Can’t Update Your Apple Watch? 7 Ways to Fix It

By Dave Johnson - Executive Editor
4 Min Read

Can’t update your Apple Watch to the latest version of watchOS? Here’s what to do when your Apple Watch won’t update.

Apple just released a new watchOS update and you’re eager to try all of the new features it includes. You go to update your Apple Watch to the latest version of watchOS and BAM! Your Apple Watch won’t update. No matter how many times you try, error messages keep popping up or the Apple Watch takes too long to update, and it’s getting infuriating. In this article, I’ll explain why your Apple Watch won’t update and show you how to fix the problem.

Five Apple Watch devices show features in watchOS 10, including a new Smart Stack and two additional watch faces.  

Why is my Apple Watch not letting me update?

You might be unable to update your Apple Watch for one of these reasons:

  • Your watch doesn’t support the latest version of WatchOS
  • There isn’t enough available storage space on your watch
  • The update takes a long time to download
  • Your watch isn’t able to reach the update server
  • The update doesn’t complete

How to fix an Apple Watch that won’t update

Here’s how to fix your Apple Watch when it won’t let you update watchOS:

1. Charge Your Apple Watch

Let’s start with some basics before diving into more advanced troubleshooting. As you probably know, your Apple Watch won’t let you upgrade if you don’t have enough battery power. This is to prevent your watch from shutting off in the middle of an update, which can cause serious problems.

Make sure your Apple Watch has at least 50% battery charge before starting the OS update. It’s a good idea to leave it on the charger while the process runs, too. That way, if it takes longer than expected, your watch won’t run out of power.

2. Are Apple Servers Overloaded?

When Apple releases a new watchOS update, thousands of people are connecting their Apple Watches to Apple servers to download and install it. With all those people connecting at the same time, Apple’s server may struggle to keep up, which could be the reason why your Apple Watch won’t update.

If you receive an error when trying to update to the latest version of watchOS, try waiting for a while. You should have better luck later when the update servers aren’t under as much strain. Visit Apple’s website to see if their servers are working properly.

3. Make Sure You Have Enough Free Space

A lack of storage is a common culprit for a faulty update process. If you don’t have enough storage to update your Apple Watch, your Apple Watch might say that you need more available storage to install a watchOS update.

To check how much available storage your watch has, follow the steps below:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Tap Storage.

Alternatively:

  1. Open the Watch app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap General.
  3. Scroll down, and select Storage. In this menu, you’ll see how much storage you have used and remaining.

If your Apple Watch doesn’t have enough room to store the update, try to free up storage on your watch, then try to install the watchOS update. You can free up storage on your Apple Watch by removing any music or removing any photos that you’ve synced to your watch. You can also remove some apps to free up more space.

4. Restart Your Apple Watch

A one-off bug can prevent you from updating your Apple Watch. Simply restart your Apple Watch, then try updating it again. Restarting your watch will restart its processes and hopefully clear up any temporary glitches.

  1. Press and hold the side button until the Power icon appears at the top-right of your screen.
  2. Tap the Power icon.
  3. Drag the Power Off slider to the right to turn off your watch.
  4. Turn on your watch by holding the side button till the Apple logo appears on the display.

5. Make Sure Your Apple Watch Has An Internet Connection

If you still can’t update your Apple Watch, the next step is to take a look at your internet connection. A slow or unreliable Wi-Fi connection means you may not be able to update properly.

Make sure you’re connected to a reliable Wi-Fi network when you try to update. It’s worth restarting your router if you haven’t done so in a while. If you have continued issues, you might also try connecting to a different Wi-Fi network and seeing if you have the same issue there.

6. Is Your Apple Watch Compatible With The New Update?

Almost every year, a few older Apple Watches lose their compatibility with new watchOS updates. It’s possible your Apple Watch won’t update because it’s not compatible with the new update. For example, watchOS 10 requires iPhone XS, iPhone XR or later with iOS 17 and one of the following Apple Watch models:

  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch SE
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch Series 7
  • Apple Watch Series 8
  • Apple Watch Ultra

7. Unpair and update your Apple Watch

  1. Keep your Apple Watch and iPhone close together as you unpair them.
  2. Launch the Watch app on your iPhone.
  3. Navigate to the My Watch tab and select All Watches at the top of the display.
  4. Tap on the info button next to the watch that you want to unpair.
  5. Tap on Unpair Apple Watch.
  6. Tap again to confirm your decision.

Next, set up your Apple Watch with your iPhone. When asked whether you want to set up as new or restore from a backup, choose to set up as new. Then follow the onscreen instructions to complete setup.

If you want to update to the watchOS beta, reinstall the beta profile after setup is complete.

Finally, update your Apple Watch.

My Apple Watch won’t update: Problem Fixed!

It’s frustrating when your Apple Watch won’t update. Hopefully, one of these fixes solved your problem and you can now enjoy the latest version of watchOS.

Aside from keeping current with updates, make sure you’re taking good care of your Apple Watch so it serves you for many years.

By Dave Johnson Executive Editor
Dave Johnson is the editor-in-chief at GeeksChalk where he oversees all of site’s evergreen content to ensure it’s up to date with the latest information. Hailing from New Jersey in the US, he has over seven years of experience in the tech journalism space and holds a degree in English Literature. In his spare time, Dave can found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, and petting every dog he comes across in the outside world.
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