Apple Watch Complications: a complete user guide

One of the great perks of having an Apple Watch is its customization capabilities. From personalized watch faces to additional apps available in the Apple Watch App Store, no other smartwatch compares.

What makes Apple the most unique is the various Apple Watch Complications.

If you are a new Apple Watch user, welcome! This guide lays out everything you want and need to know about Apple Watch Complications.

In a hurry? in a hurry graphic

If time is short and you don’t need a thorough step-by-step, follow these quick instructions to add or change your Apple Watch complications!

  • Use your iPhone’s Watch app and tap a current watch face or open the Face Gallery and choose a new one. Scroll down to the Complications section and tap a location, then make your changes. If it’s a new watch face, press the Add button at the top to save it.
  • Use your Apple Watch and press and hold on its current watch face. Choose which face you want to make changes to and press the Edit button. Swipe to Complications and tap a box to change its complication. Press the Digitial Crown to save!

Suggested reading

What exactly is an Apple Watch Complication? 

Well, a Complication is Apple Watch’s version of a widget.

Your Apple Watch uses Complications to display little bits of information from the apps on your Watch that appear on your Apple Watch’s face. Cool right?

Wondering what apps have complications for Apple Watch?

Almost any Apple Watch app can have a Complication feature.

Apple already provides several built-in Complications like Activity, Music, Calendar, Alarms, Timers, etc.

But you can also add Complications from other third-party apps for almost anything you frequently do or need, like our favorite Pandora! The key is to have that app installed on your Apple Watch. If you don’t have the app on your watch, you can’t access its complication.

Complications make Apple Watches much more customizable and personable to you. 

Now that you know what a Complication is, let’s learn how to add some to your Apple Watch!

How to add and use Apple Watch Complications using your iPhone’s Watch app

watch face gallery apple watch
Your Apple Watch has many different Watch Faces you can choose from!

Step#1: Choose your watch face

Before you add Complications to your Apple Watch, you must select which Watch Face you want to use.

  • To add a Watch Face to your Apple Watch, open the Watch app on your iPhone, then tap on the Face Gallery tab at the bottom.

    iPhone watch app face gallery tab
    Find the Face Gallery tab at the bottom of your iPhone’s Watch app.
  • Apple’s branded pre-made Watch Face options pop up, and you can select whichever style you like! 

You can also add a watch face from your Apple Watch itself, just long-press on your current watch face and swipe until you see the New option! Tap it and use the digital crown to scroll through watch face options.

Some watch faces do not currently offer complications, like Artist, so be sure you choose a face that offers complications!

If you want to do a lot of customization, we recommend stick to the Watch app on your iPhone. Your choices are more limited when creating a watch face on the Apple Watch itself.

Step#2: Customize your watch face color and style (optional)

  • Once you decide on your Watch Face, tap it to select.
  • A preview of the Watch Face pops up, and you can now customize it! With most Watch Faces, you can change the color and style.
apple watch complications set up
After you select your Watch Face style, you can customize it however you like!

Step#3: Add complications to your watch face 

list of profiled apple watch face complications
Find what locations are available for complications by reviewing the list of placement options in the Watch app.

After choosing your watch face’s color and style, scroll down, and look for options to customize its Complications.

  • Since each Watch Face is unique, so are its Complications. Apple usually prefills your complications with its suggestions, but sometimes you’ll see a complication listed as off (meaning there’s no chosen complication.)
  • The design of the Watch Face determines the placement of each Complication. Some options include Top, Top Left or Right, Bottom, Bottom Left or Right, Middle, etc.
  • Depending on the Watch Face you choose, you can add anywhere from 1 to 8 Complications.

For example, the Modular Watch Face design can hold up to 5 different complications. The Infograph Watch Face can hold up to 8 Complications. It all depends on what you want.

So when you are selecting a Watch Face, keep in mind how many Complications you want to be displayed and where you want them displayed.

