Amazon Alexa Skills and the Echo Show 5

Over 30 Amazing Amazon Alexa Skills That I Use All the Time

There are plenty of lists out there of amazing Alexa skills that are really well put together.  I tried to add some unique skills to my list but some of them are just worth mentioning even though they are on other people’s lists as well.  I will update this list as I continue to find new and exciting skills so stop back by every once in a while and check out the new stuff.

How Many Amazon Alexa Skills Are There?

I started out writing this post by trying to find the total number of skills that are available on the Amazon Alexa platform.  This turned out to be a more difficult task than I thought it would.  I did manage to find a website called which posts statistics about Alexa. According to there are more than 80,000 Alexa skills worldwide.  With that many skills available it’s not hard to imagine being a little intimidated before getting started.  Don’t worry, I have done some of the leg work for you and prepared this fantastic list of skills that I use all the time.

How to Get Started Using Alexa Skills

Most skills can be enabled with a voice command.  If you know the name of the skill you want to enable then you say “Alexa enable [skill name]”.  This can come in handy when you purchase a device that has a skill you need to install because the instructions will probably tell you the skill name. However, most of the time you will not know the name of the skill you want ahead of time.  In fact most of the time when I am looking for a skill I search by the function that I want Alexa to perform instead of the skill name. To search for Alexa skills that perform a specific function you can use either the Alexa app on your phone or the Alexa website.  Once you find the skill you are looking for simply click the enable button.  Then you will get some basic instructions and commands you can say to Alexa in order to use the skill you enabled.

What Are My Top 5 Skills?

As you can image choosing just 5 is tough; however, I have managed to do it.  Here are my top 5 Amazon Alexa skills with a  little bit of information as to why they made my top 5 and some creative tips on how I use them.

1. Grocery List

This may seem a little obvious but I love the grocery list feature.  Since I have an echo dot in my pantry and in my kitchen I can immediately add anything I run out of to my grocery list with a single voice command.

“Alexa add soy sauce to the grocery list”

Then, next time I go to the grocery store I simply open my Alexa app on my phone and there is my entire grocery list.  My wife and I are constantly using this feature and it quickly became a favorite.

2. Play Music

It’s no secret that Alexa can play music, but did you know that you can link all of your Alexa enabled speakers together and create a whole house audio system to play your music through.  You can also create smaller groups if you don’t want the music to play in every room.  I use this feature a lot, I have about 6 different groups that I set up for the various times when I want to play music.

For example

“Alexa play imagine dragons radio downstairs”

This command will play the imagine dragons radio station on all of the Alexa speakers that are in the downstairs group.  If you have a speaker system that you would like to have Alexa play through you can also do that.  Alexa has two ways that you can connect depending on the device you have. The first way is using Bluetooth which can connect to a variety of Bluetooth enabled speakers.  The downside to this is you can only connect to a single Bluetooth speaker from each device at any given time.  You can also use the audio out jack and plug directly into a surround sound system. If your surround sound system has Bluetooth that will also work.

There are many other ways you can play music using Alexa as well. Here are some commands you can try out.

Alexa, play music by [artist name]

Alexa, play [song name]

Alexa, play [album name] 

Alexa, play [artist] on Pandora | May need to connect your account first

Alexa, play [radio station]  | This one may require an additional skill for each station

Alexa, play [book name] on Audible | You need to purchase the book first

#Pro Tip

If you want to have multiple devices play through the same speaker system and share the same output/input channel you can use an auto-switching amplifiers.  With one of these amplifiers you can have the TV or any other device plugged into the main line in and Alexa plugged into the secondary line in.  It only has a single line out which would then go to the surround sound system. Then assuming you have a TV plugged into main line in, when you are watching TV and want to ask Alexa something, Alexa will have the ability to interrupt and mute the TV, switch over the Alexa device and respond to your question or command, and then switch back when it’s done.

Russound P75 2 x 60W Amplifier

AudioSource Analog Amplifier

In addition to the music included with Alexa you can add skills for a variety of other services like Spotify, Apple Music, Sonos, Top Music Chart, and Radio Mystery Theatre.

3. Control Your Lighting

So far all of the skills in my top 5 have been pretty obvious, that’s because the obvious ones are the ones that get used the most.  Lighting control is no different. Don’t overlook the value that this skill brings to the table.  I use the lighting control features every single day multiple times.  It especially because useful when my wife and I had our baby, it’s amazing how often you use this when your hands are full and babies are really good at filling your hands.

“Alexa turn the light on”

“Alexa turn the light off”

“Alexa light on”

“Alexa light off”

“Alexa turn the light to 5%”

“Alexa turn the light to 50%”

#Pro Tip

It’s also worth noting that lighting groups can be created for occasions when you want to turn off more than one light with a single command.  You can create a whole house group which will turn off every smart light you have or a downstairs group if you only want to turn off the downstairs lights. You can also set up automated routines that will turn the lights on or off at a given time or when you want to set a certain mood.

