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Go turn these Alexa settings off right now

Seriously, you’ll be happy you did.

amazon echo speaker on a stack of books
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Voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa are near-ubiquitous nowadays, and arguably useful. The thing is, they’re only really as smart as the coders who created them, who are fallible as they are mere humans and not the pristine goodness of our soon-to-be-AI-overlords. That means they all have annoying qualities, kinda like your cousin Karen, just in smart speaker form.

That’s okay though, as we’ll show you how to switch off the most annoying features on Amazon’s Alexa, and maybe prevent some midnight squabbles as Alexa has a habit of chiming in when she’s not wanted. Just because you want an always-on microphone in every room of your house, doesn’t mean you don’t deserve some privacy. And yes, I do know how weird that last sentence seems.

In no particular order (except the first one because unannounced guests are always unwelcome), here are the worst offenders on Amazon’s Alexa and how to stifle them forever.

Drop In

alexa drop in
Image: KnowTechie

I’m kinda torn on this one, as Drop In is a really nice way to stay in touch with friends and family while you’re social distancing, but it’s gotta go.

  1. Tap on Devices
  2. Select the Alexa-enabled devices you want to disable Drop In on (yes you have to do this for each individual device)
  3. Tap on Communications and then turn off Drop In (or turn off all voice calls as well)

Limit the use of your voice recordings

alexa voice recording settings
Image: KnowTechie

You don’t want Amazon to have your voice recordings to use for research purposes in perpetuity. Really, you don’t. The thing is, you’re opted-in by default, so it takes a bit of settings menu diving to unenroll yourself.

  1. Tap on More
  2. Tap on Settings
  3. Tap on Alexa Privacy
  4. That’ll open a separate webpage, with Manage Your Alexa Data as one of the options
  5. Scroll down and turn off Use of Voice Recordings, then confirm on the pop-up

While you’re on that menu, think about if you want your voice recordings to auto-delete after a few months, which is one of the options on the same page.

Skill Permissions

Since you’re already on the right set of menus, it’s a good idea to go check which permissions you’ve let Skills access. This could be anything from your street address, to payment details for your Amazon Prime account, so it’s worth making sure that only the Skills that need access have it.

  1. Tap on Manage Skills Permissions
  2. Review each category to see which Skills have access, and revoke access for anything you think might be out of place


alexa hunches
Image: KnowTechie

Amazon has been increasing how often Alexa uses a “Hunch,” which are follow-up questions after you’ve used a command in recent months. The thing is, they’re fairly annoying. Like, really annoying. Sure, you might really want to know how to set an egg-timer, but do you really want to know that when you’re turning off the lights at 11pm? No, no you do not. Turn Hunches off and sleep easy.

  1. Open the Alexa app
  2. Tap on More
  3. Tap on Settings
  4. Tap on Hunches and toggle both settings off


Okay, this one only really matters if you have one of the Echo Show devices, but it’s a doozy. Make sure your camera is covered or disabled when you’re not using it. On the Echo Show, Amazon has even added a physical toggle switch right above the camera that you can turn off easily. If you can see red, it’s off.

Turn on Brief mode

alexa brief mode
Image: KnowTechie

For me, this is one of the best features to turn on. It’s less about keeping you safe, and more about preventing from you getting annoyed at Alexa’s usual trend of repeating everything you say. Instead, a chime sounds to let you know you’ve been understood. It’s pretty easy to tell if your lights didn’t change brightness when you ask, so having Alexa repeat the command is superfluous at best.

  1. Tap on the More icon
  2. Tap on Settings
  3. Tap on Voice Responses
  4. Flick the switch to turn on Brief Mode (and Whisper Mode if you want)

Now you’ve tamed the more annoying parts of using your Alexa-enabled devices.

Are there any other settings or Skills that you use to make Alexa even more useful? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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