How to use voice control on Xbox One, Series X, and Series S: Command list, Alexa, Google Assistant, tips and more

Echo Dot and Xbox
Echo Dot and Xbox (Image credit: Windows Central)

You can still use the legacy Xbox One voice commands with Kinect if that's your preference, but if you enable Alexa or Google Assistant on your console you'll be able to issue commands via a headset microphone or a connected smart speaker, and access features that make multitasking far easier. Here's everything you need to know about voice commands on Xbox One.

How to activate a smart speaker on Xbox One

If you want to use a product like an Amazon Echo speaker (opens in new tab), you'll need to first enable digital assistants on your Xbox One.

  1. Double tap the Xbox logo button on your controller.
  2. Select Settings. It is the gear icon.
  3. Select All Settings.
  4. Select Kinect & Devices.
  5. Select Digital Assistants.
  6. Tap the A button on your controller to enable digital assistants.

Note: Alexa support is currently only available in a few regions. You can change your language settings in an unsupported region to enable Alexa connectivity (such as the U.S. or UK), but this might not give you full access to their features, and in the case of an Amazon Echo, may restrict what features you can actually use on your speaker.

Set up a smart speaker for use with Xbox One

To use Alexa with Xbox One, you'll need a compatible smart speaker. or an app on your smartphone. Note that at present, these services are only available in certain regions.

  1. First, activate the corresponding skill on your speaker. Click here to activate the Alexa Xbox skill (opens in new tab), and click here to find and activate Google Assistant for Xbox.
  2. You'll have to sign in with your Xbox-connected Google, Amazon, and Microsoft Accounts to both services in order to use them.
  3. Follow the instructions in each corresponding app, and select enable to connect your speaker to your console.

List of Xbox-specific voice commands

If you're using a connected smart speaker or mobile device with Alexa or Google Assistant, you need to say "Hey Alexa/Google, tell Xbox to" or "ask Xbox to," followed by your command.

Turn on your Xbox

  • "Turn on my Xbox."
  • "Start my Xbox."
  • "Xbox on."
  • "Turn on."

Turn off your Xbox

  • "Turn off my Xbox."
  • "Turn off."
  • "Xbox off."
  • "Reboot."

Capturing game footage

  • "Take a screenshot."
  • "Broadcast."
  • "Stop broadcasting."
  • "Record that."
  • "Record the last (number) minutes."

Find out what your friends are currently doing

  • "What is (Gamertag / real name) doing?"
  • "Is (Gamertag / real name) online?"

Invite friends into parties

  • "Invite (Gamertag / real name) into a party."
  • "Start a party with (Gamertag / real name)."

Send messages

  • "Send a message to (Gamertag / real name)."

Select items on screen

  • "Select."
  • "Make a selection."
  • "Select mode."
  • When you've finished making a selection, say "stop listening."

Open apps and games

  • "Open (app/game name)."
  • "Go to (app/game name)."
  • "Snap (app name)."Note: Universal apps like Baconit and Cast currently cannot be snapped.

Switch between and close snapped apps

  • "Switch."
  • "Change view."
  • "Unsnap."

Media controls

  • "Pause."
  • "Play."
  • "Rewind."
  • "Fast forward."

TV controls

  • "Watch/go to TV."
  • "Watch (channel name)."
  • "Open/show OneGuide."
  • "Volume up (number)."
  • "Volume down (number)."
  • "Mute."Note: Some TV-specific commands require either the Xbox One S, X, or Kinect's IR blaster to function.

General navigation

  • "Go home." To return to the dashboard.
  • "Go back." To cycle backward through previous actions.
  • "Show/open menu." To open menus in certain apps.
  • "Show/open guide." To open the Xbox quick guide.
  • "Show/open notifications."
  • "Show/go to my Friends List."

Signing in

  • "Sign in as (Gamertag/name)."
  • "Sign out."

Search the Xbox Store

  • "Search the store for (app/game name)."
  • "Search the store for (movie/tv show name)."


  • "What can I say?"

Redeem a code

  • "Redeem a code."

Pairing a specific speaker to a specific console

  • "Pair my device."

What's your favorite Alexa command? Are there any missing from this list? Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

Need more?

Best smart speakers for Xbox One

Xbox (opens in new tab)


Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • I still don't get why we can't get remainders on xbox..
  • Yeah, I'd like this functionality too.
  • I'd like an alarm to turn it on along with my stereo system and play something from groove. v10
  • With IFTTT integration that could totally be a thing one day.
  • "Hey Cortana, remind me to stop playing games in an hour"... d'oh! Also, my computer and xbox both respond to "Hey Cortana" at the same time... very annoying and I'm not sure what to do anout it. Sometimes they talk to each other.  
  • Thanks Jez, that's a handy list.
  • No problem matey, thanks for reading.
  • Another handy one is "sign out (gamer tag / real first name)" for those with multiple people on one console. it is actually super fast when compared to the way you had to do it with buttons.
  • I like that one!
  • Overall I like Cortana better than the old method. The only real loss I feel right now is universal search. Xbox Bing movie title - and being able to see all content providers on the box. The other thing is voice commands on Netflix and Hulu, but as stated, that should be coming. At least I can still play and pause.
  • Doesn't "Hey Cortana, search the store for -movie-" work for that?
  • Nice list, thank you! As much as I absolutely love Cortana integration with my Xbox. I'm also torn when I have my Windows 10 Laptop and 950XL next to me and say "Hey Cortana" they all light up like bells trying to do what I was so used to just saying "Xbox" etc for doing lol
  • Yeah, she really needs some sort of geofencing mechanism there. If I'm at my Xbox, we should be able to set priorities.
  • I have the same issue. They need to have Cortana on the Xbox just respond to "Xbox"
  • Considering "hey Cortana" never works on my phone I don't think I'll have that problem.
  • Xbox used to have universal search for movies/tv. You could say Xbox Bing - I want to watch xxx and it would tell you what services had it available. This needs to come back.  
  • Yes total bullshit  
  • Why can't you do it now?
  • I would assume because MS hasn't implemented universal search as they had before. That would be a better question posed to MS. Saying Hey Cortana Bing simply takes you to the Bing website now. It doesn't search the available services as the old Xbox commands did.
  • I slightly misunderstood.
  • If it helps, you can continue to use the Xbox voice commands at the expense of losing Cortana though
  • Yes, I am aware. No, that doesn't help.
  • I didn't know for sure if I would like Cortana or not. I do know the voice commands work worlds better than the old voice controls.
  • You are correct, sir. This is an utter catastrophe. And guess what? If you switch back to basic xbox commands, it still doesn't work. "xbox bing" now seriously brings up a ridiculous on-screen keyboard to type in your bing search--which I think still only searches Microsoft/xbox offerings. How embarrassing, Microsoft.
  • Yeah definitely good call there. I think they'll have a bit of a challenge ahead to tackle that one, or possibly give in and let us use a custom Cortana command to not conflict as much with our PC or Phones that are usually next to us.
  • It'd be cool if you could name Cortana whatever you want. I guess that'd complicate the triggering mechanism though lol
  • what about Skype? you know, that Microsoft service that was broadly advertised with the Xbox One?
    I can't seem to make or end calls with voice commands anymore...
  • Cortana can't interact with apps at the moment.
  • Overall, I like the new voice commands, but "Xbox, on" is a lot more simplistic than "Hey Cortana, turn on my Xbox." I wish we could keep that old feature.
  • Doesn't take any real extra time to say "Hey Cortana, turn on" I also find it's successful a lot more than when it was just Kinect commands.
  • Maybe not, but it still takes "extra" time.  I have two Xbox Ones.  I updated one and I left one alone.  And yes, that extra time is noticable.  At least to me.  I even mentioned it to my wife and she can tell and see the difference even though it might not "seem" a lot.
  • I had to turn off Cortana. When you say, "Hey Cortana, Record That" it takes her so long to recognize what you said that by the time she "records that" the moment is often gone. "Xbox record that" didn't have that problem, so I went back.
  • I have that same problem, but sometimes the double tap for the quick menu doesn't work in time either, especially in multiplayer. Recording game clips has become a bit harder.
  • I bypass both issues by saying "Hey Cortana, record the last # of minutes". As long as you did whatever you did within 2-3 minutes, it will get captured.
  • I say "go to sleep" to turn off my Xbox.
  • Was just about to post that too BinaryRuse
  • Came to comment that
  • No Cortana for Australian users yet
  • How to use Cortana on Xbox One: Don't live where I live.
  • She still doesn't work with Netflix. Wish Netflix worked like it did when the Xbox one first came out. It was best when they let the Kinect handle everything.
  • The first thing you have to do is be an American.
  • Does anyone else hate the way the Xbox One and your phone both answer to "Hey, Cortana" at the same time?? Grrrr
  • Yeah, seems to be a common source of frustration. I'm suprised that this wasn't addressed at launch. I've turned off the "Hey Cortana" support on my phone just to avoid this. Obivously, that's not ideal. But on my phone, easy enough to tap the button to get her to listen. Not so easy to do the same for the XBox.
  • We have Cortana on, all the time, on all devices. And I've posted in the Feedback Hub, on Twitter and their blogs what Microsoft has needed to do from the beginning. It's stupid that they simply have not done it. We don't need to buy another device with Cortana on it. We have 7. All listening, all the time. SUPPOSEDLY, they all share the same backend. Microsoft needs to modify the system so that when multiple devices receive the same command at the same time from the same person the device that received the command the loudest becomes the default mechanism for interaction--all other devices then go silent. Cortana could be configured so that if a command can only be executed on one device (e.g., Hey, Cortana, turn on the Xbox) all other devices ignore it. Cortana could be configured so that if a command can be execute on multiple devices, it ASKS you what device you want it on. Alternatively, you could embed the target device in the command (e.g., Hey, Cortana show me the weather on my phone). But ALL this would require Microsoft to actually care.
  • "However, as of writing, the Universal Windows Platform on Xbox doesn't support Cortana voice commands for external apps. This will probably change in the future, and it in doing so open up exciting possibilities for home automation services, customer service bots and much more." This is BULLSHIT!
  • Snaps don't work
  • Probably missed that when updating the original article, which was written when snaps were still a thing. I don't like that you have to add more steps with Alexa vs Cortana when doing commands. A bit annoying.
  • I've been using the Xbox voice controls from the beginning. When Cortana was enabled, we immediately switched to that. We've been using Cortana from day one. And that's all we'll use. No thanks, Alexa.
  • What happens if you have more than one Xbox? Can you specify which, or will it only control your home Xbox?
  • When will Cortana on Xbox have the home skills function. Still cant use it for my Philips hue. Which is annoying since I have the light strip behind my tv. Cortana should at least be up to par with what it is on the PC.
  • I can control SmartThings devices from my Xbox. I wonder if it is particular to specific integrations.
  • >>These are available with the October 2018 update, currently available only to Xbox Insiders. I really wish Windows Central would stop making guides that uses features that currently only are available for Insiders.
  • Wish it was still Hey Cortana. Smh 🤦🏾‍♂️ at Microsoft.