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Why is my Alexa flashing green, red, orange, and yellow?

Here’s what your smart speaker is trying to tell you

If your Echo speaker is flashing, Alexa is either listening or trying to tell you something.
Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

You’ve got one of Amazon’s Echo smart speakers set up and it’s super handy for playing music, checking the weather, setting an egg timer — all hands-free. But then it starts flashing different colors at random times: red, green, yellow, orange... it’s almost like it’s trying to communicate with you. Which, in fact, it is.

When your Echo speaker is flashing its LED at you, there is a really easy way to figure out what it wants. Just say, “Alexa, what does your light mean?” But that would be a really short blog. So, for those of us who don’t like talking to our smart speakers, I’ve made this quick cheat sheet to explain what all those flashing lights mean.

The LED light is Alexa’s status and notification indicator. Depending on which device you have, the LED light will be in a different location. For example, on the new Echo and Echo Dot, it’s a ring at the bottom; on the Echo Studio, it’s a ring up top; and on the Echo Show smart displays, it appears as a line on the bottom of the screen.

Wherever it’s situated, most of the time it’s hanging out doing nothing. But when you see it pulsing, circling, or swirling, Alexa is either listening to you or trying to tell you something. Here’s what it wants you to know:

Alexa is flashing yellow

A slow yellow “burst” every few seconds means your Alexa voice assistant has something to tell you. Ask, “Alexa, what are my notifications? Or “Alexa, what are my messages?” and all will be revealed.

Alexa is flashing blue

A cyan spotlight on a blue ring means Alexa heard you — the cyan spotlight will actually point in the direction it heard your voice. It will then spin as it processes your request. If it’s spinning while you’re not talking to it, it means the device is starting up.

A cyan blue point on a blue light ring shows that the Echo smart speaker is listening.
Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Alexa is flashing red

If the ring is solid red, it means the speaker’s microphone is muted and can’t hear you. Hit the unmute button to open up those mics again.

Alexa is flashing orange

A swirling orange light means the Echo speaker is in setup mode or is trying to connect to the internet. An orange line on a smart display like an Echo Show means it’s trying to connect to the internet but is currently offline.

Alexa is flashing green

Pulsing green on an Echo tells you someone is calling you. It should be accompanied by an announcement of who is calling. Say “Alexa, answer” to connect to the call (assuming you want to answer it). While on the call, the green light starts spinning until the call ends. A spinning green light will also appear if you are in a “Drop-In” with another speaker on your network.

The LED light bar on the Echo Show smart displays will appear at the bottom of the screen.
Photo by Dan Seifert / The Verge

Alexa is flashing purple

A purple ring or line means you’ve got Do Not Disturb enabled on the speaker. This blocks notifications, calls, and messages, but not alarms, timers, or reminders. It will flash purple when you ask it to do something. You can ask Alexa to turn Do Not Disturb off or do it manually in the Alexa app. If it goes purple while you are setting up the device, it couldn’t connect to Wi-Fi during setup (as opposed to trying to connect, which is represented by orange).

Alexa is flashing white

A white light moving up or down (or around) indicates you’re adjusting the volume either on the device or in the app. A spinning white light means Alexa Guard is turned on and set in Away Mode. You can go to the app and change it to Home Mode or say, “Alexa, I’m home.”

How to stop Alexa from flashing (as much)

If the constant flashing is bothering you (which is quite likely if you’re using the device as a smart alarm clock by your bed), you can turn off all but essential notifications:

  • Go to the Alexa app.
  • Tap on More > Settings > Device Settings > [your speaker name] > Communications
  • Toggle Communications off.

This will only stop the yellow and green rings from flashing — which are also the most likely to flash. But it will also disable Drop In and Announcements (where you can speak to one Echo in your house and every other one will relay the message), and it will still flash if there’s a problem.