“Alexa turn off the house lights”

4. Drop In On Another Room(Room to Room Phone Call)

My wife loves this one because she can reach me in any room without picking up her phone or turning on the light or even getting out of bed.  By setting up Alexa devices in every room of the house you can open an intercom style connection between rooms and have conversations.  This becomes really useful when the dogs are making noise or you need help with something.  If you need to call the kids down or tell them it is bedtime.  The options are limitless with this skill and believe me once you start using it, you won’t want to stop.

“Alexa drop in on the office”

“Alexa drop in master bedroom”

#Pro Tip

I was at the grocery store one day and I needed to ask my wife a question. Unfortunately she was not picking up the phone when I called and I knew that she must just not have it on her.  I was trying to figure out how to get her on the phone and I just so happen to have the Alexa app open because I was already using the grocery list.  I thought, I wonder if I can drop in from my phone.  Turns out, you can and I did. I called the Echo Show in the living room right from my Alexa app using the drop in feature and I was able to get my question answered. This is how I did it.

Alexa App –> Communicate Tab –> Drop In

5. Doorbell – Ring Doorbell Will Announce Through Alexa

You will have to purchase additional equipment for this one, in my opinion it’s worth every penny.  In my house we had a bad problem with not being able to hear the doorbell in certain rooms.  In my experience even in the smallest houses this can be a problem.  The company that makes the ring doorbell was purchased by Amazon and now the Ring doorbell integrates quite nicely with Alexa. With very minimal configuration I was able to get my doorbell to ring through every Alexa enabled device that I have.  This means that when someone rings my doorbell I hear it in every room because every room is Alexa enabled.  Not only that, it also rings to my phone and allows me to open the video and see who it is before I decide if I want to answer.  I can also open an intercom from my phone to the front door and speak with the person if I am not at home.  This has come in really handy a few times.

#Pro Tip

Don’t waste your money on the extra ring chimes, once you install the Alexa devices you won’t need them.

Ring Doorbell 2

Ring Doorbell Pro

What else can Alexa do?

About now you may be thinking the title of this article did not say 5 skills. So what else can Alexa do? Well it can do a lot, here I will try to list some more of my favorites along with some that I may not use but other people seem to love.

6. Uber or Lyft

Enabling the Uber or Lyft skills will allow you to call for a ride using Alexa simply by offering a single voice command.
“Alexa, ask Uber to request a ride”

7. Noise Machine

Why buy a noise machine when you already have an Alexa device that will do it for you? With over 70 noise machine related skills in the skill finder you are sure to be able to find the right one to generate whatever noise you are looking for. Since its voice controlled you get all the benefits of a noise machine with none of the hassle or expense.

8. Alarm Clock

Even though most smart phones already have an alarm clock, the extra benefit of voice control can be a nice feature when you wake up. Just don’t get in the habit of turning it off and going back to sleep.

9. Reminders

Everyone needs a good reminder every now and then, Alexa does a great job keeping track of all the things you are supposed to remember. Now your wife can add things to your list even when you’re not at home and it will be there waiting for you when you get back. Lucky you!

10. Happy Hour

Everyone loves a good cocktail, but who can remember all of those ingredients. Short answer, Alexa can. This fantastic skill will walk you through all of the ingredients you need. With over 170 drinks this skill is sure to have what you need covering drink recipes, types of drinks and drinks with specific alcohol. You can also have Alexa send you the drink card so you have it when you go to the store.
“Alexa, ask the Bar Maid what’s in a margarita.”
“Alexa, ask the Bar Maid to list the scotch drinks”
“Alexa, ask the Bar Maid to send an instruction card.”
See more commands

11. Order Food

Ordering food is getting so much easier than it used to be. Now with the food delivery services like Grub hub and Uber Eats you can set up your favorite orders and have Alexa place your delivery order for you.
#Pro Tip
There are way too many food delivery skills to name them all here, make sure to search for your favorite restaurants and see if they have their own skills. You might be surprised what you find.

12. Set a Timer

Voice controlled timers can be a life saver when you are cooking, cleaning or just needing to remember something. Another great feature that I personally use all the time.

13. Task List

Task lists are similar to grocery lists and you can have as many as you need. Create lists of things for the kids to do when they get home or just keep track of things you need from the store. No shortage of creative ways you can use this skill either.

14. Control Your TV

This skill can actually be kind of tricky. Its usefulness depends on a few factors like what type of TV you have, how good are you at figuring out the commands and what type of service do you use to get your channels. This is a skill that will continue to develop over time and probably just get better and better.
Fire TV Commands
#Pro Tip
If you don’t have a smart TV or if your smart TV is not compatible with the voice controls there is a great device called the B.One Hub you can use to control your TV. It allows Alexa or other digital assistants to use infrared signals to control just about any infrared device including TV’s. You can also set up routines and rooms to group devices and create a series of events. Using this hub you can control just about any TV with a very easy set up. You may still need a fire TV stick to reap the full benefits but the B.One Fire stick combo is incredibly powerful.

