Apple Watch notifications: How to make your watch less annoying

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The Apple Watch is able to shoulder the tsunami of notifications you receive on a daily basis, letting you glance at updates without getting sucked into your iPhone.

However, while this is one of the smartwatch's simplest skills, there's plenty to understand. Knowing how to set Apple Watch notifications up, manage them, mute them and clear them are all helpful to understand.

Read this: Apple Watch tips and tricks

By default, your Apple Watch is set up to mirror the stream coming through to your iOS device - below, we'll be explaining how to customize them and take control.

And if your Apple Watch notifications aren't coming through, we'll give you a checklist of potential solutions.

Read the test: Apple Watch Series 5 review

How to view your notifications

Apple Watch notifications: How to make your watch less annoying

If you're new to the Apple Watch, you might be a little confused as to how you access your notifications.

Handily, it's the same as on your iPhone - simply swipe down from the top of the screen.

This can be done from any screen, too, not just the home screen, and you can scroll through the list by touching the screen or twisting the Digital Crown.

Read this: How to set up your Apple Watch

In order to read a notification, just give it a little tap; to read grouped notifications, tap the stack and then go through to the individual notifications.

Wondering why you only get them on either your Watch or iPhone? Well, if your iPhone is unlocked, you'll get notifications there, but if it's locked or asleep, they'll be sent straight to your wrist (unless it's locked via passcode).

Also, be aware that when you dismiss a notification on your Apple Watch, it's also dismissed from your iPhone.

Change how notifications are delivered

Apple Watch notifications: How to make your watch less annoying

If you too often find yourself muting your Apple Watch, or you simply don't want notifications from a specific app sent to your wrist, you do have the option to manage things.

1. Swipe down to open the Apple Watch notification center.

2. Swipe left on a notification, then tap the three dots.

3. If you want to mute the sound or turn off the haptic alerts for that app, tap Deliver Quietly. This will result in the notification appearing in both the phone and watch notification center, but without actually notifying you.

4. If you don't want to get notifications for that app, tap Turn Off on Apple Watch.

5. If you want to turn the sounds or haptics back on, simply reverse the process - tap the three dots and select Deliver Prominently.

Clear all Apple Watch notifications

Apple Watch notifications: How to make your watch less annoying

Let's be honest, if you have a lot of notifications, you don't want to be individually deleting them all from the stream.

To clear Apple Watch notifications at the same time, use Force Touch (push down slightly harder than a tap) on the screen and you should see the screen change and give you the option to 'X' all of the notifications.

Change which apps deliver notifications

You may want notifications from Twitter and Facebook, but not want them from messaging platforms like WhatsApp or iMessage. To toggle which apps you receive alerts from:

1. Go to the Watch app on your iPhone, tap the My Watch tab and head to the notifications section.

2. Different apps let you customize differently. The top section lets you customize an app's alerts individually, though most third-party apps will only let you turn the option to mirror your iPhone notifications on or off.

Mute Apple Watch notifications

In a meeting and want to keep wrist buzzes to a minimum? Bombarded by a group chat while at the movies? Turn your Apple Watch to Do Not Disturb mode and mute some of the updates.

To do so, swipe down to open the control center and then tap the Do Not Disturb icon. This will light up at the top of the home screen to indicate it's on - you'll have to reverse the process to begin receiving notifications again.

Apple Watch notifications not working?

If notifications don't seem to be coming through to your Apple Watch, there's a few things you can do to troubleshoot the issue.

  • Make sure the Apple Watch and iPhone are connected
  • Check the Apple Watch to see if Do Not Disturb mode is on
  • Try turning off Wrist Detection in the Apple Watch app Settings section
  • Check if notifications are turned on in the Apple Watch app
  • Restart the Apple Watch by turning it off and on

More Apple Watch guides

How we test

Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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