Apple Watch Not Tracking Steps? There's a Fix For That

Get back on track with your fitness goals.

Woman using smart watch while running

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Your Apple Watch has the ability to do a ton of amazing things to help you reach your fitness goals, including step tracking. But, is your Apple Watch not counting steps? Although frustrating, there are quite a few potential solutions to this problem that can get you back on track.

How to Fix an Apple Watch Not Counting Steps

This issue applies to the Apple Watch Series 3 and Series 4, both cellular-enabled with GPS and GPS only. Series 1 and 2 have been discontinued by Apple.

  1. Check for firm wear against your wrist. You should wear your watch firmly (not too tight, not too loose) on your wrist, with nothing in-between.

    Apple recommends tightening your Apple Watch for workouts and loosening it when you're done for better readings. They also recommend cleaning your watch to keep it clean and dry. You must wear your watch on top of your wrist for the sensors to work.

  2. Make sure your Apple Watch is unlocked. A locked Apple Watch can cause apps not to work properly. It's recommended you set your Apple Watch to unlock whenever you unlock your iPhone and remain that way until you take your watch off your wrist.

  3. Restart your iPhone and your Apple Watch. Common issues like apps not launching or tracking issues can be cleared up by resetting your device. Since the Apple Watch works in tandem with your iPhone, it's beneficial to restart both.

    Make sure to restart your iPhone first, then your Apple Watch. This will ensure your Watch app reboots properly before attempting to connect with your watch.

  4. Make sure wrist detection is on. To turn wrist detection on, open the Watch app, then tap Passcode > Wrist Detection to toggle the feature to the on position (if it isn't already). Without wrist detection, your Apple Watch will lock, potentially causing issues with proper tracking.

  5. Turn your location services on. For your watch to properly track your steps, workouts, and more, location services must be turned on, on your iPhone.

    Make sure that in your location settings, Apple Watch Workout is set to "while using." This is the best way to ensure location services are used for tracking on your watch.

  6. Check that you have configured your Activity app on your Apple Watch. Without properly configuring the app, it won't track your steps or any other fitness goals.

  7. On your iPhone, turn Motion and Calibration on. If Motion and Calibration is turned off, neither your Apple Watch nor your iPhone will be able to track your motion using location services.

  8. Make sure Fitness Tracking is turned on in your Health app. Data received from your Apple Watch is directly updated in your Health app. If Fitness Tracking is turned off, tracking using your body movement won't work.

    Make sure Health is turned on in your iPhone settings as well. Tap Settings > Privacy > Motion & Fitness, then toggle Health to the on position.

  9. Make sure your personal information in the Health app is correct. Your Apple Watch uses your personal information to properly estimate Activity results.

    If the Wheelchair setting states "Not Set", change it to No or Yes accordingly. This setting will directly impact the tracking settings in your Health app.

  10. Turn off third-party apps running in the background on your Apple Watch. Third-party apps like the Workout app can cause issues with proper tracking if the Apple Watch thinks you're tracking using another service.

    Apps like sleep trackers and heart rate trackers can also cause miscommunication with your Apple Watch. Make sure you check all the apps you have running and close those that cause concern.

  11. Recalibrate your Apple Watch. You can reset your existing calibration data and recalibrate your Apple Watch for improved fitness tracking. You'll simply take your Apple Watch for a quick workout, allowing your watch to recalibrate based on your GPS and location services.

    Recalibrating your Apple Watch won't erase your Activity history.

  12. Unpair and re-pair your Apple Watch and your iPhone. Some problems that exist below the surface can be fixed by unpairing and re-pairing your devices.

    The Watch app automatically creates a backup of your Apple Watch as you unpair it from your iPhone. As you re-pair it, remember to tap Restore From Backup during the setup to restore your data, except for Apple Pay cards and your passcode.

  13. Erase your Apple Watch. You can erase all of the current data from your watch and start fresh, which might clear a problem that exists within an app or faulty setting. Once erased, you'll need to pair your watch to your phone just like a brand new one.

    When erasing your Apple Watch, you'll lose all data associated with it, including your content and your settings. Make sure you have a backup, if needed, to save critical data.

  14. Contact Apple support. If nothing's working and you're still unable to track your steps, it's time to reach out to Apple support. Visit Apple's website to see all of your support options, visit your local Apple Store and speak to the Genius Bar, or find a local Authorized Apple Service Provider.