How to read time without looking at your Apple Watch | Cult of Mac

Get the time without even looking at your Apple Watch


Feel the passage of time
A clock you don’t even need to look at. What a time to be alive.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Pro tip bug You can read the time without even looking at your Apple Watch using a little-known feature called Taptic Time. Hold two fingers on the screen and you’ll feel it tap the time out on your wrist.

This is handy if you’re in a meeting and you need to know the time, but you don’t want to look rude checking your watch. Or maybe you’re in the middle of a presidential debate.

Whatever the situation may be, turning this feature on and familiarizing yourself with it may come in handy.

How to use the haptic watch feature

Turning on Taptic Time in Apple Watch Settings
A lot of advanced features on the Watch are buried in the Settings app — so tiny on the watch screen.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

On your Apple Watch, go to Settings and scroll down to Clock. Scroll down past Chimes and Speak Time, and you’ll see another option for Taptic Time. Tap that and turn it on.

You can choose one of three haptic patterns:

  • Digits will read out the precise hours and minutes in long and short buzzes. Tens are represented by long buzzes, and ones by short taps. If it’s 12:35, for example, it will be — – – — — — – – – – -.
  • Terse will give a long buzz for every five hours, short buzz for every single hour, and a long buzz for the nearest fifteen minutes. If it’s 6:47, for example, it will be — – — — —.
  • Morse code will read out every number in the time using morse code.

Digits is the most intuitive to me, so I stick with that.

Using Taptic Time on Apple Watch
Hold down on the watch face to feel the time.
Photo: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Click the Digital Crown (the dial) to go back to your watch face. You can activate it by holding two fingers on your watch while it’s on.

I wish this feature worked while the watch face was off, too. It would be even more discreet. That would enable it for a bunch of other useful situations: watching a movie in a theater or riding an airplane on an overnight flight, where the bright screen might bother people next to me.

I don’t think it would take any extra battery life to enable it. And I can’t imagine there would be many false positives for such a weird gesture that requires you to hold your fingers on the screen.

Summary: How to read the time without looking at your Apple Watch

  1. On your Apple Watch, open Settings > Clock > Taptic Time
  2. Turn it on
  3. Set it to Digits, Terse or Morse code
  4. Hold two fingers on your watch face to feel it tapped on your wrist


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