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How to Set Up an Apple Watch (The Right Way)

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Founder & Editor-in-Chief

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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The Apple Watch has been one of the coolest gadgets for some years now. Now you have one of your own, and you’re excited to get started on using it.

Chances are you have done at least a little bit of research and can’t wait to crack open the case and start playing with your new gadget. 

But just in case you bought it as an impulse buy, or simply got it as a gift and are not a gadget-geek by nature, we have put together this quick but helpful guide to walk you through the steps to set up your new Apple Watch.

How to Pair Apple Watch (Automatically Or Manually)

The Apple Watch is meant to be paired with an iPhone (6 or newer). You can either pair your Apple Watch automatically or manually.

Before you do anything else, you will need to turn the Apple Watch On. You can do this by simply depressing the side button on your watch until the Apple logo renders on the screen. Then you can let the button go and allow the Watch to go through its initial setup phase. 

You will then need to place the Apple Watch close to your iPhone during the entire setup process. Wait for your iPhone to detect your Apple Watch.

Once it does, you’ll see a pairing screen appear on your iPhone similar to AirPods, then tap Continue to set up the watch.

Apple Watch pairing message
Apple Watch pairing message. Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

If the iPhone does not detect the Apple Watch, first make certain that you are connected to Wi-Fi and that Bluetooth is enabled.

If it still does not detect the watch, simply navigate to the “Start Pairing” option in the Watch app. The iPhone will then instruct you to hold the phone over the Watch so that its camera can detect it. This manual method should help get around the device not being detected automatically. 

How to Set Up Apple Watch

The two devices should be paired at this point and the iPhone will present a series of prompts that you will need to follow in order to complete the device’s setup.

Next, tap Set Up for Myself to initiate the setup process. Point your iPhone camera at the animations shown on the Apple Watch.

Setting up an Apple Watch for myself
Setting up an Apple Watch for myself. Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Try to line it up as much as you can and wait for a few seconds for your Apple Watch to pair with your iPhone. If you can’t use your iPhone camera, just pair it manually. It works the same.

Pairing an Apple Watch with an iPhone
Pairing an Apple Watch with an iPhone. Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

If you already had an Apple Watch, you should be prompted to restore a backed-up copy. You will then want to set up the Watch’s face.

Setting up a paired Apple Watch
Setting up a paired Apple Watch. Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

This can simply be done by pressing the digital crown on the device and swiping in either direction to select from available faces.

Alternatively, you can do this through your iPhone’s Apple Watch app. Simply choose the Face Gallery at the bottom of the app’s screen and check out the faces on the list.

When you have decided on the face you like, select that face from the list, then click the Add button next to it. 

How to Install Apps on Apple Watch

An Apple Watch is just wrist decor if there are no apps on it to use. Without these handy apps, you might as well wear a traditional watch.

Install apps on Apple Watch
Install apps on Apple Watch. Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

While older Apple Watch models required app installation to be performed through the iPhone Watch app, recent Apple Watch models allow the Apple store to be accessed directly from the unit on your wrist. 

Because the room on the Apple Watch is limited, binge acquisition of apps is not recommended.

You can certainly try them out, but downloading tons of them is not a good idea because they will quickly consume the Watch’s memory, causing it to run slower. So only get the ones that you will actually find useful.

How to Set Up Activity on Apple Watch

One of the premier features of the Apple Watch is based on the concept of the three rings. More notably, the Activity App on the Apple Watch allows for things like steps, distance traveled, and stationary time.

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

These require some personal information about you, so in the interest of the most accurate readings based on the device’s algorithms, it is important to take your time to enter the data accordingly. 

Similarly, the Workout app will track your heart rate and inform you about how many calories you are burning.

This is especially useful when you are exercising as the Watch will inform you about just how good of a job you are doing, and where you could do better.

If you have problems with Activity, check our guide to learn what to do when Apple Watch is not tracking your Activity.

Set Up Passcode and Apple Pay on Apple Watch

Most Apple Watch users choose to set up a passcode for the Apple Watch. This is an optional security feature unless you intend to conduct financial transactions through the unit, such as using Apple Pay.

Add passcode on Apple Watch
Add passcode on Apple Watch. Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

iPhones have a similar feature, but unlike the Apple Watch, they require a passcode to be entered every time.

The Apple Watch will detect that it is on the user’s wrist while tracking the heartbeat, so it will not need to be input every time. 

During setup, you will be asked if you want to set up Apple Pay, a revolutionary and simple way to make contactless payments in a secure, expedited manner.

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

Apple Pay is set up through its own app which will accept the information of the credit cards you are choosing to add to it via scans.

Then these are registered as viable payment options, allowing you to make simple purchases with nothing but your new Apple Watch.

You can also skip this step for now and set this up later in the Apple Watch app by tapping the button near the bottom of the screen.

Manage Notifications on Your Apple Watch

Managing notifications on the Apple Watch is one of the most helpful features, but when not set up correctly, it can take the watch from a helpful gadget to a supremely annoying, perpetually buzzing pest on your wrist.

Apple Watch app
Apple Watch app. Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

From the My Watch app, enter the Notifications section and work your way down the available list to set up notifications for your apps. 

Set up notifications for Apple Watch
Set up notifications for Apple Watch. Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Most commonly people set up a red dot to appear at the top of their Apple Watch’s face to indicate new notifications.

When you see the red dot, tap it to open notifications. For privacy reasons, the watch can be set up to only display them when physically accessed with a tap.

Most of the apps will default to mirror the activity of your iPhone, which means if you get a text notification on your phone, it will be mirrored to your watch device if the notifications are set up to do so.

Back Up Apple Watch

Once your Apple Watch is all set up and fine-tuned to your liking, you will want to back up your watch.

This way, if you are in a situation where you are getting a new watch or you simply need to reset the current one, you can get your settings down automatically from the iCloud backup.

This prevents the risk of loss of settings and data if the watch is damaged or lost, and a replacement is acquired.

Settings, health and fitness metrics, and most other setup aspects are included in the backup as well. This will save time and headaches later if the situation calling for a restoration arises.

Wrap Up

So there you have it. That’s how you set up an Apple Watch and use it with your iPhone.

Get more out of your Apple Watch by following these instructions, whether you need some help installing some sleep tracking apps or need a quick guide to learning the basics of Apple’s new wearable.

If you have any questions or other tips for setting up an Apple Watch, we encourage you to suggest them in the comments below.

Founder & Editor-in-Chief

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.

Herby Jasmin

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