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How to use and personalize your Apple Watch

Apple Watch Series 4
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The Apple Watch may not have become as indispensable as your smartphone. But since Apple first took the wraps off its smartwatch in 2015, the Apple Watch has still managed to fill a need for many users, and the addition of cellular connectivity makes this gadget even more useful. It's why the Apple Watch has consistently been the best smartwatch

The key to making the Apple Watch an essential part of your life? Know how to get the most of it. Here are links to all of our how-to stories about the Apple Watch, as well as some quick tips and tricks that make the Apple Watch even easier to use.

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. 

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.  

Apple Watch Sport Loop

(Image credit: Future)

Getting started with your Apple Watch

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Getting to know your Apple Watch

(Image credit: Future)

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.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple Watch health and fitness features

How to use the Apple Watch to pay 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 your 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.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

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.