Set up Apple Watch for a family member

Family Setup 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 paired using Family Setup.

Family Setup is not available in Italy, Korea and more. Find out what's available in your country or region.

What you need

* A mobile 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 can't see this message, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap All Watches, then tap Add 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. Centre 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 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 service provider supports Family Setup, you can add the watch to your plan during this step.

If your service provider doesn't support Family Setup, or you'd like to use a different service provider, select Not Now.* You can choose an alternative provider from this list of supported service providers and contact them directly to set up your mobile plan.

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

* Some corporate mobile plans don't support Family Setup.


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 My app, Siri, Apple Cash Family, Messages in iCloud, Health Data, Emergency Contacts, Medical ID, Activity, Time in Daylight, Workout Route Tracking and Photos.


Set up shared contacts and Schooltime

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


Manage a family member's Apple Watch after you've set it up

You can use your iPhone to adjust settings and customise features on a Family Setup watch:

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on the iPhone that you used to set up the watch.

  2. Tap All Watches, tap the watch under Family Watches, then tap Done.

  3. Choose a setting to adjust.


Availability of features and apps

Health and fitness features:

  • High and low heart rate notifications are available for users 13 and older.

  • Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is available for users aged 18 and older.

  • Fall Detection is available for users aged 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.

  • Users can also measure time in daylight. Parents can view the amount of time their children spend in daylight using the Health Sharing feature in the Health 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 or debit card in the Wallet app is not available with Family Setup.

The following features and apps are not available: Medications, respiratory rate, irregular heart rhythm notifications, ECG, Afib History, Cycle Tracking, Sleep, Wrist Temperature, Blood Oxygen, Walking Steadiness, Audiobooks, Remote, News, Shortcuts and the double-tap gesture.

Next steps

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