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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Smart Home – Trigger a command based on actions from your smart home devices. For example, when a door is opened.
- Location – Start an Alexa routine when your smart phone arrives or leaves specific locations.
- Alarm – Trigger actions to start when your Alexa alarm clock goes off.
- Echo Button – Start an action with the push of a button.
- 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:
- 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.
- News – Alexa will play the Flash Briefing that you setup in the app.
- 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.
- Traffic – Get a report on current traffic your area.
- Weather – Get a weather report from your area.
- Custom – Send any voice command to your Echo or Fire TV devices silently. Very powerful!
Other actions include calendar reads, date and time information, device settings, read email, good news, set Guard to away, IFTTT, messaging, music, skills, Fire TV controls 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 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.
|Alexa Device||Description||Best For||Buy|
|All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen) | Smart speaker with clock and Alexa | Glacier White||Modern styling to add smart home voice control throughout your home.||Amazon Price|
|Echo Dot (3rd Gen) - Smart speaker with Alexa - Charcoal||Adding smart home voice control in all rooms.||Amazon Price|
|Echo (3rd Gen)- Smart speaker with Alexa- Charcoal||Larger rooms where you want better sound.||Amazon Price|
|Introducing Echo Show 8 - HD 8" smart display with Alexa - Charcoal||Kitchens and bedrooms to see recipes and security cameras.||Amazon Price|
|Echo Plus (2nd Gen) - Premium sound with built-in smart home hub - Charcoal||Entry level smart home controller built-in.||Amazon Price|
|Introducing Echo Flex - Plug-in mini smart speaker with Alexa||Bathrooms and kitchen counter plugs.||Amazon Price|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Create Light Groups – Control groups of lights or light bulbs with one command.
- 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!