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How to use the Apple Watch

How to use the Apple Watch
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The Apple Watch is the best smartwatch, but you need to know how to use the Apple Watch to get the most out of it. For starters, which Apple Watch is best for you? Apple sells a few different models at varying prices. Then there are hundreds of watch bands from Apple and third parties. 

Next, you'll want to find the Apple Watch apps that best suit your needs and interests, dig into the features that you want, and more. 

From model comparisons to quick tips and tricks, here's how to use the Apple Watch to make it truly personal.

Which Apple Watch should you buy?

With the release of the Apple Watch Series 5, Apple discontinued the Series 4, but kept the Series 3. We know, it's confusing, especially since you can still find the Series 4 for sale at some retailers. If you're undecided as to which Apple Watch to purchase, we have a detailed breakdown of the Apple Watch 3 vs. the Apple Watch 5, but here's a chart showing the major differences between the two watches. We've also compared the Apple Watch Series 5 vs. Series 4, should you want to upgrade.

Both versions of the Apple Watch go on sale frequently, so be sure to also check out our Apple Watch Deals page.

If you're thinking of holding out for the next version, we don't expect the Apple Watch 6 to be available until the fall.

Apple Watch 3 Apple Watch 5
Starting Price$199 (GPS) $299 (GPS + LTE)$399 (GPS) $499 (GPS + LTE)
Size38mm, 42mm40mm, 44mm
Display Size272 x 340 (38mm), 312 x 390 (42mm)324 by 394 pixels (40mm), 368 by 448 pixels (44mm)
Music Storage8GB (GPS), 16GB (GPS + LTE)32GB
Heart Rate MonitorOptical heart rate sensorOptical heart rate sensor, electric heart rate sensor for electrocardiograms
Special Featureshigh/low heart rate detection. Emergency SOSFall detection, low heart rate alerts, ECG, Always-on display, compass, Emergency international calling

Is the Apple Watch waterproof?

The Apple Watch Series 2, Series 3, Series 4, and Series 5 are water-resistant to 50 meters, and can be used for shallow-water activities, such as swimming. However, Apple does not recommend using the Apple Watch for scuba diving or any other activities where it could be exposed to high-velocity water, just as water skiing.

The Apple Watch (1st generation) and Apple Watch Series 1 are only splash-resistant, so it's not recommended to submerge them in water.

Apple also says that soaps, shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and perfumes could degrade the quality of the seals on the Apple Watch. If your Apple Watch is exposed to anything other than fresh water, it should be rinsed in fresh water and then dried.  

How to use the Apple Watch

Apple Watch Sport Loop (Image credit: Future)

How to use the Apple Watch: Getting started

How to use the Apple Watch

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

How to use the Apple Watch: Personalizing the Apple Watch

How to use the Apple Watch

(Image credit: Future)

How to use the Apple Watch: Messaging features

You might never have to take your phone out of your pocket to send a text, email, or make a call. Here's how to use your Apple Watch as the ultimate messaging device.

How to use the Apple Watch

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

How to use the Apple Watch: Health and fitness features

How to use the Apple Watch: Paying for stuff

When you add your credit card info to your Apple Watch, you can tap it at Apple Pay locations to pay for things. This means if you're out on a run, or just can't easily access your wallet, you can use the Apple Watch instead. 

How to call emergency services with the Apple Watch

  • Press and hold the Apple Watch's Side Button; the power off menu will appear, but continue to hold the Side Button until the SOS countdown appears. (Alternatively, instead of holding the Side Button, you can just slide the Emergency SOS control on the power off menu.)
  • At the end of the countdown, your local Emergency Services will be called. (Release the button before the end of the countdown to cancel the call.)
  • After the call, your emergency contacts — as set in the Health app on your iPhone — will automatically be notified, and if Location Services on your Watch is off, it will be temporarily activated.

How to use the Apple Watch

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

How to use the Apple Watch: Quick tips

How to switch Apple Watch faces
You might want to set up multiple watch faces for multiple purposes — one with a minimal face for those times when you don't want a cluttered interface, the other with a more fun display. To switch back and forth, you can simply swipe to the left and right from the watch face.

How to switch between apps
To jump back to your most recently used app, double-tap the Digital Crown.

How to mute an incoming call
When a call comes in in the middle of a meeting, just cover the Apple Watch with your hand to mute it.

How to send a text message
Open the Apple Watch's Messages app. Its icon is identical to the one on your iPhone. Then Force Touch the screen and then tap New Message.

How to clear your notifications
From the watch face, swipe down from the top of the screen to display your notifications. Force Touch the display, then tap Clear All.

How to activate Siri
To pull up Siri for voice commands, press and hold the Digital Crown. Alternatively, raise your wrist and say "Hey Siri."

How to find your phone
From the watch face, swipe up on the display to bring up Control Center. Tap the Find Phone icon in the right. Your iPhone will play a sound.