One of the most confounding moments after I got my first Amazon Echo Dot was when its light ring began pulsing yellow, signaling… well, what exactly?
Indeed, Echo devices such as the standard Echo, the Echo Dot, the Echo Plus, and the Echo Show can display flashing indicator lights in seven different colors, and they can be pretty confusing–even aggravating–if you don’t know what they mean, or how to make them stop.
Luckily, deciphering the flashing lights on your Echo device is simple, and once you know the code, the lights can warn you when something’s amiss with your Echo, let you know when you have incoming messages, alert you when Alexa is listening, and more.
This story is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart speakers, where you’ll find reviews of the competition’s offerings, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.
Pulsing yellow light
Let’s start with the light that confused me the most when I got my first Echo (the ever-popular Echo Dot). Generally accompanied by a cheerful “bum, bum!” alert tone, the flashing yellow light lets you know when Alexa has a notification for you, or if you missed a reminder.
One of the most common times you’ll see the yellow light is when Alexa wants to tell you that a package from Amazon has been delivered, or when Amazon is about to ship a “Subscribe & save” item.
Just say “Alexa, tell me my notifications” to hear your Alexa alerts, and the yellow light will disappear once Alexa has read them to you. If you want to delete all your notifications without hearing them, just say, “Alexa, delete all my notifications.”
Here’s another common and confusing Echo indicator light: the mysterious solid red light. The most likely culprit for the red light is that someone pressed the microphone mute and/or camera-off button. Press the mic mute button again, and the red light should disappear.
Seeing the red light, but no one pressed the mic mute button? If so, the right light means that there’s some kind of error, such as a glitchy Wi-Fi connection or problems with Alexa.
Blue light with spinning light-blue segment
This one’s pretty simple. Whenever you speak to Alexa, a blue light will appear with a light-blue segment that’s facing the direction in which she’s listening. You’ll also see the blue light when Alexa is processing what you just said. If there’s no blue light, Alexa isn’t listening (or didn’t hear you).
Spinning orange light
When you first first plug in a brand-new Echo speaker or display, the spinning orange light will let you know that the Echo device is in setup mode.
If you see the spinning orange light and you’re not setting up your Echo for the first time, it means that the device is trying to connect to the internet, indicating that you might have a internet service outage.
Pulsing or spinning green light
A pulsing green light means that you have an incoming call on your Echo device. Just ask Alexa to answer the call, or say “Alexa, ignore” to ghost the caller.
If the green light is spinning rather than pulsing, it means that someone just did a “Drop In” on your Echo device or that your Echo just started a call (either because you asked her to call someone or because she misheard you). To end the Drop In or call, just say “Hang up.”
Putting your Echo speaker in “do not disturb” mode (which blocks incoming calls and notifications, but not timers or alarms) will make a purple light briefly flash, while a steady purple light while you’re setting up an Echo for the first time means that something went wrong during the Wi-Fi setup process.
Spinning white light
Did you turn on Alexa Guard before leaving the house? If so, that’s the reason there’s a spinning white light on your Echo speaker. Just disable Alexa Guard to make the white light disappear.
The only other time you’ll see a while light on your Echo device is when you’re adjusting the volume.
Amazon Echo Show 15
Reviewed with $29.99 Sanus tilt stand; price as reviewed: $279.98
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. You can follow Ben on Twitter.