Choose and add your complications to your Apple Watch face

  1. Tap on the Complication location you want to edit. For example, top left. change apple watch complication
  2. A list of available Complications pops up in alphabetical order A-Z.
    iPhone watch app list of available complications
    You’ll see all available watch face complications in a list of A-Z.
    1. The list you have on your Apple Watch comes from the apps you have on your Apple Watch.
    2. If you want a complication that’s not listed, install the watch app first, then repeat the steps.
  3. Scroll down to the complication list, locate the one you want to use, and tap on it.
    1. If you don’t want a complication in that location, choose Off at the top of the list.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for all of the Complication locations you wish to add or change. list of apple watch complication locations
  5. Once you selected your Complications to your new Watch Face, tap the Add Button at the top to add the watch face (and its complications) to your watch. You must press this button to save all your changes and add the watch face to your Apple Watch.

    add new watch face and complications to your Apple Watch using the Watch app
    If this is a new watch face, you must press the ADD button. If you forget this step, your changes are not saved.

How to change Apple Watch Complications on your iPhone

Decided you don’t like a complication or don’t use it, don’t worry! 

If you want to change your Apple Watch Complications, you can edit them in the Apple Watch iPhone App or directly on your Apple Watch.

apple watch my faces
To edit your Watch Face on your iPhone, go to your faces and tap on the one you want to edit.
  1. To edit your Apple Watch Complications on your iPhone, open the Watch app.
  2. Go to the My Faces section and tap on the Watch Face that you want to change.

    Update apple watch face's complications
    Updating your current watch face’s complications is easy in the Watch app!
  3. Scroll down to Complications, tap the complication you want to edit, and make the changes you want. 
    1. Apple automatically saves any changes you make. You don’t need to press a button to make the update.

How to edit complications on your Apple Watch

edit watch face on apple watch
Editing your watch face directly on your Apple Watch is super simple!

If you want to change your Complications directly on your Apple Watch, you can do that too!

  1. Press down on your Watch Face and select Edit.
  2. Then swipe right to open the Complications edit tab.
    1. Complications that you can change are outlined in a box.

      change an apple watch face complication directly on Apple Watch
      Any complications that you can change are outlined and highlighted. Press on the box to change it to another complication.
  3. Tap on a complication area you want to change.
  4. Then scroll using the Digital Crown or up or down on the screen with your finger and choose which Complications you want to change and tap it to make those changes.

    list of complications you can change on your apple watch face using your apple watch
    Scroll through the list of available complications for your Apple Watch face.
  5. Once you finish, push the Digital Crown in to save your changes.

If you’re not satisfied with the current Complications you have, you’re probably wondering: where can I find some great ones? Look no further, we got you.

How to find the best complications for your Apple Watch

While Apple Watch offers tons of complimentary Complications, many users want and need more than the bare minimum.

That’s why tons of third-party companies offer a variety of apps and Complications for your Apple Watch.

If you have apps on your iPhone that are also available for your Apple Watch, then the additional Complications are already installed.

Take a look through your apps and see what you currently have and use.

If you want more apps that offer Apple Watch Complications, you can look at the Apple App Store and see what apps also offer Apple Watch apps.

But if you want some suggestions, we got you covered.

Complications pre-installed on your Apple Watch

As we mentioned before, Apple offers tons of complimentary Apple Watch Complications for its users to use. Here are the ones you need to use!

Activity

apple watch activity complication
If you are constantly trying to close all of your Activity rings, you need the Activity Complication.

The Activity Complication for your Apple Watch Face clearly shows the process of your daily activity rings. This feature is so popular that Apple has several Watch Faces already made with this in mind.

If you choose the Activity Watch Face, you can also include other health monitoring apps like Blood Oxygen (available on Apple Watch 6 models), Heart Rate, etc.

Alarm

If you utilize Alarms throughout the day for various reasons, you need to add the Alarm Complication to your Apple Watch Face.

The Alarm Complication displays your next alarm and offers a shortcut to access the Alarms app.

Battery

battery complication apple watch
Keeping track of your Apple Watch’s battery life is so much easier with the Battery Complication. Oops! Better charge my Apple Watch now!

If you forget to check your Apple Watch Battery’s status, the Battery Complication is a lifesaver.

Say goodbye to the days of getting the Low Battery notification, forgetting to charge your Apple Watch, and suddenly your device is dead.

With the Battery Complication, keeping an eye on your Apple Watch’s battery is easier than ever.

Calendar

No matter how busy you may be, the Calendar Complication is one everyone needs on their Apple Watch.

