Apple Watch Won’t Update? Here's What to Do

What to Know

  • If your Apple Watch is having update issues, first make sure the watch is charged and your iPhone software is up to date. 
  • Then, try restarting your Apple Watch. If that doesn't work, unpair and re-pair your Apple Watch to your iPhone to resolve the update error. 

The Apple Watch is an impressive and powerful device. Just like your iPhone, its software needs to be updated regularly for maintenance and bug repair. But what if the Apple Watch update won’t install? The following troubleshooting tips should help you when your Apple Watch won't update.

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Apple Watch Not Updating? Troubleshooting Steps

There could be several reasons your Apple Watch software update is stuck. If your iPhone is up to date, your Apple Watch is charged, and the update is still not starting, try this first. If you've already done this, I'll explain how to fix the "Unable to Install Update" error on an Apple Watch and go over update requirements to confirm that your watch is compatible with the latest software update.

  1. Restart your iPhone, then restart your Apple Watch before re-attempting the update.
  2. If it still doesn't work, unpair your Apple Watch from your iPhone.
  3. Pair your Apple Watch to your iPhone.

To see the exact steps for each of these, keep reading or click on the links to get step-by-step instructions to fix your Apple Watch not updating issues. If your Apple Watch won't update on Beta software, read this.

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1. Restart Your Apple Watch

If your Apple Watch update is stuck, there is no restart option on an Apple Watch like there is on an iPhone. You have to turn the watch off and then on again. Here's how to restart your Apple Watch:

  1. Press and hold the Side button.
  2. In the new screen that appears, tap the Power icon in the top right corner.

    apple watch update failed
  3. Slide the Power Off slider to the right.

    apple watch software update stuck
  4. Once the Watch turns off, wait 30 seconds and then turn it back on by holding the side button until you see the Apple Logo.

    Restart apple watch to fix update issues - iwatch update
    Image courtesy of Apple

Related: How to Pair Apple Watch to New Phone

2. Unpair Your Apple Watch from Your iPhone

If the Apple Watch won't update after the previous steps are completed, the next step is to unpair it. Here's how to unpair the Apple Watch from your iPhone if it won't update:

  1. Open the Watch app on your iPhone.

    Open the watch app to fix apple watch won't update
  2. While in My Watch tab, tap on All Watches at the top of the screen.

    Tap on All Watches in the upper-left corner
  3. Tap on the info icon next to the watch you wish to unpair.

    Tap on the info icon next to the watch you want to unpair
  4. Select Unpair Apple Watch.

    Tap Unpair Apple Watch
  5. Tap Unpair [Name’s] Apple Watch to unpair.

    Confirm Unpair Apple Watch

3. Pair Apple Watch with Your iPhone After Unpairing It

Here is how to pair your Apple Watch with your iPhone after unpairing it:

  1. Make sure your Apple Watch is on, or turn it on by pressing the side button until the Apple logo appears.

    Make sure your Apple Watch is on, or turn it on by holding in the side button until the Apple logo appears.
  2. Open the Watch app on your iPhone.

    Open the Watch app on your iPhone.
  3. Tap Start Pairing.

  4. From here, you can choose whether to set it up for a family member or for yourself.

  5. Position your Apple Watch in the yellow frame on the phone screen. Or, you can also choose to Pair Manually

    Bring watch
  6. Now that your device is paired, you can restore it from another Watch backup by tapping Restore from Backup, or start fresh by tapping Set Up as New Apple Watch.

  7. You will be prompted with a few more instructional menus. Continue to follow the onscreen instructions to complete the Apple Watch pairing process.  

Once you have finished this process, your Watch will take a few minutes to sync. Once it syncs, it's ready to go and should be working again!

How to Fix the “Unable to Install Update” Error on an Apple Watch

If you see a message pop up that says "Unable to Install Update," there are a few ways to troubleshoot. One Apple Watch unable to check for update troubleshooting tip is to turn off the option to unlock your Apple Watch with your iPhone. Another is to let your Apple Watch update automatically overnight. If you have an Apple Watch with cellular service, you can try updating the watch directly after turning off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on your iPhone.

