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12 Reasons Why Alexa Doesn’t Respond To Commands + 12 Fixes

Alexa Not Responding To Commands

“Alexa, do you hear me?”

Is your Alexa not responding all of a sudden?

Or doesn’t it understand you correctly?

Well, it doesn’t automatically means that Alexa is malfunctioning.

Most of the time, it’s just having a hard time hearing your commands.

What causes Alexa not to respond to commands?

And how would you make it listen to you?

Read on to discover:

  • Why you should update Alexa’s firmware.
  • How to make Alexa understand your accent.
  • 12 effective ways to make Alexa listen to you.
  • 12 reasons why Alexa doesn’t respond to commands.
  • And much much more…

Why is my Alexa not responding to commands?

Alexa isn’t responding to commands because the microphone is off and the internet is unstable. It’ll not respond if it can’t understand the speech or accent, recognize the device’s name and skill, or connect with the other device. Changed wake word and outdated firmware can also cause it to happen.

Alexa not responding to commands – 12 reasons & ways to fix it

#1: Default wake word has changed

“I make sure to say ‘Alexa’ whenever I say a command. But it doesn’t respond…”

Alexa will only respond to commands when you say, “Alexa…”

Unless you’ve changed its wake word.

Once you’ve input a different wake word, it will stop responding to its default name.

So, before you do anything technical with your device, check first the wake word on the Amazon Alexa app.

“But I’m pretty sure I didn’t change it.”

The wake word wouldn’t change on its own.

If you didn’t change it, perhaps someone in your house did.

This can normally happen if more than one person has access to your Alexa settings.

How to fix it:

Ask everyone in your house if they’ve changed the wake word.

Or review it on the Amazon Alexa app.

To change Alexa’s wake word:

  1. Open the Amazon Alexa app.
  2. Go to the menu.
  3. Proceed to “Device Settings.”
  4. Select preferred device.
  5. Then, input the new or old wake word.

#2: Speaker’s microphone is off

Are you sure Alexa can hear you?

Are you sure that the speaker’s microphone is on?

You’ll know if the microphone is on if the device’s LED light is solid red.

When it’s red, it means that Alexa is not listening to you. 

So, no matter how loud you shout, it will not respond to your commands.

Manufacturers included a microphone button to let users turn off Alexa when needed.

It uses a mechanical button. So, you’d have to press it again to turn it on.

How to fix it:

Alexa speakers have different microphone button icons.

Some have a typical microphone icon, while others have a slashed-circle one.

See which icon is on your speaker device.

Then, press it once to turn on Alexa’s microphone.

After that, the LED indicated should turn blue.

#3: Connected device is turned off

With Alexa, you can control other smart devices installed in your home.

But there’s one thing you should do to make everything work:

Keep all connected smart devices turned on all the time.

Yes, all the time, even when you’re asleep.

When a device is turned off, it becomes unrecognizable.

Alexa can’t connect with unrecognizable devices. And so, it won’t be able to follow your commands.

How to fix it:

If Alexa doesn’t respond to one specific command, check the connected device.

Is it turned on? 

If not, then make sure to switch on the device.

If you’re constantly unplugging it, make sure to turn its power on every time.

Tip: Are you getting tired of repeatedly commanding Alexa to do a specific thing? Then create a routine. Doing this will help you control your smart devices more efficiently.

#4: Smart device is connected to a different network

“The connected device is turned on. Why is Alexa still unresponsive?”

Alexa communicates with other devices via WiFi.

But it can’t connect with a device that isn’t in the same WiFi network.

For the smart devices to work as one, they have to be connected to the same network.

Smart devices communicate by sending radio waves.

And these radio waves are restricted to one network.

If Alexa isn’t responding to your commands, perhaps the connected device isn’t connected to the same WiFi.

This often happens in households that are using dual-band WiFi networks.

How to fix it:

First, check on which WiFi network is the other device connected to. 

You can do that by navigating its companion app’s setting. Look for “Network Settings,” then change the WiFi network if necessary.

Make sure that it matches the network your Alexa speaker is connected to.

Note: Most smart devices only work with WiFi with a 2.4 GHz band. So, make sure to connect your smart devices to the WiFI with the same frequency band.

#5: WiFi connection is unstable

Unstable Internet Connection

“Alexa responds to my commands. But then, it abruptly stops after a few seconds.”

If that’s the case, then maybe the WiFi connection in your home is unstable.

Alexa is dependent on WiFi. 

So, once it gets unstable, Alexa may lag or stop responding.

Many things cause the WiFi connection to become unstable.

But most of the time, it’s due to weak signal strength.

It can happen if the Alexa device is too far away from the WiFi router.

Or if there are too many obstructions in between.

How to fix it:

If possible, move your Alexa speaker close to the WiFi router. 

Or at least in the same room.

According to a study, WiFi signals travel faster in free space.

So, make sure that no obstructions are present near the devices.

“What obstructions are you talking about?”

It can be anything in your house.

It can be a home appliance or a steel room divider. Last but not least, it could be due to certain kinds of walls. 

“But wait… I thought Wi-Fi can travel through walls.”

Yeah. However, some walls are very thick. And this will prevent some of the signals passing through. It all boils down to the materials used in creating the wall. Plus, how thick it is.

Basically, anything that can interfere with electromagnetic waves.

You may also wonder: Can you use your mobile hotspot for Alexa?

#6: WiFi network is congested

Did you know that WiFi networks can get congested?

Every WiFi plan has a set internet bandwidth limit.

Even if you’re subscribed to an “unlimited” plan, you have a bandwidth limit.

Bandwidth is the amount of data that you can use at a set period.

Once it gets low, your can experience not slower but limited internet usage.

Meaning you barely receive data.

“How does an internet bandwidth gets low?”

