50 (Actually) Useful Apple Watch Tips & Tricks

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The Apple Watch is a pretty nifty piece of tech, and you’ve probably grown accustomed to using its full suite of basic functions in your day-to-day life.

However, did you know that you’re probably missing out on a ton of useful features that aren’t as obvious?

Well, you likely are, and today, we’re going to reveal 50 of the more obscure, yet insanely useful, tips to help you get the most out of your Apple Watch. 

Best Apple Watch Tips and Tricks

The Apple Watch system has a lot of intuitive features, but there is a near-infinite number of things you can do that most people don’t know about.

We can’t possibly cover all of them, but the 50 tips and tricks we’ve compiled are the most useful to everyday users, and they’re more than enough to help you unlock the true power of your Apple Watch. 

We’ll start off simple, and we’ll get into more complex tips as we go. Let’s get started. 

1. Take a Screenshot with Apple Watch

If you want to take a quick screenshot to keep some information for later, save a funny joke you just scrolled by, or anything else, just press the digital crown and the side button simultaneously.

Your Apple Watch’s screen will flash, and a picture of your current screen will be saved to the photo gallery. 

But first, you need to enable that feature from the settings app on your watch. So, open the Settings app on your watch, tap on General > Screenshots > enable it.

2. Customize Control Center

As you use your watch, you’ll probably realize that you use certain Control Center functions far more than you do others depending on how you live your day-to-day life. As such, you’ll probably want to move your most-used functions to easy-to-use spots. 

Customize Control Center on the Apple Watch
Customize Control Center on the Apple Watch. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

To customize the control center on your Apple Watch, follow the steps below:

  1. Swipe up on your Apple Watch screen until you find the “Edit” button.
  2. Tap “Edit“. 
  3. Once you tap “Edit” your Control Center icons will be draggable with a fingertip.
  4. Take your time, arrange the icons where you want them, and then click “Done“. 

If you have trouble swiping up, check our guide on what to do when your Apple Watch won’t swipe up.

3. Detect Gym Equipment

A lot of modern gym equipment is actually compatible with your Apple Watch, and you can use that to track your fitness routine, add your gym activity to your fitness records, and more. 

Check the machine you’re about to use at the gym, and look for a “Connect with Apple Watch” or a similar sticker telling you it’s compatible.

Apple Watch's Detect Gym Equipment feature
Activate Apple Watch’s Detect Gym Equipment feature. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

To activate this feature on your watch:

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Navigate to the “Settings” tab.
  3. Scroll down and select Workout.
  4. From there, enable the “Detect Gym Equipment” option.

Your Apple Watch will begin detecting all nearby compatible gym equipment, and you’ll get the option to pair your watch to whichever one you want. It’s just like pairing your Bluetooth headphones with your iPad.

4. Enable/Disable Syncing of Music with Apple Watch

Sometimes, you might want to sync your iTunes library, or you might get annoyed by your watch constantly syncing with it every time you’re listening to tunes.

This is especially useful if you want to save your Apple Watch battery life. And it’s easy to change regardless of what your situation is. 

Disable Music syncing on Apple Watch
Disable Music syncing on Apple Watch. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

To turn off music syncing on your Apple Watch, follow the step below:

  1. Open the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. From the My Watch tab, scroll down and select Music.
  3. Now, turn off the toggle right next to Recent Music as per your needs.

5. Restore a Bricked Apple Watch from iPhone

With tech, anything can happen, and sometimes, you’ll be left with a glorified paperweight. Luckily, you can use your phone to restore your Apple Watch in 99% of situations. 

Recover Apple Watch with iPhone
Recover Apple Watch with iPhone. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

To do this, first, make sure you’ve paired your watch to your phone with iCloud backups enabled at least once while the watch was working. 

  1. Now, simply put the watch on your charger with your iPhone nearby. The iPhone must have iOS 15.4 or later, be connected to Wi-Fi with Bluetooth on, and be unlocked.
  2. Double-click the Side button on your Apple Watch
  3. You should see the option on your phone to “Restore Apple Watch“.
  4. Simply tap that option, and follow the on-screen instructions.

Your Apple Watch should be back in working order in a few minutes. 

6. Hide the Red Dot (Notification Indicator)

The little red dot on your Apple Watch is there to tell you that you have a notification. It’s a nifty feature, but if you’re reducing your screen time or just don’t want to be bothered by it, you might want to hide it. 

