How to set up a new Apple Watch, pair it with an iPhone and get started

How do I set up a new Apple Watch, and how do I pair an Apple Watch with an iPhone? I’ve got a new Apple Watch Series 2, and I don’t know where to start.

Looking to set up a new Apple Watch? You’ve come to the right place. Let’s get you up and running with our quick-start guide for the Apple Watch, Apple Watch Series 1 and Apple Watch Series 2. Our Apple Watch setup guide shows how to set up an Apple Watch, how to charge up an Apple Watch and turn it on, how to set the right language and other preferences, pair it with an iPhone, download some Apple Watch apps and get started.

This is a simple guide to setting up a new Apple Watch, intended to cover all the queries that newcomers to this device may have. In other words, there is likely to be information here that you know already, particularly if you’re an experienced Apple user. Hopefully the subheads will help you to skip to the bits you don’t know about.

The video above walks through the basic setup steps for an Apple Watch – in this case, we set up an Apple Watch Series 2 and pair it with an iPhone 7, but the steps are the same for the original Apple Watch and the Apple Watch Series 1. Inevitably, however, there is a great deal that cannot be covered on camera. For a more detailed explanation of the Apple Watch setup process, read on.

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How to set up a new Apple Watch: Unbox the Apple Watch and fit the right strap

Open the box and take out all the components: the Apple Watch itself, the spare strap piece (if you went for an Apple Watch with a Sport Band strap), the charger and the basic documentation.

How to fit the Sport Band

The Sport Band comes with a spare piece, as we said. Try the Watch on as it comes, and see if it fits properly. If your wrist is too small or large, swap in the other piece that also comes in the box.

(There are two sizes of Sport Band: small/medium, labelled as S/M, and medium/large – the idea being, presumably, that people with medium-sized wrists will be okay with either. Our 38mm Apple Watch came with the small/medium strap section attached by default, and the medium/large one in the box; the 42mm watch comes with the medium/large attached, which makes sense.)

Remove the section of strap with holes on it by pressing the button on the Apple Watch body, then slide the new piece in.

The other side of the strap – the one with the stud that goes in the holes when you fasten the strap on your wrist – is also removable in the same way, which enables you to swap in third-party straps or Apple alternatives. But when adjusting for wrist size it’s only the hole strap that is swapped out.

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How to set up a new Apple Watch: Power on & charge up

The button on the side of the Apple Watch – below the rotatable Digital Crown dial if you’re wearing it on your left wrist and above it on the right wrist – is officially known, I kid you not, as the Side Button. On the watch made by Apple called the Apple Watch. Call a spade a spade, that’s my motto.

Anyway, the Side Button is primarily there (as of the launch of watchOS 3) to give you access to the app dock: press the Side Button and you’ll be able to swipe through the apps that are open or frequently used, or move through them by rotating the Digital Crown. This is a convenient way to switch apps (much better than the fiddly screenicons, in our view), and the frequently used apps should open quicker too, because the watch will know to have them running the background.

In watchOS 2 and earlier, the Side Button was programmed to provide a shortcut to your favourite contacts. If you’ve still got a first-gen Apple Watch with an older version of the watch OS (the Series 1 and Series 2 both come with watchOS 3 pre-installed), press it once and you’ll see their initials arranged around the dial: rotate the Digital Crown to move the cursor on to your choice, and their photo, if available, will appear in the centre. Tap their face, or the enlarged initials in the centre of the watch face if no photo is available, and it will expand and offer buttons to call, message or ‘Digital Touch’ them, depending on what contact details are saved, whether they have Apple Watches and so on. But remember that this feature is not available with current watchOS software.