25 Apple Watch tips and tricks

Get the best experience from your Apple Watch with this essential guide
Apple Watch tips and tricks

The Cupertino company slashed prices on the wrist-ware, likely to prepare for Apple Watch 2, meaning more people may be grabbing a piece of the Apple Watch pie.

There are a host of tips and tricks to bend the Apple Watch to your will, and with watchOS 2, it gets even more versatile.

watchOS is one of the most complex wearable operating systems going, and while it makes for a steep learning curve, it also means there's an incredible amount of opportunity for customisation. In short, it's the most personal smartwatch to date.

Essential reading: Best Apple Watch apps

We've rounded up 25 essential hacks to help make the Apple Watch even more personal, including improvements introduced in the watchOS2 update. From adding music to trimming unwanted notifications and even taking screenshots, your experience will be richer for reading this list.

Change the wrist raise action

This tip came from complaining to Hole19 about constantly having to reopen the app while out on the course. Didn't we feel like fools.

In the Apple Watch settings menu turn on Wrist Raise feature. Choose to open Last Used app, and whichever app you were using when your Apple Watch went into power saving, will be returned when you raise your wrist to check the screen.

You can also do it from within the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Just go to General > Wake Screen > Resume Last Activity.

Change text size

If you find yourself constantly squinting at your wrist to read the Watch's notifications, you can change the text size. Simply go to Settings > Brightness & text size then configure to what's comfortable for you.

Ping your iPhone

Lose your iPhone? Good thing you have your Apple Watch on because it can help you find your handset.

Bring up Glances by swiping upwards from the watch face screen. Find the settings glance and tap the "Ping iPhone" button on the bottom left.

Use picture watch faces

By default, the Apple Watch selects images from the Favorites folder on your iPhone – something we'd never thought to use before. So go and tag some images in iOS using the heart button at the bottom. When you use the photo album watch face it will randomly select photos from the folder. You can tap the face to cycle through images.

How to use Apple Watch

Reply to emails from your wrist

While replying from your Apple Watch was restricted to just SMS messages in watchOS 1, you can now respond to emails. You can use the pre-ordained responses if you wish, or tap the microphone to dictate replies with your voice.

Force restart

Apple says to do this action as a last resort so if you're left with no choice then hold the Digital Crown and side button together for 10 seconds. Just like restarting your iPhone, the Apple logo will pop up and your watch should restart.

Cover to mute

If your Watch is set to notify you or ring with sounds, but you're in the middle of a meeting or situation where loud dings are rude, you can turn on "Cover to Mute" in the Sound & Haptics settings. Then simply cover your watch for three seconds for it take effect.

Use third party complications

A new feature in watchOS 2 is information added from third party apps into watch faces. The main face for this is the ever useful Modular, but Utility and Chronograph also have options for adding data from the likes of CityMapper and AccuWeather too.

Time Travel through your day

Scrolling the digital crown when using a watch face that supports calendar features (Modular or Utility) will enable you to cycle through upcoming or past events in your calendar. Pressing the crown will return you to the present, once again.

Turn your Watch into a bed side clock

Another new feature in watchOS 2 is Night Stand Mode. When you put your watch on charge just tip it onto its side to turn your smartwatch into a nifty clock.

Wipe notifications

If you're overburdened by notifications you can access your history by swiping down from the top of your screen to access a chronological list. Once displayed you can banish them all by long pressing the screen then tapping Clear All.

Locate your iPhone

If you misplace your iPhone, you can remotely call it straight from the Apple Watch. Go to the Settings glance by swiping up from the bottom bezel and then choosing the bottom iPhone icon.

Transfer a call to your iPhone

If you receive a call on your Watch, but want to continue it on your actual phone? No problem. Accept the call from the smartwatch and swipe up to send it over. Seamless.

Customise the watch face

There's a healthy if not mind-blowing selection of watch faces for the Apple Watch, but they're helpfully customisable so you can add and remove details (complications) as you wish.

Press and hold the watch face to cycle through the selection, and tap Customize to enter an editing mode. Swipe to the right to show the areas that can be customised appear in boxes. Tap the area you want to change, and then use the Digital Crown to scroll through options – this is where those third party complications can be added. Most can be turned off if you prefer the minimalist look.

Re-open the last used app

Switching between apps is also easy as well. You can jump back to the last used app just by double-tapping the Digital Crown, which is especially handy when using third party running apps such as RunKeeper, which will disappear into the background mid-run.

Put the watch in power reserve mode

Draining power too fast? If you press and hold the Apple Watch's second button a power menu appears. Tap the Power Reserve button and drag it off to the right hand side of the screen. The Apple Watch will now only show the time when prompted.

Get back to the watch face

Glances are one of the most useful elements of the Apple Watch. However, you can only swipe up from the bottom when you're on the watch face screen, not the app screen. Don't hit the crown and then attempt to select the clock app from the app screen – just cover the glass with your hand to turn off the screen and turn your wrist to illuminate in one swift, frustration free swoop.

