How to set up your Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 8 shown on wrist
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Wondering how to set up your Apple Watch? Even if you've already taken your new smartwatch out of the box, you won't get to answer texts or talk to Siri on your wrist until you set up your Apple Watch properly. 

There's many reasons the Apple Watch is the best smartwatch you can buy. It's a great fitness tracker and communications device for everyday use. It's also excellent for safety, packed with features for all kinds of scenarios. 

Whether you just got Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch SE (2022) or even the new Apple Watch Ultra, you can expect an easy user experience. But you'll need to know how to set up your Apple Watch get it working how you like.

Here's how to get your Apple Watch up and running in a few easy steps.

How to set up your Apple Watch

1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.

2. Select Start Pairing. 

3. Pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone. Hold the watch up to your phone's camera, so that it can see the pattern on the watch. Alternatively, you can select "Pair Apple Watch Manually" and tap the watch's name in the Apple Watch app; you'll then be prompted to enter a 6-digit code that appears on the watch.

4. In the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, select "Set Up as New Apple Watch."

5. Choose your wrist preference — left or right. You'll also be asked to pick which side you want the digital crown to be on.

6. On the Terms and Conditions page, select Agree.

7. Enter your Apple ID.

8. When prompted about Location Services, Siri and Diagnostics, select OK.

9. Create a 4-digit passcode for your watch.

10. Choose whether or not you want to unlock the Apple Watch with your iPhone. Select Yes or No on your watch's display.

11. Set up Apple Pay and Emergency SOS (optional). Apple Pay lets you use your watch to make mobile payments while Emergency SOS is a new feature in watchOS 3 that lets you call emergency services and send an alert to specified contacts. You can bypass this step and set up these services later.

12. Install apps on your Apple Watch. When prompted, select Install All to start downloading available Apple Watch versions of the apps already on you iPhone immediately, or Choose Later to pick your own. 

13. Your Apple Watch will now start syncing with your iPhone. Once you're notified that syncing is complete, you're good to go.

MORE: For additional tips, tricks, and how-tos, be sure to check out our complete Apple Watch Guide. If you'd like to read tutorials for other smart watches, check out how to set up a Google Pixel Watch and how to set up a Samsung Galaxy Watch 4.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is an editor at Tom’s Guide covering smartwatches, TVs and everything smart-home related. Kate also appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account (opens in new tab), which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her on an exercise bike, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.