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

Get back on track with your fitness goals

Your Apple Watch can do a ton of amazing things to help you reach your fitness goals, including step tracking. If your Apple Watch isn't counting your steps, follow these troubleshooting steps to get back on track.

Causes of Apple Watch Not Counting Steps

There are many possible causes for this problem. A few are hardware-related. Most are caused by the Apple Watch or iPhone settings. A few are the result of third-party apps. Causes include:

  • The watch isn't in contact with the wrist, or the watch sensors are dirty.
  • Wrist detection or location services are not activated in the Watch app.
  • Fitness tracking and Motion and Calibration aren't turned on.
  • A competing fitness app is running in the background.

How to Fix an Apple Watch Not Counting Steps

These problems occur in the Apple Watch Series 3, Series 4, Series 5, and Series 6 cellular-enabled GPS and GPS-only models.

  1. Make sure your Apple Watch is worn pressed firmly against your wrist. It should be tight but not too tight.

    Apple recommends tightening an Apple Watch for workouts and loosening it when you're finished. Apple also recommends that you routinely clean the watch sensors. You must wear the watch on top of your wrist for the sensors to work properly.

  2. Restart the iPhone and the Apple Watch. Resetting the device can clear up common issues like apps not launching or failing to track steps. Since the Apple Watch works in tandem with an iPhone, it's beneficial to restart both.

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

  3. Turn on wrist detection. Open the Watch app on the iPhone and select Passcode > Wrist Detection. Then, toggle the feature to the On position (if it isn't already). Without wrist detection, an Apple Watch will lock, potentially causing problems with step tracking.

  4. Unlock the Apple Watch. A locked Apple Watch can prevent apps from working properly. It's a good idea to set your Apple Watch to unlock whenever you unlock your iPhone, which you can do in the Apple Watch app on the iPhone.

  5. Turn on location services. For a watch to properly track your steps, workouts, and more, turn on location services on your iPhone.

    Make sure that in the 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. On the iPhone, turn on Motion and Calibration. If Motion and Calibration is turned off, neither the Apple Watch nor the iPhone can track your motion using location services.

  7. Turn on Fitness Tracking in the iPhone settings. Select Settings > Privacy > Motion & Fitness and then toggle Fitness Tracking to the On position.

  8. Make sure your personal information in the Health app is correct. The Apple Watch uses your personal information to estimate Activity results correctly.

  9. Turn off third-party apps running in the background on the Apple Watch. Third-party apps can cause issues with step tracking if the Apple Watch thinks you're tracking using another service.

    Apps like sleep trackers and heart rate monitors can cause miscommunication with an Apple Watch. Check all running apps and close those that may conflict.

  10. Recalibrate the Apple Watch. You can reset the existing calibration data and recalibrate your Apple Watch for improved fitness tracking. Take your Apple Watch for a quick workout, allowing the watch to recalibrate based on your GPS and location data.

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

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

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

  12. Erase the Apple Watch. You can erase the current data from your watch and start fresh, which may clear any problems with apps or faulty settings. After it is erased, pair the watch to your phone just like a brand new one.

    Doing this is the last resort. By erasing your Apple Watch, you lose all the data associated with it, including content and settings. Make sure you have a backup if you need to save critical data.

  13. Contact Apple support. If nothing works and you still can't track your steps, reach out to Apple support. Visit the Apple website to see your support options, visit your local Apple Store and speak to a technician at the Genius Bar, or find a local Authorized Apple Service Provider.

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