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You can go the traditional way of controlling your Xbox by using a gamepad or a mouse and keyboard. But you can also use your voice—just speak out the correct commands to easily open up menus and launch apps.
Voice control is managed through either Amazon’s Alexa (available for Android and iOS) or the Google Assistant (available for Android and iOS), so you’ll need to pick one and get the appropriate app installed on your phone.
Setting up your Xbox for voice control
If you have a Microsoft console launched at any point since 2013 (the list includes the Xbox One, the Xbox One S, the Xbox Series X, and the Xbox Series S), you’ll be able to set it up to react to voice commands.
From the front page of the Xbox interface, pick Settings, go to Devices & connections, and then Digital assistants. Check the box marked Enable digital assistants and you’ll be ready to turn your attention to the Alexa or Google Home apps. Keep in mind that if you regularly use both platforms, there’s no need for you to pick only one, as you can use them in tandem if you want to.
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If you’re using Alexa, open the app and choose More and Skills & Games. Search for the Xbox skill and when you find it pick Enable to use. Amazon’s assistant will ask you to log into your Microsoft account to give it permission to interact with your console.
If you’re using the Google Assistant through the Google Home app, tap the + (plus) button in the top left corner, then choose Set up device and Works with Google. Search for and select the Xbox option, then link your Microsoft account.
Bear in mind that you won’t be directing your voice commands to your Xbox: You’ll be speaking to Alexa or the Google Assistant, and they will control the console based on your instructions. You can use your phone for this or, if you have one, you can also use another connected device like a smart speaker, as long as it’s connected to the same Amazon or Google account as the app on your phone.
There’s a nice bonus if you use the Google Assistant: Open the Google Home app, pick Xbox from the front page, and you’ll get an Xbox remote control on screen. You can use it to navigate around menus, adjust the volume, and turn the console on and off.
Using voice commands on your Xbox
The trigger words for your voice commands will depend on the digital assistant you’re using: it will either be “Alexa…” or “Hey, Google…”, followed by your instructions. You’re also going to need to include “Xbox” somewhere in there so the digital assistant knows what you’re referring to.
The simplest commands you can use are “turn Xbox on” or “turn Xbox off”. The only caveat is that for the former to work, your console needs to be in Sleep rather than Shutdown mode—you can set this up by going to General and Power options in Settings.
You can save yourself some time by using voice commands to launch games and apps as well. Just say “open [app or game] on Xbox” to have it come up on screen. Games with longer titles can be a bit of a mouthful, but Alexa and the Google Assistant are usually pretty good at understanding what you mean.
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Another area where voice control can be really useful is in taking screenshots and capturing videos of gameplay. Just say “tell Xbox to take a screenshot” or “tell Xbox to record that” to launch the capturing features. You can also start and stop a live stream using your voice by saying “tell Xbox to start broadcasting” or “tell Xbox to stop broadcasting”.
When you’re not gaming, you can also use Alexa and the Google Assistant to control media playback. Say “pause Xbox” or “play Xbox” while watching movies or videos on streaming apps such as Netflix or YouTube. You can also control the volume with the commands “volume up on Xbox” or “volume down on Xbox”.
It’s also possible to see which of your friends are online, send messages, and set your online status. The only problem here is that the supported commands aren’t all the same on Alexa and the Google Assistant. For a full list of everything you can do on an Xbox with both digital assistants, check out Microsoft’s official command list.