How to use Family Setup on the Apple Watch

Discover the easiest way to enable and disable settings for safe use
Wareable Apple Watch family setup
Wareable is reader-powered. If you click through using links on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Family Setup on the Apple Watch is the best way to add some protections to the smartwatch, such as requiring approval before purchasing apps or sharing contacts.

It's the ideal tool for parents setting up an Apple Watch for their child - most of the benefits of using the smartwatch are available, but some of the more responsible elements are guarded.

To use Family Setup, you'll need to select the option when initially pairing the watch to an iPhone - and this may require a factory reset of the Apple Watch if it's already linked to a handset.

And, as usual, there are version requirements - you'll need at least an Apple Watch Series 4 pairing to an iPhone 6S for this to work.

Read our guide below to find out how to set up an Apple Watch in Family Setup mode.

1. Turn on your Apple Watch

If it's not already, turn on the watch by pressing and holding the crown on the right-hand side of the watch case. Wait for the Apple logo to appear on the screen.

2. Initiate setup

To begin the pairing process, all you need to do is ensure the two devices are within Bluetooth range.

Once your iPhone recognizes the unpaired Apple Watch, you should see a pop-up asking whether you want to use your iPhone to set up the Apple Watch.

From here, make sure you select 'Set up for a Family Member' before following the next steps.

3. Pair the Apple Watch to your iPhone

To continue pairing the two devices, you will be asked to put the watch's display in the view of your phone's camera. Once paired, you will be prompted to set a passcode for the watch.

4. Add a family member

You will now be prompted to choose which family member will use the watch. Tap their name on the screen, or select 'Add family member' if they have not already been added.

5. Enable and disable features

While going through the guide on your phone, you will be able to set up features such as 'Ask To Buy', which means your family member won't be able to make purchases without your approval.

You can also set up 'Schooltime' mode, which will block access to apps and notifications during certain hours.

TAGGED Apple Watch

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. 

Related stories