33 Apple Watch Tips and Tricks You Need to Know

These Apple watch tips and tricks will help you get the most from your new wearable

By Tom Griffin - Executive Editor
10 Min Read

Apple Watch tips and tricks are the best way to get the most out of Apple’s iconic wearables line. Whether you have the latest Series 9, an Ultra 2, or an older model. You may have tried some of these tips and tricks before, but there are likely still some things you didn’t know your Apple Watch could do.

watchOS 10 added a ton of new features, so now is the perfect time to brush up on your knowledge once you have upgraded to watchOS 10.

Five Apple Watch devices show features in watchOS 10, including a new Smart Stack and two additional watch faces.  

The thing about Apple Watches is they are such impressive devices that some of their best features can be spotted without a good eye. If you want to get a little more out of it, here are the best Apple Watch tips and tricks you should know about.

Apple Watch tips and tricks: Display

1. Return to Clock

If you have an app that you would like to display as soon as you raise your wrist, it doesn’t always have to show you your clock. Regardless of if you have an always-on display or not, you can change the app on screen by going to Settings > General > Return to Clock

From here, scroll down to the section On Screen Raise Show Last. Choices include While in Sessions, Within 2 Minutes of Last Use, Within 1 Hour of Last Use, and Always.

2. Change the Brightness and Text Size

Do you have trouble seeing the text and screens on your watch? You can play with the brightness and text size. On your watch, go to Settings > Display & Brightness. Tap the left or right icon on the brightness scale to lower or raise the brightness. You can also control this by turning the Digital Crown. Tap Text Size, then tap either of the icons on the text size scale to change this or turn the Digital Crown. For more visibility, turn on the switch for Bold Text.

3. Mute alerts with your palm

If you have sound enabled on the Watch, you can keep it from annoying the people around you with notification sounds.

If it goes off in a place you’d rather it didn’t, you can cover the display with your hand for three seconds or more to instantly mute any new sounds. To enable the setting, you’ll need to visit the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, then go to My Watch > Gestures > Cover to Mute.

4. Hide watch apps

If you don’t want all third-party apps to be visible on your Apple Watch, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and make sure you’re in the My Watch section. Scroll down to the section called Installed on Apple Watch. Tap the apps you want to delete and toggle them to the off position. Even though you’ve removed their Watch interfaces, these apps will remain installed on your iPhone unless you delete them from that device too.

5. Find your iPhone with your Apple Watch

Did you misplace your iPhone? Use your Apple Watch to find it. Start by tapping the Side button on your Apple Watch,. Next, tap the Ping iPhone button in blue to have it make a noise so you can discover it easily.

6. Quickly access Zoom and VoiceOver

If you use Zoom or VoiceOver on your iPhone, you can easily make them available on your Apple Watch. Turn on the triple-click Accessibility shortcut to automatically activate either Zoom mode or VoiceOver. To do so, go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, then tap My Watch > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut. From here, you can choose which you’d like to activate on triple-click automatically.

Siri can also turn VoiceOver on or off with a voice command — ask your Watch.

7. Take a screenshot

Want to take a screenshot of your Activity achievement or simply a fun drawing you’ve concocted on Digital Touch? Simply take a screenshot on your Apple Watch by pressing both the side button and Digital Crown at the same time.

8. Force Apple Watch to restart

If your Apple Watch is not functioning properly, you can turn it off by pressing and holding the side button until you see the emergency commands. Tap the power button in the right hand corner then slide the Power Off toggle. For a Watch that’s entirely frozen, perform a force reboot by holding both the side button and Digital Crown for at least ten seconds until you see the Apple logo.

Apple Watch tips and tricks: Timekeeping

9. Save custom watch faces

Not only can you customize Apple’s default Watch faces by using Force Touch on the Watch display, but you can also save customized faces for future use. To do this, Force Touch on the Watch display once more, then swipe all the way to the left and tap the New button. You can now customise the new version of your watch face just how you like it.

To delete a custom watch face, swipe up.

10. Set your watch five minutes fast

If you like being early for all your appointments and meetings, your Apple Watch can help you do so. Like being early for your appointments? Manually set the watch face to display five minutes fast (or more) and it won’t even affect your alarms, notifications, or clocks from other countries. It just shows on your Watch face. To do this, go to Settings > Clock > 0 min, then turn the Digital crown to advance the time ahead up to 59 minutes.

