How to Lock Your Apple Watch

Keep strangers, snoops, or your shower from accessing your Watch

An Apple Watch on a person's wrist.

Prykhodov/ Getty Images

The Apple Watch is different from a lot of your everyday tech gear because it's one of the few things (in fact, likely the only device) you wear on your body. Locking it is less critical than on a device you might leave lying around, but it is still a good idea.

Information in this article applies to Apple Watch with watchOS 6, watchOS 5, watchOS 4, and watchOS 3, except as indicated.

Locking Your Apple Watch

Enabling the Wrist Detection feature is the best way to make sure your Apple Watch locks when you aren't looking at it. The original Apple Watch had a manual lock option, but if you're using watchOS 3.1.3 or later, the manual lock option is no longer available. Apple replaced it with the Wrist Detection feature.

The other way to force the lock screen is to turn off your Apple Watch. You must enter your passcode when you turn it back on.

Turning on Wrist Detection

Wrist Detection is handy and easy to activate.

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.

  2. Tap Passcode.

  3. Swipe the slider to turn on Wrist Detection.

    Apple Watch app on iPhone

You can also turn on Wrist Detection on the Apple Watch itself by tapping the Settings icon on the app screen, followed by Passcode. Move the slider next to Wrist Detection to On/green.

Using Water Lock

Apple Watch with watchOS 5 or later offer water protection. Water can activate your screen, so whether you're wearing your watch in the shower or going for a swim, the Water Lock feature is handy.

Selecting a water activity in the Workout app automatically turns on Water Lock. If you're not counting your shower as a workout, you need to turn it on in the Control Center.

  1. Swipe up on your watch to open the Control Center.

  2. Tap Water Lock, which is the symbol with a single droplet shape, to activate the water lock feature.

  3. To turn off Water Lock, turn the Digital Crown until your Apple Watch says it's unlocked.

    Apple Watch Control Center

Ejecting Water From Apple Watch

Water Lock isn't just for convenience. It also includes a feature used to push water out of the speaker holes in your Apple Watch to prevent any water from causing damage to your device.

Set a Passcode With a New Apple Watch

One of the first things you are prompted to do when setting up a new Apple Watch is to create a passcode. You can bypass this step, but it's a quick way to protect your watch right out of the box.

  1. Select Create a Passcode. If you choose a code that might be easy to guess, such as repetitive digits, you are prompted to verify that you still want to use it.

  2. As an alternate option, select Add a Long Passcode if you want to use more than four digits for a stronger passcode.

    How to lock Apple Watch using Passcode screen shot
  3. Reenter your passcode to confirm.

Wrist Detection

Adding a passcode to your Apple Watch enables Wrist Detection automatically. When you take off your watch and it goes into sleep mode, your passcode is required to wake it up.

Adding a Passcode After Initial Pairing

If you opted not to make a passcode when you initially paired your Apple Watch, you can do it later, either on the Apple Watch or on your iPhone using the Apple Watch app.

Adding a Passcode on Apple Watch

You can add a passcode directly on the Apple Watch.

  1. Press the digital crown on the watch to open the app screen.

  2. Tap the Settings icon.

  3. Tap Passcode.

  4. Move the slider next to Simple Passcode to On/green and enter a four-digit code in the field provided.

    Passcode screen on Apple Watch

You cannot set a longer passcode on your Apple Watch directly. You have to use your iPhone to do that.

Adding an Apple Watch Passcode on iPhone

You can also use your iPhone to turn on the passcode feature for your Apple Watch.

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on the iPhone and tap Passcode.

  2. Select Turn Passcode On.

  3. Enter your desired passcode.

    Apple Watch Passcode on iPhone Screen Shot

Adding a Longer Passcode on iPhone

If you created a four-digit code initially but want to have a more secure passcode, you can update it through your iPhone. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and select Passcode. Use the toggle switch to turn off Simple Passcode and then the app directs you to your Apple Watch for the next steps.

Long Passcode Apple Watch Lock Iphone app screen shot

Enter your current four-digit passcode on the watch. Then enter a new, longer option and tap OK. Reenter the code to verify it.

You can change an existing passcode through the Apple Watch by going to Settings > Passcode > Change Passcode. You can also change the passcode through the Apple Watch app on the iPhone.

Now you're ready to keep your Apple Watch safe from prying eyes, curious toddlers, and potential water damage.