You’ve got your Apple Watch, you lucky devil. Now it’s time to tweak it to make it as personal as possible with these Apple Watch setup tips.
Although Apple walks you through many of the basic steps, there are plenty of choices to be made before you’ll be able to squeeze maximum utility and joy out of your sleek, stylish smartwatch.
Cult of Mac’s roundup shows you exactly how to make the most out of your new favorite gadget.
Set up your Apple Watch face the right way
There are 10 Apple Watch faces to choose from, and each one comes with a crazy amount of options. The moon phases widget is pretty neat, but do I really want to clutter up my watch’s minimalist look?
The cool thing is that you can almost have it all. Apple makes it pretty easy to pick your preferred Apple Watch face and then tweak the specific options you want to add to (or delete from) your wrist.
You’ll get the default face Apple calls Modular when you first unlock your Apple Watch. It’s got a digital time area, the date, your calendar events, the temperature and a world clock. Tap the watch screen and then press a little harder, performing what Apple calls a “Force Touch,” and you’ll feel a satisfying vibration as the current watch face shrinks a bit into the center of your screen.
Now you can swipe left or right to pick one of the other 10 included faces, like Utility, Simple, Motion, Astronomy, Color, Solar, Chronograph, Mickey and X-Large. There’s also a big Plus button for a New watch face, but that’s probably for later functionality.
Once you choose a an Apple Watch face, you can tap the Customize button to mess around with that specific face. Tap on each editable section, swipe to the left to see the different pages of options, and use the Digital Crown to change settings. I chose Utility, then added the moon phase in the upper left, a timer at the bottom, and changed the color of the second hand to match my Kermit the Frog green band.
Each specific Apple Watch face offers its own set of customizations; the Chronograph one lets you add the date, a calendar section, the moon phase, time of sunrise/sunset, weather, stocks, activities, alarms, timers, battery charge and a world clock, just for giggles.
The best watch face will be the one that pleases you aesthetically with just the right amount of information for your personal needs. If you want all the great info above, use Utility, Modular or Chronograph. If you just want the time and nothing else, try out Motion or Astronomy. Heck, Solar has a nice look, too. It’s up to you. — Rob LeFebvre
Organize apps on your Apple Watch Home Screen
Apps on the Apple Watch appear as a honeycomb on the Home Screen. It’s fun and easy to use, but it quickly fills up with a dizzying array of icons.
Here’s how to tame it.
The Home Screen is accessed by tapping the Digital Crown on the side of the Apple Watch. The Watch app itself sits in the center of the array, and can’t be moved or deleted; it’s always in the center of the array of apps. You navigate the Home Screen by touch, using a finger to pan around the icon honeycomb, or by rolling the Digital Crown to zoom in to a particular area.
Apps are launched by tapping on an individual icon with your finger or turning the Digital Crown, which zooms in and launches whatever app is in the center. Tapping the Digital Crown returns you to the Home Screen.
There are about a dozen default apps preinstalled for timekeeping, information and communication. But after you add some of your own apps, the Home Screen quickly fills up, and you might have a problem of finding the app you want.
Chances are, you’ll want to put your most-used apps in center of the Home Screen, next to the Watch app. This can be done on the Watch or in the iPhone’s Watch app.
Rearrange the Home Screen app icons
Here’s how you rearrange the icons directly on the Apple Watch:
- On the Apple Watch’s Home Screen, press and hold until the app icons begin to jiggle, just like when you’re moving icons on your iPhone’s home screen.
- Then simply drag apps to new locations.
- When you’re done, press the Digital Crown.
And here’s how you rearrange the icons directly using the Apple Watch app on your iPhone (see screengrabs below for illustrations):
- In the Apple Watch app on iPhone, select the “My Watch” tab at the bottom of the screen.
- Select “App Layout” (it’s the first setting).
- Touch and hold the icon for the app you want to move. It’ll pop up and increase in size.
- Drag the selected app to its new location.
Hide apps on Apple Watch
To make the Home Screen useable, it might be best to hide some apps. Again, this can be done on the Apple Watch or iPhone.
Here’s how you hide app icons directly on the Apple Watch:
- Go to the Apple Watch’s Home Screen by pressing the Digital Crown.
- Press and hold the app icons until they jiggle; a little X will appear on the left of apps that can be deleted.
- Tap the X to remove the app from Apple Watch.
Note: none of the preinstalled apps — like Watch, Photos and Passbook — can be removed. Also, apps that have been hidden on the Watch remain installed on your iPhone, unless you also delete them there.
To hide installed apps using the Apple Watch app:
- Open the Apple Watch app on iPhone.
- Select the “My Watch” tab at the bottom of the screen.
- Scroll down to see apps that have been installed.
- Select the app you want to hide.
- On the next screen, toggle the button that says “Show App on Apple Watch.”
