Technology

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Watch and learn.
20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better
Image credit: Future Publishing | Getty Images
Entrepreneur Staff
12 min read

For many people, the smartphone has made the traditional timepiece obsolete, with millions of people digging their phones out of their pockets or bags to check the time -- that is, if they don’t already have the thing glued to their hand.

For others, smartwatches such as the Apple Watch are an alternative to the cumbersome metal and glass rectangle so many carry (and drop) during commutes, workouts and just about every other daily activity.

The limited interface of the Watch promises a learning curve for many users, because they can’t simply translate their iPhone habits onto the device, from silencing notifications to rearranging apps. Its benefit, though, is that it can function as a remote control for various features on your iPhone and Mac.

Whether you’re a new Watch user (Black Friday, anyone?) or just feel like you should be taking better advantage of your device’s so-called smart features, here are 20 tips to help you manage the screen on your wrist.

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20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Unlock your Watch from your iPhone.

If your iPhone and Watch are paired, seamlessly unlock your Watch whenever you unlock your iPhone -- there’s no need to activate one by one, or take precious seconds to type in a passcode. Enable this via the Watch app on the iPhone, where, within the Passcode menu, there’s an Unlock with iPhone switch you can toggle on. You can also enable this via the Settings menu on your Watch: Go to Passcode, then switch on Unlock with iPhone.

Whenever you put on your Watch, light up the screen by pressing the Digital Crown. Then, to unlock your Watch, unlock your iPhone. FYI, this unlocking function only works when you’re wearing your Watch.

Related: 20 macOS Shortcuts to Make You Work Like a Genius

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Unlock your Mac from your Watch.

Open sesame! Mac users can use their Watch to Auto Unlock their computer. First, make sure your Mac was purchased in 2013 or later (sorry, owners of older models -- this trick only works on newer machines). Also check that your Mac is running the Sierra operating system (or a later version) and that your Watch is running watchOS 3 or later. You’ll also need your iPhone for this, running iOS 9 or later. Also, be logged into all devices on the same iCloud account.

Then, you’ll have to enable two-factor authentication on your iPhone. (Disable two-step verification if you’re using it already.) On your iPhone, go to the Settings app, then the iCloud menu. Tap the name of your account on the next menu, followed by Password & Security. If Two-Factor Authentication is not already On, tap Get Verification Code and type in the code to have access to turn it on. Finally, make sure both your Mac and Watch have a password or passcode for entry.

Once all of that updating is out of the way, you’ll be eligible to magically log into your machine via Watch automatically and remotely. Set up this functionality via System Preferences on your Mac. Navigate to Security & Privacy, and under the General tab, you’ll find a box you can check, “Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac.” Now, whenever you’re sitting in front of your Mac wearing your Watch, your Mac will unlock.

Related: Check Out the Redesigned Apple Watch

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Make the text a little bigger.

The default size of notifications on the Apple Watch is miniscule. To give your eyes a break (or to make the text smaller and read more at once), go into the Watch app and tap My Watch. Under Brightness & Text Size, use the slider to adjust the size to your liking (drag it to the left to make the text smaller and to the right to make it bigger).

If you want to adjust text size directly on the device, open the Settings app on your Watch, tap Brightness & Text Size, then select Text Size. Rotate the Watch’s Digital Crown to change the size of the text.

Plus, to make it even easier to read, turn on bold text within Text Size menu (on either your iPhone or Watch).

Related: 15 'Secret' iPhone Hacks That Will Even Impress Siri

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Ping your iPhone.

We’ve all been there, turning couch cushions upside-down in search for our phones as the clock (or Watch) taunts us that we’re late -- again. To make finding your iPhone a breeze, first swipe up from the bottom of the watch face to pull up the Control Center. The following trick only works if both devices are connected to Bluetooth or the same Wi-Fi network -- you’ll know if they are if you see a green iPhone symbol.

To locate your iPhone, tap the ping iPhone button in the Control Center. It looks like an iPhone with waves emanating from it. Once you press it, your iPhone will make a “ping” sound, even if it’s on silent. If you need a visual aid, tap and hold the ping iPhone button, and your iPhone’s flash will go off.

