Fitbit Alta essential tips and tricks

How to get the most out of your fashionable Fitbit

The Fitbit Alta HR may have arrived on the scene, but you can still get hold of the original Alta if you don't care about the added heart rate monitor and still want that sleek wearable on your wrist.

It's still one of the best fitness trackers we've tried and packs in plenty of features to help motivate you to stay fit.

Essential reading: Which Fitbit should you buy?

And whether you've just picked up the Alta or planning to get one in the future, we've picked out some tips to get more from the Fitbit tracker. From setting alarms to changing your Fitbit's band from Classic to Luxe, we've got you covered.

Changing Fitbit bands

Fitbit Alta essential tips and tricks

Fitbit straps haven't been the easiest to wear with the clasp pinholes proving to be bothersome little things. However it's designed somewhat better on the Alta and much easier to use. Also simpler: changing the Fitbit straps.

Read this: How to actually get fit with your fitness tracker

The Classic models are what you'll get at the lower end of the price spectrum and look sporty in black, blue, plum and teal then you have the Luxe models in blush pink leather, graphite leather and a stainless steel option plus designer brands as well.

With so many options, you'll likely want to experiment right? Doing so is simple. Just flip the Alta over, press on the latch and push out to release the tracker. Slide your choice of band into the same slot and it will snap into place.

Cleaning Fitbit Alta

Fitbit's had a series of rash problems that has more or less been taken care of considering we haven't heard many issues with the newer devices, including Alta. To ensure your wrist remains rash-free, there are several ways to clean the Alta band and body - all of which were recommended by the company.

There are different ways to keep the different bands types sanitary like using cotton swabs of alcohol instead of rinsing/soaking with soap and water, the main takeaway is to keep the straps dry. That means patting it with a lint-free cloth, or leaving it out to air dry, and not using intense heat sources like a hair dryer.

As for the tracker body, good 'ol rubbing alcohol and a toothbrush can keep the charging contacts clean. The same can be done for the charging cable using light dabs from a cotton swab.

Do Fitbit Adventure challenges with Alta

Fitbit Alta essential tips and tricks

Getting bored of tracking your office treks? Doing Fitbit's new Adventure challenge may help. Announced when the Charge 2 and Flex 2 hit the scene, Adventure matches the steps you've taken with hikes around Yosemite National Park in California. There are landmarks and bits of trivia you can unlock along the way, and lucky for you, it's not time sensitive when you complete each Adventure. Rather, it's about logging in steps to get the reward of seeing 'where you've been' in each area.

It's super simple to get started since all you need is the latest Fitbit app. To update, head to the app store and download the newest version. Then go into the Challenges tab in the Fitbit app. Tap 'Start tomorrow' and every step you take the next day will be counted towards your progress.

Syncing Fitbit Alta

If you scroll down to the battery conservation section, you'll see that manually syncing will greatly help your Alta last longer. But did you know your device stores your fitness metrics so you don't have to keep syncing every night?

Specifically, data is stored up to five whole days before you need to sync your Alta (or risk losing all the info). This is useful if you don't always check your data on the phone and want to see a summary log all at once.

Change the face

Fitbit Alta essential tips and tricks

There are several clock faces to choose from - five vertical or five horizontal clock to be exact. Tap on the account tab again to find the various faces then pick whichever one you prefer.

If you wear the Alta with the display on top of your wrist, vertical is easier to read, while horizontal is better for the bottom of your wrist. Though, it's completely up to you.

Use Fitbit Alta with Amazon Echo

If you're already connected to an Amazon Echo and asking Alex for daily weather reports, you might as well ask about your Fitbit stats too. For this tip, you'll need an Echo account. Head to the Skills tab to download the Fitbit Skill then enable it by allowing all the permissions.

After that's set up, you'll have say "Alexa, ask Fitbit" each time but it's not too bad, with the final result sounding like "Alexa, ask Fitbit how many steps I've taken today."

You should be able to get verbal information on steps, taken, distance, calories, stairs climbed, battery life and much more with Alexa's help.

What Fitbit Alta's vibrations mean

Fitbit Alta essential tips and tricks

Like many (perhaps all?) fitness trackers out there, you're going to get a lot of vibrations on your wrist. Unlike the new Fitbit Flex 2, which pairs its haptics with LED lights, you can turn your wrist to see what the buzzing means on Alta. But if you don't want to keep relying on the display, here's what the the Fitbit Alta buzzes mean.

One continuous vibration - An alarm you've set is going off

Up to three vibrations with pauses in between - Your phone is ringing

Two short vibrations - Reminders to take more steps before the hour is up or the hour is already up and you've met the 250 step goal

A series of vibrations - You've met your daily activity goal

Setting hourly step reminders

Step reminders are the latest feature added that's come to the Alta first, and is now available on all the Fitbit devices except One and Zip. Rather than just standing for a bit, Alta's reminders encourage you to walk 250 steps per hour - which is just a few minutes of walking.

The minimum steps can't be changed but you can customise the default tracking that's set to 9:00 am - 6:00 pm, seven days a week.

There's two ways to change this. Open the Fitbit app and select Hourly Activity (the one with the red figure with its arms up). Then tap the settings gear in the top right corner.

Or once again in the app, go and tap on the Fitbit Alta icon twice to see "Reminders to move." From there, you can also adjust the number of hours per day and set the days of the week where you'll be reminded to reach your step goal.