Turn off notifications on Apple Watch
Turn off notifications on Apple Watch. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Here’s how to ride the red dot notification on your Apple Watch:

  1. Simply go to the Apple Watch app on your phone, and head to the “My Watch” tab.
  2. Select “Notifications”.
  3. Then toggle off the Notification Indicator setting bar.

Your watch will no longer have a red dot for notifications. You can turn on the toggle on the same menu to turn it back on. 

7. Customize Your Apple Watch Dock

When you press the side button on your Apple Watch, it shows you the most recently used apps. But you can change that feature to show your favorite apps in the Dock.

Customize Apple Watch Dock
Customize Apple Watch Dock. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Here’s how:

  1. Open the Watch app on the paired iPhone.
  2. Tap Dock from the My Watch tab.
  3. Select “Favorites” under the DOCK ORDERING section.
  4. Tap the “Edit” button to add apps to FAVORITES.

From here, you can long-press app icons to move them around, move them to the removal option, add apps, or do anything else you’d like to do. 

8. Change Default City on Apple Watch

Alright, you’ve had your Apple Watch for two years, and you absolutely love it. However, you just moved for work, and it’s still using your old default city for several apps.

Change city's weather on Apple Watch face complications
Change city’s weather on Apple Watch face complications. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Here’s how to change the city on your Apple Watch face complication. 

  1. Go to My Watch on your iPhone.
  2. Then choose the Weather app.
  3. Tap Default City to choose which city’s weather you’d like to see in watch face complications.
  4. Use the weather app on your iPhone to add your city to the list if it’s not included.

From there, you can set that city to your default with the edit option, and it’ll populate your watch screen. 

9. Use Portraits Photos as Apple Watch Face

Do you want to set up a portrait picture of yourself or your significant one as your digital watch face, or maybe have several pictures rotate at set intervals? 

Use Portraits photos as Apple Watch faces
Use Portraits photos as Apple Watch faces. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

To set up one or more Portrait photos as a watch face, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the My Watch app, and select the Face Gallery tab.
  2. Scroll down, and tap the Portraits option.
  3. Then tap “Choose Photos” (up to 24).
  4. All you have to do is check the photos you wish to include and then tap Add. You can even set them to fit several watch face themes. 

10. Adjust the Intervals of Reflect and Breath

Your Apple Watch’s Mindfulness app encourages you to focus, center, and connect as you breathe every day.

Tap the Mindfulness app on your Apple Watch, and you’ll have both Reflect and Breath options.

Change Breathe app session time on your Apple Watch
Change Breathe app session time on your Apple Watch. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

To start a Reflect or Breathe session, follow the steps below:

  1. Pick the one you want to do, then tap on the three dots right next to it.
  2. Tap “Duration”.
  3. Choose a duration for your session. You can choose a time between one and five minutes.

Simply adjusting the duration to what you want will slow or speed up the animation and timer to change your mindfulness session. 

11. Share Photos Via iMessage and Mail

Don’t want to grab your phone to share a picture or screenshot? Simply tap your digital crown, choose “Photos”, tap the photo you want to share, and tap “Share”.

From there, you’ll get to choose between your contacts or recent messages, and you can even add a little message before tapping “Send”. 

12. Create a Custom Focus

With Focus Mode, you can target time-sensitive notifications and important calls only, keeping distractions to a minimum. 

Create a Custom Focus
Create a Custom Focus. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Follow the steps below to create a custom Focus on your Apple Watch.

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap Focus
  3. Select the + icon at the top right.  
  4. Tap Custom to create a custom Focus.  
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to create your own Focus.

After you save it, your synced Apple Watch will have the same focus settings. 

13. Use Respiratory Rate Tracking

If you want to track your respiratory rate while you sleep to track dream activity, watch out for signs of sleep apnea, or any other reason, your Apple Watch can help. 

First, make sure you enable sleep detection in your watch settings. From there, just wear the watch to sleep, and it will track your breathing cycles the entire time. 

14. Unlock Apple Watch with iPhone

If you’re tired of fumbling with your watch’s tiny number pad to unlock it, you can set it up to unlock via your phone.

Simply navigate to My Watch from the Apple Watch app and select Passcode. From there, scroll down to “Unlock with iPhone” and swipe it to the “On” position.

