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

Make sure it's on your wrist correctly, clean it, restart it, and more

Apple Watches are excellent fitness-tracking tools that can help you reach your goals. However, occasionally, you may find that your Apple Watch isn't counting your steps. Fortunately, this is usually a temporary problem you can solve with some easy troubleshooting steps.

Woman using smart watch while running

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Causes of Apple Watch Not Counting Steps

There are several possible causes of the problem of an Apple Watch not counting steps. Many causes are straightforward settings issues. There are also hardware-related causes and issues stemming from third-party apps. Typical causes of an Apple Watch not counting steps include the following:

  • 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.
  • A competing fitness app is running in the background.

How to Fix an Apple Watch Not Counting Steps

These fixes apply to all Apple Watch models. Try these troubleshooting steps in the order presented (easiest to more complicated) for your best chances of success.

  1. Ensure you're wearing the Apple Watch correctly. The problem may be that the sensor can't detect your activity. Ensure your Apple Watch is 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.

  2. Clean your Apple Watch. Apple recommends that you routinely clean the watch to ensure its sensors can recognize your activity.

  3. Restart the iPhone. Restarting the paired iPhone can clear up common issues like apps not launching.

  4. Restart the Apple Watch. Restarting your Apple Watch can clear up glitches that may be interfering with apps and fitness tracking.

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

  5. Turn on wrist detection by changing lock settings. You may have inadvertently turned off wrist detection. Open the Settings app on the watch, tap Passcode, and ensure Wrist Detection is on.

  6. 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.

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

  8. Ensure your Health app data is correct. The Apple Watch uses your personal information to estimate activity results correctly. Check to see if you've entered all your information properly.

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

  10. Calibrate the Apple Watch. 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 the Apple Watch and iPhone. After unpairing the devices, pair your iPhone and Apple Watch again. 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. Reset the Apple Watch to factory settings. 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 an Apple Watch backup if you need to save critical data.

  13. Contact Apple Watch 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, make an Apple Store Genius Bar appointment, or find a local Authorized Apple Service Provider.

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