How to Use Maps on the Apple Watch

Get turn-by-turn directions on your wrist

Apple Watch with Maps activated

Apple Inc.

The Maps app in the Apple Watch gives turn-by-turn directions to your destination, just like on your iPhone. With the Apple Watch, however, those directions come with a gentle tap on your wrist. It's perfect when you're in a new city and don't want to look like a confused tourist. It's also great when you need GPS directions while biking or riding a scooter, and don't have a spot to mount a phone.

Information in this article applies to Apple Watches with watchOS 6. However, the instructions are similar for earlier versions of the software.

Set Apple Watch Preferences on iPhone

Before you can use the Maps app on the Apple Watch, adjust the settings in the Watch app on the iPhone. Here's how:

  1. Tap the Watch app on the iPhone Home screen.

  2. Scroll down the list of apps that are loaded on the Apple Watch and tap Maps.

  3. Turn on the features you want to use on the Apple Watch by moving the toggle switch next to each on to the On/green position. Options are Driving, Driving with CarPlay, Walking, and Transit (where available).

    Watch app on iPhone showing preferences

You can't get Google Maps on the Apple watch, so use the Apple Maps app instead.

Navigate From Your iPhone

The easiest way to use Apple Maps on your Apple Watch is to start from the Apple Maps app on your iPhone. When you have an Apple Watch paired with your phone, any directions you start on the iPhone are automatically sent to the watch. The location appears in the Collections section of the Apple Watch Maps app, which includes the recent searches you performed in Maps on your iPhone. You can put your phone away and follow turn-by-turn directions on your watch. Directions are also displayed on your phone, so if you walk around with headphones, you hear the directional cues.

If you plan to go to a friend's house or a hard-to-pronounce location, start the Maps process on your iPhone. This ensures you have a backup on your phone. That way, if you decide to detour into a coffee shop or see what restaurants are nearby, you can make the transition quickly.

Interact With Maps on the Apple Watch

On the Apple Watch, there are several ways you can interact with Maps. One way is to tap on an address in a text message, email, or other notification you receive on the watch. From there, Maps launches and shows you where on the map that destination is located.

To get a feel for where you are currently, press the digital crown to open the Apps screen and tap the Maps app on the watch. Tap Location to display a map of your current location. Turn the digital crown to zoom in or out on your location to get a better feel for where you are. Tap your location at the top of the screen to return to the Maps menu.

Apple Watch Maps app

In the Maps menu screen, use the digital crown to scroll down and select a location from saved Favorites, Collections (which includes recent searches you performed on your iPhone), and Recents, which are locations you visited or pinned. Tap any entry for a saved map.

Maps menu screen showing saved locations

To look for a new location, tap Search on the menu screen. In the Search screen, enter search information by selecting Dictation, Scribble (writing on the watch screen with your finger), or Contacts.

You can also scroll down using the digital crown and select from nearby categories of businesses, including Hotels, Fast Food, and Gas Stations, among others.

Search options in Apple Watch Maps app

No matter how you search for a destination after you find one, the process is the same.

Tap a destination to open a screen and scroll down using the digital crown to view any information the phone has or can get from the internet. For businesses, this information includes the hours of business and a phone number. For all locations, the estimated amount of time it takes to reach the destination via walking, car, or transit (if you activated this preference on your iPhone) is listed.

Tap the method you plan to use on the screen that gives the times for walking, driving, and transit.

Information screens for a destination in Maps on Apple Watch

After you choose the directions for the method you plan to use to travel (walk, drive, or transit), a screen opens. This screen shows an icon for your chosen travel method, along with the time and distance of the drive or walk. Tap the icon to begin the journey.

If you tap the three-dot menu, you can view the turn-by-turn directions. After viewing them, tap Close to close the directions, and tap the car logo (if driving) to start.

Directions are displayed one by one on the screen on your Apple Watch with a haptic tap on your wrist. The estimated time (ETA) to your location is displayed at the top of the screen so that you know your approximate arrival time.

Turn by turn directions on Apple Watch Maps app

You don't hear verbal directions from the Apple Watch, but if you have your iPhone with you, you hear directions from the phone.