How to Use a Portrait as an Apple Watch Face

An exciting new addition to Apple Watch in watchOS 8 is the ability to add photos in Portrait mode to your Apple Watch face. These portraits look more three-dimensional than photos, and can even overlay the time numerals for a unique touch! We'll show you how to use a photo as an Apple Watch face in Portrait mode.

Related: 6 Easy Ways to Transfer Photos from iPhone to PC or Mac

Why You'll Love This Tip

  • See a new favorite Portrait every time you wake your Apple Watch.
  • Portrait-mode photos can even interact three-dimensionally with the date and time on your Apple Watch.

How to Change Apple Watch Face to Photo: Portrait Apple Watch Face

Portraits are different from other photos in your Camera roll in that they use different depths of field to blur the background while keeping the photo's subject in focus. With this Apple Watch face, you can create a more dynamic look by keeping the photo's subject front and center while allowing the date and time to display over the background. To learn more about what's new in watchOS 8, sign up for our Tip of the Day newsletter! Here's how to set a photo as Apple Watch face with protrait mode.

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  1. Open the Watch app on your iPhone.

    Open Watch app
  2. Tap Face Gallery.

    Tap Face Gallery
  3. Tap Portraits.

    Tap Portraits
  4. Tap Choose Photos to select the portraits you want to see on your Apple Watch face.

    Tap Choose Photos
  5. Tap up to 24 Portraits you want to use as your Apple Watch face background.

    Select Portraits
  6. Once you've selected your Portraits, tap Add.

    Tap Add
  7. Scroll down to Style and select either Classic, Modern, or Rounded. I chose Modern.

    Select face style
  8. You can also choose to turn the date off or change the bottom complication to a variety of complications, like Activity, Alarm, Moon Phase, and more.

    Choose complications
  9. Once you're done, tap Add.

    Tap Add
  10. To set the portrait subject to appear over the time numerals on the Apple Watch face, tap the My Watch tab at the bottom of the screen.

  11. Tap on the Portraits watch face in My Faces.

  12. Tap on [#] Photos.

  13. Tap the photo you want to edit.

  14. Select one of the three options at the bottom, represented by circular icons. You can choose Top Behind, Top Front, or Bottom Front.

  15. When you're finished, tap Done.

  16. Tap Done again to save changes.

Next time your Apple Watch screen lights up, you should see the new Portrait face featuring your selected portraits! If you're not already on the Portraits face, you can easily switch Apple Watch faces. Plus, check out how apps have used this new feature to create unique third-party Apple Watch faces.

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Author Details

Elisabeth Garry's picture

Author Details

Elisabeth Garry

Elisabeth Garry is an Associate Editor for iPhone Life. Formerly of Gartner and Software Advice, they have six years of experience writing about technology for everyday users, specializing in iPhones, HomePods, and Apple TV. As a former college writing instructor, they are passionate about effective, accessible communication, which is perhaps why they love helping readers master the strongest communication tools they have available: their iPhones. They have a degree in Russian Literature and Language from Reed College.

When they’re not writing for iPhone Life, they’re reading about maritime disasters, writing fiction, rock climbing, or walking their adorable dog, Moosh.