17 tips and tricks to master Apple Watch and watchOS 3

Updated 11/4/17: Master the new App Dock, Theatre Mode, fitness features, and more

So you’ve bought yourself a shiny new Apple Watch Series 2 or upgraded your slightly less shiny and new Apple Watch Series 1 to watchOS 3. You might even have some lovely apps installed. Now what?

Simple: now you read our tips about how to get the most from your wrist-based pride and joy, by way of cunning settings, handy new gestures, and partying like it’s Newton o’ clock.


1) Discover Control Center

Rather than rummaging about the Settings app to access key Apple Watch functions, swipe up from the bottom of the screen for Control Center. Here, you can trigger modes to shut up your Watch to varying degrees, along with checking battery life and activating Power Reserve mode if juice is running low.

Got a new-fangled Apple Watch Series 2? Tap the Water Lock button (the drop) and turn the Digital Crown to have your pride and joy spit out water after a swim.

2) Use Theatre Mode

You’re watching a film or play and your Apple Watch suddenly makes a noise and lights up the room. It feels like the Bat-Signal is emanating from your wrist. Instantly, everyone hates you. Don’t be that person – turn on Theatre Mode (the mask button) from Control Center. You’ll still get haptic nudges when notifications arrive, but your watch’s display will remain off even when you lift your arm. (You can, however, tap to activate it, or carefully twist the Digital Crown to slowly brighten the screen on Apple Watch Series 2.)

3) Manage screen grabs

Taking screen grabs is hugely useful for, say, Stuff writers penning articles like this one. But it’s less handy if you often accidentally trigger the shortcut (hold both buttons) and end up with loads of random images sitting in Photo Stream. In the iPhone Watch app, tap General, scroll down a bit, and turn off Enable Screenshots to stop your Apple Watch being able to take them.

Dock it to ’em

4) Stash favourite apps

In your iPhone’s Watch app, tap Dock and then Edit. Now tap + buttons to add favourite apps to the Dock, and - buttons to banish rubbish ones. Use drag handles to reorder the list. Be mindful the App Dock does not go up to 11. (i.e. you can only have ten apps in it).

5) Use the App Dock

On your Apple Watch, click the previously mostly useless Side button. Boom: App Dock! Scroll the list by swiping, or by using the Digital Crown. Note how each app within the App Dock is running live. You may never have to fully open another Apple Watch app again. (Well, unless you use 11 or more. Or want to change some settings or something.)

6) Edit the App Dock – on your Apple Watch

Decided an app’s duff? Swipe up and tap Remove. (Second thoughts? Tap Cancel) Want to rearrange your apps? Long-press and then drag. Just used an app you’d like to stash? Press the Side button and it’ll be in the Recent slot at the right of the Dock. Do precisely nothing for a second and then prod the Keep in Dock button (assuming you don’t have ten already stashed – otherwise you’ll need to remove one first).

New faces

7)Browse new faces

Apple added a bunch of new faces in watchOS 3, and they're all housed in the Watch app. Tap the Face Gallery tab to view new, featured, and themed collections. If you like the look of one, tap it and then Add. Back in the My Watch tab, tap Edit next to My Faces to sort added faces in your preferred order. On your Apple Watch, switch between faces by swiping from the left or right screen edge.

8) Explore complications

More watch faces now house slots for complications – little nuggets of info related to apps (weather conditions; notes; statuses), or simply icons you tap to launch an app. All pre-installed Apple apps now have a complication, and third-party apps are increasingly coming on board.

To cycle through complications, tap-hold the watch face on your Apple Watch to enter customisation mode, swipe to the complication editing screen, tap a complication slot and use the Digital Crown to make a selection.

9) Use multiple iterations of a face

One curious but brilliant discovery with the Face Gallery is that you can add multiple iterations of the same face. That might strike you as odd, until you realise each one can have unique customisation, including its own complications. Like a face but want more complications? Just run multiple iterations of the face, each one having its own complication set-up, and swipe between them.