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Alexa lights up but won't respond: 7 ways to troubleshoot

  • If Alexa lights up but won’t respond, the most common reason is that it didn’t understand you, so repeat the command.
  • It might also have ignored the command if it thought your request was intended for another nearby Alexa device.
  • You can also check your Wi-Fi connection and network settings, or reset the Alexa device.

Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant that makes every Echo speaker and display a handy smart home appliance. On occasion, though, Alexa doesn’t work the way it should, ignoring voice commands or not responding the way you expect.

More vexing, the device might seem to acknowledge you — the speaker’s status light comes on, but it doesn’t respond. If that happens to you, here are some of the most common fixes to get your Alexa assistant back up and running.

Alexa didn’t understand you

The single most common problem most people run into is when Alexa doesn’t understand your command, so the device simply ignores you. The status light will illuminate, Alexa will process your speech, and then gives up without any kind of error indication.

Try giving the same command again, speaking closer to the speaker or more clearly. Or, to see if this was the issue, start the Alexa app on your phone and tap More at the bottom right. Tap Activity and then choose Voice History at the top of the page. Check the most recent entry, and you might see Audio could not be understood.

You can check your Alexa app’s voice history to see what went wrong with a command.

Your speech was processed by a different Alexa device

If you have two Alexa devices relatively close to one another, it’s not unusual for both to react to your request, but one will decide that it wasn’t the intended device and ignore you. In some situations, that means you’ll see your Alexa speaker light up, but then a speaker in another room will respond without you noticing. Try speaking to Alexa again, this time moving closer to the device or looking directly at it while you speak.

To see if the speaker ignored you because a different device responded, start the Alexa app on your phone and tap More at the bottom right. Tap Activity and then choose Voice History at the top of the page. Check the most recent entry, and you might see Audio was not intended for this device.

If a command was processed by a different Alexa device, you can find out in the Alexa app.

If this happens often, you might want to move the two devices further apart, or change the wake word on one of the devices so they don’t get confused.

Alexa needs a system update

It’s possible that your Alexa device needs a system update. Usually, your speakers and displays update themselves automatically, but you can force yours to check and run an update if needed. Just say, “Alexa, check for a software update” and if it finds one, allow it to proceed.

Your network isn’t connected to the internet

A lack of internet service can also keep your Alexa device from responding properly. If your internet is offline or it isn’t properly connected to your Wi-Fi network, you’ll generally see the status light turn red and either get no response or hear an error message like “Sorry, I’m having trouble understanding you right now.”

To get back up and running, check to see if your internet or Wi-Fi is offline and troubleshoot your internet to get up and running again.

The microphone may be muted

Make sure that Alexa’s microphone isn’t muted. The easiest way to tell: The status light is solid red. Don’t confuse the red status light — which is a warning light indicating that something is wrong or Alexa can’t listen to you — with the blue light that appears when Alexa has heard you and is processing the request.

Don’t confuse the red light, which indicates muted audio, with the normal status light that means Alexa is listening.

Your Alexa device needs to be restarted

Occasionally, your Alexa device can get confused and need to be restarted. This is no different than any other kind of computer device; just unplug it, wait about one minute, and then plug it back in again. If there was a temporary glitch, restarting the device should clear it out of memory. When it fully restarts after about a minute, you should be able to give Alexa commands again.

Your Alexa device might need to be reset

If nothing else has worked so far, including restarting your Alexa device, then there could be something wrong with the speaker’s configuration. Reset your device back to factory conditions.

After that, set up your device again. Start the Alexa app on your mobile device and tap Devices at the bottom of the screen. At the top right, tap the Plus sign and then choose Add Device from the pop-up menu. Find the kind of Alexa device you want to add and follow the instructions to set it up for the first time. Hopefully, it will again respond to commands.