When you need to subtly look at the time or check your exercise data without lifting your wrist, the always-on display (AOD) on your Apple Watch comes in handy. However, Apple makes it impossible to temporarily disable it. You choose to leave it on or off, with no obvious way to turn it off for a while. It may not be obvious, but there is is a shortcut that can do just that.
While there is a switch to turn the AOD on or off, it’s not super convenient. You need to open the Settings app on your Apple Watch, go to “Display & Brightness”, tap “Always On”, then turn off the switch next to “Always On”
When is this useful?
One of the best reasons to temporarily disable AOD is battery life. Apple claims that both the Series 5 and Series 6 get 18 hours of battery life on a full charge, but that includes the AOD. Turning it off extends battery life as the watch doesn’t always have to show something on the screen.
Sure, you can turn off the AOD completely and enjoy your longer battery life, but many of us like to use the AOD for convenience. You can still strategically turn it off for those times when battery is more important than convenience, like when you’re 10% or less, or you know it’s going to take a while to get the watch on a charger.
But it’s not just battery life – there are times when an AOD just isn’t practical or appropriate. Maybe you’re at a presentation where the lights are off and you don’t want your watch, no matter how dim, to be distracting. Maybe you’re in class and want to make sure no one decides your Apple Watch is like having your iPhone. Maybe you need to focus and don’t want your watch face to distract you every minute.
Whatever the reason, quickly disabling the document feeder can be helpful.
Forgot to dive into Settings on your Apple Watch. Instead, there is a simple function you should use to fix the whole problem: Theater Mode.
If you’ve never used Theater Mode, here’s a breakdown: Apple introduced this feature with watchOS 3.2 to address concerns that the Apple Watch would light up or make noise in theater-like environments. When theater mode is on, watchOS turns on silent mode so that your notifications are silent.
It also keeps (you guessed it) the screen off unless you tap it or press a button.
When watchOS 3.2 came out, AOD was not yet a reality on Apple Watch, so this feature was never designed to disable AOD. Still, currently, our best way to turn off your watch’s display is in a pinch.
Enable Theater Mode
Enabling Theater Mode is easy; Just bring up your watch face by raising your wrist or tapping the screen, then swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Scroll down until you see the masks icon (Theater mode) and tap it. When enabled, this icon turns orange.
Now, the next time your watch goes into sleep mode, the display will also turn off. Bring it back with a tap or press the Digital Crown or the side button.
To turn off Theater Mode, repeat this process and this time turn off the Theater Mode icon in Control Center.
Pro Tip: If you want to maximize the convenience of Theater Mode, move it to the top of the Control Center! Scroll to the bottom of the Control Center, tap “Edit” and press and drag the Theater Mode icon to the top of the list.
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