Apple Watch Not Syncing Contacts? Here’s How to Fix It

What to Know

  • Double-check your iCloud contact sync settings to ensure your contacts are synced across devices.
  • Check for updates on your Apple Watch and iPhone, restart both devices, and reset sync data.
  • Unpair your Apple Watch from your iPhone and re-pair it to fully reset contact sync.

Using your Apple Watch to call and text should be simple, but if contacts are not showing up on your Apple Watch, it's very difficult to know who you're interacting with. We'll show you several ways to fix the problem if your iPhone contacts are not syncing to your Apple Watch, plus a few tips to keep it from happening again.

Jump To:

How to Fix It If Your Apple Watch Is Not Showing Contact Names

If your Apple Watch is not showing contacts, there are a few different solutions you can try to get them back. For more Apple Watch troubleshooting advice, like what to do when your Apple Watch keeps pausing during a workout, be sure to sign up for our Tip of the Day. With any luck, you won't have to try very many of these tips to fix your issues with an Apple Watch not showing contact names from your iPhone! Let's discover the solution to fix Apple Watch not showing contacts.

It's best to follow the below tips in order since they're organized from the simplest solution to the most involved. If you've already tried some of these, feel free to skip ahead using the navigation menu above!

iPhone Life
Discover your iPhone's hidden features
Get a daily tip (with screenshots and clear instructions) so you can master your iPhone in just one minute a day.

Is It Just a Few Apple Watch Contacts Not Syncing?

If just a few Apple Watch contact names or a specific contact group are missing, you might be in luck. The problem could be fixed by deleting and re-entering those contacts in your iPhone and then power-cycling both your Apple Watch and your iPhone. Before you do this, make sure you either copy the contacts' information into the Notes app so that you can easily re-enter it when creating new contact cards, or write it down on paper to prevent the loss of their data.

Back to Top

Check iCloud Contact Syncing Settings

With multiple devices paired to each other, sometimes sync issues can occur. A good option to try is to make sure your iCloud settings are set up to sync contacts between devices. This is often the cause of the issue when contact photos aren't syncing across devices, and can also cause problems that lead to an Apple Watch not showing contact names from your iPhone contacts. To make sure iCloud contact syncing is enabled:

  1. On your iPhone, open the Settings app.

    iphone settings app
  2. Tap on your Apple ID profile at the top.

    Tap on your Apple ID profile to check contact syncing settings
  3. Tap on iCloud.

    tap on iCloud
  4. Tap Show All.

    tap show all to see icloud sync settings
  5. Check that the Contacts toggle is green, which means your contacts are being synced to iCloud.

    make sure contacts is toggled on
  6. If the Contacts toggle is gray, tap the toggle to enable Contacts syncing to iCloud.

If this feature was disabled, this may very well be what is causing your contacts to not show on Apple Watch. It's a good idea to still check Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, and to ensure that your Apple Watch and iPhone are both updated. That way, all syncing will be performed in accordance with current watchOS and iOS software.

If your Apple Watch is still not syncing contacts, move on to the next section to check your connections and pairing.

Back to Top

Check Wi-Fi & Bluetooth Connections

If other functions are working the way they should, and it's just that your iPhone contacts are not showing on your Apple Watch, it's unlikely that connection issues are to blame. Still, it's a good idea to make sure your Apple Watch and iPhone are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, and that they both have Bluetooth enabled and are connected to each other.

Here's how to check Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections on your iPhone:

  1. Swipe down from the top-right corner of your screen to access the Control Center. (On an iPhone with a Home button, you'll swipe up from the bottom of the screen).

    Swipe down from top-right corner to access control center
  2. Long-press on the center of the tile that contains the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Cellular, and Airplane mode icons.

    long-press to check iPhone connections
  3. A screen will appear that summarizes your connectivity. Look at the Wi-Fi section to make sure you're on Wi-Fi and to see the name of the network you're connected to.

    Check Wi-Fi connection on iPhone
  4. Look at the Bluetooth section to make sure Bluetooth is on.

    Check Bluetooth connection on iPhone

To check Wi-Fi and other connections on your Apple Watch:

  1. Push the Side button once to open the Control Center on your Apple Watch. 
  2. You should see a green phone icon, which indicates that your Apple Watch is connected to your iPhone.

    You should see a green phone icon, which indicates that your Apple Watch is connected to your iPhone.
  3. You should also see a Wi-Fi icon, and it should be blue to indicate that Wi-Fi is enabled and connected.
  4. If you need to check your Wi-Fi network to make sure it matches the one your iPhone is connected to, long-press the Wi-Fi icon.

