A beginner's guide to the Apple Watch: How to use its buttons and gestures, start workouts, and more


Apple Watch

  • Despite its small size, the Apple Watch is a complicated piece of hardware with many functions.
  • This beginner’s guide goes over the different buttons and what they do, as well as explains the basic gestures that your Apple Watch will respond to.
  • We’ve also included information on how to read the Watch’s “Activity Rings” and begin a workout.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

There’s not much in the way of physical instructions that come with the Apple Watch, so consider this your quick-start guide to this piece of wearable tech.

First, familiarize yourself with the physical device.

There are a few key parts to know:

1. Display: This is the face of your Apple Watch. Tapping, swiping, and pressing firmly on the display are all gestures the display will respond to.

2. Digital Crown (home button): This is the rotating button on the side of Apple Watch (on the right side if you wear it on your left hand). Press and hold the Digital Crown to use Siri, turn it to scroll or zoom, press it to view the Watch face or Home Screen, or double press to access the last used app.

3. Side button: This flat oval button is located underneath the Digital Crown. Press it to see the Dock (a list of recently used apps), double press it to use Apple Pay, and press and hold the button to turn your Watch on or off or make an emergency phone call.

apple watch diagram

4. Band release buttons: These are thin oval buttons at the very top and bottom of the back side of Apple Watch used to change the band.

5. Optical heart sensor: These dots on the back of your Apple Watch (Series 3 or earlier) and single dot on the Series 4 (which also has an electrical heart sensor) measure your heart rate.

back of watch diagram

Then, charge your Apple Watch.

Grab your charging cord and check out our how-to guide on charging the device here.

Next, turn on your Apple Watch and pair and set up your device.

1. To turn on Apple Watch, press and hold the side button until the Apple logo appears in the middle of the screen.

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2. Pair your iPhone and Apple Watch, then follow the on-screen instructions on your iPhone and Apple Watch to complete setup.

3. You can adjust settings, including the passcode and how you unlock your Apple Watch and wake the display, at any time using the Settings app on Apple Watch (gray icon with a gear) or Watch app on iPhone.

More on basic gestures

1. Tap to open an app, select an item, turn specific settings off and on, etc.

2. Swipe left and right to navigate between different Watch faces (which can be changed and customized), swipe up to reveal the Control Center, swipe up and down to scroll (this can also be done using the Digital Crown), and swipe down to view notifications.

swipe combined

3. Press firmly on the display to customize the current Watch face or see options within an opened app. You’ll feel a small tap when successfully using this gesture.

Close apps in the dock

1. To close Apple Watch apps, press the side button to reveal the Dock.

5 dock.JPG

2. Swipe left on any open apps you want to close and tap the red “X” that is revealed to close the app.

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Check notifications

1. You’ll feel a tap on your wrist when a new notification comes in, unless you’ve silenced your Apple Watch. Raise your wrist to view the notification. To clear it, scroll down to the bottom and tap Dismiss.

2. Unaddressed notifications are indicated by a red dot at the top of the Watch face and saved in the Notification Center, which is accessed by swiping down on the Watch face. Scroll through the notifications list and tap and dismiss them one by one or swipe left and tap the “X” to clear a notification without reading it.

6 notification.JPG

Learn how to read your Activity rings and start a workout

1. The Activity app on Apple Watch has three different rings that measure activity: Move (red), Exercise (green), and Stand (blue).

7 activity rings.JPG

2. You’re only able to adjust your Move goal; your exercise and stand goals are fixed at 30 minutes daily and one minute of standing/moving around each hour for 12 different hours, respectively.

3. To start a workout, open the Workout app (green icon with a runner). Scroll through the different workout options and select the one that most closely resembles your workout, then tap to begin the workout. Swipe left to lock your Apple Watch (to prevent accidental taps and activate Water Lock), pause, or end your workout.

7 workout 3.JPG

4. Check out the Activity app on iPhone to see your Activity history, details on past workouts, and awards you’ve earned.

Related coverage from How To Do Everything: Tech:

  • How to silence your Apple Watch in four different ways

  • How to reset your Apple Watch and unpair it from an iPhone

  • How to update your Apple Watch and get the device’s latest features

  • How to tell if your Apple Watch is waterproof or water-resistant, and to what extent

SEE ALSO: The best smartwatches you can buy

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