Apple Watch Won't Reset? How to Fix The Problem

Get your Apple Watch restored for troubleshooting or selling

You'll want to reset your Apple Watch to factory settings if you're having serious problems with its functionality or if you're finding it a new home. Issues with the reset process appear when you try to do so in either the Apple Watch's settings or the Watch app in iOS for iPhone.

Causes of Apple Watch Not Resetting

If you're having trouble resetting your Apple Watch, a few problems could be to blame. Some examples include software issues with either the wearable or the Apple Watch it's paired to. You, therefore, have to check out both devices to get the reset to happen.

A hand holding an Apple Watch. The startup graphic is on the screen.

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

How Do I Fix an Unresponsive Apple Watch?

Take the following steps to get your Apple Watch working again.

  1. Make sure Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are on. Your Apple Watch and iPhone communicate wirelessly via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so you'll want to double-check that the feature is active. On the iPhone, go to Settings, where you can find menus for both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and set their sliders to on/green if they aren't already.

    You can also toggle these settings using the iPhone's Control Center. To access it, swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen (iPhone X and later) or up from the bottom of the screen (earlier models).

  2. Check for updates. Sometimes when your Apple Watch and iPhone aren't working together correctly, the issue is that one or both of them needs a firmware update. You can check on either device by opening their Settings app and going to General > Software Update.

    Alternatively, you can use your iPhone to see if a watchOS update is available by opening the Watch app and going to General > Software Update.

  3. Restart your iPhone. Since you'll usually try to reset your Apple Watch using the Watch app on iPhone, your first step should be to restart the iPhone. How you do so will depend on which model you have.

    • iPhone X and later: Hold the Side Button and Volume Down until the Power Off slider appears. Swipe it right to power down the device, and then hold the Side Button again to restart.
    • Earlier models: Hold the Sleep/Wake button until the slider appears; swipe it to turn your iPhone off, and then press and hold the Sleep/Wake button again to turn it back on.
  4. Restart your Apple Watch. Your next step should be to restart the Apple Watch by holding the Side Button until the Power Off slider appears. Swipe it to turn off the watch, and then hold the Side Button again to start it back up.

  5. Force restart your iPhone. If a basic restart doesn't work, try the more strenuous force restart. Again, how you do this will depend on the model.

    In all cases, you'll hold the designated buttons until the Apple logo appears on the screen.

    • iPhone 8 and later: Press and release Volume Up, and then press and release Volume Down. Finally, hold the Sleep/Wake button.
    • iPhone 7 series: Hold Volume Down and Sleep/Wake.
    • Earlier models: Hold the Sleep/Wake button until the slider appears. Slide it to the right to power off the phone and hold Sleep/Wake again until the Apple logo appears.
  6. Force restart your Apple Watch. The other force restart you should try is on the wearable itself. To do so, press and hold the Side Button and Digital Crown until the Apple logo appears.

  7. Do a full power cycle. Sometimes, when your iPhone and Apple Watch aren't communicating properly, it's a good idea to reset the sync. To do so, power off your iPhone and Apple Watch, and then turn on the iPhone, followed by the Apple Watch.

  8. Reset sync data. This next step before completely unpairing an Apple Watch from an iPhone keeps them connected but deletes and resets the data you share between them (for example, calendars and contacts). Open the Watch app on iPhone and then go to General > Reset > Reset Sync Data to access this option.

  9. Erase your Apple Watch from its Settings app. While you do most of the resetting and pairing from the Watch app on iPhone, you can do a partial reset from the smartwatch. On the Apple Watch, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings.

    Erasing your Apple Watch this way won't reset the Activation Lock security feature, which only turns off after unpairing the wearable from your iPhone.

  10. Contact Apple. If none of the above fixes work, you may have a hardware issue with your Apple Watch or iPhone that will need servicing. Depending on your warranty or AppleCare+ status, the appointment with the manufacturer or the authorized servicer might be free.

FAQ
  • Why won't my Apple Watch let me reset sync data?

    If your Apple Watch isn't syncing health, activity, and other data automatically, open the Watch app on your iPhone and tap General, then scroll down and tap Reset > Reset Sync Data. If the Watch still isn't syncing, go back to the Reset menu and select Erase Apple Watch Content and Settings. When this process finishes, re-pair your Apple Watch to your iPhone and see if this solves the syncing problem.

  • How do I reset an Apple Watch?

    A quick way to reset your Apple Watch is to unpair it from your iPhone. Open the Watch app on your iPhone, select your Watch, and tap the i (information icon). Select Unpair Watch, then confirm and enter your Apple ID and password, if prompted. After the unpairing process, your Apple Watch is reset to its default settings.

  • How do I reset an Apple Watch without a paired iPhone?

    If you don't have its paired iPhone handy, you can still reset your Apple Watch. Press your Watch's Digital Crown to access your Watch's app screen, then tap Settings > General > Reset. Tap Erase All Content and Settings, enter your passcode, then tap Erase All.

  • How do I reset an Apple Watch without a password?

    If you need to reset your Apple Watch but forgot your passcode, place your Watch on its charger, then press and hold the side button until the Watch powers off. Press and hold the Digital Crown until Erase all content and settings appears. Tap Reset > Reset and wait for the reset process to complete.

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