“Alexa, set a timer for 10 minutes,” I say in the kitchen as I’m putting a pot of water on a burner, followed by “Alexa, set a timer for 20 minutes” as I pop some lasagne in the oven for reheating. Then Alexa’s alarm starts to sound, and that’s when the confusion begins: is it the rice that’s ready, or the pasta?
If you find yourself setting multiple Alexa timers, there’s an easy way to keep them all straight. You can also set sleep timers, ask for reminders, check how much time you have left on a timer, and more.
Read on for five handy ways to make the most of your Alexa timers, starting with…
1. Name your timers
So, you need to cook some rice for 10 minutes while roasting green beans in the oven for 15 minutes, and you want Alexa to do the timing for you. How do you keep those two timers straight?
Easy: just name your timers. For example, you can say, “Alexa, set a rice timer for 10 minutes,” and then, “Set a veggies timer for 15 minutes.” When the timers are done, Alexa’s alarm tone will sound, and she’ll say “Your rice timer is done,” followed (in five minutes) by “Your veggies timer is done.”
2. Ask for a reminder
You don’t even have to call them timers if you don’t want to. Instead, you can ask Alexa to remind you to do something. For example, you could say, “Alexa, remind me to take the laundry out of the dryer in 40 minutes.” You could also say, “Alexa, remind me to pick up my dry cleaning tomorrow at noon,” or “Alexa, remind me to make coffee every weekday morning at six.”
When it’s time for your reminder, Alexa will skip the beeping alarm in favor of a two-tone chime, and she’ll say (for example), “I’m reminding you, pick up the laundry.” She’ll repeat the reminder one more time in a few seconds, and she’ll also send push notifications to your mobile devices via the Alexa app.
3. Set a sleep timer
Alexa can also use timers to help you doze off. For example, she can slowly dim an Alexa-enabled light, or she can turn off your tunes after a set period of time.
If you want Alexa to slowly dim and then turn off one of your smart lights, just say, “Alexa, set a sleep timer for 30 minutes on (in my case) Ben’s bedroom light.” To turn off your music after a set period of time, ask Alexa to tee up some tunes, then say, “Set a sleep timer for 30 minutes.”
4. Find out how much time is left on a timer
I often use Alexa reminders when it comes to allowing my daughter a little iPad time (she’s a Disney+ fanatic); and halfway through a 30-minute session, I’ll wonder exactly how many minutes she has left of Star Wars or The Avengers.
To find out, just ask, “Alexa, how much time is left on the iPad timer?” Alexa will then tell you how many minutes are remaining, which serves as a handy way to warn my daughter that her screen time is almost up.
5. See all your timers at once
If you have one of Amazon’s display-equipped Echo Show devices, you can ask Alexa to show all your active timers at once. Just say, “Alexa, show me my timers,” and you’ll get a list of your currently running timers, complete with their names and how much time remains on each.
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Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices.