Apple Watch Etiquette: When Can You Use Your Watch


Unlike your smartphone that you can tuck away in a pocket or purse, your Apple Watch is always strapped to your wrist. Having all your notifications at your fingertips can be great for ensuring you don’t miss anything, but it also opens up a whole new world of distractions and potential etiquette snafus.

Especially if your have an Apple Watch 3 with cellular support, you can potentially be getting calls and other notifications with your watch places you might have silenced your cell phone in the past.

While there aren’t any hard and fast rules for when you should and shouldn’t use your Apple Watch, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind:

Keep it brief - If you’re with people and get a notification, it’s fine to glance down at your Watch to see what it is. While it’s fine to see what a notification is, try and keep your interactions with your Watch brief while engaging in social situations. Now’s the time to use it to know what notifications are coming in, not to interact with them. Don’t answer calls on your Watch while you’re with other people, and try to use the built-in responses for text messages rather than dictate your texts to Siri. Also try and avoid going through Glances while you’re out and about.

No one wants to be at dinner with the guy that keeps looking down at his watch. That makes you look like you have better things to do that enjoy your dinner guest.  If you're interacting with someone one-on-one you may even want to consider putting you watch in Do Not Disturb mode to make sure you keep your attention where it belongs.

If you wouldn’t use your phone, skip the watch - Before using your Apple Watch in public, ask yourself if what you’re about to do is something you would consider doing on your phone in the same situation. If it would be inappropriate to pull your phone out in a particular situation, then it’s likely inappropriate to use your Apple Watch in the same situation. This rule goes for dates, dinner with your in-laws, and dark movie theaters. If you can’t use your phone in the same situation, you shouldn’t use your Watch.

Again, that Do Not Disturb mode is your friend, use it. That will prevent notifications from coming to your watch and potentially distracting you in situations where you'd be better off not interacting with them. That's so important we've detailed how to turn it on below.

Stay Silent - No one wants to listen to the notification noises coming from your Watch all day. If you work in an office environment or are otherwise headed out into public, make sure the sound on your Watch is turned off. You can get to the sound quickly by swiping to the first page in Glances and selecting the bell icon. When the sound is turned off, the bell button will be lit up pink and a line will go across the bell.

How To Turn On ‘Do Not Disturb’ On The Apple Watch

If you know you’re going to be somewhere for a while where it would be inappropriate to receive notifications on your Watch, you can turn on its ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode. Just like the feature on your iPhone, Do Not Disturb will  temporarily prevent notifications from coming to your Watch. It’s a good option when you’re headed into a business meeting or other event and don’t want to take your Watch off, but also don’t want the distraction of receiving notifications on your wrist for a little while.

You can activate Do Not Disturb from your Apple Watch as well as from the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.

On your Apple Watch, swipe to the Settings glance (it’s the first one in the group) and then tap on the Do Not Disturb button. Do Not Disturb is represented by a half-moon image. When Do Not Disturb is activated, the moon will turn blue.

On your iPhone, launch the Apple Watch app and then tap on Do Not Disturb. From there, toggle the switch to green to have your Apple Watch mirror the Do Not Disturb setup on your iPhone. Now whenever you turn on Do Not Disturb on your phone, it will be activated on your Apple Watch as well.