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Alexa Buttons - Not Just for Games

Alexa/Amazon buttons were initially advertised as gaming devices, at least that's what I remember. But, they have more practical uses which I've employed in my semi-smart home.

I have several smart plugs, a few smart bulbs, and smart locks. I use Alexa buttons to control these devices. A button on my bedside nightstand turns off the lamps/plugs/bulbs, activates Alexa Guard (listens for breaking glass, smoke alarms, etc.) and locks all the doors with one press at nighttime. Another button on a table in the den turns on a few lamps in the evening with one quick press. Last time I checked, the buttons were available in a two-pack for $20.

You can pair a button with only one Alexa device at a time and the button needs to be within 30 feet of the Alexa device. Note: I have two Echo Dots within about 15 feet of each other and during my first setup the button paired with the wrong device. I spoke more softly on my second attempt.

Button pairing is fairly simple, and Alexa will give you verbal instructions, after you enter set-up mode. Install the batteries or remove the pull tab from the battery compartment and tell your Alexa device (an Echo Dot, Show, Spot, etc.) to “Set up my Echo Button.” Press and hold the button until it turns orange – takes several seconds. Alexa will confirm when paring succeeds and the button turns blue when successfully paired.

If pairing using the above method fails, open the Alexa app on your computer/mobile device.

  1. Click/Tap Devices and navigate into the device that will host the button.

  2. Under the Wireless section, Click/Tap Bluetooth devices.

  3. Place the button into pairing mode by pressing until it turns orange. Then Click/Tap Pair a New Device at the bottom of the screen. When the button is paired, it will appear on the screen in the Paired Device section

  4. Click/Tap Cancel at the bottom of the screen (counterintuitive, I know)

Next, you set a Routine. Setting up a routine and its actions involves several steps.

  1. Open the Alexa app on your computer/mobile device and click/tap More, then click/tap Routines.

  2. Click/Tap + in the upper right corner to add a new Routine.

  3. Click/Tap “Enter Routine Name”, name the Routine, and click/tap Next in upper right corner.

  4. Click/Tap “When this happens” and choose Echo Button. Then press the button you want to use. Warning – the buttons have very cryptic names, like EchoBtnXXX,so maybe set up one button at a time so you can differentiate between/among them.

  5. Click/Tap “Add Action” and choose from a long list of alphabetized options. Alexa Guard is its own option. My smart plugs/ locks, etc. were all listed under the Smart Home option. If you have Groups or Scenes set up, you can choose those. I chose All Devices and navigated to the devices I wished to control with the button.

  6. Depending on the device you're using, you'll see various options appear. Sometimes, there's a Next button in the upper right corner, sometimes there's a button at the bottom of the screen. Choose the appropriate options. Do not forget to click/tap Save when you've set all options.

  7. Repeat beginning with Step 3 for each device/group/scene you wish to control with the button.


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