How to add and play music on the Apple Watch

Put any of Apple's 30 million tracks on your wrist
Put Apple Music tracks on your Watch

Adding and playing music directly from your Apple Watch to a pair of wireless headphones is one of the most opaque processes ever created, but it is possible. What's more, with the launch of Apple Music, the Apple Watch is the only wearable that can benefit from streaming, offering an alternative to old-fashioned MP3s.

Do everything: The complete Apple Watch guide

We've created the ultimate guide to getting music on your Apple Watch for wireless workouts and beats on the bus. And trust us, you'll need it.

Read below for how to get tracks on your Apple Watch.

Fire up Apple Music

To get started, fire up the Apple Music app on your iPhone. We won't go through the ins and outs of the app here, but you can search the library of 30 million tracks and curated playlists. If you don't have a subscription to Apple Music, you can still use good old MP3s, but make sure they appear in the Apple Music app through iTunes.

Create a playlist

Head to the My Music > Playlists tab and create a new one. Music can only be added to the Apple Watch if it's contained in a playlist, so you can make a singular generic one, or have a playlist per album. It's totally up to you, but you can only sync one playlist at any given time. Create the playlist, then go add some music to it.

Head to the Apple Watch app

Head over to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and then go to the Music tab. Tap Synced Playlist to see a list of addable music.

Sync it up

Choose your playlist from the list and it will start to sync. The music will only be transferred when the Apple Watch is on its charging cradle. Why? We have no idea. The playlist will be marked 'sync pending' until it's completed, after which it will say 'synced'.

Progress is stuck at 99% or 'pending'

Transferring music takes an absolute age, so don't do it in your running shorts before you're set to hit the road. Our progress shot up to 99% within 5 minutes, and then got stuck for half an hour, which had us Googling for an answer. When we returned later, the music was synced, so our advice is to do it overnight. Yes, it is 2016.

Connect up your Bluetooth headset

You've transferred your playlist and you can see it on the watch but NOT SO FAST. There's a couple of steps left to go. First, hook up a pair of wireless headphones. Head to the Settings app on your Watch, go to Bluetooth and pair it as normal.

Browse the Apple Watch Music app

Now you can go and play music on your Apple Watch. Tap the Music icon on the apps screen. You'll see all your synced music, ready to play. We live in truly incredible times – but of course, there's STILL one more important thing...

Change the source

If you try and play a track, it will come out of your iPhone speakers. So close yet so far! This took us AGES to fathom out, but you need to long press on the Music screen, tap Source and choose Watch.

Get on up to get down

Now my friend, you can play music on your Apple Watch, totally untethered from your iPhone. Go free.

More Apple Watch guides

Set up your Apple Watch

Apple Watch tips and tricks

Extend your battery life

The best Apple Watch apps

Set up Apple Pay on Apple Watch

Apple Watch untethered guide

5 Comments

  • ZSD says:

    Thanks for the article, but i'm having issues with it actually playing back on my Watch.  I have even restored the watch and tried several times.  It shows the music on there but then skips though all of the tracks like there isn't anything to actually play.  Is this an Apple Music issue?  Can't seem to figure it out....

    • j.stables says:

      That's extremely odd. Has it synced properly? It doesn't say pending in the phone app?

  • spenceast says:

    Great guide--my only problem with listening to music stored on my Apple Watch is that it plays the playlist in order...I synced my Running Music playlist and I want to be able to have it on shuffle when I am out on a morning run, so I can get a different order of songs played. Is there any way to "shuffle" all the music in that playlist on the Apple Watch?

    • cblwolf says:

      In case you haven't figured this out or if anyone else reading this might want to know, you long press the screen (just as you did to choose the source) and hit the shuffle button.

  • dewin says:

    nice guide on how to play music on Apple Watch. You can also use Music Paradise Pro iOS app to stream music from your Apple watch. Music Paradise pro app is wonderful app to download music for free.

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