7 Apple Watch settings you should change right away


The default app grid isn’t always the best. 

Angela Lang/CNET

After unboxing your shiny new Apple Watch and connecting it to your iPhone, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all of the options and settings, buried in both the Watch app on your phone and the Settings app on the watch itself. 

Whether you have a Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch 6 or even a Series 3, they all run WatchOS 7 and have (mostly) the same features and settings. Regardless if it’s your first watch or an upgrade, there are plenty of settings you should know. For example, sometimes the camera roll becomes overrun by errant screenshots. But it doesn’t have to be like that. 

Also, don’t let the number of apps installed on your watch overwhelm you. And definitely don’t get frustrated that Siri keeps randomly talking to you. There are simple fixes for some of these annoyances. 

We’ll walk you through changing seven settings that will make your Apple Watch experience a smooth and enjoyable one. 

Adjust your all of your Activity goals

With the release of WatchOS 7, Apple added the option to change your goals for the amount of time you stand and exercise. Previously, you could only change your Move (or calories) goal. 

So instead of using the defaults — 30 minutes of exercise and a cumulative 12 standing hours a day — you can change either one to fit your actual daily routine. 

This small change will make it possible for you to hit your own targets when you actually start your day, not when Apple tells you to. For example, if you use sleep tracking overnight and need to charge your watch more often in the morning, you won’t feel like you’ve lost an hour of time to close those rings.

Open the Activity app on your watch then scroll to the bottom and tap Edit Goals. Make your adjustments for all three metrics and start closing those rings. 


You now have full control over what it takes to close your activity rings. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

So long, random screenshots

Taking a screenshot on the Apple Watch is done by pressing the Digital Crown and side button at the same time. It’s a simple and convenient method, unless you’re like me and find yourself frequently triggering it on accident, filling up the photos app with random pictures of your watch face. 

To turn off the ability to take screenshots altogether, open the Settings app on your watch or use the Watch app on your phone and go to General and scroll down until you find Enable Screenshots. Turn it off, and go back to a clutter free camera roll. 


The Apple Watch is so much more than a way to view your notifications. 

Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

Stop every app from automatically installing

Every time you install an app on your iPhone ($599 at Apple), it will automatically install its Apple Watch counterpart if there is one. This can clutter up your watch’s app grid pretty quick, making it hard to find the apps you do want to use on your watch. 

Either in the Watch app on your phone or in the Settings app on the Watch tap General and then slide the switch next to Automatic App Install to the Off position. 

Going forward, you can install individual apps on your watch by opening the Watch app on your phone, then scrolling to the bottom where you’ll find a list of available apps. 


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Stop those annoying AF reminders to Breathe

Every few hours your Apple Watch will beep and tap your wrist, reminding you to take a moment to breathe. The first time it happens it’s kind of comical, Why do I need a reminder to breathe, crazy watch?! Then it happens again. And again. Every four hours, by default for a physiological act that is literally involuntary. 

The Breathe reminder is designed to help you take a few minutes to clear your mind and control your respiration, in turn lowering your heart rate and potentially helping you feel more centered and calm. But if you’re like me and never follow the prompt, take a few seconds to turn it off so you no longer have to be reminded to breathe. 

Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone then scroll down and tap the Breathe app option. Next,
select Notifications off. 

Make it easier to find your apps

The honeycomb app grid looks great in promotion photos and at first glance, but it can be difficult to find the app you want to launch, particularly if you have a lot of apps installed on your watch. Instead of using the grid, the watch can display all of your apps in an alphabetical list. 

Either in the Watch app on your phone or in the Settings app on the Watch and tap App View > List View. Now, when you press the Digital Crown to leave your watch face, you’ll see a list of apps that you can quickly scroll through and find what you’re looking for. 


See, doesn’t the app list look better? 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Control when you’ll see Siri

There are three different ways to activate Siri on your Apple Watch. You can raise your wrist towards your mouth and start talking, long-press the Digital Crown or use the wake phrase “Hey, Siri.”

I’ve found that I often accidentally trigger Siri when trying to check the time or read a notification while I’m talking to someone else (but my watch thinks I’m trying to talk to Siri). It’s annoying, but thankfully can be changed. 

Either in the Watch app on your phone or in the Settings app on the Watch, select Siri and there you’ll find three buttons to control when you’ll see Siri. Slide each button to the Off position for any of the options you don’t want to use. 

This is a hidden feature that you should memorize right now. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Rearrange Control Center

Just like Control Center on your iPhone, Control Center on the Apple Watch is where you go to quickly adjust settings like “do not disturb” and airplane mode, and activate the flashlight. 

However, you may find the default list of options in Control Center not the best fit for how you use your watch. For me, that means moving the Bedtime toggle from near the bottom of the list to the top. That way when I want to track my sleep over the weekend when I don’t have sleep goals set, I can swipe up and tap the icon. 

To access the Control Center on your watch, swipe up from the bottom of the watch face, or when in an app you can long-press on the bottom of the screen until you see Control Center start to slide up, after which you just need to slide your finger up to access it. The same trick works to view your notifications from anywhere. 

Change the order, or hide some buttons in the Control Center by tapping the Edit button at the bottom of the list. The icons will begin to jiggle, and show a red minus sign to hide an option. Drag and drop the icons into your preferred order, or tap the red minus button to remove the option altogether. 

When you’re done, tap Done or press the Digital Crown on the side of your watch to go back to the watch face. 

There are plenty more Apple Watch features that are worth checking out. For example, the ECG app can help identify heartbeat irregularities, there’s a new dance workout, and you can even share your custom watch faces.

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