How to use the Digital Crown and Side Button

Here's how you can use the Digital Crown and side button to get the most out of your Apple Watch.

Your Apple Watch comes with only two physical controls: the Digital Crown and the side button. Despite that small number, these two controls let you perform a number of functions on your watch, both separately or when used together.

Here are the ways you can use the Digital Crown and the side button on your Apple Watch.

Digital Crown

The Digital Crown is the circular knob on your Apple Watch. It can be used to scroll lists, activate Siri, look at your watch app collection, and more.

Scroll and zoom


You can spin the Digital Crown to move lists up or down or zoom in or out in apps like Photos and Maps.



Spinning the Digital Crown while using the Now Playing widget allows you to turn the volume of whatever you're listening to, whether it's on your iPhone or on the Apple Watch itself, up or down.



While in any app or viewing your watch face, press the Digital Crown once to head to your grid of watch apps.

App switching

On any Apple Watch screen, double-press the Digital Crown to switch from your current screen to your most recent app. This can be used to switch between two apps, or quickly return to your watch face from an app.



Press and hold on the Digital Crown to activate Siri. Continue to hold to ensure that Siri hears everything you have to say.

Time Travel

Time Travel

Spin the Digital Crown while looking at your watch face in order to activate Time Travel. Time Travel alters both the displayed time and any compatible complications you have on your watch, allowing you to see upcoming and past events, weather conditions, and more.

Side button

The side button used to be the way to activate the Friends app in the early days of the Apple Watch. That app might be gone, but the Side button has stuck around, controlling features such as the Dock, Apple Pay, and power.



A single click of the side button activates the watchOS Dock, which holds your favorite apps for quick access and startup.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay

Double-clicking on the side button will activate Apple Pay, allowing you to pay for items right from your wrist.

Power off

Power Off

Hold down on the side button until you see the POWER OFF switch appear, then slide that switch to the right to turn your Apple Watch completely off.

Power on

Power On

When your watch is completely off, hold down on the side button until you see the Apple logo.

Medical ID

Medical ID

Along the same line as turning off the power, hold down on the side button until you see the MEDICAL ID slider which appears alongside the POWER OFF and SOS sliders.


Emergency SOS

Once again, hold down on the side button and continue to do so once you see the EMERGENCY SOS slider appear. You'll hear a countdown and an alert sound, then you'll start your call to emergency services. Emergency SOS allows you to automatically call emergency services if you're in a situation where dialing with your phone would be difficult.

What they can do together

The Digital Crown and side button also work together on a couple of functions.



Click the Digital Crown and the side button at the exact same time in order to take a screenshot of your current Apple Watch screen. You'll find these screenshots in the Photos app on your paired iPhone.

Force quit

Force Quit

This one is a two-parter. While in the app you want to force quit, hold down the side button until you see the POWER OFF, MEDICAL ID, and EMERGENCY SOS sliders, then let go. Hold down the digital crown until you exit the app to the watch app grid.


If worse comes to worse, and your Apple Watch is stuck, or just not working correctly, you can always try to reboot the watch. Press and hold both the Digital Crown and the side button at the same time until you see the Apple logo.


If you've got any questions about the Digital Crown or side button on your Apple Watch, be sure to let us know in the comments.