Alexa Routines Not Working: 9 Quick Fixes [2023]

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Without routines, Echo is just an expensive Bluetooth speaker. Fix your Alexa routines to unlock its full potential.

This guide shows you simple steps to troubleshoot Alexa routines, pinpointing issues with your Echo device or setup errors.

1. Check Which Device the Routine Is Set For

Alexa lets you pick which device performs your routine actions.

Based on the trigger and action, you might have several options to pick from.

  • A single Echo, Fire TV, or another Alexa-enable device.
  • Multiple specified Alexa devices.
  • A device group.
  • Your mobile phone.
  • The device on which the routine was triggered.
The Alexa app, showing how to choose a trigger device for a routine

You can tailor routines to activate only on specific devices. For instance, sound detection and occupancy sensors can be set to trigger on just one Echo device at a time.

The Alexa app routine page, showing how to choose a response device

Review your routine’s When and From sections to identify the devices in use.

The Alexa app, showing the two types of device choices for routines

Sometimes, when a routine doesn’t work as expected, it’s actually working on another device. Take the routine shown here: it picks up a cough through “Zachary’s Echo” and then acts through “Zachary’s Echo Show.”

Having my Echo and Echo Show in different rooms posed a challenge. Since noise detection can only be linked to one device per routine, I had to set up two separate routines. This way, one routine is dedicated to my Echo for both detecting noise and responding, while the other routine does the same with my Echo Show.

If your routine doesn’t need a specific device or it’s already correctly set, skip straight to trying these next solutions.

2. Look at the Routine Activity History

Access the Activity tab under Routines (More -> Routines) to see Alexa’s latest executed routines.

Check the list for the routine that’s not doing its job. If it’s there, it’s active but stumbling. Often, the issue lies in the routine’s action step—it might be wrongly set or facing hiccups on the intended device.

Welcome! Hit the ‘View all activity’ button to see when this routine springs into action or takes a break. It’s a straightforward way to spot patterns and figure out its performance peaks and troughs.

If your routine isn’t showing up in the activity list, there’s likely an issue with the trigger. It might be a glitch with the device you’re aiming to activate, or the trigger settings within the routine could be off.

3. Run Your Alexa Routine Manually

To manually test a routine, simply go to the Routine section (More -> Routines) and select it from the main tab. This method bypasses the need for a working trigger, making it straightforward to check the routine’s action.

I especially recommend this step for routines with time-based triggers.

On the Routine page, simply hit the play button next to the routine you’re testing. Ensure you’re near the device that performs the routine. If it’s set to respond to voice commands, the app will prompt you to choose a specific device.

If you manually start routines, they won’t appear in the activity history, so no worries if they’re missing.

When the manual trigger functions, zero in on troubleshooting the trigger aspect. If it fails, shift your attention to fixing the action component of the routine.

4. Enable The Routine

By default, routines are active but can be mistakenly turned off in the app or with a voice command.

Activate any Alexa routine easily; just say, “Alexa, enable [routine_name].” For example, start the “cough” routine with, “Alexa, enable cough routine.”

Activating routines in the Alexa app is a straightforward alternative, especially useful when Alexa struggles to recognize your routine name or if recalling the routine’s name slips your mind.

Navigate to the Routine page (More -> Routine), choose the faulty routine to access its edit options.

Ensure the Enabled toggle at the top is switched on, showing blue on the right.

Disabling the routine often fixes the issue. Double-check by testing it once more.

5. Power Cycle Your Echo

When your Alexa goes offline, your Echo stops responding, or you’re struggling with Wi-Fi connections, rebooting is your go-to solution. It’s quick, straightforward, and won’t mess with your settings—completely harmless.

If you’re troubleshooting your Echo devices and unsure which one’s causing issues, it’s a good idea to reset both. This simple step can often resolve the problem quickly.

  1. Unplug your Alexa speaker from its power source.
  2. Pause for 5 seconds.
  3. Plug Alexa back in.
  4. Wait for your Echo to power back on.

Test the process once more, considering a manual run before its usual trigger.

6. Unmute Your Echo Microphone

When you mute the microphone on your Echo device, Alexa signals this with a red ring: around the base for newer models, the upper rim for older ones, and at the screen’s bottom on Echo Show devices.

Spot red signals on your Alexa? Activate its microphone to start using voice commands, including those for routines.

To mute Alexa, skip voice commands. Just press the Echo speaker’s mute button.

Hit the mute or microphone button and pause briefly. Check if Alexa’s red light goes off. Success? Then you’re all set.

A red light on your Echo often signals network troubles. If it stays on after hitting the microphone button, consider resetting your device or troubleshooting your Wi-Fi connection.

7. Try a Different Trigger

If your routine worked manually but not automatically, the issue likely lies with the trigger or its device.

Certain smart home triggers need additional devices, such as sensors, making them tricky to explain broadly. Meanwhile, some triggers rely on voice commands that might stump Echo, adding another layer of complexity.

If that doesn’t work, switch triggers to find a solution.

Consider testing a fresh trigger on your current device, and also explore using a new trigger on another device. Alternatively, a time-based trigger can be effective without needing a specific device.

First up, we’re tackling two things: pinpointing if the issue lies with the trigger or the device it operates on, and then, if we can, scouting for a reliable alternative to the trigger.

For voice commands, opt for brevity. Swap “Alexa, read my stock report” with a straightforward “Alexa, stocks” for quicker results.

Triggers labeled as Public Preview are still under testing. For reliability, opt for triggers without this tag.

8. Factory Reset Your Echo

This solution wipes all unique settings from your device, so consider it a final step. However, it’s often the only method that solves the problem. Don’t worry, your lists and account details remain untouched.

If your routine isn’t working with your Echo devices, you might need to reset the one causing the issue, whether it’s the trigger or the action device. Tackle them individually since resetting isn’t as straightforward as a quick restart.

Before resetting, note down any routines or settings you’ll want to restore later.

  1. Open the Alexa app on your smartphone.
  2. Go to Devices -> ‘Echo & Alexa.’
  3. Select the Echo device with the red ring problem from the list.
  4. Open the device settings by clicking the gear icon in the upper right.
  5. Select either Factory Reset (Echo Show) or Deregister (all other Echos) from the list.
  6. Respond to the confirmation prompt, but be sure to read the warnings first.
  7. Go ahead and set up your Echo again and connect Alexa to Wi-Fi.

Give the routine one more shot. Success? Awesome! If not, it’s time to seek expert help.

9. Contact Amazon Support

If all your efforts fail, it’s time to seek help. The Alexa app offers a straightforward method to contact tech support, ensuring you’re not left stranded with your issue.

Navigate to ‘More’ -> ‘Help & Feedback’ to find the ‘Speak with a representative’ link. Click it, and Amazon support will call you back right away. Yes, they’re that quick.

When you reach out for support, they might guide you through familiar steps. Don’t worry about redoing them. Support teams have special tools and data we don’t, making it wise to follow their lead. They’re equipped to dive deeper into the issue.

What’s Next?

Setting up routines is key to maximizing your smart home’s potential. We’ve fine-tuned them so you can effortlessly trigger actions, like turning off your Alexa alarm or starting your favorite tunes on iHeartRadio via Alexa, without lifting a finger.

Expanding your home automation setup? You’ll find routines increasingly handy. Check out these links for energy-efficient smart plug configurations and creative smart plug uses. They’re even great for triggering Philips Hue dynamic scenes.

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