How to Avoid Notification Overload on Apple Watch

Cut back on Apple Watch distractions

What to Know

  • In the iPhone Watch app, tap Notifications. Toggle on Notification Privacy and Notifications Indicator to keep notifications private.
  • To control alerts from built-in apps, go to Notifications, tap an app, such as Messages, then tap Custom > Notifications Off.
  • To control alerts from third-party apps, go to Notifications and scroll to the bottom section. Toggle off Mirror iPhone Alerts From.

This article explains how to limit Apple Watch notifications so you're not overwhelmed with information, including how to choose the apps you want push notifications from and the kind of notifications you get. Information here applies to all versions of the Apple Watch.

Choose Notification Indicator and Privacy Settings

Take control of your watch's Notifications settings by choosing the apps you want notifications from and the kind of notifications you get.

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.

    Watch app on iPhone with Notifications, Notifications Indicator, and Notifications Privacy highlighted

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. In this example, we'll use Calendar.

  2. For most apps, there are two settings options: Mirror my iPhone or Custom. To use the same notification settings as the app on your phone, tap Mirror my iPhone, which is the default setting.

    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, then choose from the app's additional choices, which will differ depending on the app.

    iPhone Watch app with the Calendar app, Mirror my Phone, and Custom highlighted

    Some built-in apps, like Calendar, offer several settings. Others, such as Photos, offer only a couple of choices. Most apps offer a Notifications Off setting if you want to turn off notifications.

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.

The Apple Watch-iPhone Notification Connection

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. You'll still get these notifications on the iPhone if you have iPhone notifications set up.

  • Why am I not getting notifications on my Apple Watch?

    Your Apple Watch may have lost its connection to your iPhone, or you may have Do Not Disturb set up on your Watch. To fix the problem of no notifications on your Apple Watch, check your notification settings for apps on the Watch app. If that doesn't work, try rebooting your Apple Watch, make sure your iPhone and Watch are paired properly, and make sure Airplane Mode is off.

  • Why am I not getting text notifications on my Apple Watch?

    There are several fixes to try when you're not receiving text notifications on your Apple Watch. Just as with other missing notifications, be sure to check that Airplane Mode and Do Not Disturb aren't on and that your notifications are set up correctly. Make sure your Watch and iPhone are paired; you can also try unpairing your Watch and iPhone and then re-pairing your devices. If you're not receiving text messages on your iPhone either, the problem may be with your Wi-Fi or cellular connection.

  • How do I clear all notifications on my Apple Watch?

    If your Watch is using watchOS 7, swipe down from the top of the Home screen to reveal the Notification Center. At the top of the Notification Center, tap Clear All. If you're using a previous watchOS version that supports Force Touch, tap and hold on the Notification Center to bring up the Clear All option.

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