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How to Factory Reset Apple Watch (Without Passcode)

factory reset apple watch

Much like most of the services we frequently use, the Apple Watch offers a good degree of protection of privacy by setting up a passcode at some point during the setup process.

If you haven’t used your watch for a long time, or when you just want to sell or give away your current Apple Watch, you may have forgotten the passcode. When this happens, it’s necessary to factory reset your Apple Watch.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to factory reset your Apple Watch when you forgot your passcode, with or without your iPhone.

Unlocking Apple Watch From Phone

Needing to access an Apple Watch does not always need to stem from a forgotten passcode. It is possible that you remember the passcode, but have accidentally input it incorrectly or a child trying to get into a device uses up all of the attempts.

There is a maximum of 10 times that you can incorrectly enter the passcode on your Apple Watch until the system begins to presume that someone is trying to break into your device. At that point, it will lock you out. 

However, in that situation, you can actually use your Apple Watch app on your iPhone. You simply need to:

  1. Tap Passcode on your Apple Watch app.
  2. Choose Unlock With Phone.
  3. Press the digital crown on your Apple Watch.
  4. Enter your passcode on the iPhone and your Apple Watch will unlock. (This also works with a Touch ID method).

Resetting Apple Watch From Your iPhone

In every other situation except the one described above, any access to the Apple Watch device will involve deleting all data and settings from your Apple Watch.

While this may not seem ideal, it is actually a great safety feature. If the person trying to unlock your Apple Watch is not you, if they were to succeed, they would have access to some personal data. It is better to deal with restoring the Apple Watch than jeopardizing your privacy.

If you happened to have forgotten your passcode, but your Apple Watch has already been paired to your iPhone device, you can perform the reset right from the phone.

What is even better about this scenario is that the watch is automatically backed up to the iPhone, iTunes, and iCloud. So if you need to restore it, all of those options are there as long as you have performed backups in the past. 

To reset your Apple Watch from your iPhone, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Make sure you’re on the My Watch tab and tap General.
Apple Watch app General option settings
Apple Watch app General option settings. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

2. Then scroll down and tap Reset at the bottom of the screen.

Apple Watch app reset option
Reset option on the Apple Watch app. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

3. The top option will read Erase Apple Watch Content and Settings, so tap that one and tap the confirmation prompt at the bottom. To perform this action you will likely need your Apple ID password. 

Erase Apple Watch content and settings
Erase Apple Watch content and settings. Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

The device will then ask you if you would like to keep your cellular plan or remove it. If you are looking to pair the watch to this iPhone again, make sure you opt to keep the plan, otherwise, you can remove it.

After you’ve completed the above process, set up your Apple Watch as if it was new or restore it from a backup copy on your iPhone.

Resetting Apple Watch From The Watch Itself

If you would prefer to reset the Apple Watch without involving your phone in the process, that is also an option available to you.

To perform this process you’ll need to put your Apple Watch on its charging pad. Once there, follow the steps below:

  1. Long-press the side button to shut down the device.
  2. Long-press the digital crown which will take you to the device’s Quick Settings.
  3. From here, select the Reset option.
  4. Tap on the Erase Apple Watch Content and Settings option.
  5. Tap Reset again to verify your action.

Conclusion

Once you have reset your Apple Watch and set it up to your preferences, remember to back it up, if you have not done so already. The iPhone won’t simply back up your passcode either, that would defeat the purpose of it being an exclusive access key to your device.

While the pairing process will back up certain aspects of the Apple Watch like the settings, health data, pre-installed apps, the selected Watch faces, dashboard layouts, and synched photos, it will not store much of anything else. 

You can use a password manager like 1Password or LastPass to conveniently and securely store your passcodes in case you ever forget the passcode to your wearable iOS product again.