Set up your Apple Watch

Find out how to use your iPhone to set up your new Apple Watch.

What you need

To set up and use a new Apple Watch, you need an iPhone Xs or later that’s running iOS 17. Find out how to identify your iPhone model and how to update your iPhone to the latest version of iOS.

Before you begin

If you've already set up your Apple Watch but want to use it with a different iPhone, you can transfer your Apple Watch and its contents to your new iPhone.


Turn on your Apple Watch and put it on

To turn on your Apple Watch, press and hold the side button until the Apple logo appears. Then put the watch on your wrist.

Side button on Apple Watch. 

Hold your Apple Watch close to your iPhone

Wait for the "Use your iPhone to set up this Apple Watch" message to appear on your iPhone, then tap Continue. If this message doesn't appear, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap All Watches, then tap Add Watch.

If this is your Apple Watch, tap Set Up for Myself. Or tap Set Up for a Family Member, then follow the steps to set up the watch for someone in your family.

Keep your Apple Watch and iPhone close together until you complete these steps.

iPhone and Apple Watch showing pairing screens 

Hold your iPhone over the animation

Centre the watch face in the viewfinder on your iPhone. Wait for a message to say that your Apple Watch has been paired.

If you can't use the camera, or the pairing animation doesn't appear or your iPhone can't read it, tap Pair Manually, then follow the prompts.

iPhone showing Apple Watch in its viewfinder 

Set up as new or restore from a backup

If this is your first Apple Watch, tap Set Up as New Apple Watch. If asked, update your Apple Watch to the latest version of watchOS.

If you've set up another Apple Watch with your current iPhone, a screen will appear that says Make This Your New Apple Watch. Tap Apps & Data and Settings to see how Express Setup will configure your new watch. Then tap Continue. If you want to choose the setup of your new watch, tap Customise Settings. Then choose a backup from another previous Apple Watch to restore. Or tap Set Up as New Apple Watch if you want to fully customise your new device's settings.

Your Apple Watch may also require a software update on your iPhone before you can set up the watch. If your iPhone says that a software update is available, tap Update Now and wait for the update process to be finished.

Choose which wrist you wear your Apple Watch on, then tap Continue.

Read the Terms and Conditions and tap Agree.


Sign in with your Apple ID

If asked, enter your Apple ID password. If you're not asked, you can sign in later from the Apple Watch app: tap General > Apple ID, then sign in. Certain features that require a mobile phone number won't work on GPS + Cellular models of Apple Watch unless you sign in to iCloud. 

If Find My isn't set up on your iPhone, you'll be asked to turn on Activation Lock. If an Activation Lock screen appears, your Apple Watch is already linked to an Apple ID. You'll need to enter the email address and password for that Apple ID to continue the setup process. If your Apple Watch was previously owned, you may need to contact the previous owner to remove Activation Lock


Create a passcode

You can skip creating a passcode, but you'll need one for features such as Apple Pay.

On your iPhone, tap Create a Passcode or Add a Long Passcode, then switch to your Apple Watch to enter your new code. To skip, tap Don't Add Passcode.

iPhone showing Apple Watch passcode setup screen 

Customise your settings

Select your preferred text size and whether you want to use bold text.

If you haven't used Express Setup, your Apple Watch will show you which settings it shares with your iPhone. If you've turned on features such as Find My, Location Services, Wi-Fi Calling and Diagnostics for your iPhone, these settings will be turned on for your Apple Watch automatically.

Next, add or update details such as your date of birth to make sure your Fitness and Health data are accurate. You can also turn on health notifications such as noise levels, and details about Emergency SOS and Fall Detection will appear.

Set up mobile data and Apple Pay

On GPS + Cellular models of Apple Watch, you can set up mobile data.

Next, you'll also be asked to set up Apple Pay by adding a card. Then your iPhone will walk you through features such as the Always On display and your preferred app view.


Keep your devices close together while they're syncing

Your Apple Watch will display the watch face when the pairing procedure has finished and your watch is ready to use. Keep your Apple Watch and iPhone close together so the devices can continue syncing information in the background.


Get help

To find out what to do next, locate your issue below. If you still need help, contact Apple Support.

If your Apple Watch won't turn on

You may need to charge your Apple Watch

If you're asked for a passcode

Your Apple Watch is still paired with another iPhone. If you can't remember the passcode, you'll need to erase your Apple Watch, then set it up again

If an Activation Lock screen appears

Your Apple Watch is linked to an Apple ID. You'll need to enter the email address and password for that Apple ID to continue the setup process. If your Apple Watch was previously owned, you may need to contact the previous owner to remove Activation Lock

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