Again, apps that came with the Apple Watch can’t be hidden. — Leander Kahney
How to set up your Apple Watch Friends screen
After linking your new Apple Watch to your iPhone, your favorite contacts are automatically synced over. But to get the most from the device, you’ll want to make a couple of tweaks to the Apple Watch Friends screen.
It’s truly one of the most important screens on the Apple Watch — here’s how to make the most of it.
You’ll find 12 of your closest family members and friends on the Apple Watch Friends screen, arranged in a circle at all the points of the clock. The Friends screen is accessed by tapping the dedicated physical button (aka the Friends button) on the side of the Apple Watch below the Digital Crown. You use the Digital Crown to scroll through the people on the list.
When you first set it up, your iPhone automatically adds up to 12 of your favorite contacts to your Apple Watch.
But if you have open slots (like I did), or want to rearrange your circle of contacts, you’ll have to head to your iPhone.
Pro tip: To get the most from your watch, you might want to add friends who also have an Apple Watch. That way, you can make the most from your new toy’s Digital Touch features, swapping heartbeats, pictograms and the new animated emoticons. After you add a friend with an Apple Watch, you’ll see the extra options. If a friend doesn’t have an Apple Watch, they won’t have the tap icon below their profile picture.
Also, if it’s not obvious who to add, head over to the phone or messages app on your iPhone to see who you are in regular contact with.
Add contacts to the Friends Screen
To add, remove or rearrange your contacts on the Friends screen, follow these steps.
- Launch Apple Watch app on iPhone.
- On the menu bar along the bottom, make sure you are in the My Watch tab.
- Scroll down the list of settings and hit “Friends.”
- Select “Add a Friend.”
- Search or select from your list of contacts.
- Hit their name and they will be added to the list.
Your new contact will now appear in your Friends list and sync over to the Friends app on your Apple Watch. Syncing is automatic and near instantaneous.
Reorder Friends or remove them
Want to change the order in which your Friends appear? Here’s how to move things around.
- Go the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and select the Friends tab at bottom.
- On the top right, select “Edit.”
- Tap and hold the hamburger grab bar on the right and drag the contact to a new position.
- When you’re done, simply tap the Done button at top right.
Want to remove somebody from your Friends list? Here’s how to quickly delete them.
- Go the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and select the Friends tab at bottom.
- On the top right, select “Edit.”
- Hit the red delete icon to the left of the contact’s name.
- Hit the “Remove” button to confirm.
- When finished, hit the “Done” button at top right.
After adding (or deleting) friends, your most valued contacts will be just a tap away. — Leander Kahney
Tweak your Apple Watch notifications
Notifications are why we all got an Apple Watch, right? We want to be able to know what’s going on in our digital lives all the time, but we want to do it faster, without having to pull out an iPhone. Because that’s just rude.
However, getting every single Notification that you get on your iPhone shunted automatically over to your Apple Watch is going to get tiresome. No one wants to deal with a wrist tap every time someone takes a turn in Evil Apples.
Here’s how to manage all of the notification cruft a little bit better.
You can’t tweak your Notifications on the Apple Watch itself: You must launch the Apple Watch app on your iPhone to tell it which apps you want bothering your wrist.
Launch the app, then tap “Notifications” — it’s the fourth section down the “My Watch” list, which you can get to with a quick tap on the My Watch icon in the lower left of your iPhone screen.
You’ll be able to toggle the little red dot at the top of your Apple Watch (aka the Notifications Indicator) ON or OFF with a tap – I like to have that dot to let me know if I’ve missed anything while I wasn’t paying attention or had the Apple Watch on my charger. You can also toggle Notification Privacy to ON if you don’t want any prying eyes seeing what the content of those notifications are, just like you can on your iPhone.
The first set of app Notifications you can tweak are the ones built into the Apple Watch already, like Activity, Calendar, Mail and the rest, all the way down to Reminders. These apps can all either mirror the notification style on your iPhone, or be set to a custom state, with Show Alerts, Sound and Haptic alerts able to be toggled ON or OFF.
Turning off Sound for most of these is a great idea, especially if you’re wearing your Apple Watch to a quiet meeting or something similar. Some of these apps have other options, too; the Calendar app will let you give you more fine-grained control, with alerts for Upcoming Events, Invites, Responses and Shared Calendar Alerts all getting their own individual controls.
Underneath the default Apple Watch apps is a list of all the companion apps that can mirror the alerts from your iPhone. Toggle all the ones you don’t want poking at your wrist to OFF, and you’ll be running a lot cooler from here on out.
Personally, I shut down all the third-party app Notifications, then only turned on the bare minimum I wanted to notify me on Apple Watch: Messages, phone calls and GroupMe, an app that I use to chat with friends. I left all the built-in Apple Watch app Notifications on, but will probably tweak them to a duller roar in the next few days as I get used to how it all works.
