How to make Alexa Routines – smart home automation made easy

One of the best updates to the Echo family is Alexa Routines, enabling you to control multiple devices and perform multiple actions via a single phrase, such as “Alexa, goodbye”. No longer do you have to reel off a long list of instructions – through simple automation, you can control devices faster.

Whether you want to turn off everything as you leave your home, or set your home up perfectly for a movie night, we’ll show you how to build your own Routines. Since Alexa works in the cloud, these instructions apply for all devices, including the Echo, Echo Spot, Echo Show and Echo Dot.

Before you start, you’ll need to have added any smart home devices that you want to control to your Amazon Alexa account.

1. Create a new Routine

Launch the Amazon Alexa app on your phone, tap the hamburger and select Routines. You’ll see that there’s a pre-made “Alexa, start my day” routine in there; we’ll skip this for now, so tap the Create Routine button.

2. Create the start action

Routines can be triggered by a phrase, or set to turn on at a specific time (repeat options for multiple days are available). We’ll start with a phrase, so tap “When you say something”. Enter the word or phrase that you want to use: I’ve gone for “Alexa, Goodbye”, so I can trigger the routine when I go out. Tap Save when you’re done.

3. Choose your smart home actions

Tap Add action, then choose Smart Home. You can now choose to Control device or Control scene. Scenes are discovered by Alexa for certain products, such as a specific Philips Hue lighting mode.

Select Control device, and you’ll see a list of your smart home devices. Currently, Alexa Routines can only control devices that have an on/off mode, or a brightness slider. This means you can’t control a thermostat’s temperature, for example.

Exact control differs from device to device. For example, with the Honeywell Evohome smart heating system, you can trigger modes such as Away, which sets every zone to 15ºC by default.

When selected most devices give you the option to turn them on or off; smart lighting options give you a brightness slider if you select to turn them off.

Select the option you want for the device you’ve selected and tap Next, and then tap Add. Repeat this step for any other smart home devices you want to control.

4. Choose other actions

As well as controlling smart home devices, Routines can also do other things: News reads out your Flash Briefing; Traffic gives you an update between the addresses set in your Alexa account; Weather gives you a local weather update; and Alexa Says lets you choose what Alexa will say when the Routine runs, choosing from a list of canned responses. Add as many other actions as you want.

5. Select the responding device

If you choose any option that requires Alexa to speak, such as a weather report, you can use the From option to pick which device will be used for the audio. You can force Alexa to speak from a set Echo, but the default option of “The device you speak to” is probably best, so Alexa will respond from whichever Echo you activated.

6. Create and run your routine

Tap the Create button and your Routine will be created. As the message says, it can take up to one minute for routines to be created and available. If you picked a time-based trigger, your routine will be activated automatically. Otherwise, you can just say your phrase, such as “Alexa, goodbye”.