Make Alexa Information Displays Useful

By:  Frank Engelman   |  Posted: March 11, 2021   |  Updated: April 19, 2023

When you buy something we recommend, we may get an affiliate commission — but it never affects your price or what we pickLearn more

The Problem to be Solved

Need Help Making Alexa Useful

Need Help Making Alexa Useful

I am setting up Alexa for my parent who lives at a distance. I am unsure what features to include, or how to set it up so it is as useful as possible.

Solution Details


While an Amazon Echo Show provides a great deal of useful information to you, it may be overwhelming to your loved one. In this article, I’ll suggest some best practices for keeping your loved one informed while reducing confusion.


For example, while they find the rotational information display of time and weather useful, your loved one may find the display upcoming calendar events such as “Lunch Time”, that is one hour away, very confusing!


Echo Show Informational Features

Here are the informational features available at the time of this writing. Please note that their functions may change as Amazon makes improvements:

  • Rotational information display
  • Calendar event notifications
  • Announcements
  • Reminders
  • Notifications

You may notice that I left “Alarms & Timers” out of this list. While you may find them very useful, some loved ones get startled by their overwhelming persistence and have difficulty turning them off. I had one older friend call me in a panic because “Alexa wouldn’t stop beeping” at him, and he didn’t know how to turn the alarm off.

You can also provide time-driven or event-driven information such as a daily reminder to exercise through Alexa Routines, as described in this article.


Rotational Information Display

This is the display of continuous cycling of information that Amazon preset for you when first set up your Echo Show. In my article on setting up your loved one’s Echo Show, I made some suggestions for turning most of these off. I suggest these specific settings, if your loved one is easily confused:

  • Swipe down from the top of the screen
  • Tap settings
  • Tap Home Content
  • All settings OFF except for:
    • Notifications
    • Shared with You
    • Weather Alerts
    • Weather Forecasts
    • Rotate Continuously

Note that “Calendar Events” and “Reminders” were not included in this list because of the potential confusion with the display of upcoming events versus current information.


Calendar Events Notification

If you have access to your loved one’s calendar, you can add events. Their Echo Show will speak the calendar event information at the time of the event through a calendar setting in the Alexa app. If you also add additional notifications (alerts) as a pre-reminder of an upcoming event, note that there is a problem as their Echo Show will only speak the first reminder. However, you can make the Echo Show speak additional pre-reminders through Alexa Routines.

There will be a future article on creating calendar events as they are beneficial as notification of events such as family video calls.



If your loved one has more than one Echo device, announcements become very useful in that they can speak a message throughout all devices. They can be programmed through Alexa Routines and will be covered in the upcoming calendar event article.



Reminders have a feature that may be useful for your loved one, but should be used with caution. They differ in that they require your loved one to “dismiss” them either by touch the screen or saying, “Alexa, dismiss reminder”. They should only be used if you want your loved one to confirm the message. You can set a reminder through your loved one’s Alexa account as follows:

  • Tap More
  • Tap Reminders
  • Tap Add Reminder

Note that you can pick “All Devices,” which will help ensure that your loved one will hear the message.



Calendar events and Alexa Routines can use Notifications to get your loved one’s attention. Notifications include a sound and a verbal description of the Notification and are repeated twice.







*Disclosure: The research and opinions in this article are those of the author, and may or may not reflect the official views of Tech-enhanced Life.

If you use the links on this website when you buy products we write about, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate or other affiliate program participant. This does not affect the price you pay. We use the (modest) income to help fund our research.

In some cases, when we evaluate products and services, we ask the vendor to loan us the products we review (so we don’t need to buy them). Beyond the above, Tech-enhanced Life has no financial interest in any products or services discussed here, and this article is not sponsored by the vendor or any third party. See How we Fund our Work.