What Your Amazon Echo’s Flashing Colours Are Trying To Tell You

What Your Amazon Echo’s Flashing Colours Are Trying To Tell You
What is your smart speaker trying to tell you? (Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo)

Amazon Echo smart speakers are versatile, capable little gadgets that keep getting better over time — but they don’t, by design, have displays attached to them (you’ll have to buy an Echo Show for that). That means their only way to display visual updates is through an LED ring that can flash different colours. Here’s what all of those colours mean.

Where you’ll see these lights depends on the Amazon Echo that you have at home. On the older models, the flashing ring appears on the top of the speaker, whereas on the more recent, orb-shaped Echo speakers, the light is at the bottom. It shouldn’t take you too long to figure out where you need to be looking.

We’re focused on the speakers here, but the Echo Show smart displays use coloured lights too, which appear as strips along the bottom of the screen, with the same colours as you’ll see on the speakers without displays. Of course, you can get a bit more information when you’re working with an actual screen (like visible notifications that packages are on the way, for example).

You can change some of the notifications you get on your Amazon Echo: Open up the Alexa app on your phone, tap More, Settings, and then Notifications. Maybe you’ve ordered a gift that’s a surprise for someone else in the house and you don’t want them suspecting anything, in which case you can choose Amazon Shopping to turn off these kinds of alerts on your Echo device.

You can turn off some notifications in the Alexa app. (Screenshot: Amazon Alexa)You can turn off some notifications in the Alexa app. (Screenshot: Amazon Alexa)

Not all of the alerts can be disabled though — as you’ll see, some of them are quite important when it comes to the functionality of your device.

Blue (static, with Cyan spotlight): Alexa is listening

You’ve probably figured this one out for yourself: When you say “hey Alexa”, your smart speaker will throw out a blue light with a cyan accent. It’s how you know your device has actually heard the wake word and is paying attention to you. Once you’ve spoken your command and it’s being processed, you’ll see the ring glimmer in acknowledgement.

Cyan (spinning on Blue background): The Echo is starting up

There is another occasion when your Echo will use cyan-tinted blue, and that’s when it’s starting up. When you plug the device in (or it restarts after a power cut), you should see a static blue light with a cyan accent quickly spinning around it. If the device needs to be set up from scratch, the spinning cyan on blue light will change to a spinning orange light.

Orange: Setup and connectivity

As we’ve said above, a spinning orange light can indicate that your device has been turned on for the first time and is ready for setup. It also appears when you’re trying to reset your Echo, both as the device is processing the reset command and after it’s been completed. Finally, a spinning orange light can also indicate that your Amazon Echo is trying to get online.

Red: Muted microphone

If you see a solid red light around your Amazon Echo, it means that the on-board microphone is currently muted — presumably because you or someone else in your household has pressed the mute button. Alexa won’t respond to any voice commands in this mode, until the mute button gets pressed again, so it’s a handy privacy feature.

Yellow: Messages or notifications

A softly, steadily glowing yellow light on your Amazon Echo speaker means you’ve got a message or a notification. It could be an alert that a package is on the way from Amazon, or it could be a message from a contact you’ve sent up in the Alexa app. Say “Alexa, what are my notifications?” or “Alexa, what are my messages?” to have them read out to you.

Green: Calls

The light around an Amazon Echo will pulse with a green hue when you’re receiving an incoming call on the device, and you can then say “Alexa, answer call” to route it through the smart speaker (you can also take it on your phone if you prefer). The green light will then switch to a spinning mode when you’re actually on a call with someone else.

Purple: Do Not Disturb and connectivity

If you’ve put your Amazon Echo into Do Not Disturb mode (so no calls nor notifications can come through), you’ll see a purple light briefly appear whenever you make a voice command request. You can say “Alexa, turn off do not disturb” if you want to go back to normal. If the purple light is pulsing, it means the Echo can’t connect to your wifi.

White: Volume and Alexa Guard

When you adjust the volume level on your Amazon Echo, a white light appears around the device to give you a visual reading of the current volume setting. You’ll also see a white light around the smart speaker when Alexa Guard is enabled: That’s the security feature where the Echo listens out for noises like a smoke alarm or the sound of breaking glass.