When you select the Calendar Complication, you have a choice between Today’s Date or Your Schedule. Both come in handy!

Camera Remote

The Camera Remote app is the most genius feature on the Apple Watch. You can access your iPhone’s camera and take photos straight from your Apple Watch. It is the coolest thing!

If you like to take lots of photos, you need the Camera Remote Complication.

Messages

Sending messages on the Apple Watch is such a convenient feature. If you are constantly checking your text messages on your Apple Watch, you need the Messages Complication.

Moon Phase

moon phase complication apple watch
Seriously, how cool does this look with the Astronomy Watch Face?

For moon lovers, like me, the Moon Phase Complication is impressive. The Moon Phase Complication tells you the current moon phase.

Now Playing

now playing apple watch face
While the Now Playing app automatically appears on most Watch Faces, having the complication displays the title of whatever you are listening to.

If you listen to music, podcasts, audiobooks, and more directly on your iPhone, the Now Playing Complication is perfect for you.

You can easily access what’s playing on your iPhone from your Apple Watch. Plus, you can pause, rewind, and fast forward.

Sleep

If you like the Apple Sleep app, you’ll want the Sleep Complication on your Apple Watch. The Complication works as a shortcut to the Sleep app.

Timer

The Timer app on the Apple Watch is a convenient feature, especially when you cook or do other timed tasks.

The Complication is a great shortcut, and it even displays how much time you have left on your current timer.

Walkie Talkie

Walkie Talkie for Apple Watch users is a fun way to stay in touch with your fellow Apple Watch friends. If you use this feature often, add the Complication to your Watch Face for a shortcut.

Workout

If you need a shortcut to the Workout app, add the Complication to your Apple Watch face!

Apple does offer a lot of Complications already installed on the Apple Watch. But sometimes, we want more.

15 of the best third-party Apple Watch complications to use

Apple Watch Complications are one of the best features that an Apple Watch has to offer its users. Here are some of our favorite Apple Watch Complications from third-party apps.

Pedometer ++

Custom Apple Watch Face with step count
Pedometer ++ can easily be used as an Apple Watch Face Complication.

Since Apple doesn’t emphasize step counting, third-party apps are the best option to track your steps

Pedometer++ tracks your steps and counts the number of floors you have walked. Their Apple Watch Complication displays your step count for the day.

The app is free to download and use. But you can also pay $1.99 to remove ads in the app.

AutoSleep

autosleep apple watch complication
AutoSleep is one of the best sleep apps available in the App Store.

Apple’s Sleep app leaves a lot to be desired, so most Apple Watch users either don’t use it or rely on third-party sleep apps

AutoSleep tracks your sleep while giving you a sleep score and determines your readiness for the day. You can even set bedtimes for yourself.

Their Apple Watch Complication displays your sleep score and offers a shortcut to the Apple Watch app.

The AutoSleep app costs $3.99 to download, and there are no additional fees.

Things 3

things 3 apple watch complication
If you live by your daily to-do list, you need the award-winning Things 3 app.

Digital organizers love the Things 3 organizational app! You can make to-do lists, set reminders, and more.

Their Apple Watch Complication can display your to-do list, goal, and more. However, this award-winning app does cost $9.99.

iTranslate

iTranslate apple watch complication

If you have travel plans to somewhere you don’t know the language, the iTranslate app is your lifesaver.

iTranslate gives you translations for more than 100 different languages. Their Apple Watch Complication can give your common phrases right on your Watch Face.

The app is free to download. But there are subscription fees to unlock the entire app.

Streaks

streaks apple watch face complication
Habit trackers, the Streaks app was made for you!

If you are all about tracking your daily habits, the Streaks app is for you! Streaks offer daily tracking for various health and wellness habits. The app is also compatible with the Apple Health app.

With their Apple Watch Complication, you can easily monitor your “streaks” each day. It also lets you know how many you still need to complete.

The app costs $4.99 to download, and it’s worth it!

Citymapper

apple watch complication citymapper

The Citymapper app is a great, free resource for those who rely on public transportation. The app tells you the various public transit times, gives you an ETA, and more.

If you add the Citymapper Complication to your Apple Watch, you’ll get updated public transit times and more!

