When Alexa Voice Recognition Gets it Wrong

Imagine my surprise this morning when I looked at my To-Do list and saw, “do a review on grimm kermit call marilee.” I stared at the screen for 20 seconds, hoping something would come to mind. I was stumped. Fortunately, I could tell Alexa had placed the task the day before. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to delete voice recognitions on Alexa.

On the whole, I’m a fan of Amazon’s Echo products and own several. One feature I appreciate is the ability to have Alexa add items to Todoist . Now and then, something doesn’t translate well, but I can figure it out.

Sometimes it has to do with background noise and whether I was facing the microphone. Evidently, while cooking last night, I gave Alexa an indecipherable command. The good news is Todoist identifies the source [1] and time [2] on the task list.

Todoist app showing my Alexa task.
Strange tasks entered by Alexa

Now, I just needed to find and replay the voice utterance. Of course, you can do this through the Alexa App on your phone. However, I find it easier to use the web application. That’s the closest thing to having the Alexa app on my PC. Besides, I could put my headphones on and hear my voice recording better.

How to Find Your Alexa Voice Recordings

While I call these “recordings,” Amazon refers to them as “voice interactions with Alexa.”

  1. Open your web browser and go to https://alexa.amazon.com.
  2. From the left menu, select Settings.
  3. Scroll down to the Alexa Account section.
  4. Select History.
Alexa account history menu.
Navigating to Alexa Voice Recordings
  1. Scroll down the History panel till you find your item. In my case, this started with me adding the task.
Listing of my Alexa voice commands.
Scroll to find your voice recording
  1. Click the selected item. You can see the dialog between us.
My dialog with Alexa.
My dialog with Alexa
  1. To hear the recording, click the play button.

In the dialog above, you can see I spoke two commands, as did she. I’ll chalk this miscue to the background kitchen noise. However, I did laugh when I heard what I actually said as I stumbled a bit. The Alexa voice recognition wasn’t perfect in this case, but neither was I.

Providing Feedback on Voice Recordings

According to the Alexa documentation, the service should get better with time. One way to help is to tell Alexa if she did what you wanted. Below most recordings, you will see a question that asks, “Did Alexa do what you wanted?“.

Providing Alexa feedback.
Providing Alexa feedback

This question doesn’t show in all utterances. For example, if you look back at my task command dialog, I didn’t have this Did Alexa do what you wanted? option. Instead, I opted to delete the recording using the Delete voice recordings link at the bottom of each recording panel. Think of this step as similar to deleting your browser’s web history. You can see an example above.

How to Delete Alexa History

If Alexa continually misunderstands you, you might consider deleting all your recordings instead of individual ones. This is effectively retraining Alexa’s voice recognition. However, the help documentation does mention that it may degrade your Alexa experience. I’d probably be inclined to call support first in case the device is defective.

  1. Open your browser and go to https://www.amazon.com/hz/mycd/digital-console/alldevices. You may need to log in.
  2. Click the Your Devices tab.
Amazon Devices tab and highlighted Echo.
Look for the voice-enabled device
  1. Click the square gray button to the left of your device. It will have 3 horizontal dots.
Manage device voice recording.
Manage device voice recording
  1. Click Manage voice recordings.
  2. Click Delete.
Delete voice recordings.
Deleting your voice recordings

At the end of the day. I’m happy with my Alexa devices. Of course, there are times when I encounter mistakes such as this one. But, overall, I find them very useful, especially in the kitchen. I like to use Alexa to play podcasts. And now and then, I’ll throw a “to do” her way. But until Amazon improves Alexa’s voice recognition, I still need to make adjustments.