An Apple Watch, eh? Fancy! Let’s fire up that wearable the right way.
Assuming your Watch is already on and charged, go ahead and open up the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. If you already deleted it, download it again from the App Store. You’ll need an iPhone running iOS 14, the latest version of iOS. (If you have an Android phone, uh … was there a gift receipt, perhaps?) Make sure you’ve got Bluetooth and Wi-Fi toggled on as well. Select Start Pairing on the Watch, then direct your iPhone’s camera at the pretty blue pattern that has appeared on the Watch’s face. Congrats! They’re now bonded.
If the automagic process isn’t working, you can also do this manually, by tapping the “i” icon on your Watch and typing the six-digit code it coughs up into your iPhone.
If you’re on one of the super neat Apple Watch models with cellular data onboard it’s worth a trip to Apple’s instructions on how to set up data on that device, since you’ll need to pay a carrier for data on your Watch now too.
Dial in Those Settings
Now that smartwatch and smartphone are one, tap Set Up as New Apple Watch on your iPhone, unless this is somehow your second or third Apple Watch, in which case you should select Restore from Backup, and also maybe pace yourself on the smartwatch purchases. Then choose whether you’ll be wearing the Watch on your right or left wrist, and agree to the terms and conditions.
Next, enter your Apple ID and password (this is all still on your phone, no text input on that tiny display during this process). Then decide whether you want to enable Location Services (yes), Siri (sure), and Diagnostics (meh?). Just keep in mind that your iPhone and Watch will mirror each other with these settings; change it on one device, and the other will change as well.
You’ll then be given the option to create a passcode. You should do this, if only for emergency access. You can also save yourself some annoyances down the line by telling your Apple Watch to unlock along with your iPhone.
Add Some Apps
And now the homestretch! It’s time for apps. You can either click Install All to load up any app on your phone that has Watch capabilities, or you can go with Choose Later to winnow the field down to your chosen few. Honestly, you might as well just install them all and trim from there. Your choice though! Your Watch!
That’s basically it; from there you just need to wait for your iPhone and Watch to sync, which can take a good long while. Once they’re all synced up, you should go ahead and fiddle around in the settings, where you can set up Apple Pay (again, the best!), fine-tune your notifications to keep dozens of apps from constantly buzzing your wrist, unless you’re somehow into that. Other settings avenues to walk down? The Activity app, which is the one that tracks your movement throughout the day and tells you to stand up once in a while; the Sounds & Haptics settings, to dictate how loud and long the Watch tries to get your attention, and Glances, which provide bite-sized info from swipe to swipe. If your model of Apple Watch has the ability to take an electrocardiogram reading, definitely go into the Health app and set up the ECG app.
How you set each of those up is entirely your choice, but you’ll probably be happier if you don’t just leave it up to stock.
And that’s it! You’re now officially a Watch person. Don’t let it go to your wrist.
This setup guide was updated in December 2020.
How to Set Up All Your New Tech
You got a cool gadget! You lucky duck. Now you’ve gotta set it up. You poor sap. WIRED’s master guide can help.