Activate Unlock with iPhone feature
Activate Unlock with iPhone feature. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

From now on, you can unlock your watch each time you put it on by tapping the crown and using your iPhone screen to input your passcode. 

15. See Apple Watch Charging Percentage

With how much you rely on your watch, you probably want to get it off the charger and back on your wrist the second it’s ready. Here’s how to check the charging percentage. 

While in Nightstand Mode, simply tap the crown, and then tap the lightning bolt charging icon. Your percentage will show up. 

16. Take Blood Oxygen Levels

You might want to perform a blood oxygen scan with your Apple Watch for several reasons. 

Measure blood oxygen level on Apple Watch
Measure blood oxygen level on Apple Watch. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

To do so, simply tap the Blood Oxygen app, and lay your arm relaxed on a flat surface. A 15-second countdown will start, and at the end, you’ll be given a full rundown of your results. 

17. Use Accessibility Shortcuts on Apple Watch

Some apps are going to be more important than others, and you don’t want to fiddle around trying to get them at a moment’s notice. 

Set Accessibility Shortcut on Apple Watch
Set Accessibility Shortcut on Apple Watch. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

To set the Accessibility Shortcut, follow the steps below:

  1. Head over to the Apple Watch app.
  2. Select “Accessibility” from the “My Watch” tab.
  3. Scroll down and select “Accessibility Shortcut“.
  4. From there, you can choose one of these options.

To use the shortcut, press the Digital Crown quickly three times. Triple-click the Digital Crown again to turn off the accessibility feature.

18. Translate Using Apple Watch

Traveling abroad or speaking with someone who doesn’t speak your language? Tap the Translate app and choose the two languages you want to translate between.

You can either type in what you want to translate, or you can tap the mic and say a phrase that will automatically be translated. 

19. Customize Units of Measurement for Workout on Apple Watch

Want to see how fast you’re going on the treadmill in KPH, or measure your lifts in kilos? Here’s how to change the units of measure on your Apple Watch.

Customize Units of Measurement for Workout on Apple Watch
Customize Units of Measurement for Workout on Apple Watch. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor
  1. Open the Apple Watch App on your paired iPhone.
  2. From the “My Watch” tab, select “Workout“.
  3. Scroll down, and select “Units of Measure“.
  4. From there, you can change your units of measurement to anything you want. 

20. Create Custom Apple Watch Complications

Simply hold down on the digital crown, and swipe through the different watch faces. When you find the watch face you want to add complications to, just tap “Edit” and mix up your complications however you want. 

21. Use Your Apple Watch as a Car Key

In order, for your Apple Watch to use the car key feature, you’re going to meet a few requirements:

  1. Your car has to be compatible. To find out if your car is compatible with Wallet, contact the car’s manufacturer or dealership.
  2. You need an Apple Watch Series 5 or later, or Apple Watch SE, with the latest version of watchOS. 
  3. For passive entry or the remote features on compatible cars, you need an Apple Watch Series 6 or later.

To add your car key to Apple Wallet on your Apple Watch, follow the steps below.

  1. Your dealer will give you an account associated with your car. Navigate to that app and account, and then set up a key via its instructions.
  2. When that’s done, you’ll be sent to Apple Pay.
  3. Open the Watch app on your iPhone.
  4. Select Wallet & Apple Pay.
  5. Tap on Add located right next to the card for your car key.

Use your watch on the reader as if you were using Apple Pay to pay for something. Voilà your Apple Watch can now be used as a car key. 

22. Change Apple Watch App from Grid View to List View

The honeycomb app view is more than enough for some people, but you might want to switch to a more traditional list view if you’re used to what’s on most smartphones and computers. 

Change from Grid View to List View on Apple Watch
Change from Grid View to List View on Apple Watch. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

To do this, just go to your app screen and press and hold. After a brief wait, the option to change the app view should pop up. Simply choose “List”. 

23. Browse the Internet on Your Watch

This one is simple, just click the “Web Link” app and start browsing. You can hit “Close” when you’re finished. 

24. Force Restart Your Watch

If your screen becomes frozen, you might want to force a restart. 

To do this, hold the digital crown and side button simultaneously for 10 seconds. The Apple logo should appear, and you can release the buttons. 

