20 of the Most Useful Alexa Skills

Believe it or not, Alexa has more than 80,000 “skills.” These are some of the best skills you might not know about.

Alexa skills that make your life easier

If you have an Alexa built-in device, you know how useful the virtual assistant is. You can ask her pretty much anything, from “What’s the weather going to be like today?” to “How many ounces are in a pound?” and get a quick answer.  Well, did you know you can level-up Alexa’s game by downloading Alexa skills? These skills help you easily access services and products, all with Alexa’s assistance. These skills can be life savers, especially if you don’t have a free hand or are on-the-go. Here are some of the best Alexa skills that’ll make your day-to-day routine so much easier.

Find your phone

We’ve all experienced the frustration of losing our phone somewhere in the house. Now you don’t need to worry if no one is there to call it for you, because Alexa can. Just say, “Alexa, open ‘Where’s my phone,’” and she’ll give it a ring. You can then follow the sound of your ringtone or the vibration to find your phone.

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Control your car

One of the best Alexa skills to utilize is controlling your car from the comfort of your home. Brands like Toyota, Ford, and Hyundai have subscriptions available that allow you to tell Alexa to start your car, unlock it, and even check how many miles are on your vehicle. Just make sure you have the right subscription paired to your car before you tell Alexa what to do.

Send alerts

We hope nothing happens to us in your home, but it’s better to stay on the safe side. If you have an Ask My Buddy account, you can enable the Ask My Buddy skill on Alexa and send alerts if needed. For instance, if you fall in your home and need help, you can say, “Alexa, ask My Buddy to send help” or “Alexa, send an alert to [person’s name here]” and they’ll get an alert to check in on you. You can also check in on others with this skill—just say, “Alexa, check in with everyone” and they’ll receive messages asking them to check in. Keep in mind that, while this skill is helpful, it should not be used as a substitute for dialing 911 in an emergency.

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Amazon Echo Spot on a kitchen counterFuture Publishing/Getty Images

Plan meals

Between work, family, and other daily life obligations, it can be tough to plan meals for the entire week. Alexa can help with that, though. Say, “Alexa, find some easy dinner recipes” and she’ll find delicious recipes for you quickly. Then, she’ll read the ingredients you need and even read out the recipe’s steps. This skill is a total game-changer if you’re short on time and need a hands-free guide in the kitchen.

Talk to your cats

It’s tough to leave your cat home alone all day—especially when it’s basically your child. Well, Alexa lets you tell your cat how much you love and missed them once you get home. Simply enable the Meow! skill on your device. To get started all you have to do is say, “Alexa, meow,” and she’ll start talking to your furry friend.

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Comfort your dogs

If you have pups at home who get anxious, don’t worry—Alexa can help comfort them. Say, “Alexa, open Relax My Dog” and Alexa will play music that relaxes your best four-legged friend. There’s an option for cats, too—just say, “Alexa, calm my cat.”

Make phone calls

You don’t even have to pick up your phone. Just say, “Alexa, call [name someone in your contacts].” Right now it only allows you to call people who also have an Alexa-enabled device. It’s a great feature to have if your hands are full or you’re cooking dinner and need to make a call.

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Check your email

Yep, Alexa can check your email and even help you respond to messages. Say, “Alexa, check my email” and she’ll pull up the emails you’ve gotten within the last 24 hours. Once you open them, you can tell her to respond, delete, archive, or do another task involving that email. If you’re looking for a specific email from someone, you can say, “Alexa, did [person’s name] send me an email?” This is a great skill to utilize if you need to multitask, but don’t have your hands available to respond to email. Make sure your email account is linked before you use this skill, though.

Plan your vacation

For this skill, you need a little help from the travel site, KAYAK. You first have to set up an account and then enable KAYAK on your device. Then say, “Alexa, ask KAYAK [your travel question].” She’ll be able to find you deals on flights, book hotels, and give you information about rental cars. To get started exploring the feature try asking Alexa these things:

  • “Alexa, ask KAYAK where can I go for 700 dollars.”
  • “Alexa, ask KAYAK to track JetBlue Flight 5983.”
  • “Alexa, ask KAYAK how much it costs to rent a car in Boston.”
  • “Alexa, tell KAYAK to set my home airport to Chicago.”

