Set up an Apple Watch for a family member

Family Setup in watchOS 7 and later lets family members who don't have their own iPhone enjoy the features and benefits of an Apple Watch.

How it works

With Family Setup, your family member who doesn't have their own iPhone can use their Apple Watch to do things like make phone calls, send messages, and share their location with you.

After you set up a watch for a family member, you can use your iPhone to manage some of the watch's capabilities.

Note that some Apple Watch features depend on having a companion iPhone, and aren't available on an Apple Watch that you pair using Family Setup.

What you need

* A cellular plan isn't required to set up an Apple Watch for a family member, but is necessary for some features.

Put on the watch and turn it on

If the Apple Watch isn't new, erase it first.

Then put on the watch, or have your family member put it on. Press and hold the side button until you see the Apple logo.

Hold the watch near your iPhone

Hold the Apple Watch close to your iPhone. Wait until "Use your iPhone to set up this Apple Watch" appears on your iPhone, then tap Continue. If you don't see this message, open the Watch app on your iPhone, tap All Watches, then tap Pair New Watch.

Tap Set Up for a Family Member, then tap Continue on the next screen.

Pair the watch with your iPhone

Hold your iPhone over the animation that appears on the watch. Center the watch face in the viewfinder on your iPhone, then wait for a message to say that your Apple Watch is paired. If you can't use the camera, tap Pair Apple Watch Manually, then follow the steps that appear.

Then tap Set Up Apple Watch.

Set up a passcode

Tap Agree on the Terms and Conditions screen, then choose a text size for the Apple Watch.

Next, set a passcode to keep the watch secure.

Pick a family member

Choose the family member who will use the Apple Watch. If they don't appear, tap Add New Family Member.

Enter the family member's Apple ID password, then tap Next.

Turn on Ask to Buy

Turn on Ask to Buy if you want to give approval for any downloads or purchases made on the Apple Watch.

Set up cellular and Wi-Fi

If your iPhone cellular provider supports Family Setup, you can add the watch to your plan. If your carrier doesn’t support it, you might be able to use an alternative carrier. Then you can set up cellular on the watch later.

Next, choose whether to share your current Wi-Fi network with the Apple Watch.

Turn on other features

In the screens that follow, choose whether to turn on and set up additional Apple Watch features. These include Location Services for the Find People app, Siri, Apple Cash Family, Messages in iCloud, Health Data, Emergency SOS, Emergency Contacts, Medical ID, Activity, Workout Route Tracking, and Photos.

Set up shared contacts and Schooltime

Now you're asked to set up the contacts that will be available on the Apple Watch. To allow this, you need to have Contacts in iCloud enabled. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud on your iPhone and make sure that Contacts is turned on.*

Then you can choose trusted people from your own Contacts app to share on the Apple Watch. You can manage these shared contacts later, and set up restrictions, in Screen Time on your iPhone.

Finally, set a Screen Time passcode for the watch, and turn on Schooltime. When you're finished, tap OK to begin using the Apple Watch.

* If you're in China mainland, you also need to make sure that the Contacts app on your iPhone can use wireless data. Open Contacts, then tap one of the options to allow data use.

Availability of features and apps

Health and fitness features:

  • High and low heart rate notifications are available for users 13 and older. 
  • Fall detection is available for users 18 and older.
  • Users under the age of 13 can use move minutes, rather than active calories, for their Move goal in the Activity app.

Apple Pay features:

  • Apple Cash Family is available to users under the age of 18, allowing them to make purchases and send and receive money in Messages with Apple Pay (United States only).
  • Apple Pay using a credit, debit, or transit card in the Wallet app is not available with Family Setup.

The following features and apps are not available: Health data sharing, respiratory rate, irregular heart rhythm notifications, ECG, Cycle Tracking, Sleep, Blood Oxygen, Podcasts, Remote, News, Home, and Shortcuts.    

Next steps

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