How to update your Garmin watch to the latest software through Connect or Express

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How to perform a Garmin system update
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Ensuring you have the latest software installed on your Garmin watch is essential to getting the best experience.

Staying up to date not only means you have the latest features but also ensures that your device – whether it's a Forerunner, Fenix, Vivoactive, Venu, Epix or something else – avoids niggling bugs that may be undermining performance.

Luckily, updating one of the company's sports watches is a simple process, and the majority of users will be updating without even realizing it.

In this guide, we'll tell you how to check if you're running the latest software, as well as provide details on automatic and manual updates.

Check if you're running the latest Garmin software

Check if you're running the latest Garmin software

Software updates can be large or small, and, unlike iOS or Android, they’re unique to the specific Garmin models. The company is also renowned for keeping older watch models up to date.

For example, a recent Garmin Forerunner 945 update brought many of the latest premium Garmin features to an older device.

This can really help extend the life of your device and ensures the experience is always evolving.

How to check your Garmin watch software

1. In Garmin Connect, tap your device icon at the top to bring up 'Settings'.

2. From here, scroll to the bottom and select 'System'.

3. Scroll down to the bottom again and this time select 'About'.

4. Here, you’ll see the Unit ID (the serial number), as well as the software version (e.g. 12.23). This information can be really handy if you’re having problems with your watch and need to troubleshoot through customer support.

The easiest way to access the software version history is to perform a web search – '[device name and model] updates and downloads'.

Here, you should see results from the official Garmin site, where you can cross-reference your software version with the ones listed.

Automatic software updates

How to update your Garmin watch to the latest software through Connect or Express

Updating the software on most Garmin watches can be an afterthought once you’re paired with the Garmin Connect mobile app.

Automatic software updates are the default, and to check or change this setting you’ll need to dive deep into the settings on the watch.

1. Long press the menu button on your Garmin watch.

2. From here, scroll all the way down to 'Software Update'.

3. Use the select button to toggle between on and off.

When enabled, software updates will automatically be transmitted to the watch via Garmin Connect.

So, when there’s an update available, the app will automatically download in the background and install it. Your watch will likely reset at the end of the process.

Manual software updates

If you toggle Automatic Software Updates to 'Off' within the settings, new versions will not automatically be updated to the handset. In these instances, you have to go looking for them.

Follow the same route as listed above, and, if an update has been downloaded by the Garmin Connect app, you’ll have the opportunity to install it and apply it to your watch.

1. Long press the menu button on your Garmin watch.

2. From here, scroll all the way down to 'Software Update'.

3.You’ll see the latest version available, the option to 'Install Now' and the estimated time it will take.

4. Press select to confirm.

Update on your computer using Garmin Express

How to update your Garmin to the latest software through Connect or Express

If you’re not using the Garmin Connect smartphone app to wirelessly sync your watch, you can hook up to a Mac or Windows PC via a physical connection.

This involves plugging the charging cable into the USB port of your laptop or desktop and connecting your watch. If you don’t have the Garmin Express app, you can download it it here.

Follow the on-screen instructions to pair your device. If you don’t have a Garmin Connect account, you’ll need to set one up.

Once plugged in, the Garmin Express app should automatically open, showing the status of your watch.

If you have automatic software updates enabled (see above) Garmin Express will send it to your device.

If automatic updates are turned off, you’ll be informed new firmware is available. Either way, follow the on-screen instructions and do not disconnect the watch from the computer during the update process.