The Multi Alexa Household: What’s Shared, What’s Specific To Each Device?

Post Updated: 11/21/18 – Many consumers find after purchasing their first Echo or Dot that they love Alexa so much, they’ve just got to have another Alexa device. Initially Amazon didn’t plan for this situation, but they’ve caught up with software updates that address the needs of the multi Alexa household. Now, if you own more than one Alexa device there are some functions and settings that are shared across all devices and some that remain tied only to one specific device.


Alexa Jealous


From Amazon’s help topic on this, as of 11/21/18:

If you have more than one Alexa device registered to your account, some of your content and settings are shared between the devices.

In the Alexa app, go to the menu and select Settings > Alexa Preferences to view the types of content* that are shared for all devices. Some content is not common between devices on the same account, including:

Alarms and timers
Bluetooth connections

Note: At this time, you cannot customize which content is available on specific devices.

*edited by LME to add text that was missing from Amazon’s help topic text

Music & Media
Once you connect a given music or media account, such as a premium Spotify account or Audible account, you cannot limit it to one specific Alexa device. Every Alexa device that’s registered to your Amazon account will have access to that content. Exception: Amazon Music Unlimited offers a single user, single device option. If you sign up for that type of subscription you will have to specify a single device to have access to the subscription.


Household Profiles
If you have more than one profile set up to use your Alexa devices, that other profile will have access to use all the Alexa devices registered to your Amazon account. For example, I have profiles set up for myself and my (adult) son, and each of us can switch to the other’s profile on any of the Alexa devices in our household: I cannot make any of the devices off-limits to his profile.


Smart Home Devices
When you connect smart home devices in the Alexa app, those devices become available to all the Alexa devices registered to your account. Think about this if you’re using security-sensitive smart home devices like smart locks and have an Alexa device in the kids’ room.


Flash Briefing, Shopping & To-Do Lists
As of this writing, you only get one Flash Briefing, one default shopping list and one default to-do list per Amazon account, but you are now able to add your own lists as well. These three item types are all shared across all the Alexa devices registered to your Amazon account.


Alarms & Timers, Sounds
Alarms and timers are set on individual Alexa devices, and will only go off on the device on which they were set. Along those same lines, custom alarm/alert tones you select are assigned to specific devices: changing the tone on one device will only change it for that one device.

Some Alexa device owners wish the alarm would sound on all the Alexa devices they own once a timer or alarm is set, so they don’t have to stick close to the device they used to set the alarm or timer, and maybe this will become an option in the future. For the time being, I think everyone in my household is pretty happy that when the alarm goes off on my bedroom Echo each morning at 5:45am none of our other Alexa devices make a peep.


Bluetooth Connections
This one’s important, and easy to forget about. Pairing a given speaker, set of headphones, tablet, cell phone or other item to an Alexa device via Bluetooth only pairs the item to that specific Alexa device. If you want the item to pair with all your Alexa devices, you’ll need to pair them individually. The good news is that once you’ve paired, the connection is generally remembered and will re-connect automatically as soon as the Bluetooth item comes within range of the Alexa device—so long as Bluetooth is enabled.