Your preferences will, again, be personal, but remember that too many notifications on your wrist can feel just as rude to the person you’re chatting with as too many glances at your iPhone. Practice safer Notifications!
How to set up Apple Pay on Apple Watch
Using Apple Pay on Apple Watch is ridiculously easy. Once you get everything set up, all you have to do is double-click the side button and then hold the Watch face up to a terminal. Apple’s also made it super-easy to add new cards to your Apple Watch, or create a custom Apple Pay profile just for your wrist.
- Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
- Select the “Passbook & Apple Pay” option.
- Verify your credit card on iTunes with your security code.
- Tap “Add a new Credit or Debit Card” to add more cards.
- Take a picture of your credit card with the iPhone’s iSight camera or type the credit card number in manually.
The first card you enter is your default payment card, but you can always switch it in the Apple Watch app. If you want to switch cards when you’re paying, simply swipe through your cards after you double-click the side button, then hold your watch up to a payment terminal. — Buster Heine
How to sync and play music with Apple Watch
Apple’s smartwatch doesn’t come with much onboard storage, but that doesn’t mean you’re screwed when it comes to Apple Watch music. You can add your own playlists and listen to your favorite tunes using Bluetooth headphones or AirPlay speakers.
To get the songs you want, you need to create a playlist on your iPhone or iTunes, then beam it over to your Apple Watch. Here’s how to do it.
Play music on Apple Watch
- Launch the Apple Watch’s Music app.
- Force Press to bring up options.
- Tap “Source,” then tap “Apple Watch.”
- Pick your jam and rock out.
You can also use Siri to call up songs you want to listen to without ever opening the Music app.
Sync a playlist for Apple Watch music
- Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
- Tap “Music.”
- Select “Synced Playlist.”
- Choose the playlist you want to sync.
- Wait for songs to transfer, then hit Play.
Soon you’ll be rocking out with your Apple Watch out. — Buster Heine
Customize your Apple Watch settings
Getting your Apple Watch set up is fairly basic, but to truly make this your own personal device, you’ll need to dig into the Apple Watch settings.
You can do all of these things on the Apple Watch itself, but why force yourself to tap and swipe on that tiny screen? Use the Apple Watch app on your iPhone for a much more pleasant experience. You can thank me later.
Launch the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, and you’ll see My Watch in the lower left as your default view. You can tap “Explore” to view various Apple Watch videos, “Featured” to see the Apple Watch app store section (complete with circular app icons) or “Search” to do your own thing and find that app you just have to have.
Tapping back on “My Watch,” you’ll see that you can tap through to set up your App layout, turn on Airplane mode, and pair more Apple Watches to your iPhone. You can also unpair your Watch here. Airplane mode lets you set your Apple Watch up to mirror the setting on your iPhone – pretty handy!
Notifications works similarly to what you may be used to in iOS, only there are a ton of new variables. Tap on “Notifications” to get to the main screen — toggle the Notifications Indicator ON to see the red dot at the top of your Apple Watch that denotes you have Notifications to deal with, and toggle Notification Privacy to ON if you don’t want your watch to display the full monty every time you get a text or app notification.
There are a ton of settings here, so poke around as much as you can tolerate. Be sure to drop into the General settings to Enable Handoff and Wrist Detection, at least, and spend a few minutes in the Sounds & Haptics section. This latter one will let you turn the volume down on alert sounds or — better yet — mute them entirely. You can set the strength of the haptic feedback, too (I prefer full-strength). Toggle “Cover to Mute” ON, because that’s pretty cool, and you can also toggle “Prominent Haptic” ON if you want your Apple Watch to poke at you more fervently to “pre-announce some common alerts.”
I’d personally love to be able to turn off the Passcode and avoid having to type in something numeric on my wristwatch, but I’ve enabled the next best thing: Unlock with iPhone. When that setting is toggled to ON in the Passcode settings screen, unlocking your iPhone will automatically unlock your Apple Watch when you’re wearing it, making tapping in your passcode happen less often.
Each of your built-in Apple Watch apps also have their own set of settings, which you can swipe down to on the iPhone Apple Watch app. You can add Friends for your watch in there, set up Mail (which needs to be set up on your iPhone first) and decide what to show on your Workout app. You can also choose how your Apple Watch will tell you about your Activity goals.
Swipe even farther down on your Apple Watch app, and you’ll access the settings for all the third-party Apple Watch apps. Most of the settings here have to do with whether you’ll see the companion apps on your Apple Watch, so just tap through to the apps you want to appear and toggle “Show App on Apple Watch” to ON. Some apps also have a “Show in Glances” toggle, and you can tap that to ON as well.
Ultimately, the more you know the Settings on your Apple Watch, the happier you’ll be. Setting things up for your own personal preferences is the best way to feel less confused, and more in control, of Apple’s most personal device ever. — Rob LeFebvre