Trim notifications

By default, the Apple Watch will show any notification that appears on your iPhone, but you can turn each one off individually, to quell the digital noise. In the iPhone's Apple Watch app menu tap Notifications and scroll down to 'mirror iPhone alerts from' and start turning off those annoying offenders.

Add music to your watch

Adding MP3s to your Apple Watch isn't hugely compelling, but if you're out for a run without your iPhone, it can be useful. To get your music on the Watch you first need to first create a playlist on your iPhone, and then head to the Apple Watch companion app.

In the app, choose the Music app from the list on the phone and choose your playlist, and it will start syncing. If it doesn't, stick your Watch on its charging pad.

You won't be able to see your music until you pair some wireless headphones, which is done via the Bluetooth part of the settings menu. Once they're synced, head to the Music app on the Watch, and long press to show synced playlists.

You may now go for a run.

Get the full details: How to add music to your Apple Watch

Set up for left handers

The Digital Crown isn't best placed for south paws, who wear their watch on the right arm. However, you can have the Apple Watch flip its controls so that the crown works on the bottom left instead of top right. In the iPhone companion app go to General > Watch Orientation and then choose your preferred wrist and Digital Crown position.

Configure on demand witty replies

With impaired ability to write messages from the Apple Watch, you can send set replies to messages instead. The problem is that Apple's stock phrases have all the personality of Tim Cook's chinos. Don't despair, in the Apple Watch app go to Messages and Default Replies, where you can set your own witty retorts.

Change up Glances

Glances are some of the most useful elements of the Apple Watch – and a personal favourite is the CityMapper travel disruption one, but it always annoyed us being last in the list.

You can re-arrange glances in the iPhone companion app. Just go to Glances and drag the card around to change the order. If you don't want one at all just tap the red icon, and browse third party ones that are yet to be added from the second list below.

Reorganise your apps

You can change the order of your apps on that familiar home screen in the companion app too. Just fire it up and choose App Layout, which is easily missed at the top. You can then press and hold on the tiles and move them about the honeycomb, like a game of wearable blockbusters.

Take a screenshot

Just like the iPhone you can take screenshots at anytime, just by holding the Digital Crown and secondary button together. Especially useful for immortalising Digital Touch sketches from friends.

Trim watch faces

While Mickey has been the face of Apple's marketing campaign, it's virtually impossible to tell the time from his stubby arms. In fact, there are only two watch faces we actually can bear to use. Banish the rest by swiping up on any offending design. If you want one back, just press the + at the end of the list.

More Apple Watch guides

Set up your Apple Watch

How to use the Apple Watch

Extend your battery life

The best Apple Watch apps

Set up Apple Pay on Apple Watch

Apple Watch untethered guide

Add music to your Apple Watch


  • Randy says:

    Apple watch is the coolest ever. I am a big fan of Apple watch and I just love the way it performs (its Apple obviously). The aesthetic look just makes me go mad, I am just waiting for mine to arrive. I am a part of <ahref="http://affimity.com"&gt;Affimity</a>Smart Watch social network and would love to share this article on there.  

  • Jacobkendall02 says:

    hey I was wondering if there was a way to turn OFF the screenshot feature on my apple watch

    • j.stables says:

      Afraid not. Do you do it accidentally or something?

  • Samuel01 says:

    replaced my pebble the day the apple watch was released. Back to my pebble. The touch screen has failed and my insider says thousands are being returned due to a "hardware design flaw".

    I have no estimated time for repair.

    Back to the future with pebble!

    • xToddrick says:

      Does your "insider" have a link to that flaw as I read nothing about it?

    • PolyphonicGoat says:

      Hahaha "back to the future". Please, spare me the fisher price propaganda here. That thing is no more futuristic than a fax machine. 

  • Kimaward says:

    I cannot get the swipe up feature to transfer a call to my iPhone to work??? 

    • bzeldin says:

      Neither can I

  • Josamp1116 says:

    my wife & i both have iphone 6s's. I bought her an apple watch for xmas and now all her phone calls show up 

    On my phone and some of my calls show up on her phone. Is there any way to turn that off?

    • AppleKing says:

      Yea you have to make your own Apple ID's so they don't connect

  • Bree says:

    my watch face options do not have a photo album option... How can i upload one?

  • applewatch_face says:

    Browse and create beautiful Apple Watch Custom Faces using this website. It’s great.


  • Chub123 says:

    Hi guys, 

    Just wondering can you change between notifications by moving your wrist left or right, reason I am asking is that I really want an iWatch but restricted due a disability, I only have 1 arm, I can use SIRI for the majority of the functionality, but would find it difficult to change between notifications when I'm wearing the watch, all suggestions really welcome. 

  • BoTate says:

    Can you have the face show the home screen (time etc.) when using the pedometer or do you have to watch your steps all day?

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