How to Turn Off Alexa’s Creepy ‘Whisper Mode’

Photo: Karsten Negalia, Shutterstock
Photo: Karsten Negalia, Shutterstock

I love my smart speaker — as much as one can ever love a piece of privacy-stealing technology that only exists to gather information about you, I suppose — but that doesn’t mean I don’t find many things about it creepy, in a dystopian sort of way. And one of the things I find creepiest about Alexa is the fact that if you whisper a command to it, it will whisper back. Luckily, you can turn this terrifying feature off pretty easily.

Why does one need to whisper to Alexa, you might ask? My own reasons are perfectly valid: For the past half-decade, my children have fallen asleep listening to the same piece of music, a two-hour electronic mix of sleepy lullaby standards standards like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” (wait… that’s the same song) that we encountered randomly on YouTube.

After playing this video several hundred times, I finally figured out a way to transfer it to Alexa (using a Skill and a Routine; more on the latter here) so I can put the kids to bed without giving up my phone or computer for the 20 minutes it takes them to fall asleep. And sometimes this entails talking to Alexa after they’ve fallen asleep — at which point I don’t necessarily want to be speaking at top volume in their room. And the first time I whispered Alexa stop music to it and it whispered back ok I was deeply unsettled.

Whatever your reasons for whispering sweet nothings to Alexa, it’s simple to stop her from whispering back. There are two ways to do it. The first is to simply ask Alexa to turn off whisper mode. (rest assured, it will not whisper back confirmation that it has done so).

Screenshot: Joel Cunningham

If you don’t want to speak the command aloud (see above), just open up the Alexa app on your phone, select the “More” option in the lower righthand corner, then select “Settings.” Swipe down to “Voice Responses” and toggle “Whisper Mode” to the off position. That’s it — your smart speaker is now marginally less creepy.

Log in to comment on this story!