Annoyed by the number of notifications you’re getting from your Apple Watch? Don’t worry! You’re not alone. Many Apple fans find the relentless taps frustrating, and want to trim it back to just the vital alerts.
You don’t want to miss anything, but at the same time you probably don’t want to be tapped every time an email arrives or you get a mention on Twitter. The challenge is finding the right balance – and in this article we show how.
What if you’re using your phone?
Before we start trimming the notification settings, remember one key fact: by design, the Apple Watch does not provide a notification if it detects you are currently using the iPhone. This is to prevent you from getting multiple notifications at once.
If you ever get confused about why the watch is or isn’t triggering an alert, this knowledge may help.
Remove notifications from iPhone and Apple Watch
By default, Apple Watch apps mirror iPhone notifications. In other words, if you’ve put a little time into managing your iPhone settings the watch ought to fit your preferences without any extra work.
But in practice it didn’t work that way for us. Whereas the iPhone spends a lot of time tucked in a bag out of the way and we don’t notice every alert, the Apple Watch is on our wrist and tapping us constantly. Suddenly we found every alert grabbed our attention. It was all too much.
In a sense, having an Apple Watch is an experience that really clarifies whether those notifications you’ve been happily allowing on your iPhone are really essential. And one you’ve made that decision, you’ll probably realise that you don’t need these alerts on your iPhone any more than on your watch.
For this reason, the best place to start is by removing unwanted notifications from the iPhone so you get rid of them completely. Follow these steps.
- Open Settings on the iPhone synced with your Apple Watch.
- Tap Notifications.
- Select an app that’s annoying you on the watch.
- Set Allow Notifications to off.
These apps will no longer bug you on the Apple Watch or the iPhone.
Change notification settings for each app
Open the Watch app on your iPhone, make sure you’re in the My Watch tab (select this in the bottom menu bar) and tap Notifications. Below the top two toggles – which we’ll discuss in a moment – you’ll see that the various apps are divided into two groups.
We’ll go through these carefully and turn off notifications for non-essential apps.
The first group, which are all preinstalled, Apple-made apps, have unique or complex notification settings of some kind. Tap an app and you’ll see a menu page with your options.
Sometimes this is a single setting: Maps, for example, just lets you have Turn Alerts as a notification, while Heart Rate only offers notifications when your rate is elevated (although you have a range of options for the value in beats per minute that will trigger the alert). Activity has five separate toggles for its reminders, challenges and other alerts.
Some other apps in this list offer the choice between Mirror and Custom settings.
The first simply mirrors the notifications on your iPhone: if you get a notification on your iPhone, you also get one on your Apple Watch. This is the default. Custom settings, on the other hand, enable you to set a different notification scheme to the one on your watch.
For the apps in the second group, there isn’t a click-through menu page; there’s just a simple, on/off toggle switch. If it’s on (green), the app will mirror notifications from the iPhone on the watch. If it’s off, it won’t.
A few of Apple’s own apps appear here (Health, Music, Notes), but mostly this is made up of third-party software.
Set notifications to ‘VIPs only’
It’s worth picking out Mail for particular attention because its settings include an appealing option: to only show notifications from people in your VIP list. This way the Apple Watch won’t notify you unless somebody important sends you an email.
Follow these steps:
- Open the Apple Watch app.
- Tap My Watch > Notifications.
- Tap Mail.
- Choose Custom.
- Scroll down to the Alerts settings.
- Tap iCloud and set Show Alerts from iCloud to off. (Do the same for any other main accounts.)
- Tap VIPs and ensure Show Alerts from VIPs is set to on.
- Set Sound and Haptics to on or off, as preferred.
More notification settings
There are some further notification settings worth exploring. Tap My Watch > Notifications and use the following.
- Notifications Indicator. Turn this off to remove the red dot that appears on the face when you have a notification.
- Notification Privacy. Turn this on and you’ll no longer see details in a notification – you’ll have to open the app. This prevents people nearby from reading the first line of your texts, for example, off your watch.
- Do Not Disturb. Tap My Watch > General > Do Not Disturb and choose whether you want this to Mirror iPhone (the default). If you don’t mirror the iPhone, you’ll be able to activate Do Not Disturb separately on the watch via Control Centre.
- Clear all notifications. Pull down from the top of the Apple Watch display to view all notifications. Perform a deep press to access a Clear All option.