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Mute interruptions.

If you’ve set your Watch to notify you about meetings and messages with sound alerts, then forget to turn it off in a quiet setting, no need to scramble to figure out how to tone it down. Avoid such awkward situations: On the iPhone Watch app, navigate to the My Watch tab, then Sounds & Haptics. Once you enable the Cover to Mute function, simply shielding the device with your hand for three seconds will silence it.

Related: Why It's on You to Stop People From Interrupting You

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Time travel.

If your Watch supports calendar features, you can rotate the digital crown to look through your scheduled events. To turn on this functionality via the iPhone Watch app, go to the Clock setting and toggle on Time Travel. While you’re time traveling, you can always press the Digital Crown to return to the current date and time.

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Wipe your notifications.

If your notifications have piled up, you can get rid of one by one -- or all at once. Swipe down from the watch face to enter the Notification Center. If you want to clear a single notification, swipe on it from right to left until you see an X, then tap that X. If you want to clear them all, Force Touch (press deeply) on the screen and tap the X that appears.

Related: To Get More Done at Work, This Productivity Exec Says You Need to Get Deliberate

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Transfer a call to your iPhone.

If you’ve answered a phone call on your Watch, but want to transfer it to your iPhone for ease or privacy, rotate the Digital Crown until you see and can tap Answer on iPhone. Or, if your iPhone is already unlocked when you’re trying to perform the transfer, you may see the green “Touch to return to call” bar at the top of iPhone. Tapping that green bar will also complete the transfer.
20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Save battery on long workouts.

Use Workout Power Saving Mode, which disables the Watch’s heart rate sensor and saves juice in the process. On the iPhone Watch app, go to My Watch tab. Under General, you’ll find Workout Power Saving Mode.

Be warned, though: This mode could affect the accuracy of the calories-burned tracker, if you’re using it.

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Pause your run tracking.

City dwellers know the struggle of stoplight waits inflating their running pace. Most apps, including the Apple Watch’s Workout app, have a button that lets you pause, but of course those are manual. The Watch, on the other hand, can detect movement and automatically pause tracking when you stop running. To activate this, go to the My Watch section of the Apple Watch iPhone app, and under Workout, toggle on Running Auto Pause.

Related: The Energizing Workouts These 7 Entrepreneurs Do to Start Their Days

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Invert the orientation if you’re left-handed.

You can reposition the Digital Crown from the top right corner of the watch to the bottom left. In the iPhone Watch app, go to General, then Watch Orientation, then select which wrist you wear your Watch on and where you want the Digital Crown to be.

Related: 7 Advantages Being Left-Handed Has Given Me in Entrepreneurship

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Switch your honeycomb to a list.

If your watch is running watchOS 4, and you would rather organize your apps in a list format than the default honeycomb grid, Force Touch on the app selection screen. From there, you’ll be able to select the List View option and be rid of the cluster of nameless icons in exchange for an alphabetized list. Rotate the Digital Crown to scroll through the list. You can switch back and forth between these options any time.
20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Use the app to change faces.

Apple offers a number of watch faces, from a floral background to a modernist analog clock, and your choices vary depending on which Watch apps you have. To look through them, you can swipe left or right from the edge of your watch face, then stop when you arrive at the one you’d like to select. Or, you can use the Watch app on your iPhone to change faces, under the Face Gallery tab.

You can also press firmly on the watch face for the option to Customize (e.g. the color of your secondhand). Swipe left or right to select which feature you’d like to customize, then rotate the Digital Crown to make adjustments.

To add Complications, or visual information from the third-party apps on your Watch, open the Watch app on your iPhone, go to My Watch, then go to Complications. Tap Edit, then tap the “+” or “-” buttons to add or remove Complications. From there, while you’re Customizing the face on your Watch itself (again, Force Touch or press firmly to access Customize), you can rotate the Digital Crown to pick which Complications you want to place on the face.

