The Amazon Echo smart speakers, powered by Alexa, are some of the best smart speakers money can buy. They sound great, work well and are very reliable. However, from time to time things can go wrong.
Since your Echo speaker doesn’t have a screen, it uses a light ring to provide visual feedback. Even the screen-equipped Echo Show has a small light band that also uses this feedback method.
Light codes are great in principle, but if you don’t know what the lights mean it’s nothing more than something pretty to look at. The good news is that there aren’t too many of these light codes and most of them have fairly benign meanings.
Where Is the Light Located?
The color codes in this article refer specifically to the LED ring found on top of the various models of Amazon Echo speakers. This little ring light can change its color and flashing patterns.
It can even change the colors of discrete sections of the ring. Armed with just this light array, Amazon has managed to pack a surprising amount of information into the system.
You Can Ask Alexa Directly
Amazon knows that few people are actually going to read their Echo speaker manual carefully. Which is why you can simply ask Alexa “What does your light mean?” and she’ll just tell you.
Maybe we should have waited until the end of the article to tell you that, but stick around to the end because Alexa won’t always be in a position to speak so it’s worth knowing these light by sight in advance.
A Slow Yellow Burst a Few Seconds Apart
This slow, pulsing yellow circle might look like some sort of error, but it’s actually nothing serious.
It means there are notifications or messages waiting for your attention. All you have to do is ask Alexa what your notifications or messages are and she’ll tell you.
Hopefully it wasn’t a reminder about your mom’s birthday.
A Blue Ring Peaking on a Cyan Section
With this light code, a blue circle with cyan tips shoots out to meet at the opposite end of the ring. This is possibly the most common light code anyone with an Echo will see.
That’s because it means that Alexa is listening. The light will glimmer in acknowledgement while Alexa thinks about a witty retort.
A Solid Red Ring
While a red ring on an old Xbox 360 meant “Surprise, you have to buy a new Xbox” on an Echo speaker it just means that the microphone has been muted and Alexa isn’t listening. If you’re using an Echo device that has a camera, it also means the camera won’t record you.
If you want Alexa to hear you, you’ll have to press the dedicated mute button on your Echo and the red ring should turn off, indicating that Alexa is now ready to hear your request.
Spinning Blue Ring
If you’re seeing a spinning blue and cyan ring, it means that your Echo device is starting up. If everything is OK, the ring will flash cyan-blue and then turn off. If this is the first time the Echo has been switched on, or it has been reset, then the light will turn orange.
A Spinning Orange Section on Black
If you see this, it means your Echo is in its initial setup mode. It will first try to connect to the internet and then proceed with all the housekeeping it needs, which might include downloading updates.
It will need your help using the Alexa app to connect. If you need help setting it up, check out Getting Started with Your New Amazon Echo for a hands-on walkthrough.
If you see a pulsing green light, congratulations! It means that there’s an incoming call and someone wants to talk to you. Once you answer the call, the ring will change to a spinning green light. So go ahead and say “Alexa answer call” to find out who wants to have a chat with you.
A Purple Flash
For an Amazon Echo that’s set up, a brief flash of purple after you’ve asked Alexa anything means that you have Do Not Disturb Mode switched on. This is a handy reminder since it’s easy to forget that you (or someone else) turned it on. You won’t receive other notification at all, with the exception of alarms and timers. If you want to turn Do Not Disturb off, simply say “Alexa, turn off Do Not Disturb”.
A purple light has one more meaning, but it only applies when an Echo is first set up. If you see a purple light at that time, it means there’s some sort of issue with the WiFi.
A White Circle
A white circle shows you the current volume level when you adjust the volume. As you increase volume the white circle will full up more and vice versa.
A solid white light means that Alexa is in Guard Mode. In this mode Alexa listens to the ambient sounds in your home and tries to deduce if something weird or dangerous is going on. If Alexa thinks something fishy is happening, she’ll let you know. To turn Guard Mode off, say “Alexa, I’m home.” Assuming you’re authorized to do it, of course.
One Ring to Rule Them All
This probably felt like a very long list of color codes to remember, but if you look again you’ll probably realize that it’s actually not that complicated. Once you’ve spent some time with Alexa and your Echo, this colorful communication system will feel like second nature.