Only a few years ago, voice assistants felt like just a fad, with limited features and questionable reliability.

However, they’ve since become a staple of the modern smart home, whether you use Siri, Google Assistant or Alexa. They can help simplify your everyday life, answer questions and play a variety of different kinds of audio.

But with Cortana on Windows 11 no longer a thing, you’ll need an alternative. Alexa is the obvious choice, given it’s officially supported by Microsoft and works across a range of devices. Here’s how to get started with it on Windows 11.

How to get Alexa on Windows 11

The Alexa app is available on the Microsoft Store, making it very easy to install on your Windows 11 device. Here’s how.


Get the Alexa app from the Microsoft Store

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

The Alexa app is available on the Microsoft Store, but it might not appear when you open the Windows 11 app and search for it. Instead, open the Alexa page on the Microsoft website and click ‘Get in Store app’.

From the Microsoft Store pop-up that appears, click ‘Get’ to begin downloading.


Move past introductory screens

Alexa Setup 1

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

After you open the app, you’ll be presented with summary screens that showcase what Alexa can do. Click the left and right arrows to scroll through these, then ‘Get Started’ once you’re ready to proceed.

After you’re signed in, the app will guide you through the setup process. The first window shows you some possibilities that Alexa brings. You can scroll through these features, and once you’re fine with moving forward, click on Get Started.


Sign in with your Amazon account

Alexa Sign in

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

From the next screen, enter the email address/phone number and password for the Amazon account you’d like to use and click ‘Sign in’.

If you don’t have an account, click ‘Create a new Amazon account’ and follow the instructions.


Decide if you’d like hands-free Alexa

Alexa wake word

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

After you accept the terms and conditions, the app will ask you if you’d like to use Alexa hands-free by saying the wake word – as you might expect, this is simply ‘Alexa’.

This is optional, but you can enable it by moving the ‘Wake Word’ toggle to the ‘On’ position, then clicking ‘Allow’ to give the app permission to use your microphone. However, do be aware that it means Alexa will be able to access your mic all the time while the app is open, which might lead to worse battery life than usual.


Decide whether to launch app on startup or pin to taskbar

Alexa setup taskbar

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

Both of the options on the next screen are optional.

You can decide whether you’d like the Alexa app automatically open each time you sign into your computer, allowing it to listen out for the wake word straight away. It’s also up to you whether the app should be pinned to the Windows 11 taskbar for easy access.


See what Alexa can do

Alexa Welcome

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

The last stage of setup involves an overview of what Alexa can do. From the pop-up window like you see above, click ‘Get Started’ to begin.


Try asking Alexa questions

Alexa Say Happy birthday

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

First, you’ll be taken through a few questions that you can ask Alexa, from trivia to key translations. Click next to move on.


Try creating a list

Alexa add bananas

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

Next, Alexa will prompt you to instruct it to add bananas to your shopping list. Click ‘Next’ again once you’re done.


Try playing the news

Alexa Play the news

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

You’ll also be prompted to ask Alexa to play the news. Click ‘Next’ once more to complete setup.


Enable Alexa Show mode

Alexa Show Mode

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

Finally, the app will ask if you’d like to turn on show mode, which can turn your computer into an Echo Show-style device.

Click ‘Next’, then decide whether you’d like the ‘Automatically start Show mode when your PC is inactive’ toggle to stay on. Finally, click ‘Enable Show Mode’ to try it out.

What can you use Alexa on Windows 11 for?

The highlighted options above represent only a small fraction of the things Alexa can do. Here are some other options:

Manage music

Alexa Music

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

One of the first and most useful features is the ability to play your favourite music without the need to open any other app. The Alexa app, can easily handle your preferred radio stations, audiobooks and music, all in one place.

But while the Echo smart speakers support a range of music streaming services, the app itself is limited to Amazon Music and Audible. If you use the likes of Spotify, Apple Music or another audiobook service, this feature won’t work.

Manage your smart home

Alexa Smart Home

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

Smart home appliances are becoming much more affordable and widespread. They’re great at streamlining some of the most boring elements of everyday life – from turning on lights and central heating, to vacuuming and even making coffee.

Connecting these to Alexa means they can all be triggered via simple voice commands, while you can control everything direct from the Windows 11 app. However, you’ll need to use the mobile app to actually add a new smart home device.

Connect all your devices with Communicate tab

Alexa Communications 2

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

Another important feature on the Alexa is the Communicate tab.

That’s where you can set up communications between all your Alexa-enabled devices, as well as choose whether you want them to be able to access notifications from your PC and vice-versa. This is also the place to set up your video calls and regular calls, all of which can be managed by your voice assistant.

In order to set up Communicate tab, you’ll have to connect to your mobile Alexa app first. To do so, simply download it from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and sign in there, then everything will be synced between the two devices.

Make and manage lists

Alexa lists

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

Alexa lets you create and manage various lists on the Windows 11 app, both manually and using voice commands.

In the lists tab, you can create, view and manage them all. To add something using your voice, simply say “Alexa, add X to list Y”.

Set reminders

Alexa Reminders

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

Sometimes you just need someone – or something – to remind you of an important date or event. Thankfully, Alexa can do just that.

Simply tell your assistant to remind you of an important event, then specify when and which device you’d like it to be delivered to.

Set alarms

Alexa Alarms

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

The Windows 11 app is probably not the first device you’d turn to for waking up, but it’s a useful way to remind you to do something specific, such as leaving the house.

Other features

Alexa things to try

Adrian Sobolewski-Kiwerski / Foundry

For more Alexa features, click the ‘Things to Try’ section from the left side of the app. This includes a variety of sections, showcasing almost everything Alexa can do.