October 24, 2020
Change these 6 Apple Watch settings right away. We'll tell you why

Change these 6 Apple Watch settings right away. We’ll tell you why


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The default app grid isn’t always the best. 


Vanessa Hand Orellana/CNET

The Apple Watch is part smartwatch, giving you the ability to run apps and display notifications from your iPhone. It’s also part fitness device, measuring your heart rate, tracking workouts and — with the release of WatchOS 7 — it can now monitor your sleep, too.   

With so many features and capabilities built into Apple Watch, it can be overwhelming as you try to make sense of why your watch has so many apps installed on it, or why Siri keeps randomly talking to you.

Whether you’ve had your Apple Watch for a while, or you just picked up the new Apple Watch Series 6 or Apple Watch SE,  you can prevent your camera roll from being overrun by errant screenshots and stop every app from automatically installing. Here’s what to do. 

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 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. 

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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. 

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The default app grid looks good and works for some, but for others, a list of installed apps is easier to navigate. 


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Stop every app from automatically installing

Every time you install an app on your iPhone ($699 at Amazon), 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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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 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. 

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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 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 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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