How To Force Reboot Your Apple Watch (And Why You Might Need To)

One of the oldest tenets in the history of consumer electronics is as follows: When it's not working right, just power cycle it. Power cycling is a quick and easy way to initiate a reboot on most electronic devices, and oftentimes, a reboot is all you need to fix problems, be they small and annoying or large and paralyzing. No matter what kind of device you're using, a safe, manual shutdown and reboot is usually enough to get things rolling again.

Of course, that's somewhat contingent on the assumption that you can access the options on your device necessary to initiate a reboot. For instance, let's say you're having a problem with your Apple Watch and want to reboot it, but you can't bring up the power settings. Can you still reboot it like that? Well, as it turns out, you absolutely can. You just need to know the secret input password.

How to reboot and force reboot an Apple Watch

Before we jump right to force rebooting, let's first go over how to perform a traditional reboot. Force rebooting, after all, is a bit intense for the system, so it's best to do things the proper way before you jump to the red alert option.

  1. Press and hold the side button on your Apple Watch until the power options appear on the screen.

  2. Drag the power slider to the right to power down your Apple Watch.

  3. Press and hold the side button again until the Apple Watch boots back up, signified by the Apple logo appearing on the screen.

Incidentally, you can only reboot your Apple Watch while running off its own power, not when it's charging.

If, for whatever reason, a traditional reboot is off the table, then it's time for a force reboot.

  1. Press and hold both the side button and the Digital Crown button on your Apple Watch.

  2. Keep both buttons pressed for 10 seconds, and the screen will power down.

  3. Keep holding the buttons until the screen turns back on and the Apple logo appears; you can release them at this point.

Technically, a force reboot can be performed while the Apple Watch is charging, though you might want to take it off the hook while you do it just in case, as it may be detrimental to the battery's health.

When should you reboot an Apple Watch?

Generally speaking, you'd perform any kind of reboot on your Apple Watch when it isn't working properly. This could mean your apps aren't working, apps keep crashing, the watch refuses to connect with your other devices, or any other reasons. A quick power cycling can fix a lot of simple problems and is your first avenue of repair.

Performing a regular reboot on your Apple Watch isn't that big of a deal. It wouldn't have built-in settings for doing such a thing if you weren't supposed to use them. On the other hand, performing a force reboot is a bit of a bigger deal. Apple warns that the force reboot command should only be used if the regular reboot command is unavailable. In other words, it should only be used as a last resort when your Apple Watch is completely locked up.

As an important side note, you shouldn't reboot or force reboot your Apple Watch if it's in the process of updating its OS. Rebooting the device in the middle of a major software update is a great way to end up with corrupted data, which means an unpleasant repair trip to the Apple Store.