25. Reset Apple Watch Home Screen Layout

If you’ve made a lot of changes to your home screen, and you just want to go back to the original layout, you can do that. 

Reset Apple Watch Home Screen layout
Reset Apple Watch Home Screen layout. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

To reset your Home Screen layout, follow the steps below:

  1. Open the Apple Watch, and tap “General” under the My Watch tab.
  2. Scroll all the way to the bottom, and tap “Reset”.
  3. Select “Reset Home Screen Layout“.
  4. Hit the confirmation box “Reset Home Screen“, and your home screen will be reset. 

26. Share Activity with Friends

Want all your friends to know what you’re doing with your Apple Watch? 

Tap the Activity tab and then the Sharing tab. You’ll find a list of your added friends. From there, you can share your activity with them, or you can “challenge” them to outdo you. 

27. Invite Friends to Compete in a 7-Day Competition

Want to see who can walk the most miles or burn the most calories in seven days? You can invite them to a 7-day challenge from your Apple Watch, and your watches will keep track of each participant’s performance. 

For this one, do the same as listed in tip 26, but set the duration to seven days. Each participant will be synced with shared information, and at the end of the period, the winner will be declared. 

28. Hide Your Activity From a Friend

One thing about all the cool sharing features is that they take away from your privacy. Sometimes, you want to keep your activity to yourself. 

Navigate to the Sharing menu under the Activity tab. Choose the friend you want to hide the activity from, and choose the setting “Hide My Activity“. 

29. Add and Customize New Unity Lights Watch Face

On your iPhone, go to My Watch, and then go to the Face Gallery. Select Unity Lights from the list of options, and then tap “Add”. From there, you can fully customize your Unity Lights watch face and save your settings. 

30. Cover Your Watch to Turn on Silent Mode

From your iPhone’s My Watch app, go to the Sounds & Haptics menu. From there, you can toggle the Cover to Mute option on and off.

Activate Cover to Mute feature on Apple Watch
Activate Cover to Mute feature on Apple Watch. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

With this feature on, you simply need to cover your watch’s face to mute all notifications and sounds. 

31. Check AirPods Battery Life from Apple Watch

Your AirPods are probably just as important to your daily routine as your Apple Watch is. You can check your AirPod battery life from your watch to make sure you never let them die unexpectedly. 

Check AirPods battery percentage from your Apple Watch
Check AirPods battery percentage from your Apple Watch. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Make sure your AirPods are synced with your watch, and then tap the battery icon from the Control Center. If connected, you’ll see how much battery your AirPods have. 

32. Reduce Motion

If you need to conserve battery life or don’t like all the on-screen movement of your watch, you can reduce it with the Reduce Motion feature. 

Via your iPhone, go to the My Watch app and navigate to General Settings. You’ll find a Reduce Motion option. Toggle it on, and the number of animations used will be dramatically decreased. 

33. Find Your iPhone When You Misplace it

Are you tired of having someone else call your phone when you misplace it? You can use your Apple Watch instead. 

Find iPhone with Apple Watch
Find iPhone with Apple Watch. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Simply tap the digital crown and swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Find your iPhone in the list, and tap “Find iPhone”. Your phone will start ringing with a unique ringtone. 

34. Skip Workout Countdowns 

Sometimes, you can’t stick to a scheduled workout the entire time. To skip it, you can simply tap the screen once it has started, or you can even pause it and resume it later. 

35. Mark Workout Segments

Launch your Training app and start a training regimen. After your first segment, lift your watch and tap it twice.

This will automatically mark the time you’ve spent working out as the first segment, and the rest of the scheduled segment will be set to the second segment. This saves for future workouts. 

36. Unlock Your iPhone While Wearing a Mask

With masks being so common now, they’ve been giving iPhone users problems. Luckily, you can unlock your iPhone with your watch in this situation. 

First, make sure the option is enabled on your phone prior to needing this feature. Then, make sure your watch is on your wrist and unlocked.

All you have to do is wake the phone, glance at it while the watch is on, and then swipe up from the bottom of your phone. 

37. Unlock Mac with Apple Watch

First, your Mac and your watch must meet the system requirements, and you must have Auto Login activated. 