It happens once there are too many devices connected to the same network.

Basically, your WiFi network becomes congested. And each device fights to receive sufficient data.

How to fix it:

Remove connected devices that are not in use from the WiFi network. 

There are two ways you can do it:

  1. By manually disconnecting the WiFi on each device.
  2. By resetting your WiFi router.

Resetting the WiFi router disconnects all connected devices. 

It may be a hassle to connect your Alexa device again. But it’s convenient if there are too many devices connected to the same network.

#7: Speaker firmware is outdated

Alexa speakers have firmware.

And developers occasionally update it to enhance the speakers’ features and security functions.

Normally, an Alexa speaker updates itself automatically in off-hours.

But it can sometimes fail to do so due to a system error.

“What happens if the firmware remains outdated?”

If the firmware is outdated, Alexa can malfunction. And fail to respond to your commands.

Developers remove or replace features when updating firmware.

And these new updates sometimes become incompatible with the older version. Causing some parts of Alexa’s system not to work.

How to fix it:

If Alexa doesn’t automatically update, you could force it to update by soft resetting the device.

Soft resetting refreshes the system and deletes temporary data. Allowing update installation notifications to come in.

Note: Various Alexa speakers have different soft resetting processes. So, refer to your user manual.

Once you’ve soft reset the device, mute the microphone for at least 15 minutes.

Alexa speakers updates for about 15 minutes. 

So, doing this can give Alexa enough time to update itself.

Learn more: Why is the Alexa app so slow?

#8: Alexa can’t understand your speech

Sometimes Alexa will not respond if it can’t understand what you’re saying.

Alexa is an “intelligent” voice assistant.

But, at the end of the day, it’s still a robot.

So, you have to be direct and clear when speaking with it.

Alexa can have difficulty understanding your command if you speak too fast.

As talking too fast can sound gibberish to Alexa.

Aside from that, speaking with a low tone can also prevent Alexa from picking up the right words.

How to fix it:

When sending voice commands to Alexa, make sure that you speak clearly.

Here are some reminders to note:

  • Talk more slowly.
  • Enunciate words clearly.
  • Speak with a louder volume. 
  • Be specific and straightforward.
  • Come closer to the Alexa device.

Always remember to be direct and concise.

This way, Alexa can understand and follow your commands better.

#9: Alexa can’t understand your accent

Alexa can understand many languages. 

But very little accents.

If Alexa still doesn’t respond, then maybe it can’t understand your accent.

Accents can make certain words sound different.

And that’s what makes it hard for Alexa to understand some of your commands.

If you have a strong accent, you might need to train your Alexa.

How to fix it:

Amazon launched a “Voice Training” function to help Alexa learn a certain accent. 

And you can do this by creating a voice profile.

To train Alexa to understand your accent:

  1. Open the Amazon Alexa app.
  2. Tap the three-line icon.
  3. Click “Settings.”
  4. Select Alexa device.
  5. Choose “Recognized Voices.”
  6. Turn the “Automatically Recognize Voices” toggle on.
  7. Click “Your Voice.”
  8. Tap “Begin.”
  9. Then, follow the on-screen voice prompts.

Watch this video to learn how to do voice training with Alexa!

Read also: 7 Reasons Why Alexa Takes So Long To Respond + 7 Fixes

#10: There’s too much background noise

“I’ve already created a voice profile. What’s the problem this time?”

Alexa can only understand a command that is spoken clearly.

So, if there’s too much background noise, Alexa won’t understand your command.

Many things can be considered as background noise, including:

  • People talking in a TV series or movie.
  • Family or friends talking with each other.
  • Road noise from the outside of your home.
  • Music playing from the radio or your phone.
  • Machine sounds from vacuums or similar appliances.

Basically, any noise that isn’t coming from you.

How to fix it:

Fortunately, fixing this problem is fairly easy.

You just have to make sure that the surroundings are quiet.

If possible, move your Alexa speaker to a quieter room.

Doing this will help ensure that Alexa understands your every command.

You can also mute the television or music player before sending a command to Alexa.

#11: Device’s name is complex

“Alexa responds to my commands, except for one.”

When you pair a smart device with Alexa, you can name it however you want.

Most users name the devices based on their use and location.

But some go crazy and label their devices with complicated names.

Well, there’s no problem with it.

Only that Alexa can fail to recognize too complex names.

Complex names have special characters and numbers in replacement for some letters.

Pronouncing these kinds of names is hard.

What more for Alexa?

How to fix it:

When naming a device, make sure to use simple and short words.

Here are some tips that you can try:

  • Use its brand name.
  • State its basic function.
  • Put the device’s location.

If you’re not sure if the device’s name is “simple,” try saying it loudly.

If it’s hard to pronounce, then consider renaming it.

#12: Alexa doesn’t recognize that skill

Alexa skills are like apps and features within Alexa’s system.

It has specific words and phrases that users have to say to ask or request something.

Some connected devices require that you enable their skills to pair them with Alexa.

So, if you haven’t done it yet, Alexa won’t respond to your commands.

Alexa will also not respond if you’re using a wrong command phrase.

Perhaps, you’re saying, “Alexa, start Spotify.” 

When it’s supposed to be, “Alexa, play Spotify.”

How to fix it:

Check whether the device or app you’re using has an Alexa skill.

You can review its user manual or search it manually on the Amazon page.

If it has, then make sure to enable it.

To enable an Alexa skill:

  1. Open the Amazon Alexa app.
  2. Tap the three-line icon.
  3. Select “Skills & Games.”
  4. Search for the skill.
  5. Then, click “Enable.”

Tip: Enable an Alexa skill via voice commands by saying, “Alexa, enable [skills name].”

Check out: 10 Things Alexa Can Do Without a Smartphone (Best Features)