There are several possible fixes for an unresponsive Alexa device. The solution could be as simple as rebooting your device, or it may require something more complex, such as a factory reset.
1. Check Your Cables
First things first; check to make sure everything is plugged in.
This might sound obvious, but it’s easy for the power cable to get jiggled loose from the back of the Alexa hub.
If it got bumped or moved, it could simply be un-powered.
Along the same lines, check any Alexa-compatible devices that you’re trying to control.
If you’re using skills to operate a smart TV or speaker, make sure those devices are also plugged in.
It would be embarrassing to go through all these steps, only to discover that your dog knocked the TV cord loose.
2. Make Sure Your Network is Working
Once you’ve ensured that everything is plugged in, the next step is to check the status of your WiFi network.
Remember, Alexa works via the cloud.
Even if everything else you’re doing is entirely offline, you need an internet connection for voice commands to work.
Unlock your smartphone. Verify that your data is off and you’re connected to WiFi.
Open up YouTube or another video streaming app, and see if it works.
Assuming your network is functioning, double-check your Alexa hub’s settings.
Has the network name or password changed since you last used Alexa?
If it has, you’ll need to sign the hub back into your network.
Also, check the settings on any device you’re trying to control.
If it turns out that your WiFi network isn’t working, you’ll need to reset your router. Here’s how that’s done:
- Unplug any wires connected to your router.
- Count to ten, slowly.
- Plug your cables back in.
If your internet still isn’t working, you’ll need to call your service provider. There could be an outage in your area.
3. Reset the Alexa Hub
Next, try the same thing on your Alexa hub.
Unplug it from your wall outlet, and wait for a minimum of 30 seconds.
If possible, wait for a full minute. After that, plug the hub back in.
This clears the RAM, ends any processes that might get stuck, and fully reboots the device.
Often, it will suddenly become responsive.
4. Make Sure the App is Working
If you’re trying to control a third-party device, see if you can operate that device through its smartphone app.
For example, suppose you’re trying to run a robot vacuum. You could use the vacuum’s companion app.
Using the manufacturer app can help you to isolate the problem.
Is Alexa acting up, or is something wrong with your device on a deeper level?
If so, you’ll need to contact the device’s manufacturer.
5. Make Sure the Alexa Skill is Working
Assuming the device itself is working correctly, you’ll need to see if you’ve set it up properly in Alexa.
First, you’ll need to log in to your Alexa account via the app or the website.
After logging in, the process is pretty straightforward:
- In the app: Click “More,” then “Skills & Games,” then “Your Skills.”
- On the website: Click “Skills,” then “Your Skills.”
- Look through the list of skills for the device you’re trying to control. If it’s not on the list, you’ll need to add it before you can use it.
6. Turn the Alexa Skill Off and On
If the skill is installed but not functioning, you’ll have to dig a bit deeper.
The skill process itself may have frozen or bugged out.
In that case, you can reset the skill, just like you can reset your hub by rebooting it.
- Click on your device in the skills list, and then select “Settings.”
- This button will bring up several options, including “Disable Skill.”
- Click that, and return to your skills list. Assuming everything is working correctly, you won’t see the device in your list anymore.
- At this point, restart the device by unplugging it and plugging it back in.
- It also helps to reset your router at this time, even if you’ve already done that.
- Now, plug everything back in, and go back to your skills list.
- Reinstall the skill for your device, and see if it works.
7. Uninstall and Reinstall the App
By now, you’re probably starting to get frustrated. Don’t panic!
There are still a couple of things you can try.
First, uninstall and reinstall the manufacturer’s app from your smartphone.
Many Alexa skills require the latest version of the manufacturer app to function.
Making a clean install of the most recent version is the most reliable way to do this.
If this doesn’t work, try doing the same thing with your Alexa app.
Uninstall it from your phone, then reinstall it from the Apple Store or Google Play.
This will ensure that you’re running the latest versions of both apps.
8. Update Your Firmware
Firmware is the device-specific software that controls a device’s basic functions. Think of your smart TV.
Yes, it has third-party apps like Netflix and Disney+.
But it also has a menu with settings, options, and all kinds of controls.
This simple software is part of the TV’s firmware.
But like any kind of software, firmware isn’t flawless.
There may be bugs that need to be patched.
There could be an error in your system that can be fixed with an upgrade or reinstall.
Exactly how you update your firmware will depend on the device.
It’s best just to visit the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions.
In many cases, you can perform an update directly from the smartphone companion app.
In other cases, upgrading firmware can be more complicated.
You may have to load files onto a thumb drive and plug it into your device.
Every device is different, so check the manufacturer’s directions.
9. Perform a Factory Reset
If nothing else works, you can try performing a factory reset.
This isn’t always ideal, because your device memory will be entirely erased.
If you reset a robot vacuum, you’ll lose your settings and schedules.
If you reset a TV, you’ll lose your screen and audio settings.
Not only that, but if the device firmware has had several patches, you’ll need to reinstall those.
In other words, it can be a headache, which is why we saved this fix for last.
As with firmware updates, there’s no universal way to perform a factory reset.
It will depend on your manufacturer.
You may have to visit their website to find instructions for your device.
How Do I Know if My Alexa Device Is Unresponsive?
When your Alexa device is unresponsive, it’s readily apparent.
You speak your voice commands, and nothing happens.
Unless you messed up the wake phrase, something is wrong.
One way to guarantee that your hub is unresponsive is to watch the blue indicator light.
When you say the wake phrase, the hub is supposed to light up blue. If you say the correct phrase and there are no lights, your hub is unresponsive.
As you can see, there are many possible ways to fix your unresponsive Alexa device.
The correct method will depend on why the device is unresponsive, to begin with.
For this reason, it makes sense to work through the process in the order we’ve given.
Start with simpler fixes, and work your way up to more complex solutions.
If all else fails, your Alexa device itself may have failed.
In that case, none of these fixes will work; you’ll have to start fresh with a new, functional device.
What to do if Alexa says “device is unresponsive”?
As we’ve discussed, there are several ways to fix an unresponsive Alexa device.
Depending on why the device is unresponsive in the first place, any of the following things might work:
- Check your cable connections
- Check your WiFi network
- Restart your router
- Restart your device
- Update your firmware
- Double-check your app settings and pairing
Why is my Alexa skill unresponsive?
There are many reasons your Alexa could become unresponsive. Here are some potential causes:
- Your WiFi network is slow or inconsistent.
- Your cables are loose or disconnected.
- Your device is not paired, so your commands are going nowhere.
- You entered the wrong information, such as an incorrect WiFi password.
- You’re using a device that isn’t compatible with Alexa.
- You renamed your device, which caused it to automatically unpair.
- There’s a microwave oven or other high-interference device blocking your signal.