11. Turn off snooze for your alarms

If you don’t trust yourself to wake up on time, you can disable the snooze button to force you to get up. Open the Alarm app on your Apple Watch and tap on the alarm time you’d like to change. Toggle the snooze option so you have no choice but to get moving.

Apple watch tips and tricks: Communication

12. Pre-compose custom Messages responses

It’s not possible to directly type on most Apple Watches, but you can set up a few pre-composed responses via your iPhone that you can tap on during conversations to auto-send. To do this, open the Apple Watch app, then go to My Watch > Messages > Default Replies. You can change the list and add/remove pre-composed responses at any time.

13. Share your location in Messages with Force Touch

Want to send your friend your current location while you’re out and about? From your Messages conversation, tap the App Storebutton and tap the green Share Locationbutton to share your location or request it from the other person in the chat.

14. Hold a call until you can find your iPhone

While taking phone calls on the Apple Watch can sometimes come in handy, it’s not always practical. If you get a call on your Watch that you want to pick up, but your phone’s not in easy reach, and you don’t want to start it on your Watch, you can tap Answer on iPhone to place the call on hold until you can find your device. On the other end, the person will hear a repeated sound until you can get to your iPhone.

15. Turn on Walkie-Talkie

The Walkie-Talkie feature enables you to talk to others with Apple Watches but you’ll need to activate it. Go to the Walkie-Talkie app on your Watch and toggle Available to on. Otherwise, people won’t be able to reach you using the tool.

Apple watch tips and tricks: Productivity

16. Clear all your notifications with Force Touch

You can swipe left to delete an individual notification from the Notifications screen, but what’s simpler is to clear all your notification alerts in one tap. First, swipe down from the display to access Notifications, then Force Touch the display to bring up the Clear All option.

17. Flag Mail messages with Force Touch

Apple Watch doesn’t offer a way to compose a new email owing to its relative impracticability as an email machine. If you’re planning ahead though, you can flag messages you want to reply to later with ease. Swipe to the right to bring up the flag then tap it to make sure you’re reminded to read it ‘properly’ on the big screen later.

18. Choose what mailboxes show up on your Watch

If you don’t want to receive notifications and info from all your mailboxes, you can make adjustments. Choose specific mailboxes to show up on the Watch from the iPhone app. Just go to My Watch > Mail > Include Mail.

19. Switch between Day and List views in Calendar

Want to see what your day looks like — but also view items in a list? You can switch between Day and List views in the Calendar by using a Force Touch gesture on the screen while in the app.

20. Build your leaving time into your Calendar alerts

If a location has been added to your calendar event, you can get an alert that tells you when to leave based on driving or walking distance, tied into expected traffic. To do so, make sure the individual event has the Travel Time switch enabled. This is done on your iPhone by going to the Calendar app, then tapping the event in question, and going to Edit > Travel Time.

21. Set up gestures

If you can’t easily access your Apple Watch because it’s under your coat or your arms are busy and hands full, set up a gesture. To do this, open the Watch app on your iPhone, then tap **My Watch > Gestures **and toggle Double Tap on. Tapping Double Tap allows you to pick what actions are performed on your Watch when tapping your index finger and thumb together.

Apple watch tips and tricks: Apps

22. Organize Your Watch Apps

Your home screen can quickly get cluttered with apps, but you can rearrange those icons in a layout that works best for you. On the iPhone, open the Watch app. In the My Watch section, go to App Layout and move your icons to different spots.

To do this from your watch, go to the home screen and press down on one of the icons until they all start jiggling. You can delete any icon by tapping its X sign or move an icon by dragging it to a different area.

With watchOS 10, you can swipe to the bottom of the home screen and tap List View to view your apps in an alphabetical list. Swipe to the bottom of this screen and tap the gear icon to return to Grid View.

23. Access Apps from Smart Stack

You can quickly access your favorite or most-used apps through a new feature in watchOS 10 called Smart Stack. Just swipe up on your current watch face and keep swiping until you see the app you want. Tap it to launch it. You can also tap the All Apps button to view the Home screen.

24. Review your iPhone photos from your watch

The Camera app on your Watch allows you to use it as a remote display and shutter for photos. You can also use it to quickly review any recent shots to check they’re up to scratch. It’s perfect for checking you got the ideal group shot before sending everyone on their way and grabbing your iPhone.

25. Set a default city for your weather

It’s possible to use the Weather app on your Watch to check a number of cities, including your current location. If you need to change the default location, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, then tap My Watch > Weather > Default City.

