How to Update Apple Watch to the Latest Software Version

Keep your watchOS up to date

In order to get the most from your Apple Watch, it's important to use the latest version of the operating system software. But, unlike on the iPhone and iPad, installing these updates on the Apple Watch is a little tricky. Here's what you need to know.

Why Update Your Apple Watch Software?

Updating your Apple Watch to the latest version of watchOS is crucial. Every new version of the OS delivers important new features, improves the usability of the watch, and fixes bugs. Some cool Apple Watch apps and features also require certain versions of the OS and if you're not running that version, you won't be able to use them.

What to Do Before Your Apple Watch Software Update

To prepare to update your Apple Watch OS, do the following:

  • Connect Your iPhone to Wi-Fi. The Apple Watch gets its apps and OS updates synced to it from your iPhone. Make sure your iPhone is connected to Wi-Fi, the same network as the Watch.
  • Update Your iPhone OS. Updates to the Apple Watch are synced to the Watch from the iPhone it's paired to. Make sure your iPhone is running the latest version of the iOS before updating the Apple Watch. Learn how to install iOS updates here.
  • Put Watch on Charger. The Apple Watch can only be updated when it's on its charger.
  • Charge Watch At Least 50%. The Watch needs to be charged at least 50% in order to be updated, so you may need to wait a few minutes for the battery to top up.
  • Keep Phone Near Watch. Because the Watch is updated wirelessly from the iPhone, the devices need to be near each other.

How to Update Your Apple Watch Directly on Apple Watch

If you've got watchOS 6 on your Apple Watch, you can install the update directly without using the iPhone-focused instructions in the next section. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Connect the Apple Watch to Wi-Fi.

  2. Place the Apple Watch on the charger.

  3. Tap the Settings app.

  4. Tap General.

  5. Tap Software Update.

    Screenshots of updating software on Apple Watch
  6. Follow the onscreen instructions.

How to Update Your Apple Watch to the Latest Software Version Using iPhone

With those requirements met, you can installing the Apple Watch software update by following these steps:

  1. On your iPhone, tap the Apple Watch app to open it.

    Screenshot of iPhone homescreen with Apple Watch app
  2. Tap General.

    Screenshot of Apple Watch app
  3. Tap Software Update.

    Screenshot of settings to update Apple Watch

    If you turn on Automatic Updates on this screen, you can skip these steps in the future. Your iPhone will download the update and install it automatically when you charge your Watch.

  4. Tap Download and Install.

    Screenshot of Apple Watch OS update screen
  5. Installing the watchOS update from the iPhone onto the Watch can be pretty slow. Expect it to take at least a few minutes and as long as an hour. A wheel on the Apple Watch shows the update's progress.

    Even though the update can take a long time, don't take your Watch off the charger, quit the Apple Watch app, or restart your Apple Watch or iPhone until the update finishes. Doing any of those things will stop the update.

  6. When the update has completed the Apple Watch will restart.

Troubleshooting Apple Watch Software Update Problems

If you're running into problems updating your Apple Watch, try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Check Watch On Charger. The Watch needs to be situated correctly on the charger, and to be charging, for the update to work.
  • Make Sure You're Using the Right iPhone. Make sure the iPhone you're using to install the update is paired to the Apple Watch you're updating. You can do this in the Apple Watch app. Check that the name and information about the paired Watch matches the one you're updating.
  • Restart Apple Watch. If the update won't complete, you'll need to restart or reset the Apple Watch.
  • Restart iPhone. You may also want to try restarting the iPhone if restarting the Watch didn't help.
  • Delete watchOS Update File and Try Again. If the update doesn't even start, download it again. To do this, first delete the current update file by going to the Apple Watch app > General > Usage > Software Update > Delete > Delete. Then restart the update process from the last section.
  • Re-pair the Watch and iPhone. The update can only install if your iPhone and Watch are paired together. If they've lost their connection, you may need to unpair them and then pair them again.