Want to get the most out of your Apple Watch? Here are 15 of our favorite power user tips for being productive.
Last week, I compiled a list of 28 things you should know about your Watch. Now that you've spent a few days with your Apple Watch, it's time to look at some power user tips that can speed up your interactions and personalize your experience.
1. Cover the screen to turn it off
Perhaps my favorite secret agent move, you can turn off a lit Apple Watch screen by just cupping it with your palm. This is different from the Cover to Mute option, which (when enabled) allows you to silence the Watch by cupping your hand over the face; even when it's turned off, you can still turn off the Watch's screen with your hand. It's also a great way to save battery life on your device!
2. Double-press the Digital Crown to swap between your watch face and last app
The Digital Crown hides one of the Watch's few multitasking abilities: double-press it on the clock face, and you'll bounce to your most-recently-used app.
Double-press the Digital Crown in an app, and you'll return to the clock face. It's a quick way to jump around the Watch's interface without having to return to the home screen first.
3. Organize your apps diagonally
I blatantly stole this tip from Ally, who just wrote an awesome guide on designing your Apple Watch home screen.
By organizing your apps diagonally or vertically on the Watch's home screen, you can scroll through them much more easily, build an app hierarchy that makes sense to you, and avoid accidentally tapping the wrong app icon. I recommend reorganizing your apps inside the iPhone's Apple Watch app, as well; trying to do it on the Watch itself is an exercise in futility.
4. Optimize your glances
After a few days with the Watch, you'll very quickly start to discover which app glances are useful to you and which ones make no sense to have at your disposal.
At this point, I recommend popping back to the iPhone and trimming your glances list, as well as rearranging them so that you can have the third-party apps you use most closest to the settings glance. (On my Watch: Settings, Heartbeat, Activity, Music, a bunch of weather glances, my pedometer apps, news.)
5. Swipe down to dismiss notifications
Notification pop up on the screen that you don't want to deal with right now? Just swipe down (or scroll down with the Digital Crown) from the top of the screen to dismiss it.
(Bonus tip: You can also force touch in Notification Center itself to dismiss all your notifications.)
6. Preview your full messages in Notification Center
This is perhaps my favorite Watch productivity feature: As long as you haven't yet opened the app your notifications are from, they still live in your Watch's Notification Center. When you swipe down from the clock face and tap on a notification, you can actually view the entire message without it dismissing the notification — or it being "seen" as read on the other end.
Practically, this means you can read any messages that come in without letting the recipient know you've read it. For me, this lets me quickly check for work or personal emergencies without having to signal to the other person that I've read it and am aware of the problem. Yes, I could do essentially the same thing by turning read receipts off entirely, but I actually like having receipts on during the work day — I just don't want to be accessible 24/7 if it's not an emergency.
Alternatively, this is a great way to quickly scan messages you've missed without having to duck into their respective apps, and see something without marking it as read (so that you can triage it later).
7. Be selective about notification haptics
Though I like being able to see most of my notifications in Notification Center on the Watch, I don't need to get alerted for every one of them. You can select which notifications actually buzz or beep you by going into the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tapping Notifications, selecting the individual setting you wish to adjust, then tapping Custom to adjust your alert settings.
It's worth noting that only some apps let you have complete control over whether you can enable sound or haptic alerts; third-party apps are limited to a simple "mirror iPhone alerts from" switch, while some native apps only have an "Alerts" on/off switch.
BUT: There's still a way to turn off haptic alerts for your third-party apps without disabling alerts entirely. On your iPhone, open Settings and navigate to Notifications. Select the app you don't want to be physically alerted about, and turn off Sounds.
For me, I disabled Sounds and Haptics for everything but Messages, and turned off Sounds for any third-party apps that might notify excessively (Instagram and Facebook, for instance).
8. Create "fake" VIPs on your iPhone with Do Not Disturb
Though Apple currently provides no way to designate VIPs for Messages, you can trick the Watch into notifying you about especially important messages (say, from your family or boss) by turning Do Not Disturb on for threads you don't need to see immediately (friends, annoying co-workers, your group work chat).
It's not a perfect solution, but it can help cut down on unwanted message notifications on your wrist.
9. Force touch animated emoji for a more personal touch
Apple's new animated emojis offer you a variety of faces, hearts, and hand gestures to send to friends and family, but you can customize those even further with a Force Touch.
Press firmly on the animated emoji face to turn it red, or on hearts to turn them blue or purple. (The white-gloved hand remains, sadly, creepily white-gloved.)
10. Hand off complicated queries to your iPhone
Siri's a tad more limited on the Watch than it is on your iPhone, but you can still pair them up for maximum efficiency. Ask Siri on the Watch your query, and if it can't help you directly on the Watch, pick up your iPhone and swipe up on the Siri icon. From there, your query will run directly on the iPhone, no re-ask required.
You can also use Handoff to pass over other potentially time-consuming or unfit-for-small-screen tasks, including settings on the Apple Watch, any Watch app, phone calls in progress, and more. It makes it easy to use the right device for the right situation.
11. Swipe left on lists to reveal more functionality
Most list-based Apple Watch apps or views have hidden functionality behind each item — just swipe left to find it. On notifications in Notification Center, for example, you can swipe left to dismiss a notification.
You can also swipe left in Messages to get more details and delete messages; in Mail, swiping left on a message gives you options to mark it as flagged or unread.
12. When in doubt, Force Touch
Can't find a setting in an app? Try pressing firmly on the display: Chances are, those features may be hidden behind a Force Touch.
You can change your clock face, timer modes, create new messages or emails, send locations or view details, and lots more. Experiment and find out! Here's a list of most of the force touch options for Apple Watch.
13. App not responding? Time for a force quit
If an app on your Watch is being weird or downright frozen, here's how to shut it down without having to restart your watch.
In the offending app, hold down the side button until you see the power off screen, then hold the side button again to return to your Watch's home screen.
14. Save battery by disabling Activate on Wrist Raise
There are times when enabling Wrist Raise — which wakes your Watch when you turn it toward you — isn't such a great idea. When I play derby, for example, I tend to move my arms a lot, which inadvertently triggers my Watch's screen. Also not great: having the Watch turn on during a movie.
This is a great way to kill your battery faster than you intend, so if you'd rather just activate your device on a button press during certain activities, here's the quick way to tackle it. On your Watch, go to Settings > General > Activate on Wrist Raise and toggle the switch off.
For more, check out our list of battery life saving tips for Apple Watch.
15. Make multiple copies of the same clock face
Not only can you customize a single clock face to your choosing — you can make multiple different versions of the same clock face, each with different complications. This is especially useful if you want a different face for exercising than everyday use.
To set this up, press firmly on your Watch's clock face until you see the "Customize" option, then swipe all the way to the left until you see the plus button. Tap the button to create a new clock face of your choosing. (You can also delete clock faces you don't want to use anymore from this screen by swiping up on the face in question.)
For example, I have a version of the Modular clock face designed for podcasting with several world clocks visible; a version that's basically a giant stopwatch; and a red version that has the weather, sunrise/sunset, and moon phase for astronomy purposes.
Your productivity tips?
Those are some of our power user tips for Apple Watch, but we'd love to hear yours. Add them to the comments below!