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How to manage notifications on the Apple Watch

Don't become overwhelmed with alerts on your wrist. You can change how they come in or disable them completely. Here's what you need to know.

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Chirp! I've got a new email.

Buzz! Someone has sent me a text message.

What's that? It's time to stand again?

It doesn't take long to become overwhelmed by notifications on the Apple Watch . The constant chirping and vibrating throughout the day could drive a person mad, but there is hope. Apple gives Watch owners the ability to customize the types of notifications that are pushed to their wrist. Here's what you need to know:

Alerts and privacy

Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and tap Notifications. Here you will see a list of all of the apps and services that have been buzzing your wrist. At the top are two important settings: Notifications Indicator and Notification Privacy, both of which are enabled by default.

When enabled, the Notifications Indicator displays a small red dot at the top of the watch screen to alert you to unread notifications, while the privacy settings will keep information from notifications private until you interact with them. If you want to disable one or both of these settings, simply toggle the switch from on to off.

Pre-installed app notifications

The top section of the Notifications menu is for the apps that come preinstalled on the Apple Watch, such as activity tracking, text messages and emails. Unlike third-party apps, which simply mirror notifications from an iPhone, the notifications from these can be customized to your liking.

Say you only want to receive a light buzz when a text message comes in and not hear a chirping sound. In the Notifications menu on the Apple Watch app, tap Messages, select Custom, and toggle the sound switch from on to off. Another example would be if you don't want to be reminded to stand every hour. You can tap Activity and toggle Stand Reminders off.

Third-party app notifications

The Apple Watch is set to automatically mirror notifications from your iPhone. This can get annoying very quickly. I found myself bombarded with useless notifications from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. To set which notifications come through on your iPhone, head to Settings and click on Notifications.

You can also disable app notifications from appearing on the Apple Watch all together. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap Notifications and scroll down the bottom of the menu. You will see a list of all of the Apple Watch apps you have installed. From here all you have to do is switch off the apps you don't want to hear from.

I ended up turning off a majority of third-party app notifications, but everyone has a different preference. You should take some time to explore the Notifications menu and customize alerts to your liking.


The Apple Watch is a complicated device. To learn how to do everything from setting it up to swapping the bands, be sure to check out CNET's complete guide to using the Apple Watch, and don't forget to read our full review .