How to Play Music on Your Apple Watch

Woman listening to music in headphone via apple watch


Westend61 / Getty Images

After you purchase an Apple Watch, you'll naturally want to make sure you're getting the most out of your device. That means getting a handle on the smartwatch's top features — from fitness-tracking to your favorite podcasts to a wide selection of apps — and learning to customize the wearable to your liking so its functionality aligns with your needs.

If you like to listen to music on the go, whether you're simply commuting or you're out on a run around the neighborhood, you'll want to configure your Apple Watch to play music. Luckily, doing so isn't difficult. Here's a guide to get you up and running with music on your smartwatch, including a look at some of the apps you might want to consider downloading to enjoy the playback of your favorite tunes.

It's important to note that there are various ways to listen to music on your Apple Watch. The first option entails playing music from your iPhone when it's paired with your watch, while the second method lets you use the watch to play music without requiring your smartphone.

Option 1: When Your Apple Watch Is Paired With Your iPhone

Like most smartwatches, the Apple Watch offers significantly more functionality when it's paired with your iPhone via Bluetooth. Once you've paired the two gadgets, follow these steps to view what's currently playing from your iPhone and control things.

Keep in mind that playback will be happening on your phone rather than your watch, so you'll need headphones plugged into your handset rather than a Bluetooth set paired with your Apple Watch. The benefit to this method of music playback is that you don't have to take your phone out of your pocket to switch things up; you can swap in new tunes directly from your wrist.

  1. Open the Music app from your Apple Watch's home screen. (It's easily recognizable thanks to the musical note motif — the same one used for the iPhone version of the Music app.)

  2. Scroll up to choose your iPhone as the source to play music from (as opposed to choosing your Apple Watch as the source). Then click Now Playing — this will let you view what's currently playing on your iPhone, and you can then choose to change things up if you like.

  3. At this point, you have a variety of options for controlling playback from your iPhone — the one you'll choose depends on the music service you prefer to use. Do you use Apple Music? You can tap Quick Play to pull up a random selection of songs from this service's recommendations for you. You could also listen to the Beats 1 radio station.

  4. If you're not a big Apple Music user, you can instead select My Music to see your music library then select what you'd like to listen to by artist, song, or album. 

Note that you can also use Siri (provided voice commands are enabled on your watch) to quickly control music playback. Siri will search for music that fits your query on both your iPhone and Apple Watch.

Option 2: When Your Apple Watch Isn't Paired With Your iPhone

If you're using your Apple Watch as a standalone device, you can use the wearable as a media player. Just keep in mind since there's no headphone jack on the Apple Watch you'll need a set of Bluetooth headphones to listen to music playing from the smartwatch. Of course, you'll need to make sure the wearable and the headphones are paired before you can initiate successful playback.

Assuming you have Bluetooth headphones and they're all ready to go and paired with your Apple Watch, here are the steps for playing music from the smartwatch:

  1. Open the Music app from your watch's home screen.

  2. Scroll up to choose your Apple Watch as the source.

  3. This process should seem familiar if you read the steps for option one above. You can tap Now Playing if you already have some music cued up to play or pause the track; you can tap on My Music to browse your available tracks, or you can select Playlists to bring up a playlist you've synced with the device.

Making a Playlist for Your Apple Watch

This relates to the second option: playing music directly from the smartwatch. As mentioned above, you can start up a playlist directly from the wearable, though keep in mind you're limited to just one playlist stored on the Apple Watch.

Here's how to get a selection of your favorite music ready to go and synced to your Apple Watch for local playback:

  1. On your iPhone, navigate to the Music app.

  2. Tap Playlists, then New Playlist.

  3. Create a playlist name.

  4. Now, view your library options by songs, artists or albums to add your desired music to the playlist. Tap the + icon to add any desired tracks. When you're done adding an item, tap Done. And when you're done creating a playlist, tap Done to save it.

Listening to Your Music

Once you've created a playlist, you need to sync it to your Apple Watch so you can play it directly from your wrist. Here's how to do that:

  1. Make sure your Apple Watch is charging after you set it on its charger.

  2. Make sure Bluetooth is turned on on your iPhone.

  3. Go to the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, then tap My Watch, then Music, then Synced Music.

  4. Tap on the playlist you want to sync to your watch. You'll see "sync pending" when the sync is in progress.

  5. Once the sync is completed, you can listen to the playlist directly on your Apple Watch.