    If you need to check your Wi-Fi network to make sure it matches the one your iPhone is connected to, long-press the Wi-Fi icon.
  5. The Wi-Fi screen will appear, and you should see the network you're connected to listed directly below the Wi-Fi toggle.

    See Wi-Fi network
  6. If you need to switch networks, scroll down and tap on the Wi-Fi network you want to join.

    Select new Wi-Fi network

If all connections seem to be in order, but your iPhone contacts are not syncing to your Apple Watch, keep reading.

Back to Top

Restart Your Apple Watch & iPhone

Ah, yes, the good ol' power-cycle tip for technology that's acting up. As annoying as it is to be asked to do this, it has a surprisingly high rate of effectiveness. Sometimes, our devices get a little bogged down by processes, and we may not even recognize that a feature isn't working properly because of it. The quickest way to make sure you're starting from scratch is to restart your Apple Watch and your iPhone. Who knows, this may fix contacts not showing up on Apple Watch right off the bat!

Back to Top

Are Your iPhone & Apple Watch Updated?

With so many versions of iOS and watchOS updates, it can be hard to remember to keep your devices updated. Since updates can provide bug fixes that affect certain devices and other enhancements that may improve functionality, it's a good idea to keep your gadgets updated. 

Before you go any further, make sure you've installed the current iOS update and the current watchOS software version. You can also learn what to do if your Apple Watch won't update.

Apple watchOS up to date

Once you've completed any necessary updates, restart whichever device (if any) hasn't yet been restarted, and check your Apple Watch contacts again. If you find that your Apple Watch doesn't have contacts appearing the way they should be appearing even after this process, try resetting your Apple Watch Sync Data, as outlined in the next section.

Back to Top

    Contacts on Apple Watch Not Syncing? Try Resetting Sync Data

    If you're here after trying the previous steps, I am sorry for the frustration of having your Apple Watch not syncing with your iPhone contacts! I've had to deal with this before, too, but this may help. Resetting your Apple Watch Sync Data can be a good way to nip the contact syncing problem in the bud. If your Apple Watch is not showing contact names, here's how to reset sync data:

    1. On your iPhone, open the Watch app.

      Open the Watch App on your iPhone
    2. Tap on General.

      Tap on General
    3. Scroll all the way down and tap on Reset.

      reset apple watch settings to sync contacts to apple watch
    4. Tap on Reset Sync Data

      Tap on Reset Sync Data

    If you think Reset Sync Data is not working, it may just be that the process operates almost invisibly behind the scenes. It fooled me at first because it seems like nothing happens when you tap the Reset Sync Data button, but in reality, the data is resetting and then syncing again. Give it a few minutes, and then restart your Apple Watch and your iPhone to see if it's worked. If your Apple Watch is not syncing contacts still, keep reading. If it's just the contact card that's not syncing, check out these five ways to fix the "Contact Card Is Not Available" message. Love Contact Cards? Learn how to create a custom Contact Card to display your name in style.

    Back to Top

    Un-pair & Re-pair Your Apple Watch

    Last but not least, if none of the other tips have solved your Apple Watch contacts syncing issue, you may need to un-pair and then re-pair your Apple Watch and iPhone. It's not a very tough process, but it does take a fair amount of time (10 or so minutes). This is usually a last-ditch option but should fix any issues you are having with Apple Watch contacts not showing.


    • Why are my contacts not showing on Apple Watch? Your iCloud sync settings might not be set correctly; you may need to install software updates, or it could be a glitch or bug. 
    • What if my Apple Watch is not syncing contacts still? If your Apple Watch contacts are not syncing still, check if the Apple System Status page shows iCloud Contacts are working. 
    • Are contacts not syncing to Apple Watch still? If the Apple System Status page shows that iCloud Contacts are working, but contacts are still not syncing, it's time to contact Apple Support in case you have a hardware issue.  

    We hope these tips did the trick! Let us know which of the solutions in this article solved your Apple Watch contacts issue, or feel free to suggest any simple tips we may have missed! You can also check out our troubleshooting tips for when iCloud contacts are not syncing for iPhone.

    Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.


    Author Details

    Erin MacPherson's picture

    Author Details

    Erin MacPherson

    Erin is a Web Editor for iPhone Life and has been a writer, editor, and researcher for many years. She has a degree in communication with an emphasis on psychology and communication, and has spent many of her professional years as a coach in various business and specialty fields. Erin officially joined the ranks of iPhone and Apple users everywhere around nine years ago, and has since enjoyed the unique and customized feel of Apple technology and its many gadgets. When she’s not working, Erin and her son enjoy outdoor adventures, camping, and spending time with their eclectic collection of pets.