By the way, Alexa — could you please knock off the unwanted suggestions?March 1, 2021
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: You ask your Echo device for something simple,. Alexa responds, saving you a trip to your . You think that’s the end of it, so your attention drifts elsewhere, but then out of nowhere, Alexa derails your train of thought. “By the way…” interjects.
What comes next could be almost anything. Alexa might tell you something random (it’s chock full of birthday party suggestions, if you’re interested) or it might ask if you’d like something else related to your original query —, say, for the rest of the week.
These aren’t just suggestions for the sake of convenience, either: “By the way,” one Redditor reported their Alexa interrupting, “any time is a good time to gift shop. Would you like some product recommendations?” I don’t know about you, but I don’t use Alexa to get promotional material piped into my living room.
Whatever tone Alexa’s been taking with you lately, here’s every way I could come up with to get your Amazon Echo to put a sock in it.
Saying, ‘Alexa, zip it’ will only get you so far
To dispense with the obvious, you literally can tell your Echo device to “put a sock in it” and Alexa will obey. “Hush,” “zip it” and “shut up” also work, but they’re momentary fixes. Not to mention, Alexa probably doesn’t have feelings, but even so — no sense in being rude.
To really nip this problem in the bud, you’ll have to change some settings.
Unfortunately there’s no single, dedicated toggle to turn off those specific “by the way” suggestions, even though they have scores of Alexa-users threatening to abandon Alexa for Google. (Some bad news for those folks — Google Home and Nest customers are complaining abouton those forums as well.)
But don’t despair. If you want to tackle the problem of Alexa’s extraneous musings head-on, the best way is to turn off every setting that gives your smart speaker permission to prod you for anything you didn’t ask for.
Start by changing the setting Amazon suggests
Here’s what little official guidanceI could turn up: One response on an Amazon forum from a poster identified as “Amazon Staff” suggests turning off the Things to Try setting. (Several other threads repeat this advice as well.) It’s a good idea to turn off Things to Try anyway — there are far better places to .
In the Alexa app, go to More, then Settings, then Notifications and tap Things to Try. Turn both of those toggles off.
You should probably change these next few Alexa settings anyway
A while back CNET covered, two of which apply to this situation. The first of those is Hunches — those are meant to be follow-up questions Alexa may ask if it notices, say, you’ve triggered your bedtime routine but the front door is still unlocked. Although , they’re almost always at least somewhat disruptive. If you trust yourself to keep your doors locked and the lights off at night, you can do without them. It’s not entirely if turning off Hunches will affect the “by the way…” phenomenon, but I suggest erring on the side of getting fewer interruptions overall.
To turn off Hunches, tap More in the Alexa app, then Settings, then Hunches. A simple toggle controls the feature.
The other setting is one you’ll actually want to turn on — but turning on Brief Mode effectively turns off unnecessary Alexa responses. No more, “OK, turning off three lights” or other parroted replies from Alexa when executing simple commands. Instead, you’ll just hear a pleasant notification tone acknowledging the command.
To turn on Brief Mode, tap More, then Settings and then Voice Responses. From here, switch on Brief Mode. (While you’re there, flip on Whisper Mode too. It won’t change anything if you never whisper to your device, but if you do, well… Give it a try.)
Even more Alexa settings you won’t regret turning off
If you’re like a lot of folks, you might get an email, a text message and a push notification from the Alexa app. The last thing you need is your smart speaker chiming in with shipping updates too. The same menu that lets you turn all that off also has toggles for all kinds of nonsense you may want no part of: Recommendations and deals, requests to rate products you’ve purchased, low supply notifications and more. Begone with all of it.
Tap More, then Settings, then Notifications then Amazon Shopping and turn off all the toggles you see (unless you’re itching to answer customer questions about items you’ve bought in the past, or any of the other things Amazon wants to nudge you about — I’m not judging).
Leave Announcements alone if you want
If you find yourself scouring the Alexa app for even more settings to disable, you might be tempted to turn off the one labeled Announcements. Just so you’re aware, however, that one refers to announcements made by actual humans — like you or the people you live with. So if you want your phone to notify you when someone’s sent an announcement from one of your Alexa devices, go ahead and leave that setting alone.
That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. Hopefully if you take all these steps, Alexa will only chat you up when you want it to. If not, let me know in the comments. And if you happen across some other setting that could help others in their quest for the least verbally invasive smart assistant possible, by all means, let me know about it.