Order you a car

Link your Alexa with your Uber or Lyft account and then just say, “Alexa, ask Uber/Lyft to request a ride.” You don’t even have to lift a finger. And, it’s especially helpful when you are running late and don’t have time to manually plug in your destination.

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Rent a car

Need a rental car? Alexa has you covered. Enable CarRentals and simply say, “Alexa, open CarRentals” and book a rental car in no time. Tell Alexa when and where to get the car and she’ll list out what cars are available and for what price. Then, have her book the rental and you’re all set.

Tell a bedtime story

One of the best ways to end the day is watching your kid drift off to sleep as you tell them a bedtime story. But sometimes there are a million other things to do around the house and you just don’t have time. Don’t worry; Alexa can do it for you. Enable the Short Bedtime Story feature on your device and then ask, “Alexa, tell a bedtime story to [your child’s name].”

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Play Jeopardy!

Learn new facts every day by playing Jeopardy! with Alexa. Simply say, “Alexa, play Jeopardy!” and she’ll start asking you questions. You’ll be quizzed in areas including sports, pop culture, travel, and world history. If you’re an Amazon Prime member you get a free subscription to Double Jeopardy! which gives you six extra clues every week.

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Learn what happened this day in history

History buffs, this Alexa skill is for you. Enable This Day in History and say, “Alexa, launch This Day in History” to get a rundown of what historical event happened on a particular day, no matter what the date is. For instance, you could say, “Alexa, ask This Day in History what happened on July 15,” and you’ll get an answer. Talk about a simple way to learn something new!

Amazon Echo Show 10 on a kitchen counterFuture Publishing/Getty Images

Control your house

To take advantage of this convenient feature, you have to buy smart home devices such as Nest ThermostatsPhilips Hue lightbulbs, and August locks. After an easy installation, Alexa can help control your home. When you get home from work say, “Alexa, turn on the lights.” Or if you wake up too hot in the middle of the night, you can say, “Alexa, set the thermostat to 65 degrees.”

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Play music

Alexa can play any type of music you’re in the mood for. If you have Amazon Prime, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and/or SiriusXM you can ask your device to play any song, artist, or genre you want. Just say, “Alexa, play Somewhere Over the Rainbow on Spotify.” If you want to be woken up by your favorite music you can say, “Alexa, wake me up to John Mayer at 7 a.m.”

Get in a quick workout

Got five minutes to spare? If so, Alexa will help you work out. Enable Five Minute Workout, say, “Alexa, open Five Minute Workout” and she’ll provide you with a quick core and cardio workout. You’d be surprised what a quick workout like this can do for your body.

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Send and request money

If you use PayPal, Alexa can help you send and request money. Link your PayPal account, open PayPal, and then say, “Alexa, send [person’s name here] $10” and you’ll easily send $10 to your recipient. You can also say, “Alexa, tell me my PayPal balance” to find out how much is in your account. This comes in handy when you’re in a pinch and need to send money quickly, but don’t have the time or ability to log into PayPal on your computer or phone.

Create/add to your to-do list

You can create lists in your Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone and then ask her to add or delete things from them once they’re completed. Ask, “Alexa, add apples and almonds to my grocery list.” Alexa can also set reminders for you. Say, “Alexa remind me to pay rent at 3 p.m. today.” And then once you finish that say, “Alexa, delete ‘pay rent’ from my to-do list.”

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Have Gordon Ramsay critique your cooking

Alright, this is for everyone who needs a laugh in the kitchen. You can actually tell Alexa to ask Gordon Ramsay about the dish you made, and his voice will chime in with a strong opinion. Simply say, “Alexa, ask Gordon Ramsay about the lasagna I made” or “Alexa, ask Gordon Ramsay to try my omelet” and listen to the legendary chef give you the brutal truth. You can either take the heat or get out of the kitchen.

Need more Alexa humor? Read what the funniest things to ask Alexa are. Then, read up on another cool gadget: The Amazon Astro Home Robot.

Sources:

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for rd.com, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.