How to Get Keyboard on Apple Watch & Type Faster (watchOS 9)

Are the days of using third-party keyboard apps for Apple Watch over for you? Maybe!

What to Know

  • To have the Apple Watch texting keyboard, you need an Apple Watch Series 7, Series 8, or Ultra running watchOS 8 or later.
  • Older Apple Watch models will need a third-party keyboard app. 

The Apple Watch can do a lot entirely independently of the iPhone, but typing on the watch has always been one of the biggest obstacles. While Apple Watch keyboard apps are an option for most watch models, the built-in QWERTY Apple Watch keyboard is a game changer.

What’s in This Article:

How to Text on Apple Watch Using the Full Keyboard

The new Apple Watch texting keyboard makes it so much easier to type on your watch. To use your keyboard:

  1. Open Messages on your Apple Watch. You can do this by tapping the Messages app in the App Library or asking Siri to open the Messages app.

    Open Messages on your Apple Watch.
  2. Tap on an existing texting thread or write a new message by tapping on New Message.

    Tap on an existing texting thread or write a new message by tapping on New Message.
  3. Tap Create Message. If you are responding to a text, you'll have to tap on iMessage.

    Tap Create Message.
  4. If you are writing a new text, you'll have to tap Create Message again.

    If you are writing a new text, you'll have to tap Create Message again.
  5. Tap the letters individually to write words. You can also use the swipe feature to glide your finger over the letters without tapping each individually to write. It works the same on Apple Watch as it does on the iPad and iPhone.

    Tap the letters individually to write words.
  6. If you have a typo, the correct spelling will be suggested underneath the word. Tap it to fix the spelling or to change the text to an emoji.

    If you have a typo, the correct spelling will be suggested underneath the word.
  7. If you tap on any word and see the green square around it, you can use the Digital Crown to scroll between spelling variations and emojis related to that word. To select one, simply scroll to it and wait a second; it will be selected automatically. Unfortunately, there is no undo button, so you'll have to select it again or erase and retype it to change it back.

    To select one, simple scroll to it and wait a second, it will be selectd automatically.
  8. If you tap the text without selecting a word, you can use the Digital Crown to move your "cursor" to a designated location so that you can easily add or delete characters.

    If you tap the text without selecting a word, you can use the Digital Crown to move your "cursor" to a designated location so that you can easily add or delete characters.
  9. If you have a longer text, scrolling to the top row may make the keyboard disappear. To return to it, tap the keyboard icon. 

    If you have a longer text, scrolling to the top row may make the keyboard dissapear. To return to it, tap the keyboard icon. 
  10. You can still use dictation and emoticons along with the full keyboard. 

    You can still use dictation and emoticons along with the full keyboard. 
  11. If you make any mistakes, you can fix them using the backspace key on the keyboard.

    If you make any mistakes, you can fix them using the backspace key on the keyboard.
  12. To switch from letters to numbers, tap the 123 button.

    To switch from letters to numbers, tap the 123 button.
  13. To type symbols that aren’t available within the number keyboard, tap #+=.

    To type symbols that aren’t available within the number keyboard, tap #+=.
  14. To see the full message you've written better, tap Done. If you want to make changes, you'll have to tap the text, then tap the text again as in steps 2 and 3.

    To see the full message you've written better, tap Done.
  15. To send the message, scroll down and tap Send.

    To send the message, scroll down and tap Send.
  16. To delete it, tap Cancel. Please keep in mind that can't save messages as drafts on your Apple Watch.

    To delete it, tap Cancel.

Pro Tip: If you use a bumper to protect your Apple Watch, you may struggle to tap the letters and buttons along the edges of the display. If you remove it, you should be able to type smoothly without issue. 

Apple Watch Texting Keyboard Requirements:

  • Apple Watch Series 7, Apple Watch Series 8, or Apple Watch Ultra
  • watchOS 8 or later software

All you need for the keyboard to work is the Apple Watch Series 7, Series 8, or Ultra running watchOS 8 or later software. Older models of the Apple Watch will need to use a third-party app. Sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter to learn how to get a free keyboard for Apple Watch and other great tips.

How to Get a Keyboard on Apple Watch

You will automatically get the keyboard if you are running the latest software on an Apple Watch Series 7, Series 8, or the new Ultra. If you have the right model but aren't seeing it, double-check that your Apple Watch is up to date. If you're not sure which model you have, read this to determine which Apple Watch Series you have. Once you’ve made sure you have the correct model and software, try restarting your watch if you still can’t see the keyboard. Finally, if none of this works, you’ll have to contact Apple support directly.

Now you know how to type on Apple Watch using the full keyboard! I was skeptical that it would be functional, but it does work quite well, although I still prefer to text on my iPhone when possible. I also like to dictate my text when the message is long, but I have found the keyboard incredibly useful when fixing dictation errors. Next, check out how to text on Apple Watch using custom replies!

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Author Details

Olena Kagui's picture

Author Details

Olena Kagui

Olena Kagui is a Feature Writer at iPhone Life who lives in Hawaii. With a BA in International Relations from Anglo American University, Olena traveled the world. She has lived in Ukraine, the Czech Republic, China, and the USA. Olena won an excellence award for a controversial article, got a grant to blog from a war-zone, and published a short fictional story. She hopes to publish a full-length novel and continue writing up a storm on her blog The Travel Bug Bite! When she’s not typing or flying, she is loving on animals, crafting bizarre creations, and devouring all-you-can-eat sushi.