The Amazon Echo has become a popular smart speaker in many homes, thanks to its ability to play music, audiobooks, answer queries, control the lights and generally be quite helpful. There are some occasions though, when this harmonious relationship breaks down, leaving users shouting abuse at their device rather than thanking Alexa for reminding them of today's schedule.

To restore domestic equilibrium we’ve put together fixes for the five most common problems the Amazon Echo owner can encounter. Most of the time they're not problems with the devices themselves: it's simply a case of changing settings, or good old user error.

Why won’t my Echo connect to my Wi-Fi?

In order for the Echo to answer questions, receive voice commands, or stream any media, it needs to be connected to the internet. If this is the first time you’ve used the device, then you’ll want to read How to set up Alexa on Amazon Echo.

Should the problem have occurred after the device was already up and running, then here are a few things to try. 

How to fix common Echo problems

The first is simply to reset the Echo itself. Do this by removing the power cord for a few seconds then replacing it once more. Sometimes this can clear out any confusion that might have happened, as can turning your router off and back on again.

If you’ve changed your password recently, then you’ll need to run through the setup routine again, as outlined in the linked article above. An Echo Show (pictured above) will tell you if it's not connected to Wi-Fi by displaying the symbol with a line through it.

Finally, there might be interference coming from other devices on your Wi-Fi network. Amazon suggests the following ways to alleviate this problem;

  • Turn off devices you aren't using to free up bandwidth on your network.
  • Move your device closer to your router and modem if it's in a different room or blocked by an object.
  • Make sure your device is away from sources of possible interference, such as microwave ovens or baby monitors.
  • (Optional) Connect to your router's 5GHz Wi-Fi frequency band (if it's available). Many Wi-Fi devices only connect to the 2.4 GHz band. If multiple devices use this band on your network, your network speed may be slower. You can connect to the less congested 5GHz band for better range and less interference.

how to fix common problems with amazon echo

Why is Alexa red and not working?

Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa, listens constantly for your commands, but if you see a red light on top, or a red ring (a red line on an Echo Show's screen), she will become uncommunicative. That’s because the use of that particular colour indicates that the on-board microphone has been disabled. To turn it back on, press the button with a microphone symbol that has a line drawn through it. This should turn the red light off and put you back on speaking terms with Alexa.

How do I get Alexa to stop flashing yellow?

Another thing you might see and wonder what’s going on, is when the light ring around your Echo is flashing yellow. This isn't a problem: it indicates that you have received a message in your inbox. To clear this you can either check the Alexa app on your smartphone or say ‘Alexa, read my messages’.

How do I get Alexa to discover devices?

If you’re struggling to get Alexa to connect to other smart devices in your home, you’ll want to cover these basic steps to see if it helps. First, it seems obvious but it’s always worth checking that the device in question works with the Amazon Echo range. A quick Google of the device name alongside ‘amazon echo compatible’ should give you the answer.

Next, set the device up in accordance to its manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure it’s connected to the same Wi-Fi network as your Echo (otherwise they won’t work), then check if there are any updates for the device.

With all this done, open the Alexa app on your phone and select Add Device from the menu. Then follow the prompts for the type of device you’re trying to connect, being sure to complete any specific instructions offered for that particular brand and model. Hopefully this should do the trick.

Why won’t Alexa play music from Spotify?

Straight out of the box, Alexa doesn’t offer Spotify as a music playing option. That’s not to say it doesn’t support the service, it just needs a few things in place first. By default Alexa will try to play songs from Amazon Music or My Music (any MP3 albums you’ve purchased or uploaded to your Amazon Music account). 

In order for Spotify to be the default you’ll need to have a Spotify Premium subscription, as sadly the free one won’t work on Amazon’s Echo devices. Then it needs to be linked to the Echo in question. To do this, open the Alexa app and tap on the three-line icon in the top left corner of the screen. From the menu that appears, go to Settings>Music then tap on Link New Service and select Spotify from the options available (there's now Apple Music as well, if you prefer).

how to fix common problems with amazon echo

Log in with your account, tap Agree to allow Alexa to use the service, and you’ll be told that the service is now linked. Finally, to use the service be sure to add ‘on Spotify’ to the end of any voice commands. For example, ‘Alexa, play Jimi Hendrix on Spotify’. If you don't want to have to say 'on Spotify' every time, just go back to those settings, tap on Default Services and change music from Amazon to Spotify.

We hope these tips help you to get around common issues with the Amazon Echo. For more ideas on how to get the most out of these surprisingly capable devices, read our Best Amazon Echo tips & tricks guide.