The Apple Watch has the power to play music directly from the wrist to a pair of Bluetooth headphones, no matter whether you're an Apple Music or Spotify subscriber.
However, with the option to play music while connected or offline, there's actually quite a few steps in playing music on the Apple Watch. For those with a collection of iTunes tracks, you can sync playlists across with ease, but you're better served with a streaming service, as you're able to access playlists in just a couple of minutes.
Essential reading: Best Apple Watch apps to download first
If you've just picked up an Apple Watch and trying to get to grips with how to put music on your Apple Watch, here's all the details you need to put music on your Apple Watch, including instructions for adding music, connecting headphones and which Apple Watch models let you stream music offline.
How to use Apple Music on Apple Watch
1. Open Apple Music on iPhone
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 over 50 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 Music app through iTunes.
2. Open the Watch app on iPhone
Go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap My Watch and then scroll down to the Music tab. Tap Add music and you'll be whisked off to Apple Music ‚Äď and from here you can choose to browse by artists, albums, genres or playlists. Music used to have to be part of a playlist, but now you can add what you want. Just browse, and tap to add.
3. Sync music to Apple Watch
The music will only be transferred when the Apple Watch is on its charging cradle. You do need to make sure that Bluetooth is turned on on your iPhone as well during this time.
- Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and tap My Watch
- Go to Music and tap + Add Music
- Search the music you want to sync and tap + next to the music you want to sync.
The playlist will be marked 'updating' until it's completed, after which it will say 'synced'. You can add multiple playlists if you want, but when you run out of space, they'll stop being added.
4. Add music from Apple Watch
It is now possible to sync music over from Apple Music straight on the Watch. This is based on using an Apple Watch running on watchOS 8, the latest software update from Apple. Here's how you do it:
- Go to the Music app on the Apple Watch app
- Go to Library, then Listen Now or Search to find the music you want to sync over
- Look for the album and playlist you want to add tap Add to Library
- if you want to download music to play offline, select to Download. It will download music when your Watch is on its charger and is connected to Wi-Fi.
5. Add a a workout playlist to Apple Watch from iPhone
If you need to motivational tunes to get you through a gym session, you can set things up that when you start tracking a workout from Apple's Workout app, it will automatically boot up a workout playlist you've created. To get things set up you need to do the following:
- Go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap My Watch and then go to the Workout menu
- From here, select Workout Playlist and that's where you can choose the playlist to automatically start to play when you get tracking.
- That playlist will be stored in the Music section of the Apple Watch app on your iPhone if need to find it again.
After years of workarounds and hassle, we have an Apple Watch Spotify app and we've done an in-depth guide on how to use Spotify on Apple Watch.
The good news is that you can now download music and playlists to listen to them offline. We'll give you a breakdown of exactly how to do that including what you need to do before you start piling on tunes.
1. Install the Apple Watch Spotify app
Working for both Spotify Free and Spotify Premium users, you'll need to first make sure that you have the Spotify smartphone app installed and that you're signed in. To do so on the wrist, go to the Watch app on your iPhone, search the App Store tab for 'Spotify', install it and then open it on your Apple Watch.
2. How to download Spotify music to Apple Watch
The Spotify does now offer the ability to sync audio from the streaming service to your Watch to listen without an internet connection; Here's the steps you need to take to do them:
- In the Spotify app find a playlist or album you want to download, hit the menu button and choose Download to Apple Watch.
- In the Spotify Apple Watch app, swipe right to locate the Downloads folder.
- When you find what you want to download, press the three dots on screen (...) and you'll be given the option to download to Apple Watch.
- You'll be able to identify downloaded playlists as there will be a green arrow to indicate they are now successfully on your Apple Watch.
Music on Apple Watch without iPhone
if you want to play music on your Apple Watch without needing your iPhone nearby, you can do that. We've broken down what you need to make it happen below.
What you'll need to play music without a phone
- An Apple Watch Series 3 or later with LTE, an active data allowance and Apple Music or Spotify Premium subscription (which will let you begin streaming music on your watch)
- Or, any Apple Watch and the Apple Music app (which will enable you to download owned music to your watch)
To flesh that out a bit, when syncing to any version of the Watch through Apple Music, it will use the device's internal storage in order to allow you to play tracks without the help of your phone. If you're offline, though, you obviously can't start searching for new tracks or playlists - you're stuck with what's downloaded on the Watch.
Naturally, always making sure everything is synced over can be a bit of a hassle, which is why cellular connectivity is great for when you want to search and play music not already downloaded onto the Watch. Providing you have an Apple Watch Series 3 or newer with LTE and you're paying that monthly cellular fee, you can do so.
How to connect Bluetooth headphones to Apple Watch
When connecting some headphones to your Apple Watch for the first time, follow the following steps to pair them correctly:
1. Put your headphones in pairing mode
This could be holding the pairing button, as with Apple's AirPods, although the Apple Watch should detect these regardless, or whatever method your manufacturer of choice has given to initiate pairing mode on its headphones.
2. Go to Bluetooth settings on your Apple Watch
Tap the settings gear app icon on your Apple Watch, and then tap the Bluetooth option to see the available devices.
3. Select your headphones and wait for them to pair
Tap on the headphones you'd like to pair, which should appear in due course. From this point onwards, your Apple Watch should detect the headphones and pair with them when they're turned on in range.
If music starts pumping out of your iPhone, instead, you'll need to force the issue by pressing and holding on the watch screen and choosing Bluetooth playback to send it to your headphones.
How to remove music from Apple Watch
When you get bored of playlists or albums you've piled on, it's pretty straightforward to get that music off to make room for something new. This is how you remove music from your Apple Watch if it's been added from Apple Music:
- First, go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone
- Select My Watch, go to Music and then tap Edit
- Look for the red minus sign next to playlists and albums you want to remove and tap to delete.