Pair to your phone, download some apps, and get started with Activity
If you have bought your first Apple watch, it’s time to learn how to set it up your way.
Whether you have the new Series 7, the mid-range Apple Watch SE, or the Series 3 – it is the same way.
However, getting paired is just the first step, and you’ll quickly want to know how to get the most out of your new Apple Watch by downloading apps, getting started with Activity, and more.
This is the guide for your first few hours with the smartwatch – here are six things to get started with.
- Apple Watch tips and tricks
1. How to set up and pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone
Getting started with your new Apple Watch is simple. Firstly, you need an iPhone 6s or higher model, and it needs to be fully updated to the latest version of iOS. It’s mostly covered by on-screen instructions, but here’s the gist:
1. On your iPhone, turn on the Bluetooth and connect to a Wi-Fi network. then open the Apple watch app.
2. Turn your Apple Watch on, then:
- If your phone detects the watch is near, you should see the message, “Use your iPhone to set up this Apple Watch”. Hit the ‘Continue’ button.
- If you don’t see this, open up the Apple Watch app and tap ‘Start Pairing’. You’ll be prompted to hold your iPhone over the Apple Watch so it is visible in the camera’s viewfinder.
3. Follow the instruction to complete your setup, such as choosing a language and watch orientation, and defining a passcode.
4. If this is your first Apple Watch, you’ll then need to hit Set Up Apple Watch. If you’ve had a Watch before, you can choose to restore it from an old backup.
5. Should you later wish to unpair the Apple Watch, do so by going to the iPhone’s Apple Watch app and selecting My Watch > Apple Watch> Unpair Apple Watch.
2. How to Install apps on your Apple Watch
Standalone apps are one of the most convenient features of the Apple Watch, but most are still extensions of apps on your phone.
During setup, you’ll have the opportunity to install all available Apple Watch versions of the existing iPhone app—if you so desire.
You can also do this later in the companion app, as well as choose whether to automatically add new apps. We don’t like having a lot of apps on the watch that we don’t use – so we recommend being selective.
You can now also browse and download apps from the App Store directly on your wrist.
You may still find iOS apps useful because of screen space and reading, but you’re no longer dependent on your phone to use apps. Just open the App Store on your Apple Watch to get started.
We’ve reviewed and ranked the best Apple Watch apps to help you out.
3. How to set up Activity on your Apple Watch
Even before owning an Apple Watch, you may have been familiar with the three rings. These form the basis of your daily activity tracking on the smartwatch.
The Activity app relies on your personal information to make accurate assumptions about your steps, calorie burn and distance walked – so it’s essential you take the time to input your data.
You can do this once your Apple Watch is set up – but, don’t forget, as you won’t have any tracked exercise or data until you enter your data.
If you need help understanding the full ins and outs of the Apple Watch Activity and Workout apps once you’re all set up, make sure to check out our guide.
4. How to set up an Apple Watch passcode
It’s not necessary to have a passcode for your Apple Watch, but it is if you want to use Apple Pay.
Unlike your iPhone, however, you don’t need to enter a code every time you want to use your Watch. The heart rate monitor means the Apple Watch can detect when it’s on your wrist, so you only have to unlock it once.
During setup, you’ll be prompted to create a passcode or long passcode on your iPhone, and you’ll enter the passcode on your Watch. If you prefer, you can also choose to unlock your iPhone when you unlock your Watch.
At this point, you can also set up payments, but check out our Apple Pay-specific guide for more information.
If you’ve forgotten your Apple Watch passcode or want to learn how to set it up, check out our guide.
5. How to manage your Apple Watch notifications
Notifications are an essential part of a smartwatch, but no one wants their wrists buzzing constantly. However, you can add a great element of control to what you see on your wrist.
In the iPhone Apple Watch app, go to My Watch Notifications. There, you can fine-tune your notification settings.
When activated, the notification indicator will show a red dot at the top of the watch face when you receive an unread notification. There is a privacy option to only show notification details when you click on the alert.
Below these switches is a list of built-in apps, followed by third-party apps. Every third-party app has a switch for mirroring the alarm to your Apple Watch (which is managed in the iPhone’s own Settings app).
Most Apple apps are set to “Mirror My iPhone” (for example, to mirror the alarm settings from your iPhone), but custom options can be defined, such as turning on haptic alerts but disabling the sound of messages.
The exceptions are Maps and Events, where the only switch is for upcoming turn alerts, while the latter has granular options for standing reminders, progress updates, goal completion, achievements, and weekly summaries.
6. How to back up your Apple Watch
When an iPhone is backed up to iCloud or iTunes, Apple Watch settings and data are included. Health and fitness data only come along for the ride when using iCloud or an encrypted iTunes backup.
A restore from backup can be done using the iPhone Apple Watch app during a re-pairing process.