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We’re not one of those clickbaity sites that makes you wade through eight paragraphs to get the information you came for – the answers to that question is yes to YouTube and no to Netflix. But even working out how to play YouTube videos is far from simple, so let me guide you through how to find video content on the Echo Show 5.
How to search for videos on the Echo Show 5
Amazon’s Echo Show devices don’t ‘natively’ support YouTube – which means you can’t just ask Alexa to open a YouTube skill and take your pick. Given the recent thawing in tensions between Amazon and YouTube-owner Google, that might happen one day, but not at the time of writing.
So what if you want to watch a video of Oasis’s Wonderwall or a clip showing you how to tie a bow-tie before you go out of an evening?
Well, you can do that on the Echo Show 5, using the built-in Bing search. The key here is to ask the correct question.
If you say to Alexa: “Play me a video of Harry Kane goals” it will simply play the top search result, which is often not the video you want.
However, if you say: “Alexa, show me videos of Harry Kane goals”, you’ll be given a list of videos to choose from, which is more likely to produce the video you’re looking for.
Here’s the key bit of information. If you scroll right to the end of those search results, you’ll see the option to “search web”. If you click on this, you’ll be asked whether you want to install either Amazon’s Silk web browser or the Firefox browser. Now you’re at the races.
How to watch YouTube on an Echo Show 5
With the Firefox browser installed, you now simply have to ask Alexa to “open Firefox” to jump into the web browser. This has an address bar like an any web browser, letting you visit YouTube or pretty much any website you can think of.
Playing YouTube videos on the small Echo Show 5 screen is fiddly. Hitting the tiny icons that allow you to search YouTube or show a video in full screen is a hit-and-miss affair, with more misses than hits. Once you’ve gone full screen, you need to pinch the screen to come back out.
So if you’ve got access to the web browser, why can’t you watch Netflix?
Why you can’t watch Netflix on an Echo Show 5
If you type Netflix.com into the web browser, it goes to the Netflix site but asks you to “turn the phone into portrait mode to continue”. The Echo Show 5 doesn’t support portrait mode, so you’re snookered.
I’m not sure why this daft restriction exists – whether it’s Amazon playing silly buggers so that you’re forced to watch its own Amazon Prime Video on the device or whether it’s Netflix’s default behaviour for small screen devices and the Show 5 has been accidentally snared. I’m inclined to believe it’s cock-up rather than conspiracy, but that may be naive.
If you know of another workaround to watch Netflix on the Echo Show 5, please let me know on the comments below. I’ve seen a few other workarounds online (such as going into the browser that contains the device’s terms and conditions) but they don’t seem to work.