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Apple Watch Update Stuck On Preparing? Try these Fixes

Apple Watch stuck on preparing update

It can be frustrating when your Apple Watch is stuck on preparing for update. When that happens, you cannot use your watch as the error message won’t go away. 

Fortunately, this can be a relatively easy problem to fix. This guide walks you through several troubleshooting steps on how to fix when your Apple Watch is stuck verifying an update.

Keep in mind some of these fixes can also be helpful when your Apple Watch is unable to check for update.

Place Apple Watch on the Charger

apple watch charging
Apple Watch charging. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Apple typically notifies users about an upcoming update and provides ample documentation for what the update contains, and what features it changed and added.

If the Apple Watch qualifies for an update (which not all models do at the same time), then Apple recommends that you place the watch on the charger when updating watchOS.

Because some update installations are resource-intensive, the watch should have at least a 50% charge level.

By placing it on the charger, no matter how fast the update eats up the battery power, it will make sure to conserve the battery.

This is a good first attempt at overcoming the problem, though it does not have much to do with a connection. 

Keep Watch and iPhone in Range

When you’re updating your Apple Watch, it’s best for both the iPhone and the Watch to be next to each other when you do so.

This way, the Watch app will have no trouble downloading the update, preparing it, and verifying that it’s ready.

If the iPhone and watch are apart from each other during the updating process, communication issues can cause unnecessary delays.

To avoid such issues, we recommend making sure that both devices are in close proximity during the update procedure—you may even want to consider holding them in your hands next to each other.

Toggle Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Connections

The Apple Watch needs to have a consistent internet connection during an update in order to push the update files to the device and install them, all of which require an internet connection to happen.

If the connection is spotty, weak, or unstable, an update load is a bit risky since it could interrupt, potentially in a place where there is no good roll-back mechanism in place. 

The phone and watch may have internet but if the signal is questionable, the update may not trigger, viewing a bad connection as no connection.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in Control Center
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in Control Center. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

In other words, the update needs ideal connection circumstances to run. Most of the time, you can fix problems with Wi-Fi by unplugging and reconnecting the modem or router, or toggling the phone’s connection to the Wi-Fi.

You can do this by accessing the Settings app on your iPhone and locating the Wi-Fi section. From here, just toggle the Wi-Fi switch to the off position.

Also, because the issue could be the pairing between the phone and the watch, it helps to toggle off the Bluetooth as well. The Bluetooth option is located right under the Wi-Fi option in the Settings.

Then, restart your iPhone. Once it starts back up again, access the Settings again, and turn both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi back on.

This will establish a connection to both, and very likely allow the watch to proceed with the necessary update.

Pair the Apple Watch to the Phone Again

Sometimes some random memory bug can cause these issues in your phone or watch’s operating system, which you can fix by unpairing the two devices.

Once the two have been unpaired, the watch returns to its original factory state. This should release any potential bugs floating around from memory files. Before unpairing, make certain to remove your cards from Apple Pay.

So, we’ve amassed a helpful guide on how to unpair an Apple Watch step-by-step. 

Once you’ve unpaired your watch, set it up again as if doing so for the first time. The updates will apply automatically as long your watch has a valid internet connection.

It’s possible that when attempting to pair again, your iPhone does not automatically detect your watch. In this case, you will need to repair it manually by following the steps below.

  • In the All Watches section of the Watch app, tap the Pair New Watch option.
  • Selecting the Pair Watch Manually option will prompt on-screen instructions on how to pair the watch again.

For step-by-step instructions, here’s how to set up and pair your Apple Watch as if it was new.

Make Sure There Is Enough Space

Updates can be relatively large, even if not all the update files are kept after the fact. If your Apple Watch doesn’t have enough space, it will fail to update the latest watchOS version.

In the Settings, under the General tab, the Usage section can help view all of the files and apps on the watch. You can delete the watch apps that you never use to free up space on your Apple Watch.

Reset Apple Watch

If you’ve tried everything and you still have problems with updating your watch, it’s might be time to reset your Apple Watch.

A factory reset returns the wearable to its original state, wiping all data and customized settings, including any credit or debit cards you added for Apple Pay.

Here’s how to reset your Apple Watch step by step. After the reset, pair your watch again and try a fresh update.

Conclusion

The issue of preparing to update can be caused by the lack of space and a valid internet connection primarily. Even if the connection is good, its reception on the iPhone may be having issues at the moment.

Resetting the connectivity of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functions, as well as ensuring that the watch has ample space for a qualified update typically takes care of these situations.

If those things do not work, contacting Apple Support would be the next logical step for the necessary assistance.