Related: How to Customize Your Facebook News Feed to Maximize Productivity

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Trick yourself into thinking it’s later.

If you’re chronically late and you want to set your clock ahead to try and make up for it, you can make your watch face display a time in the future. Open the Settings app on your Watch and tap Time, then tap +0 min. Rotate the Digital Crown and choose how many minutes ahead you want set your watch. Then, tap Set. But don’t worry: Everything else on your watch will still operate according to the actual time.

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Take screenshots -- or not.

Press the Digital Crown and the side button simultaneously to take a screenshot of your Watch’s display. To turn this setting on or off (you may want to turn it off to avoid unwanted, accidental screenshots showing up in your corresponding iPhone’s Photos app), open the iPhone Watch app, tap My Watch and then tap General. Scroll down, then turn on Enable Screenshots.

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Use Apple Pay.

To use Apple Pay on your Watch, make sure your device has a passcode and that it’s signed into iCloud. Then, add a credit, debit or prepaid card in the Watch app on your iPhone. Tap My Watch, then tap Wallet & Apple Pay. Tap Add Credit or Debit Card, follow the prompts and tap Next.

Once you get verification from you bank or card issuer, you’ll be ready to pay. Double-press the Watch’s side button to activate Apple Pay, swipe left or right to select your desired card, then hold the watch to the payment terminal.

Related: How Digital Wallets and Mobile Payments Are Evolving and What It Means for You

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Switch between apps.

Because the Watch screen is so small, going from one app to another often requires several taps or swipes. If you find yourself needing to go back and forth, double-tap the Digital Crown to return to the app you used most recently.

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Find someone.

Whether you’re in a crowded coffee shop or at a big conference, you can launch a Messages conversation with someone you’re trying to meet up with to help you locate each other quickly. Open the Messages app on your Apple Watch, then tap and hold the heart icon. From there, select Send Location.

Related: Why I Never Meet Someone for Coffee

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Set an alarm via Siri for a power nap.

Make sure Siri is set up to work on your Watch, first of all: Open the Settings app on your iPhone and navigate to Siri & Search; then, toggle on Press Home for Siri (or Listen for “Hey Siri” if you want to make Siri commands by speaking). Then, make sure you have a strong Wi-Fi connection, and/or that the iPhone that’s paired with your Watch is nearby (unless you have a model that can process via cellular signal).

From there, press and hold the Digital Crown and say something like, “Hey Siri, set an alarm for X minutes from now.” (If you have Listen for “Hey Siri” enabled, you may not need to use the Digital Crown at all.) You will feel a gentle tap from your Watch on your wrist when it’s time to wake up.

Related: 10 Crazy Tidbits About the First Voice of Apple's Siri

20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better

Dry off.

If you want to wear your watch while swimming, you can dry off your device by ejecting the water that gets caught in its holes. If you’re using the Swimming app, the watch detects when your session has ended and prompts you to rotate the Digital Crown to eject the water. If you need to do it manually, swipe up the Watch screen to access the Control Center, then tap the water droplet icon and rotate the Digital Crown when instructed.

Related: Making a Splash: How a Swim-School Franchise Found Success

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  • 20 Apple Watch Tips to Help You Work and Play Better
  • 1. Unlock your Watch from your iPhone.
  • 2. Unlock your Mac from your Watch.
  • 3. Make the text a little bigger.
  • 4. Ping your iPhone.
  • 5. Mute interruptions.
  • 6. Time travel.
  • 7. Wipe your notifications.
  • 8. Transfer a call to your iPhone.
  • 9. Save battery on long workouts.
  • 10. Pause your run tracking.
  • 11. Invert the orientation if you’re left-handed.
  • 12. Switch your honeycomb to a list.
  • 13. Use the app to change faces.
  • 14. Trick yourself into thinking it’s later.
  • 15. Take screenshots -- or not.
  • 16. Use Apple Pay.
  • 17. Switch between apps.
  • 18. Find someone.
  • 19. Set an alarm via Siri for a power nap.
  • 20. Dry off.
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