How to Avoid Notification Overload on Apple Watch

Cut back on Apple Watch distractions

One of the best features of the Apple Watch is that it sends notifications from your iPhone to your watch, so you don't need to check your phone often. If you have a lot of Apple Watch apps, you could find yourself overwhelmed by push notifications, so you need to know how to avoid notification overload on your Apple Watch.

Information in this article applies to all versions of the Apple Watch through Series 5.

Avoid Notification Overload on Apple Watch

Forget having to pull out and unlock your phone to see your text messages, Twitter mentions, voicemails, or sports scores. With the Apple Watch, all you need to do is glance at your wrist. Even better, the haptic feedback on the Apple Watch means you feel a vibration when there's a notification to check. Otherwise, you can focus on whatever else you need to do.

If you are overwhelmed with notifications, your Apple Watch doesn't have to vibrate every time something happens on Twitter or a text message arrives.

Take control of your watch's Notifications settings by choosing the apps you want notifications from and the kind of notifications you get. To avoid notification overload, turn off notifications for many of the apps on your Apple Watch. You'll still get notifications on the iPhone if you have iPhone notifications set up.

Choose Notification Indicator and Privacy Settings

None of the steps required to manage notifications on your Apple Watch occur on the watch. Instead, all notification settings are handled on the iPhone in the Watch app.

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.

  2. Tap Notifications.

  3. Turn on the Notifications Indicator by moving the toggle to the On/green position. When enabled, it displays a small red dot at the top of the Apple Watch screen when there are notifications.

  4. Enable Notification Privacy by moving the toggle to the On/green position if you're privacy-conscious. By default, the Apple Watch displays the full text of notifications. For example, if you receive a text message, the content of the message displays right away. With Notification Privacy enabled, you tap the alert to display the text.

    Apple Watch icon, Notifications icon, toggles for Indicators

Apple Watch Notification Settings for Built-In Apps

After you choose the settings, control the notifications your iPhone sends to your Apple Watch from the built-in apps. These are the apps that come with the Watch, which you can't delete.

  1. Scroll to the first section of apps on the Notifications screen and tap the app whose notification settings you want to change. For most apps, there are two settings options: Mirror my iPhone or Custom.

  2. To use the same notification settings as the app on your phone, tap Mirror my iPhone, which is the default setting for all apps. For example, if you don't receive notifications for text messages or from Facebook on your phone, you won't get notifications on your watch. 

  3. To set preferences for your Apple Watch that differ from your phone preferences, tap Custom. The preferences depend on the app you select. Some, like Calendar, offer several settings. Others, such as Photos, offer only a couple of choices. When you select Custom, you choose from these additional choices. One of these is Notifications Off.

  4. Tap Notifications in the upper-left corner of the screen after you choose the settings for each built-in app to go back to the main Notifications screen.

    Calendar, Mirror my iPhone/Custom, Notification buttons for Apple Watch

Apple Watch Notification Settings for Third-Party Apps

Scroll down to the last section of the Watch app Notifications screen to see the third-party apps installed on your iPhone that have Apple Watch components. The choices here are to either mirror the iPhone's notification settings on the Apple Watch or get no notifications on the watch for that app at all.

  • Move the toggle next to an app to the On/green position if you want to receive notifications on your Apple Watch mirrored from the iPhone.
  • Move the toggle next to an app to the Off/white position to prevent all notifications from that app from appearing on the Apple Watch.

The more apps you move to the Off/white position, the fewer notifications you receive on the Apple Watch.