July 13, 2024


Think spectacular technology

Nuke your Alexa smart home to get rid of ‘ghost’ devices


Alexa will lose track of devices if you rename them, but you can set your smart home right in one fell swoop.

Ry Crist/CNET

If you have more than a couple of smart home devices, you’ve probably renamed them a few times, moved some to a different room or otherwise changed their original configuration. And if you’re anything like me, I bet you forgot to update Alexa. Unfortunately, you’ll get a stark reminder when you attempt to control those “ghost” devices with a voice command — try telling Alexa to turn a smart light on with a name it doesn’t recognize and you’ll see what I mean. 

“Sorry,” Alexa will say, “I didn’t find a device named [the new name you gave the device in the app].”

Do this often enough and your smart home will become virtually unusable. But worse, untangling such a mess might seem a tall order and before long you find yourself ignoring Alexa and controlling your smart home with the myriad apps on your phone.


Smart home control only works when Alexa knows what your devices are all named.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Thankfully, there’s a quick and easy solution. It may sound risky at first — you’ll have to delete your entire smart home and start over. But this is a simple process that should only take a couple of minutes and, when it’s done, you can go back to ordering Alexa around. 

Here’s how to do it.

You’ll have to use Alexa’s web interface

First, put down your phone and pick up your laptop — this has to be done on the web. Next, head over to Alexa’s web interface (yes, this is a thing), then follow these steps:

1. On the menu on the left, click Smart Home.

2. In the primary pane, click Devices.

3. Scroll all the way to the bottom and click the box labeled Remove All.

4. In the popup window, click Remove to confirm.

5. On the next page, click the box labeled Discover.

Now, rejoice: Alexa has pinged all the various services you’ve linked (Philips Hue, Smart Life, etc.) and updated them all with the current names of all your devices.

There is, unfortunately, one downside. Doing this will obliterate any groups and routines you’ve created. But chances are, if you’re having the kinds of problems that require a nuclear option such as this, they both needed to be revamped anyway.

I know mine did.

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