If you forgot your Apple Watch passcode, the only way to regain access to your Apple Watch is by factory resetting the device before pairing it to your iPhone again. You can reset your Apple Watch with or without your iPhone on hand. However, you will need your iPhone to initiate the pairing process and to retrieve a backup of the data from your Apple Watch, once you have reactivated it. Here is everything you need to know the next time you get locked out of your Apple Watch.
How to Reset Apple Watch Without iPhone
If you are out of range of your iPhone, you can reset your Apple Watch with a few simple taps. It is required that you place your Apple Watch on its charger while you complete the following steps:
- Press and hold the side button (highlighted below on your Apple Watch) until you see the power button icon in the upper right corner of the display, then let go of the side button. If you have an Apple Watch Ultra, be sure not to press the Action Button by accident since doing so will override this workflow.
- Press and hold the Digital Crown circled below until you see onscreen text that reads “Erase all content and settings”
- Tap the button labeled “Reset” twice to confirm that you would like to reset your Apple Watch. After your Apple Watch restarts, you can attempt to pair it to your iPhone again.
Good to know: When you erase your Apple Watch a backup of its data is automatically created and stored on your iPhone. If your Apple Watch is not connecting or pairing to your iPhone, we have a number of ways to help you troubleshoot the problem.
How to Reset Apple Watch With iPhone
You can use your iPhone to remotely reset your Apple Watch to factory settings and unpair it from your iPhone as long as both devices are within range of each other. This is the method that you should use if you plan to pass your Apple Watch on to a different owner. Here is how to do it:
Note: If you have a GPS + Cellular Apple Watch, you will need to follow an extra step to retain your data plan once you set up your Apple Watch again. After you agree to erase all content and settings, select the button labeled “Remove Cellular Plan”.
- With your Apple Watch placed close to or alongside your iPhone, open the Watch app on your iPhone.
- Tap the “My Watch” tab highlighted below.
- Tap on the menu item labeled “General”.
- Scroll all of the way down to the bottom of the list of menu items and tap on the option titled “Reset”.
- Tap on the “Erase Apple Watch Content and Settings” button.
- Confirm this action by selecting “Erase All Content and Settings” from the bottom of the screen. You may be asked to enter your Apple ID password to confirm this action.
Tip: Looking to level-up your workflow by establishing seamless continuity among your Apple products? Discover how to easily unlock iPhone and Mac with an Apple Watch.
How to Restore From a Backup on Apple Watch
After you erase and unpair your Apple Watch, you need to pair it to your iPhone again. Here is how to get paired up again without losing the data that you had on your Apple Watch before you erased it.
- To pair, hold your iPhone close to your Apple Watch and then press “Continue” on your iPhone.
- After you have finished pairing your Apple Watch to your iPhone, you will reach a screen that gives you the option to set up your Apple Watch as new, or restore all of your data from a previous backup. Select “Restore from Backup” to restore your data. On newer versions of iOS and watchOS, your Apple Watch will automatically restore from a backup.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any extra steps to take if I plan to sell, give away, or trade in my Apple Watch?
No. However, be sure to reset your Apple Watch to factory settings using your iPhone, since erasing your Apple Watch using watchOS will not unpair your Apple Watch from your iPhone. Erasing and unpairing your Apple Watch from your iPhone removes Activation Lock, a feature that prevents lost or stolen Apple devices from being paired to a new owner without the original owner’s Apple ID password.
How do I backup my Apple Watch?
Your Apple Watch automatically backs up to your iPhone when both devices are near each other. If you choose to erase and unpair your Apple Watch, your data is automatically backed up to your iPhone before the actual restore process begins, in order to ensure that your backup includes the latest information.
If I restore my Apple Watch from a backup, will I lose any data?
Yes. For security reasons credit or debit cards stored in the Wallet app, bluetooth pairing data, and of course your passcode, are not included in Apple Watch backups. Conversations from the Messages app are also unretrievable unless you use iCloud and have Messages in the Cloud enabled on your iPhone. All other data, including watch faces will be available after you restore from backup.
Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots taken by Brahm Shank.
Self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur and tech enthusiast Brahm Shank is captivated by the impact of consumer tech: “It’s profoundly moving when people discover that the phone in their pocket or the tiny computer on their wrist has the power to enrich their lives in ways they never imagined.” Apple, Inc. and its unique position at the intersection of technology and the creative arts, resonates deeply with Brahm and his passion for helping people unleash their potential using technology. Over the years, Brahm has held various podcasts - including famed technologist David Pogue of The New York Times on topics such as Big Tech and digital wellness.
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