Apple watch tips and tricks: Activity

26. Track Your Workouts

The Apple Watch shines for its health and fitness capabilities, and one of its handiest features is the ability to track your workouts. Using the built-in Workouts app, you can track your progress at a variety of activities in and out of the gym, including biking, walking, hiking, jogging, rowing, elliptical, stair stepper, swimming, and even yoga.

The app will let you shoot for a specific time, distance, or number of calories burned, or just record a free-flowing workout. As you perform your activity, the app records your time, calories burned, distance traveled, and heart rate. When you’re done, the results are sent to the Fitness app on your iPhone, where you can view the latest stats and track a history of your workouts.

A person wearing Apple Watch Series 9 is shown running outdoors on a cloudy day, with a motion blur effect.

27. Take an ECG?

With an Apple Watch Series 4 and up you can take an electrocardiogram, which checks your heart rhythm and alerts you if it finds any irregularities in that rhythm, such as atrial fibrillation. To perform an electrocardiogram with your Apple Watch, open the ECG app and tap OK and hold your finger on the Digital Crown.

The front of Apple Watch Ultra, with the Digital Crown shown at the top on the right side of the watch and the side button shown at the bottom right.  

The app will count down as it takes the ECG. After 30 seconds, the results pop up to display your sinus rhythm and heart rate. To ensure an accurate reading, make sure your watch is on the wrist you designated in Settings. You can also add a note in the app about any symptoms you may be experiencing.

28. Concentrate

The Mindfulness app is a great way to give you a moment’s calm and encourage you to relax for a moment. Pick a short exercise to take a moment to rest and relax.

29. Send your favorite watch face

Since watchOS 7, it’s been possible to share watch faces with friends. If you want to, Force Touch on the Watch display, then select the face you wish to share. Tap the New Messageicon to send your face and show off your creation.

30. Change your strap

Apple makes it very simple to remove and install new straps on your Watch. To do so, hold down one of the two band release buttons on the back of the Watch. From there, slide the band across to remove it, then slide the new bands in with ease. The method works for all types of Apple Watch so you’ll soon master how to do it within moments.

Three Apple Watch Ultra devices are shown from behind to feature their three different bands, including a gray-and-yellow Trail Loop, orange Alpine Loop, and black Ocean Band.  

31. Pairing problems

If you’re looking to unpair your Apple Watch, you simply have to open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, go to ‘My Watch’, hit ‘info’, and click unpair. If you have come across a problem you can’t fix, this is a great way of solving it.

Once you have unpaired your Apple Watch, you are going to want to pair your Apple Watch again. To do that, wear your Apple Watch, hold it close to your iPhone, and let your iPhone pick it up. From here, you should be able to link to your Apple ID, make a passcode, and customize it.

An Apple Watch being set up next to an iPhone  

Apple Watch tips and tricks: Entertainment

32. Listen to Music

You can listen to music on your watch, including songs, albums, playlists, and Apple Radio stations from Apple Music (if you’re a subscriber), as well as apps such as Spotify, Pandora, and iHeartRadio.

To set this up, first connect your earbuds, headphones, or speaker via Bluetooth. Open Apple’s Music app on the watch to swipe through your library of music. From the player, you can pause, resume, skip ahead, go back, and control the volume. With the built-in radio feature, you can tune into Apple Music 1 and certain news and music stations.

Third-party music apps will need to be downloaded through the App Store on your watch. Each app is slightly different, but the process is similar—just fire up the app to access your stations or library. Some watch apps even allow paid subscribers to listen to music offline.

Apple Watch Series 8 shows the new Smart Stack with currently playing music displayed on top.

33. Listen to Podcasts

Apple has its own Podcasts app that lets you download podcasts on your iPhone and listen to them on an Apple Watch. With an LTE-enabled Apple Watch, you can listen to podcasts without hopping onto a nearby Wi-Fi network.

Open the Podcasts app on your watch to swipe through your library of subscribed podcasts or individual episodes. From the Podcast player, you can pause, resume, jump ahead 30 seconds, go back 15 seconds, alter the speed, and change the volume.

You can also play podcasts from your phone using your watch as the controller. If you’re not crazy about Apple’s Podcasts app, alternatives include Downcast, Overcast, and Pocket Casts.

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By Tom Griffin Executive Editor
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Tom Griffin is the editor-in-chief at GeeksChalk where he oversees all of site’s evergreen content to ensure it’s up to date with the latest information. Hailing from London in the UK, he has over seven years of experience in the tech journalism space and holds a degree in English Literature. In his spare time, Tom can found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, and petting every dog he comes across in the outside world.
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