How to Use Assistive Touch on Apple Watch (2022)

Activate Assistive Touch on your Apple Watch to more easily navigate & use your watch.

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

Assistive Touch on Apple Watch is an innovative feature to help make the device more accessible for those who have difficulty using the touch screen. However, anyone can make use of this gesture-based feature. Read on to learn how to use Assistive Touch on your Apple Watch.

Related: How to Use the New Apple Watch Keyboard

Why You’ll Love This Tip

  • Navigate and use your Apple Watch with one hand.
  • Create custom shortcuts and gestures to make your Apple Watch more accessible if you have a physical impairment.

How to Turn On Assistive Touch from Your Apple Watch

Assistive Touch on Apple Watch is a feature in which the sensors on the back of the watch are able to detect specific hand movements based on the muscles in your wrist. For example, the watch can detect when you are making a fist or a pinching motion. These simple gestures can be used to help you navigate your Apple Watch without having to use the touch screen. For more handy tips, sign up for our free Tip of the Day Newsletter. Now, here’s how to turn on Assistive Touch from your Apple Watch.

  1. Press the Digital Crown to bring up the home screen.
  2. Tap the Settings app.

    Tap the Settings app.
  3. Scroll down and tap Accessibility.

    Scroll down and tap Accessibility.
  4. Tap AssistiveTouch.

    Tap AssistiveTouch.
  5. Tap the toggle to turn the feature on. You might be asked if you would like to see a demonstration of the different gestures.

    Tap the toggle to turn the feature on.
  6. If you would like to customize your Apple Watch gestures, tap Hand Gestures.

    Tap Hand Gestures.
  7. Tap a gesture to change its associated action. For example, tap Pinch.

    Tap a gesture to change its associated action. For example, tap Pinch.
  8. Tap Press Crown. From now on, the Pinch gesture will simulate a press of the Digital Crown. You can repeat these steps for each gesture to change what they do.

    Tap Press Crown. From now on, the Pinch gesture will simulate a press of the Digital Crown.

Once you have customized all the different gestures to your liking, you should be able to navigate your Apple Watch using gestures like pinching your fingers and clenching your fist.

How to Turn On Assistive Touch from Your iPhone

Since this feature is primarily meant to be used by those with physical impairments, using the touch screen of the Apple Watch might be difficult. If that is the case and you are having trouble activating the feature from your watch, you can also turn Assistive Touch on from the Watch app on your iPhone. Here's how to enable Assistive Touch: 

  1. Open the Watch app.

    Open the Watch app.
  2. Tap Accessibility.

    Tap Accessibility.
  3. Tap AssistiveTouch.

    Tap AssistiveTouch.
  4. Tap the toggle to enable AssistiveTouch. (The toggle is green when enabled.)

    Tap the toggle to turn AssistiveTouch on.
  5. Tap Hand Gestures to see how you can use these movements to navigate your watch.

    Tap Hand Gestures to see how you can use these movements to navigate your watch.
  6. You can also customize each gesture by tapping on it and changing the action that happens when you make that gesture. For example, tap Pinch.

    Tap Pinch.
  7. Tap Press Crown. From now on, the Pinch gesture will simulate a press of the Digital Crown. You can repeat these steps for each gesture to change what they do.

    Tap Press Crown. From now on, the Pinch gesture will simulate a press of the Digital Crown.

When AssistiveTouch is active, the default gestures are as follows: pinching with your index finger and thumb moves your selection forward, pinching twice moves your selection backward, making a fist and clenching simulates a tap, and double clenching your fist brings up a more detailed menu with more actions you can perform. You can navigate this menu using the previously mentioned pinching motions, and use the clenching gesture to make a selection. Now you can more easily use your Apple Watch!

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Author Details

Rhett Intriago's picture

Author Details

Rhett Intriago

Rhett Intriago is a passionate writer and Apple enthusiast. When he’s not drafting iPhone Life articles, he prefers to spend his free time gaming with friends, watching anime with his wife, or playing with his three cats.