How to listen to everything Amazon Echo has ever heard

If you own an Amazon Echo, you probably know its strange secret: The device records a lot of what you say. Deep inside that dark tower, Echo keeps a vast trove of recordings. Your voice is preserved. Your friends’ voices are preserved. Anyone who has ever been to your house and said, “Alexa!” has contributed to its great library of human sound.

On the upside, this amazing technology puts instant information a voice command away. Most people have no idea that you can do much more than get the latest weather or listen to your favorite tunes. Click here for a list of Alexa commands you’re probably not using but should.

The downside is that Amazon stores a recording of every voice command you’ve issued to Alexa — not just in the device itself, but on Amazon’s servers.

Many owners feel a little weird about these voice recordings. What does Amazon plan to do with them? Can someone break into Alexa and hack my voice? Can law enforcement access my

recordings? Is Amazon going to use these sound files for some dastardly plan?

Why Amazon stores your voice

First, let’s address why the device stores your voice in the first place. In brief, Alexa wants to obey your every command, but no matter how lifelike “she” may be, you are still a human being talking to a machine, which has no intuition.

Tip within a tip: Click here for ways to control your home with Amazon Alexa and your voice.

For the software to learn, it must adapt to your style of speaking. Some people mumble; others have thick accents. Gradually, Echo gets better at understanding you.

Is Amazon Echo always listening?

The short answer is yes. Alexa is activated when it detects one of its wake words: “Alexa,” “Amazon,” “Computer” or “Echo.” You know the device is ready for a command when the outer ring at the top glows blue.

Amazon says it records and stores the wake word and your command, along with a fraction of a second of audio before the wake word. So if you’ve having a conversation and say something like, “I love that song! Let’s listen to it. Alexa, play the Coldplay song, ‘Viva La Vida,’” Alexa may keep the words “listen to it.”

How to listen to these recordings

I’m guessing most people don’t know this, but — surprise! — you can listen to every command you’ve ever given your Echo with the Alexa app on your smartphone or tablet.

When I did, I was surprised to learn that some of my recordings had nothing to do with commands. There I was talking on my phone about the old studios I was selling. Alexa also recorded portions of a presidential debate. I am not sure why my real estate call was recorded, but one of the candidates almost said the word “Alexa.”

If you’d like to review your old recordings, open the Alexa app, tap on the Settings menu and then tap on History. Given the hundreds or thousands of commands most Echo users accumulate, you’ll find a huge catalog of your requests. Select the recording you’d like to review and tap the Play icon to listen to it.

How to delete recordings

If it creeps you out that your requests and other things you may have said have been stored in a database, you can delete them. Here’s how:

* Open the Alexa app and go into Settings.

* Select History and you’ll see a list of all the entries.

* Select an entry and tap the Delete button.

But what if you want to delete all your recordings? Do you have to remove each one manually? That could take days!

Amazon lets you remove everything with one click. Just visit the “Manage Your Content and Devices” at But keep in mind Amazon’s warning that “deleting voice recordings may degrade your Alexa experience.”