How to Use the Music App on Your Apple Watch

By Marc Saltzman

Similar to the iPhone app, Apple Watch has a Music app that lets you find and play music stored on your iPhone. Sure, you can also install music on the Apple Watch itself, but most wearers will likely use their watch as a kind of wireless remote control.

To manage your iPhone music from your Apple Watch, follow these steps:

  1. Press the Digital Crown button to go to the Home screen.

  2. Tap the Music app.

    Alternatively, swipe up to open your Glances while in the Clock app. The Music Glance should be the first one you see (before swiping to the left to see other apps). This Music Glance screen shows you the last track played on your iPhone.

    You can also raise your wrist and say “Hey, Siri, play Music” or something else specific.

    Figure 9-2: No album art? No worries. You should still see pertinent information about a song.

    Figure 9-2: No album art? No worries. You should still see pertinent information about a song.

    On this Music screen, you should see the name of the song, the artist, and the album artwork (if available). If a song is already playing on your iPhone, you should see small equalizer bars dance at the top of the screen and some scrolling information, such as the complete name of the track, the album name, and more.

  3. Tap the triangular Play button to play the song — if it isn’t already playing — which you should hear through your iPhone, wired earbuds/headphones, or Bluetooth headset.

    Remember, you can’t hear music through Apple Watch — nor would you want to — unless you have a Bluetooth headset or headphones. By default, music plays on your iPhone, but you can also pair it to a Bluetooth device.

  4. Tap + or – to increase or decrease the volume, respectively.

    A red horizontal bar visually shows you how loud the volume is getting. You can also skip forward or backward between tracks by using the double arrows on each side of the Play button. The elapsed time of the track is in the top-left corner and a digital clock is in the top-right corner.

But what do you do if you want to hear a new song? You’ve got many options on how to handle that. If you swipe to the left inside the Music app, you can bring up a menu that segregates your music collection into various categories. Keep in mind that not all the categories can be seen on the screen at the same time, so you need to scroll up and down.

Now Playing

This shows you the artist that’s currently playing. You can tap this to bring the track up full screen, to pause the song, or to perhaps skip back to play the song again from the beginning. If no album art has been imported for this track, as recognized by iTunes, this area will just have text and the virtual control buttons.

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Artists

You can see your music collection listed alphabetically by artist/band. Swipe up or down with your fingertip or twist the Digital Crown button at the speed of your choosing to review the list. Under each artist, you should see how many songs you have from that person or band.

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Albums

As you might expect, this is where you can see all your music listed alphabetically by album name. This is ideal for when you want to hear an entire album from the same artist or one or more tracks from an album or perhaps a compilation or movie soundtrack with multiple artists.

Songs

This is where you can find all your songs listed alphabetically — regardless of artist. Swipe up or down using your fingertip or twist the Digital Crown button to find something to listen to. Be aware, choosing to see your music collection by song yields the longest list, as you should see by the small bar on the top-right side of the screen when you start to use the Digital Crown button to scroll up or down.

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Playlists

This shows all your music grouped in some fashion — whether by theme, event, or genre. You can do this in iTunes (on your PC or Mac) or on your iPhone or iPad. You might call a playlist something like “Driving Tunes,” “Workout Mix,” “Relaxing Music,” or whatever suits your fancy. If you have a playlist on your iOS device, then you should see it on your synced Apple Watch.

You can also sync a playlist to the watch to listen to media when no iPhone is around.

Keep in mind that while you can access a playlist on Apple Watch, you can’t create a playlist on it. For that, you have to sync via iTunes or your iPhone.

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You can also use Force Touch to bring up additional options. To use Force Touch on your Apple Watch, follow these steps:

  1. While listening to a track, press firmly on the screen (Force Touch) to open a submenu.

    You should now see four options presented to you on the Apple Watch screen: Shuffle, Repeat, Source, and AirPlay.

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  2. Tap Shuffle to shuffle all the music on your iPhone.

    In case you’re not familiar with the term, this popular option plays your music in a random order (and different each time), which is akin to shuffling cards in a deck. Those two intertwined arrows on the icon is the international symbol for Shuffle. Seriously, Google it.

  3. Tap Repeat to play the same song, album, or playlist again.

    This icon plays selected track(s) over again — once it’s completed.

  4. Tap Source when you want to switch between music playing on your iPhone (default setting) and what might be stored on your Apple Watch’s internal memory.

    You can’t tap this icon if you don’t have any music stored on your Apple Watch.

  5. Tap AirPlay to wirelessly play music through an AirPlay-enabled speaker or Apple TV device.

    Unlike Bluetooth, which might be more universal, AirPlay is Apple’s proprietary wireless streaming technology, and it offers better sound — as long as you’re in a Wi-Fi network.