Unlock Mac with Apple Watch
Unlock Mac with Apple Watch. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

To use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac, follow the steps below:

  • Go to System Preferences via the Settings.
  • Select Security and Privacy.
  • Enable the “Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac” option.
Use Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac.
Use your Apple Watch to unlock apps and your Mac. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

From there, simply have your Apple Watch on. On an initial launch, you will have to type in your password, but every time you wake it up after that, wearing the watch will automatically log you on. 

38. Speak Time 

If you navigate to the actual time-telling watch face, and press and hold with two fingers, the watch will “speak” the time to you. It’s useful if you have a cluttered watch face theme. 

39. Check the Time Without Raising Your Wrist

In the Settings tab under Display and Brightness, toggle Always On to the “on” position. The watch face will stay on even with your wrist down. 

40. Monitor Loud Noises

If you want to avoid damaging your ears, navigate to the Noise app and enable monitoring. You can set the sound level you want to be notified of, and when that is reached, you’ll get a notification to wear earplugs or take action. 

41. Get Cardio Fitness Alerts

Want a reminder to get up and do some cardio? Navigate to the Watch app on your phone, go to the My Watch tab, and tap Notifications.

Enable Cardio Fitness notifications on Apple Watch
Enable Cardio Fitness notifications on Apple Watch. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

From there, click Heart and then Cardio Fitness Notifications. You can customize it when you’re alerted, or turn off the feature, from here. 

42. Enable Power Saving Mode

To save your battery for long periods away from your charger, bring up the control center and tap the battery icon. From there, slide the power reserve bar to the left and confirm it. 

43. Customize iMessage and Mail Replies

Go to the My Watch portion of your phone’s Watch app and select Messages. From there, tap “Default Replies” and “Add Reply”.

Simply type in your custom reply and click “Done”. The reply will be available on your Apple Watch from now on. 

44. Share Apple Watch Faces

Hold down the watch face you’re on until it shrinks, swipe to the face you want to share, and tap “Edit”. You’ll see a “Share” button that will bring up a list of friends you can send the watch face to. 

Share Apple Watch face
Share Apple Watch face. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

45. Smartly Manage Photos Storage

Go to the My Watch app and then Photos on your iPhone. From there, you can set a photo limit that will keep you from bloating your storage with photos, and you can set up cloud storage. 

46. Setup Apple Pay Cash

Go to Watch app on your phone and navigate to Wallet & Apple Pay under the My Watch tab.

Set up Apple Pay on Apple Watch
Set up Apple Pay on Apple Watch. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

From there, you can add your credit and debit cards via the on-screen instructions. After you’ve set up Apple Pay, you can use your watch to pay for purchases anywhere that accept Apple Pay. 

47. Use Theatre Mode

Theatre Mode is a cool feature that keeps your Apple Watch silent and prevents the display from turning on when you raise your wrist.

Activate Theatre Mode on Apple Watch
Activate Theatre Mode on Apple Watch. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

To activate Theatre Mode on your Apple Watch, bring up the Control Center and scroll to the bottom. You’ll find a Theatre Mode option you can tap and confirm to enter Theatre Mode. 

48. Eject Water After a Swim

Did you get your Apple Watch wet? You can eject water from it. 

From the Control Center, tap the water droplet. You’ll be able to choose between plunge, swim, or shower.

From there, you’ll rotate the digital crown to unlock it, and follow onscreen instructions to fire up the water purge feature. 

49. Turn on Heart Rate Notifications

Pull up the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, go to My Watch, and then tap Heart. You can choose both a high and low heart rate value to get notifications for. 

50. See Exact Battery Percentage While Charging

If you want to know exactly what your battery percentage is while charging, simply swipe up to bring up the Control Center, and it’ll be there.

See Exact Apple Watch Battery Percentage While Charging
See Exact Apple Watch Battery Percentage While Charging. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

There is also a battery widget you can add to your iPhone to check it from your phone. You can also tap on the lightning bolt and you’ll see the percentage

Wrap Up: Apple Watch Tips and Tricks

The Apple Watch is a marvelous piece of tech, and it’s the perfect companion to your iPhone. Now that you know these tips, you can truly get the most out of them.

However, don’t stop exploring your Apple Watch’s features. There are even more advanced features you can take advantage of as you get used to it. 

If you have any feedback or questions, then please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

Photo of author
Herby has a healthy obsession with all things technology, especially smartphones. He loves to rip things apart to see how they work. He is responsible for the editorial direction, strategy, and growth of Gotechtor.

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