How to Adjust Settings in the Companion Apple Watch App on Your iPhone

By Marc Saltzman

Instead of tapping on the App Store tab in the lower right of the Apple Watch app on iPhone — where you download Apple Watch apps — tap the My Watch tab in the lower left to open up the settings and personalization options for the watch.

From within My Watch, you can perform the following actions:

  • Change the orange App Layout of the apps on your Apple Watch’s Home screen.

  • The blue Apple Watch tells you which model you have, such as 42mm Case-Aluminum. You can unpair Apple Watch from the iPhone from here too.

  • Review and change which apps you want Notifications and Glances for in their respective Notifications app (red) and Glances app (blue). You can make changes to all your installed apps.

  • Adjust brightness and text size for the watch in the blue-and-white Brightness & Text Size section. Use the slider to adjust each setting and choose to bold text or not.

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  • Enable or disable sounds and vibrations in the red-and-white Sounds & Haptics area. You should have options for Alert Volume, Mute, Cover to Mute (covering your watch with your hand to mute it), Haptic Strength, and Prominent Haptic for more pronounced vibrations.

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  • The purple Do Not Disturb tab turns off all notifications, sounds, and haptics to the watch, while the orange Airplane Mode disables the wireless connection between Apple Watch and the iPhone. When enabled, the Mirror iPhone option automatically turns off Apple Watch’s wireless radios whenever you do the same on the iPhone.

  • You should also find options for Passcode (enable a passcode on Apple Watch and select the four-digit code); Health (your birth date, sex, height, and weight for the purposes of estimating your calories burned); and General.

Under General options for Apple Watch, you should find the following information:

  • About: Software version installed and other information.

  • Software Update: To look for and download the latest Watch OS update.

  • Automatic Downloads: For Watch OS and app updates.

  • Watch Orientation: Left or right wrist and whether the Digital Crown is on the left or right side. You have the ability to change this.

  • Accessibility: Options/aids for seeing and hearing impaired and more.

  • Language & Region: Choose the System Languages, Region, and Calendar type (which by default is Gregorian).

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  • Apple ID: The account you’re signed in to.

  • Enable Handoff: When this is on, your iPhone picks up where you left off with supported apps on your Apple Watch.

  • Wrist Detection: When this is on, Apple Watch automatically shows you the time and latest alerts when you raise your wrist.

Those living with visual or aural impairments can take advantage of a number of accessibility options on Apple Watch. Just as Apple has done with its iOS and OS X products (and the Safari web browser), Apple’s first smartwatch provides several features you can enable in the Accessibility area of the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. The following provides a quick summary:

  • Visually impaired users can enable VoiceOver, a screen reader available in one of 14 languages.

  • Enlarge the Apple Watch fonts in Font Adjustment (ideal for Mail, Messages, and Settings), add Bold Text, and opt for the Extra Large Watch Face option with bigger numbers to read.

  • Other visual tweaks include Zoom (magnification), Grayscale (no color), Reduce Transparency (increases contrast), On/Off Labels (easier to see if setting is on or off), and Reduce Motion (the Home screen is easier to navigate).

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  • For those with impaired hearing, Apple Watch lets you enable Mono Audio (sending both audio channels to both ears and letting you adjust balance for greater volume in one ear or another).

  • Apple Watch’s Taptic Engine can be enhanced with Prominent Haptic, a setting that gives a slightly more noticeable vibration and “preannouncement” for some alerts, such as calendar appointments, messages, phone calls, and more. A preannouncement means the watch sends you an additional haptic vibration before the main one.

You can also adjust some Accessibility options on Apple Watch itself by triple-tapping the Digital Crown button.

  • The Friends ring lets you choose which friends to see when you press the Side button. You can add up to 12 of your contacts to the Friends screen — each assigned a color — and you can call, send a message, or use Digital Touch to reach out.

Of course, multiple options and settings can be explored in each of the first-party apps installed on Apple Watch: Activity, Calendar, Clock, Mail, Maps, Messages, Music, Passbook & Apple Pay, Phone, Photos, Reminders, Stocks, Weather, and Workout. Some examples of what you can change include:

  • Clock: You can select 12- or 24-hour (military) time; Push Alerts from iPhone (if enabled, Apple Watch lets you know about iPhone alerts); Notifications Indication (if enabled, a red dot appears at the top of the watch face when you have unread notifications); Monogram (choose a one- to four-letter monogram to appear as a monogram complication on the Color watch face); and City Abbreviations (specifying different acronyms for the default ones provided for your chosen cities for the world clock complications).

  • Activity: You can choose to turn on or off Stand Reminders (notified 50 minutes into an hour of inactivity); Progress Updates (set a time interval to receive an update on your Activity progress, such as every five hours); Goal Completions (on or off); Achievements (on or off); and Weekly Summary (on or off — received every Monday).

  • Messages: You can see all the default replies or change them to anything you like.

  • Music: You can select Synced Playlist (this playlist syncs when Apple Watch is on its charger) and Playlist Limit (such as changing it from 2 gigabytes to 1 GB).