Tweak your Apple Watch notifications

By

Manage your Apple Watch Notifications from your iPhone. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
Manage your Apple Watch Notifications from your iPhone. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

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.

The Activity app has a ton of Notification tweaks available. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
The Activity app has a ton of Notification tweaks available. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

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.

Even apps that aren't on your Watch show up here. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
Even apps that aren’t on your Watch show up here. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
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!