6. Echo Button – Start an action with the push of a button.
  7. Guard – Start a routine when Alexa Guard is armed or disarmed.

When a routine is triggered, you can select the actions that will be performed. Here is a small 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.

Other actions include calendar reads, date and time information, device settings, read email, good news, set Guard to away, IFTTT, messaging, music, skills and more.

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 custom Alexa 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 a custom 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.

Prices and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

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.

Create a Custom Amazon Alexa Command

Here is a step-by-step guide to create a custom Alexa command. These commands are easy to create and very handy around the house.

Step 1: Navigate to the ‘Routines’ section in the Alexa menu

Open the Routines section in the Amazon Alexa App menu.

Select Alexa App Menu
Menu
Select Alexa Routines
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
Plus to Add

Step 3: Select ‘When this happens” and then ‘Voice’ 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.

Alexa Routine When This Happens
When this Happens
Alexa Routine Custom Voice Command
Voice

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.

Alexa Routine Custom Command Phrase
When You Say

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. 

Alexa Routine Add Action
Add Action
Alexa Routine Add Action Smart Home
Smart Home
Alexa Routine Smart Home Device Group Routine
Control Selection

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 next to place it in your routine.

Alexa Routine Select Devices
Device Group
Alexa Routine Select Device Action
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 save to finalize your routine.

Alexa Routine Multiple Actions
Save!

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.
Alexa Routine List
Your Custom Routine

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.

Alexa is also great for music. Check out the best speakers for your Echo Dot.

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

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Jason

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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23 thoughts on “Amazon Echo: Create a Custom Voice Command”

  1. Morning – Is it possible to create a voice command that opens up Prime Video, rather than saying Alexa Open Prime Video, and then drilling down even further and saying Alexa Paw Patrol and it opens Paw Patrol? Just that Alexa doesn’t seem to like my sons voice for Alexa Open Prime Video, and so would rather create custom routines he can use. But can’t see that option.

    1. Hi Matt,

      I researched this and I would like to do something similar. However, I don’t believe there are any direct or workarounds to do this at this time. I agree that this should be an option for us.

  2. Is there anyway to create a short cut for Alexa so instead of saying Alexa tell Caavo turn on the tv I could just say, Alexa tv

    1. Hi Doug,

      I don’t use Caavo so I can’t provide specific information. However, there is a Caavo skill for Alexa and Caavo integrates with IFTTT. Based on this, I am fairly confident that you could set this up. The first thing I would do is check whether or not the Caavo device shows in the smart home section of the routine. If so, then that would be your best option. If not, then you can look into the IFTTT and set this up.

      Let us know how it goes.

      Thanks,
      Jason

  3. Hi Jason,
    I have my own home automation system based on microcontroller with LAN communication. How can I make Alexa send some UDP packet or a command through TCP to the device in my home network ?

  4. Sophie L. Radlowski

    Can I set up a routine that would ask Alexa to unlock the front door and give her the PIN? My husband has some mental challenges and I need to make opening the door for first responders as fool proof as possible. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Sophie,

      Several locks work with Alexa that allow you to unlock the device by voice (with a PIN prompt). WiFi locks by August Home and Yale would be a simple choice. There are several other choices if you have a smart home hub. If you want the lock to open without giving a voice PIN prompt, then you will likely need a more complicated solution with a smart home hub. This situation can be useful, but I would caution you on relying on smart home functions in an emergency.

  5. Hello Jason, Like your site and thanks for trying to make this easier for all of us. My questions is regarding my new Echo 5 and the Ring. I want the Echo 5 to show the front door video as soon as motion is detected. My challenge is by the time I get to the device and open the video the person has left my front door. I am trying to avoid the voice command to Alexa to “Show the front door video”. thanks

    1. This is exactly what we need and what I want too. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible at this time. I have to think that this is a feature that Amazon will roll out in a future update.

    1. Hi Brian,

      A checked to make sure there wasn’t an app update that I missed, but the “Routines” section is still listed in the hamburger menu like the picture in the article (on my phone).

      I did some more research and a few people have had a similar issue. I would recommend the following:

      1. Make sure your app is updated to the most recent version.

      2. Contact Amazon support. One person had their issue resolved by Amazon because their account wasn’t set to the United States. This makes me believe that routines are not available in all countries, but Amazon can let you know for sure.

      Good luck!
      Jason

    1. Hello…can you please clarify what you would like to do with the Echo Dot? The custom command routine can be used with any of your Echo devices (you don’t have to specify). However, you can control “Device Settings” in the routine such as stopping audio, volume control and do not disturb settings.

  6. I want to be able to use a custom command that I can normally use like “Alexa, open firefox” but don’t see how I can do that through the routine. I tried just having her say it, but that didn’t work. Any ideas on workarounds?

    1. Unfortunately, you can’t control Fire TV apps through a routine at this time. However, this is a common request so I would expect Amazon to add this functionality in the future.

      1. Thanks Jason. I was trying to do it through an echo show, but I think your answer describes both. Bummer, routines could be so much better!

  7. Thank You for this page – It’s been royal pain for me to turn my hot water circulator on and remember to turn it off 2 minutes later. In about a minute I have a 3 command hot water on, wait 2 minutes, hot water off setup and works great!!

    1. Awesome! Automating the smallest things can make a big difference day to day. As you said, it literally takes a minute to set up.

  8. I want Alexa to tell me the current time, but I don’t see that as an option in the list of actions that I can add.

    1. Hi Jenny,

      Sorry for the my original stupid response. I completely misread your question. I researched this a lot and I currently can’t find any way to add the time to you Alexa routine.

      You can use any of these commands for the current time:
      Alexa…what time is it?
      Alexa…what time is it in [city, country, etc.]
      Alexa…what time is it in [time zone, GMT, EST, etc.]

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