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. If you find your Apple Watch isn't counting your steps, follow these troubleshooting steps to get yourself 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. Make sure the Apple Watch is firm against your wrist. it should be tight, but not too tight.

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

  2. Make sure your Apple Watch is unlocked. 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.

  3. Restart your iPhone and your Apple Watch. Common issues like apps not launching or failing to track steps can be cleared up by resetting the 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 select Passcode > Wrist Detection and toggle the feature to the on position (if it isn't already). Without wrist detection, your Apple Watch will lock, potentially causing issues with step 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 the watch will not be able to monitor steps or body movements.

    Make sure Health is turned on in your iPhone settings as well. Select 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 step tracking if the Apple Watch thinks you're tracking using another service.

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

  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 data.

    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 select Restore From Backup during the setup process 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 may clear any problems with apps or faulty settings. Once erased, you'll need to pair your watch to your phone just like a brand new one.

    This is a 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.

  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.