Apple Watch: 7 settings you should change right now

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The default app grid isn’t always the best.

Angela Lang / CNET

After taking your shiny new one Apple watch out of the box and connect it to your iPhone, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the options and settings buried in both the Watch app on your phone and the Settings app on the watch itself.

Whether you are a Apple Watch SE, Apple Watch 6 or even a Series 3, they all run the same WatchOS 7 Software and have (mostly) the same functions and settings. Whether it’s your first watch or an upgrade, there are many settings you should know about. For example, the camera roll is sometimes overwhelmed by faulty screenshots. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Also, don’t let the number of apps installed on your watch overwhelm you. And definitely don’t be frustrated that Siri is talking to you all the time. There are simple solutions to some of these annoyances.

We’ll walk you through changing seven settings that will make your Apple Watch a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Customize all of your activity goals

With the release of WatchOS 7, Apple added the option to change your goals for the amount of time you stand and exercise. Previously, you could only change your exercise (or calorie) goal.

So instead of using the default settings – 30 minutes of exercise and a total of 12 hours of standing per day – you can adjust either of the two to suit your actual daily routine.

This small change allows you to achieve your own goals when you actually start your day, not when Apple tells you to. For example, if you use sleep tracking overnight and need to charge your watch more often in the morning, you won’t feel like you lost an hour to close those rings.

Open that activity App on your watch, then scroll down and tap Edit goals. Make your adjustments for all three metrics and close those rings.

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You are now in full control of what it takes to close your activity rings.

Sarah Tew / CNET

So long, random screenshots

Taking a screenshot on the Apple Watch is done by pressing the Digital Crown and the side button at the same time. It’s an easy and convenient method, unless you’re like me and often accidentally trigger it by filling the Photos app with random images of your watch face.

To completely turn off the ability to take screenshots, open the the settings App on your watch or use the watch app on your phone and go to General and scroll down until you find Activate screenshots. Turn it off and return to a neat camera roll.

Prevent every app from being installed automatically

Every time you install an app on your iPhone, the Apple Watch counterpart is automatically installed, if it has one. This can clutter your watch’s app grid pretty quickly and make it difficult to find the apps you want to use on your watch.

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The Apple Watch is so much more than just a way to see your notifications.

Vanessa Hand Orellana / CNET

Either in the watch app on your phone or in the the settings Tap the app on the watch General and then slide the switch next to Automatic app installation to the out Position.

In the future, you can install individual apps on your watch by opening the Watch app on your phone and then scrolling down to find a list of available apps.

Stop those pesky AF reminders from breathing

Every few hours, your Apple Watch beeps and taps your wrist to remind you to take a moment to breathe. The first time it’s weird Why do I need a reminder to breathe, crazy watch ?! Then it happens again. And again. Every four hours, by default, for a physiological act that is literally involuntary.


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Breath reminder is designed to help you take a few minutes to clear your mind and control your breathing, which in turn will lower your heart rate and potentially help you feel more centered and calm. But if you’re like me and never heed the prompt, take a few seconds to turn it off so that you no longer have to be reminded to breathe.

Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, then scroll down and tap on the Breathe app option. Next,
choose Notifications off.

Make it easier to find your apps

The honeycomb app grid looks great on promotional photos and at first glance, but it can be difficult to find the app you want to launch, especially if you have a lot of apps installed on your watch. Instead of using the grid, the clock can display all of your apps in an alphabetical list.

Either in the watch app on your phone or in the the settings App on the watch and tap App view > List view. Now when you press the Digital Crown to exit your watch face, you’ll see a list of apps that you can quickly scroll through and find what you’re looking for.

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See, doesn’t the app list look better?

Sarah Tew / CNET

Control when you call Siri. see

There are three different ways to enable Siri on your Apple Watch. You can raise your wrist to your mouth and start speaking, long-press the Digital Crown, or use the Hey Siri alarm phrase.

I’ve found that I often accidentally trigger Siri when trying to check the time or read a notification while talking to someone else (but my watch thinks I’m trying to talk to Siri). It’s annoying, but luckily it can be changed.

Either in the watch app on your phone or in the the settings App on the watch, select Sirius and there you will find three buttons that you can use to control when you see Siri. Slide each key onto the out Position for one of the options that you don’t want to use.

This is a hidden feature and it should be noted right away.

Jason Cipriani / CNET

Rearrange the control center

Just like the Control Center on your iPhone, you can use the Control Center on the Apple Watch to quickly adjust settings such as Do Not Disturb, Airplane Mode, and activate the flashlight.

However, the default list of options in Control Center may not be the best solution for using your watch. For me, that means moving the bedtime switch up from the bottom of the list. That way I can swipe up and tap the icon if I want to track my sleep over the weekend when I haven’t set any sleep goals.

To access Control Center on your watch, swipe up from the bottom of the watch face, or in an app, long-press the bottom of the screen until Control Center slides up. After that, all you need to do is slide your finger up to access it. The same trick works to view your notifications from anywhere.

Change the order or hide some buttons in the Control Center by tapping To edit Button at the bottom of the list. The icons begin to wiggle and show a red minus sign to hide an option. Drag and drop the icons into your preferred order or tap the red minus button to remove the option entirely.

When you’re done, tap Done or press the Digital Crown on the side of your watch to return to the watch face.

There are many more Apple Watch features worth trying out. For example the EKG app can help detect heartbeat irregularities, there is one new dance training, and You can even share your custom watch faces.

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