While voice assistants like Alexa are remarkably helpful, you should keep in mind that like most modern technology, you leave a footprint wherever you go. Amazon‘s Alexa works by voice command, so she is always listening for her “wake word,” which is usually the command “Alexa.” Alexa isn’t always recording, but she will record audio after she hears her wake word. She then sends this audio to the cloud for greater accuracy and analysis. Understandably, not everyone is comfortable with this.
There is a process to delete your stored conversations from Alexa’s history and restore your peace of mind and privacy. Our guide will walk you through the process.
Step 1: Open the Alexa app
Open up the Alexa app, and sign in using your Amazon account password if necessary. If you’ve never used your Alexa app before, or if it’s been a very long time since you’ve used it, Alexa may run you through a quick setup procedure first. This only takes about a minute or so to get through.
When you arrive at the home screen, look down at your options at the bottom and select the Three Lines icon that says More to access your full menu. The interface may look a little different depending on the device you are using, but the option will still be available.
From here, look through the menu options to find the Alexa Privacy section, and select it.
Step 2: Sort and go through your recent Alexa history
The Alexa Privacy section will give you several different options for reviewing the sensitive information Alexa has collected. You may want to spend some time here. But for this particular task, you will start with Review Voice History. This will open a new screen with all of your recorded Alexa conversations.
At the top of the screen, you will see an option to change the date range or filter by device. You can choose options for seeing today’s commands, yesterday’s, and so on, all the way to viewing your entire history. If you really want to weed through all your recordings, you need to choose All History. This will display all your conversations with Alexa, when they occurred, and on what device.
Step 3: Delete specific parts of your history
As you view your recordings, you will notice that some have the text of your conversations, like, “Alexa, is it gonna snow today?” but other recordings say, “Text not available — audio was not intended for Alexa.” These recordings happen when Alexa is still listening for a second after answering your question (it’s caught me mocking it before) or if nearby conversations sound like someone said “Alexa,” but the voice assistant determines no one was really talking to it. There are other false wakes when Alexa hears something that sounds like her wake word on the TV or radio. You can click on these recordings to play them and see what they are if you are curious.
To the left of each recording, you will see a checkbox. Select the checkbox of every recording that you want to delete. Then, go up top and choose Delete Selected Recordings to remove them all. It’s also a good idea to manually turn on Enable Deletion by Voice, so you don’t have to keep visiting this screen again.
Step 4: Delete your whole history at once if you need to
If you don’t want to take the time to review all your recordings or don’t really care what they say, you can also delete them all without looking. Simply look at the top of the Review Voice History menu and select Delete All Recordings for All History.
You can also delete your entire history from your computer without going to the Alexa app. Simply go to Amazon’s Manage Your Content and Devices site, sign in to Alexa Privacy Settings, and make sure you are in the Devices tab. Here, you will see all of the devices connected to this Amazon account. Select an Alexa device, and then look below the name of the device to see an option that says Delete Voice Recordings. Select this, and Amazon will pop up a quick warning screen. Select Delete, and you should get a message that says Your Deletion Request Was Received.
Avoiding unwanted Alexa recordings
Deleting your recordings may not feel very effective when you know they are just piling up again the more you use Alexa. However, there are some ways around this perpetual problem. First, you can turn on automatic Alexa deletions, which is a very handy feature if you’re concerned about privacy issues.
You can find this option in the Alexa Privacy section. Look for the link to Manage Your Alexa Data, and then enable the option that says Automatically Delete Recordings. This will allow you to pick a time period to keep voice recordings before they are automatically erased every time.
You can also take a more direct approach and just turn Alexa off entirely from time to time. Echo devices have a mute button on the top that will shut off the mic and turn Alexa’s ring indicator red until you unmute again. You also have the option of unplugging the Alexa device entirely so no listening is possible. These are common solutions in work-from-home situations where people have an Alexa device on their desk or near their computer, but they really need to ensure privacy during web conferences, team calls, and other conversations containing important professional information.
Final note on deleting Alexa recordings
Deleting Alexa recordings is an important part of your privacy, and Alexa recordings have made their way into prosecution cases before, although there’s not a lot of precedence for this sort of thing so far. We understand if you don’t want your recordings out there in the cloud. However, there is an important caveat to deleting your messages: Alexa uses your recordings to help improve the accuracy of its listening functions. In other words, the more you talk to Alexa, the smarter it becomes at recognizing your voice and understanding what you’re saying. When you delete all your recordings, you’re getting rid of Alexa’s memory of your voice, so Alexa may have more trouble recognizing your commands. It’s a small price to pay, but worth noting. You can always build the recognition back up again with new voice commands.