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7 Apple Watch Settings You Should Change Right Away


The default app grid isn’t always the best.

Angela Lang / CNET

After unwrapping your shiny new one Apple Watch and connecting to your iPhone, you can easily feel overwhelmed by all the options and settings, buried in both the Watch app on your phone and the Settings app on the watch itself.

Whether you are a Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch 6 or even one Set 3, they all run WatchOS 7 and have (mostly) the same functions and settings. Whether it’s your first watch or an upgrade, there are plenty of settings you should know about. For example, sometimes the camera roll is flooded with erroneous screenshots. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Also, don’t get overwhelmed by the number of apps installed on your watch. And certainly don’t get frustrated that Siri keeps talking to you randomly. There are simple solutions to some of these annoyances.

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

Customize 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 goal (or calories).

So instead of using the default settings – 30 minutes of exercise and a total of 12 hours of standing per day – you can tweak either of them to suit your daily routine.

This small change makes it possible for you to meet your own goals when you actually start the day, not when Apple tells you to. For example, if you use sleep tracking at night and need to charge your watch more often in the morning, you won’t feel like you lost an hour to close those rings.

Open the Efficacy app on your watch, then scroll down and tap Edit goals. Make your adjustments for all three stats and start closing those rings.


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

Sarah Tew / CNET

So far, random screenshots

You can take a screenshot on the Apple Watch by simultaneously pressing the Digital Crown and the side button. It’s a simple and convenient method, unless you’re like me and find yourself activating it accidentally often, by filling the photo app with random images of your watch face.

To completely disable the ability to take screenshots, open it Settings app on your watch or use the Watch app on your phone and go to General and scroll down until you find Turn on 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

Prevent any app from installing automatically

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 quickly fill up your watch’s app grid, making it difficult to find the apps you 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 installation to the from position.

In the future, you can install individual apps on your watch by opening the Watch app on your phone and then scrolling down where you’ll find a list of available apps.

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Stop those annoying AF memories from breathing

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

The Breathe Reminder is designed to give you a few minutes to clear your mind and control your breathing, which will lower your heart rate and possibly make you feel more centered and calm. But if you’re like me and never take the prompt, take a few seconds to turn it off so you no longer need to be reminded to breathe.

Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, scroll down and tap the Breathing app. The next,
select Notifications turned off.

Make it easier to find your apps

The honeycomb app grid looks great in promotional photos at first glance, but it can be difficult to find the app you want to launch, especially 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 to find what you’re looking for.


See, the app list doesn’t look better?

Sarah Tew / CNET

Control when you see Siri

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

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

Either in the Watch app on your phone or in the Settings app on the Watch, select Siri and there you will find three buttons to control when you see Siri. Slide each button to the from position for one of the options you do not want to use.

This is a hidden feature that you must now remember.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Rearrange the control center

Like the Control Center on your iPhone, the Control Center on the Apple Watch is where you can quickly adjust settings such as “do not disturb”, airplane mode and activate the flashlight.

However, you may not find the default list of options in the Control Center the best way to use your watch. For me, this means moving the switch from the bottom of the list to the top before going to sleep. That way, if I want to track my sleep over the weekend when I haven’t set any sleep goals, 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 in an app, you can long press the bottom of the screen until you see the Control Center start to scroll up, then you can it 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 start shaking and display a red minus sign to hide an option. Drag the icons to 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 return to the watch face.

There are many more Apple Watch features worth checking out. For example the ECG app can help identify irregularities in the heartbeat, there is one new dance training, and you can even share your custom watch faces.

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