For sensitive sleepers

Like with the other Fitbits, there's a way on that Alta to make sure automated sleep tracking picks up more accurate data.

Head into the advanced settings inside the app which can be found under the Account tab. Here you'll find the option to change sleep sensitivity to sensitive to improve the detection of your movements at night.

Maximise battery life

The Alta lasts a surprisingly long time - about five days according to Fitbit, but seven to eight by our testing. However there are still ways to prolong usage.

There's a maximum of eight alarms you can set, and each one you add reduces battery life by a small percentage. So less alarms, longer battery life.

Turn off Quick View at night. Quick View lets you see the clock face when you turn your wrist. It's a handy feature to have on in the day, but a pain when trying to sleep since the little screen can get really bright. When Quick View is off, double tap the screen to wake it up.

Lessen the amount of time that Alta reminds you to move - directions above on how to do this.

Turn off Always Connected on Android devices and All-Day sync on iOS so your Alta isn't constantly syncing.

Lastly, though it's a fitness tracker, Alta isn't meant for extreme outdoor conditions. Charging it in severe heat or cold may likely reduce battery life.

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  • jgalea·

    For now anyway, on my Fitbit Blaze running paired to my iPhone there are no hourly step reminders. It is now tracking if you've been active or inactive in an hour but not reminders. 

  • CFogelson·

    I am having trouble powering on my Alta. It has charged overnight but will not power on.  I've tried syncing it to my phone but am unable to get past the point where I enter in the 4 digits as it will not power on.  I've tried tapping it awake without success. What am I doing wrong?

    • l.prasuethsut·

      Have you tried syncing it with the Alta still plugged in and charging? Also, try disconnecting any other Fitbits you have on your phone. If nothing works, I would reach out to Fitbit.

  • leighSH·

    I've been using Fitbit and MOOV NOW for sleep tracking and find that even after adjusting the sleep settings on Fitbit that Moov's sleep tracking is more accurate. It's also very comfortable to sleep in!

  • JesseIan·

    I can't even wear mine because the band is too complicated. Just go back to a watch buckle. And add a HR monitor again.

  • Kulkulkanus·

    I do not see the ability to increase the sleep sensitivity setting within account and settings.  The only thing that comes up under "sleep" is the ability to adjust my sleep goals.  I should add that I previously had a Soleus (until the band broke) and I MUCH preferred the sleep tracker on it as it distinguishes between actual "light" sleep and "deep" sleep and seems to be quite accurate if one has knowledge of normal sleep patterns.... Fitbit tracks all good sleep as "sleep" and only a fairly significant amount of movement as "restless."    Anyway, it is all just a general guide....  but i would like to try to adjust the sensitivity ..... but I do not see this option in any menu as discussed in the article above.  Thanks.

    • l.prasuethsut·

      Hi Kulkulkanus, the setting is really only two options: normal and sensitive. To change it, click on Alta>scroll down to Advanced Settings>Sleep sensitivity. Let me know if you can't find it still, and I can add in screen caps above.  

  • cecilia66·

    Amazing that you can design such a clever gadget but you can't design a strap that you can put on.  The only way I can put it on is to get my husband to do it with a pair of pliers.  What if I lived alone?  Please design an easier band - velcro? Magnetic??

    • Jazz·

      Just got mine and have the same problem. Needed pliers to get it on. I am reluctant to take it off to charge it now that it is finally on!

    • katie0806·

      I thought it was difficult at first too but I actually don't have a problem with it anymore and I like that it snaps on securely or else I would worry about losing it. A trick is to practice snapping the straps together with it off of you to get the hang of it. I put it on and turn my wrist upside down and then place the strap with the pegs on top of the strap with the holes. I align the two holes I want and then I use my thumb on top and my index finger on the bottom and squeeze together until I hear a click which means both pegs are in.

      I hope this helps, I thought about returning it because I wasn't sure I could keep something I couldn't put on!

  • Jaimie89·

    I have to tap my Alta like 5 times before it even comes up with the time. Is that normal?

    • Tjvance2·

      I just bought one today and am having the same problem.  Is there a special spot or something? It doesn't light when I hold up my arm either.

  • annabel·

    How on earth did the designers manage to come up with a strap that needs two people and pliers to put on!!!! They must have thought long and hard about that one.  Surely this was trialed and feedback sought before producing it.  Please start manufacturing bands with just the usual watch strap so we can replace these stupid snap stud things.  If my husband is away then I can spend up to 10 minutes and end up with a sore wrist trying to fasten the blooming thing.  Even when it snaps you can't guarantee it wont fall off.  If it catches on something the studs come undone.  To manufacture such a great instrument and then to put the dumbest strap on it.....leaves my dumbfounded and frustrated.

    • chau·

      There are third party bands available that are leather and have a watch style buckle (and are available in a number of colours). Just search and you'll find them. I did.

  • richjcampbell·

    How do I change the time on the Alta when travelling to a different time zone?

  • mschenks·

    I agree that the wrist band design is terrible,  I struggle with it all the time.  I would also like to know how to reset the time on the Alta fitbit.  

  • lindar·

    Just got my fitbit, the display for the steps say 2.6 k. I'm assuming this is kilometer. How do I change that to the number of steps? It says steps on my fitbit app.

    • lkm·

      K is the abbreviation for THOUSAND in this instance.  You have walked 2,600 steps.  

      And yes, K is also used to denote kilometers, kilobytes and kelvin.  Depends on context.