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Home / Tips and Tricks / What do all modes do on my Apple Watch?

What do all modes do on my Apple Watch?



sample image with various Apple Watch mode icons

With the release of watchOS 7, the number of modes available on an Apple Watch has gotten a little silly. Now there is Airplane Mode, Silent Mode, Do Not Disturb Mode, Theater Mode, School Time Mode and Sleep Mode. This is what they all do.

To enable or disable any of these modes, swipe up on your Apple Watch to access the “Control Center”

; then tap the relevant icon (we’ll cover them along the way). Some modes can also be activated automatically under certain conditions.

demonstration of how to add hidden modes to an Apple Watch

(If you don’t see an icon in the Control Center, you can add it by tapping the “Edit” button; any unlisted icons will appear under “More.” Tap to add them.)

Flight mode

turn airplane mode on and off on Apple Watch

While Airplane Mode may not be necessary to prevent planes from falling from the sky, it is still important and useful. It turns off all radios in your Apple Watch except Bluetooth. This means no WiFi, GPS or, if you have one, mobile.

Airplane mode has a number of uses:

  • It allows you to comply with aviation policies and various laws around the world without having to turn off your Apple Watch.
  • It provides a quick way to force your watch to reconnect to Wi-Fi networks, GPS satellites, or cellular service. Turning things off and back on can really help.
  • It saves battery life when you want it to.

Tap the “Airplane” icon to turn airplane mode on or off.

Silent mode

turn silent mode on and off on apple watch

Silent mode mutes your Apple Watch. When active, your watch will not beep, buzz or other alert tones, including alarms, although it will still vibrate and give you a haptic alert. Otherwise it works normally.

Tap the bell icon to turn silent mode on or off. Silent mode is also activated when you put your watch in theater mode.

Do not disturb mode

toggle do not disturb on and off on Apple watch

Do not disturb mode is similar to silent mode, but with some important differences:

  • It ensures that notifications and alerts do not sound or light up on the screen, with the exception of alarms and, if enabled, calls from contacts in your favorites list.
  • It doesn’t stop apps from making noises while using your watch.
  • Activating do not disturb mode on your watch will also activate it on your iPhone and vice versa.

Tap the moon icon to turn on or off do not disturb mode. You can set it to stay on for an hour, until later in the day, until a calendar event ends, or until you leave your current location. It also activates automatically if you have it scheduled, if you have a sleep schedule and, depending on whether you have the options enabled or not, when you are exercising or driving.

Theater mode

Turn on and off Theater or Cinema mode on Apple Watch

Turning on theater mode (or cinema mode in the UK) activates silent mode, muting all warnings. Plus, it also turns off your watch’s always-on display (if it has one) and turns it up to wake up.

Tap the drama masks icon to turn Theater mode on or off.

School time mode

Apple watch school time mode watch face

School time mode disables all apps and complications, instead showing a simple watch face with time only. It also enables Do Not Disturb mode.

School Time Mode is for parents using Family Setup to manage their children’s devices, but you can activate it on your own watch by tapping the school child icon. It’s a useful way to keep your watch from distracting you.

Sleep mode

Apple Watch sleep time watch face

Sleep Mode turns on Do Not Disturb mode, turns off the always-on screen, turns up to wake up, and activates a simple, low-brightness timed watch face.

Tap the bed icon to turn sleep mode on or off. Sleep mode is automatically activated if you have configured a sleep schedule.


While there are many modes and they have overlapping functions, each one does something different. There are times when Silent is right and times when you want sleep mode – it’s just a bit overwhelming at first!




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