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How to enable Alexa's new wake word and masculine voice

Amazon added a sci-fi throwback to its popular voice assistant.

Amazon Echo Dot (4th generation) on a wood table. Credit: Reviewed / Sarah Kovac

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Ever been interacting with an Amazon Alexa-enabled device and thought “this is neat, but what this experience is missing is a reference to an early ‘90s sci-fi show?” Well, we’ve got some swell news for you, then. Amazon is rolling out a new wake word—Ziggy—along with a new masculine-sounding voice that serves as an alternative to Alexa’s standard, feminine-sounding voice.

Amazon hasn’t explicitly said that Ziggy is a tribute to the artificially intelligent computer of the same name from the gone, but not forgotten TV series Quantum Leap. A newer reference, such as Tony Stark’s “Jarvis” may have been a bit more in line with current pop-culture, too, but regardless, Ziggy has joined as a fun addition to Alexa’s collection of wakewords, alongside “Amazon,” “Computer,” “Echo” and, of course, “Alexa.” Accompanying Ziggy is the option to switch between feminine and masculine Alexa voices for a more customizable smart home experience.

Here's how to activate both new features.

How to change Alexa’s wake word to Ziggy

Amazon's Echo Show 10 smart display sits on a kitchen counter.
Credit: Reviewed / Rachel Murphy

Alexa-enabled devices like the Echo Show 10 (pictured) have a new wake word and voice option.

The easiest way to make the change is to use voice control to speak to your Echo speaker or smart display you’d like to alter directly. Simply saying “change your wake word” after waking the device will trigger it to ask you to select from its five available wake words, including the new “Ziggy” option.

Alternatively, you can change the wake word using the app by following the steps below:

1. Open the Amazon Alexa app.

2. Tap Devices in the taskbar on the bottom of the screen.

3. Tap Echo and Alexa to select the device that you want to customize.

4. Tap Settings > General > Wake Word.

5. Select your desired wake word and click “OK” on the pop-up to verify the change.

It may take a few minutes to reboot your device before you can begin using the wake word. Just be careful during your annual Quantum Leap rewatch.

How to change Alexa’s voice from feminine to masculine

Like the wake word, you can use voice control to change Alexa’s voice by saying, “Alexa (or your altered wake word), change your voice.” This prompts the smart assistant to switch to the masculine option (and vice versa).

To change your Amazon assistant’s voice using the app, follow the steps below:

1. Open the Amazon Alexa app.

2. Tap Devices in the taskbar on the bottom of the screen.

3. Tap Echo and Alexa to select the device that you want to customize.

4. Tap Settings > General > and Alexa’s Voice.

5. Select New to enable the masculine-sounding voice.

There you have it. In just a few simple steps (or through the streamlined method of using your voice), you can start communicating with Alexa’s new wake word, Ziggy, and masculine-sounding voice.

Amazon also announced the expansion of its celebrity voice roster following the success of its collaboration with Samuel L. Jackson. Now, Melissa McCarthy and Shaquille O’Neal have been added to the lineup. However, unlike Ziggy and Alexa’s new masculine voice, which are free to use, the trio of celebrity voices will cost you $4.99/month.

There are far worse ways to spend $5 but be warned: these celebrity voice options won’t respond to just any question you ask them. They’ll handle inquiries about the weather or requests for a good joke with ease but won’t have the full capabilities of the smart assistant’s standard lineup of voices.

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