7 tips to make your new Apple Watch fit your wrist

The Apple Watch is my favorite and most recommended smartwatch. If you’re about to carefully unwrap a new one from its clever, oblong packaging, congratulations!

I’ve been fortunate to use and review every new Apple Watch from inception, all the way through to the new Apple Watch Ultra, so I have some experience setting it up. This is what I do and the settings I change to ensure the Apple Watch boots up and is ready to use in no time.

Getting started with your Apple Watch is easy

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The great thing about the Apple Watch? You really don’t have to do much to get everything started. The first thing you need to do is charge your watch, and you need to keep the charging base nearby during the setup process as the Apple Watch may need to be recharged, especially if software updates need to be installed.

After charging, turn on the Apple Watch by pressing and holding the button under the Digital Crown for a few seconds. If it’s active, check your iPhone, as most likely you’ll already see an on-screen warning asking if you want your phone to begin the pairing process. It really is that simple, and the required watch app is also pre-installed on an iPhone. Beat Continue on the iPhone screen to get started and follow the simple instructions.

Set up your Apple Watch from scratch

If you’ve already owned an Apple Watch, your new Apple Watch can be set up to reflect the settings you had before, including installed apps, Siri settings, and even what wrist you usually wear it on. If you want to set it up as a new Apple Watch, tap adjust settings and search Set up as a new Apple Watch at the bottom of the screen. If this is your first Apple Watch, you won’t get this option. The entire process takes no more than 10 minutes.

Be smart with your password

I don’t like the Apple Watch passcode, but I appreciate that it has to be used in some situations. If you set one up, you’ll have to enter the PIN code every time you put the Apple Watch back on your wrist after you’ve taken it off. I tend to forget and that means some notifications don’t come until I remember.

If you want to use Apple Pay, you must use a passcode. I strongly recommend not making it too long as you have to tap it on the small screen. Yes, I know this probably violates all the usual security warnings, but the thought of regularly typing a 12-digit PIN on my wrist isn’t pleasant.

Remember to check for software updates

An iPhone 14 Pro is waiting to pair a new Apple Watch.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

There’s a good chance the latest version of watchOS will be waiting to download once you’ve set up the Apple Watch for the first time. In the Watch app, go to General >software update to verify. If one is available, it will be downloaded immediately. I always do this right away as it’s better than waiting for iOS to send me a notification and I want all the latest features and bug fixes before using the watch.

Here you need the charger again. After the update has downloaded, you must place the Apple Watch back on the charger for it to install. Also, the battery needs to be more than 50% charged, which isn’t a problem as long as you fully charge the Apple Watch before setting it up. It’s so much more convenient to get software updates out of the way at this point. It does take a bit of time though, so be prepared to spend up to an hour on it.

Have fun choosing a watch face

The World Time watch face displayed on the Apple Watch SE 2.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

While you’re waiting for the update to download, it’s time to take a look at the available watch faces. From the Watch app’s main screen, tap the face image currently set on your watch, then search for faces gallery option at the bottom of the screen. Tap on it and you will find all available watch faces.

Each one can be customized with different colors, different designs and different complications. I have a few that I can recommend, mainly because they’re more watch-like and less cluttered. I like to see the time – not a screen full of numbers and fitness metrics. For example, the black background California and Chronograph dials and the “Pepsi” GMT dial (which denotes the blue and red around the dial) are some of my favorites. If you want something bolder then Numeral’s duo is great, as is the Unity Lights face.

If you have an Apple Watch Series 7 or Apple Watch Series 8, the Contour watch face is exclusive, so you might want to show it off, as is the Wayfinder watch face on the Apple Watch Ultra. I’m sticking with the Wayfinder face on the Ultra, but usually opt for world time with a red accent on the Apple Watch SE 2. For complications, I like the temperature, battery level, activity rings, and moon phase. When you’re done, just tap Add, and it will be instantly transferred to your Apple Watch.

Important Apple Watch settings to change

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

One of the best things about the Apple Watch is that almost all of the major health and fitness features are active by default, the always-on screen works out of the box if you have a Series 8 or Ultra, and it takes a lot of the information from your iPhone in order ensure the watch works smoothly. You really don’t have to do much and it feels like “a part of you” from the start.

However, there are a few things I am changing. I don’t like the Apple Watch ringing, and the volume is turned up by default, meaning you get an audible alarm with notifications. To change this, go to settings > sounds and hapticsand then either use the small speaker icons to increase or decrease the volume, or use silent mode Mute sounds completely. You can also adjust silent mode by pulling up the quick settings on the watch face and tap the bell icon. I also activate the hand wash timer, which can be found at Settings > Wash your hands. It’s automatic, so it’s no hassle to use, and it’s surprisingly accurate.

Finally, I don’t use Siri often enough to find the Raise to Speak option helpful, so I turn that option off in Settings > Siri. However, I leave the Hey Siri command on and find the Apple Watch to be very reliable at paying attention – and also at understanding my commands.

Add more Apple Watch straps to your collection

Braided solo loop from Apple in blue.
Braided Solo Loop by Apple Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The Sport band and Sport Loop band are the default options for the Apple Watch, and one of them is most likely the one that came attached to your new Apple Watch. I personally find the Sport Loop to be the most comfortable and convenient for everyday, all-day use. It’s easy to slip on while exercising for the most accurate heart rate reading, and it’s soft enough to wear overnight and track your sleep. Besides, it looks great. I also really like the Braided Solo Loop band, although at $100 it’s a significant investment.

I’ve put together a separate article on how to select additional Apple Watch straps and build a collection, as this is a big part of Apple Watch ownership and really lets you get the most out of the versatile smartwatch. If you’re tempted by a cheap version of the Braided Solo Loop, I’ve also compared a typical version to Apple’s official version so you can see if it’s worth spending the extra.

That’s really all you need to set up your new Apple Watch. Next, take some time to familiarize yourself with the fitness and health apps installed on your iPhone, as this is where all your health and exercise data is stored over time. Have fun with your Apple Watch!

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