15. Check the Weather

Getting a weather report is always useful. I often ask Alexa what the weather is like when I’m getting ready for the day or trying to decide when the best time will be to walk the dogs. I prefer Alexa weather reports even to pulling out my phone, it’s simply easier to give the voice command.
“Alexa what’s the weather like”

16. Check the Time

No explanation required for this one.
“Alexa what time is it”

17. Control Your Irrigation System

I actually thought that controlling my irrigation system with voice commands would be really cool. As it turns out, it’s really not that useful. Once I got my smart controller installed and set up the schedules it really does all the work for me and I never find the need to control my system by voice command. That being said, some people might find this more useful. I could see maybe using it more if you don’t really want to water on a set schedule or if you want to water extra times for certain parts of the yard. Regardless of your voice command usage, the smart irrigation controllers are definitely worth the price. I especially love that mine monitor’s rainfall and automatically adjusts my schedule accordingly. It also automatically adjusts the watering schedule when the seasons change.

18. Control Your Picture Frame

What to do with all those pictures you take. I have found that one of the best gifts I ever gave my wife was the digital picture frame. She loves that thing, it constantly cycles through several hundred pictures that we would otherwise probably never see. There is after all a very limited amount of wall space and changing out pictures frequently becomes a giant hassle. With the right digital picture frame you can create groups of pictures and have Alexa play whichever group you are in the mood for.

19. Control Your Roomba

Let’s face it, most people don’t enjoy doing housework. What could be better than automating that part of your life? Let me answer for you, it’s fantastic. If you don’t have one of these amazing little robots you definitely should. To make it even better, you can just ask Alexa to vacuum your house when you are walking out the door and it will be done when you get back. That’s living my friend, that’s living!

20. Control Your Xbox, Fire stick, Surround Sound and Projector

Not everyone has a home theatre, but for those who do Alexa is a must have. Some home theatre equipment like projectors take a while to warm up. Using a number of add-on products like the B.One Smart home hub or the Logitech Harmony Hub you can turn on your home theatre from any room in the house. Then, you’re ready to go when you get into the home theatre. Maybe you need to turn off the home theatre so your kids come to the dinner table, simple give one command and the entire room will start the shutdown process. With the routines available the only limit is your imagination.

21. Control Your Thermostat

Even though some of the smart thermostats on the market will learn your habits and automatically adjust to your ideal comfort level, it’s still nice to have the voice control options provided by Alexa. Too cold, no problem, too hot just give a single command and Alexa will adjust the temperature for you. Don’t overlook the ability to warm up the house before you get home or turn down the temperature using your phone as well. Smart thermostats are a great addition to any smart home.

22. Control Your Blinds

Blind controls are another fantastic addition to your smart home. Especially for those hard to reach windows or windows on another floor of the house. You can save energy, let the light in or just change the mood with a single command.

23. Get Sports Scores

Alexa can read off the sports scores for your favorite teams assuming that your preferred sport is supported. You may have to search for additional skills if you find what you are looking for to be missing. There are lots of customizations you can do to get exactly the scores you are looking for. You can also set your preferences so that Alexa knows what you want to hear about.
Open the Alexa app. Go to settings  Sports Update
“Alexa, what were Saturday’s scores?”
“Alexa, how did the Rockets do?”
“Alexa, give me the NBA scores.”
“Alexa, give me the NHL scores from Wednesday.”
“Alexa, give me the NFL schedule.”
“Alexa, give me the Patriots schedule.”

Check out these sports skills

24. Find Your Phone

In the Alexa app under skills and games you can search for the find my phone skill. Once you enable and link this skill to your Amazon account you will be able to use Alexa to call your phone. You can also play music to your phone using this skill.

25. Call a friend

In addition to calling your own Alexa devices you can use Alexa to call your friends. This can call both their cell phones and their Alexa devices.

A few skills that can help you prepare for your day?

26. Get the latest news

There are a variety of news related skills you can enable. No matter what your preferred news source you are sure to be able to find a skill. It’s fast and easy to have Alexa read the news to you while getting ready for your day. This way you are always prepared, in the know about what’s happening in the world and ready to spark up conversation at a moment’s notice.

27. Speak Clearly Warmups

This skills helps you to warm up your speaking to improve your sound. It’s helpful for people giving presentations or talking on the phone. It can help you reduce mumbling and speak clearly so people have an easier time understanding you.
“Alexa open Speak Clearly Warmups”

28. My Memory Palace

This skill can help you improve your memory through daily exercises. This scientifically proven method for improving your memory will only work if you are persistent about using it. Alexa makes it simple to have this as part of your daily routine.
“Alexa open my memory palace”

Oddly Fun Skills for You to Enjoy!

29. Open the magic door

I always wanted a magic door that opens up to a fantastic adventure. Alexa gave me one with this oddly unique skill that provides and interactive adventure game. Explore magical lands and solve riddles. This can be lots of fun for the whole family.

30. Listen to a podcast

Finding a good podcast can be just as much fun as finding a good TV show or movie. This often overlooked skill that Alexa can provide will help you do just that. Check out anypod and mypod.

31. Kids Quizz

This skill for kids ages 5 through 12 will ask questions on a variety of topics to reinforce learning and discovery of news things.

32. Beer Goggles

This skill will be a favorite at parties when you try to find out who has had too much to drink. Simple say the command
“Alexa play beer goggles”
What happens next is anyone’s guess.

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