How to prepare your Apple Watch for a watchOS update

You may know everything you need to know about watchOS 7, but are your sure your Apple Watch is prepared for the update? If you're worried about whether your Apple Watch can handle the watchOS 7 update — its time to do a little fall cleaning! And, no, I don't mean cleaning up your best Apple Watch band — although that's not a bad idea either — I'm talking about digital cleaning.

If you take a few minutes to prepare your Apple Watch for watchOS 7, you'll have peace of mind knowing, that in the rare case that something goes horribly wrong during the update, you'll be ready and won't lose any precious data.

Hold off on backups; instead, clean up your iPhone and Apple Watch

You want your backups to be up-to-date when you make them, and that means doing them right before you update. Instead, take some prep time if you want it to do a bit of cleaning on your iPhone. Delete unwanted apps, get rid of offline music you no longer listen to, trim down any old Messages conversations you don't care to keep. All of these will increase your backup size, and thus, the time it takes to upgrade. The same goes for your Apple Watch: Go into the Apple Watch app and remove any unwanted apps, and hey, maybe clean up your layout while you're at it.

Make an encrypted backup via iTunes

Whether you're doing a restore and install or just a straight update, we highly recommend making a backup beforehand in case anything crazy happens. Our current recommendation is an encrypted backup via iTunes — this lets you save your account passwords and Health data more quickly than doing so via iCloud. Your Apple Watch should make an automatic backup, but you can also manually back it up by unpairing and repairing your watch.

Update your iPhone to the correct iOS first

Before installing a watchOS update or beta, the iPhone connected to that Apple Watch needs to be running the correct iOS. For example, if you want to update your Apple Watch to watchOS 7, your iPhone needs to be running iOS 14. If you want to install the next beta of watchOS, your iPhone needs to be running the corresponding beta of iOS.

If you have any questions about how to prepare your Apple Watch for watchOS 7, head on over to our discussion forums or leave a comment below!

Updated September 2020: Updated for watchOS 7.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.