Don’t forget to turn the Unlock with iPhone setting back on once the Apple Watch is updated. Another common error message is "Apple unable to check for update." The steps in this article should help with that too, in particular checking your Wi-Fi connection and restarting your Apple Watch. 

If all else fails, you may be able to try one more trick as long as you are running iOS 15.4 or newer software on your iPhone. Check out this article on how to restore Apple Watch Firmware from your iPhone to troubleshoot.

Let Your Apple Watch Update Automatically Overnight

Sometimes the update issue can be solved on its own without your help. Make sure Automatic Updates is toggled on in your Apple Watch settings. Then simply keep your phone connected to Wi-Fi and place the Apple Watch on its charger in range of your iPhone. Here's how to turn on Apple Watch Automatic Updates:

  1. Open the Watch app on your iPhone.

    Open the watch app to fix apple watch won't update
  2. From the My Watch tab, tap on General.

    Tap on General
  3. Select Software Update.

    Tap on Software Update to retry apple watch update
  4. Tap on Automatic Updates.

    Tap on Automatic Updates
  5. Make sure Automatic Updates are enabled; the toggle should be green.

    Be sure that Automatic Updates are toggled on (the toggle will be green)

Did you leave it overnight and followed all the update requirements but you still can't update your Apple Watch? Try the following troubleshooting steps to finally get that Apple Watch software update!

Apple Watch Update Requirements

There are a few steps to take before attempting to update your watch, and before going through any Apple Watch troubleshooting tips. And for tips and tricks for all your Apple devices, be sure to sign up for our free Tip of the Day!

  1. Make sure your iPhone is updated to the latest version of iOS.
  2. Charge your Apple Watch to 50 percent or more.
  3. Connect your iPhone to Wi-Fi.
  4. Keep your iPhone next to your Apple Watch throughout the update.

How to Update Apple Watch

One of the best ways to get the newest watch update is to let it update automatically overnight. However, you can also install the update manually:

  1. Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch.

    Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch - iwatch latest version
  2. Tap General.

    Tap General.
  3. Next, tap Software Update.

    Next, tap Software Update.
  4. Tap Install if you see that a new update is available.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions to install it.

Throughout the year, you can expect smaller updates that will fix bugs and may potentially add new features. Any time you wonder what the latest version of Apple Watch software is, follow the steps above to see which version you are running. If no update is available, then you are running the latest one. Now, you're ready to update to the latest watchOS.

    There are many ways to troubleshoot if your Apple Watch update won’t install updates and solve "unable to check for update Apple Watch" errors. We hope that our guide helped you successfully install the latest Apple Watch update! One of your last resorts should be performing a factory reset on your Apple Watch. We hope you never find yourself saying, "my Apple Watch won't update," again! Next, find out if you can use an Apple Watch without an iPhone and how to update MacOS.

    FAQ

    • What should I do if an Apple Watch update is taking forever? If your Apple Watch update is taking forever, keep it charged and be patient. Apple Watch updates can take some time to install. Only restart if it's been more than 2 hours.
    • Does it really take two hours to update an Apple Watch? An Apple Watch update can take up to two hours, but it doesn't always. It depends on many factors, including the size of the update.
    • Can I interrupt an Apple Watch update? It is possible to interrupt an Apple Watch update, but it is not recommended. In almost all cases, it's best to let the update happen before doing anything else with your Apple Watch.
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    Author Details

    Olena Kagui's picture

    Author Details

    Olena Kagui

    Olena Kagui is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life. In the last 10 years, she has been published in dozens of publications internationally and won an excellence award. Since joining iPhone Life in 2020, she has written how-to articles as well as complex guides about Apple products, software, and apps. Olena grew up using Macs and exploring all the latest tech. Her Maui home is the epitome of an Apple ecosystem, full of compatible smart gear to boot. Olena’s favorite device is the Apple Watch Ultra because it can survive all her adventures and travels, and even her furbabies.