LifeSum

apple watch life sum complication
LifeSum gives you many options to choose from to customize your Apple Watch Face.

This app is for all of the meal planners out there. The LifeSum app tracks your eating habits and even gives you reminders to eat.

It reminds you to eat based on estimating your energy levels from when you last logged your food. How cool is that?

The Apple Watch Complication gives you a breakdown of all your caloric measurements for the day.

The app is free to download. However, you can subscribe to LifeSum Premium.

Their premium service includes meal plans, recipes, macro & net carb tracking, and more. A yearly subscription costs $49.99, but monthly plans are also available. 

Waterllama

waterllama apple watch complication
Waterllama is a fun way to remind yourself to stay hydrated!

If you need a great and free water tracking app, Waterllama is your best bet! You can create water consumption goals and set daily reminders.

The Apple Watch Complication shows you your daily water consumption progress!

Sports Alerts

sports alerts apple watch complication
If you are a sports fanatic, this app is for you!

Sports Alerts keep sports fans up to date on all their favorite teams and sports. All of your sports needs are in one app!

This Apple Watch Complication shows you your games’ start time and any score updates.

Motivation – Daily Quotes

motivation daily quote complication

Who doesn’t enjoy a motivational quote? If you’re looking for some encouragement or a daily pick me up, the Motivation – Daily Quotes app is a great resource!

Their Apple Watch Face Complication gives you a new, positive quote every day. Plus it is free!

Cheatsheet Notes

cheatsheet notes complication

You might remember Cheatsheet Notes from our Best Apps for Students guide. But you don’t need to be a student to understand the benefits of this app!

The Cheatsheet Notes app helps you remember and keep track of certain information.

The Complication for this app displays your top cheats on your Watch Face. The app is free to download, but the app does offer a pro-version for an additional cost.

Tile

tile complication apple watch
If you use any Tile product, you need the Tile app and its Apple Watch Complication.

If you are not familiar with Tile products, they are little keychains that you can attach to various things (wallet, keys, misc). These keychains have GPS locations, and you can track them.

Tile is a great device, especially if you are prone to losing your items constantly. Their little Apple Watch Complication can ping any of your Tile products quickly.

The Tile app is free to use, but you do need to have a Tile product to use it. Tile keychains start at $39.99. The app also offers a premium service that costs $2.99 a month or $29.99 a year.

CARROT Weather

Carrot weather apple watch
CARROT Weather is a great and fun weather app.

If you’re not a fan of Apple Weather and want another weather app, check out CARROT Weather. 

The standard app shows you your weekly weather report, which you can see in their Apple Watch Complication.

CARROT also has additional upgrades and add-ons for $1.99, like wind conditions. You can also unlock a funny little comment/joke about the weather.

Night Sky

night sky apple watch face

Astronomy lovers, you need the Night Sky app. Night Sky keeps you up to date on all the latest astronomy news. And, you can even get a live map to help you navigate the night sky.

You can use the Apple Watch Complication as a shortcut to the Night Sky Apple Watch app.

The app is free to download and use. However, Night Sky does offer a premium subscription. The subscription costs $29.99 a year or $4.99 a month.

Starbucks

Starbucks apple watch complication

If you find yourself drinking Starbucks frequently, you need the Starbucks Complication for the Apple Watch.

The Complication gives you a summary of your Starbucks Rewards total, like how many stars you have, how many rewards are available, and how much money is left on your gift card. 

Final Thoughts

Even though some Apple Watch faces don’t hold many Complications, there’s a way around this.

One of the great things about the Apple Watch is that you can have multiple Watch Faces made at a time. Each Watch Face can have different Complications. So, you really could utilize all of the Complications mentioned throughout this guide.

Personally, my favorite Complications include Moon Phase, Pedometer ++, and Motivation Daily Quotes. I also really love the concept of the Streaks app, which I am about to go download right now!

Let us know in the comments section what your favorite Complication is. Also, if you have any questions for our team, feel free to ask. We’re happy to help!

I'm a content writer with a passion for all things lifestyle having earned my Bachelor of Science in journalism from St. John's University. I was born and raised in Southern California. My Apple Watch never leaves my wrist, but I also adore Fitbit. I love all things health tech, including fitness and self-care apps. When I'm not writing, I enjoy traveling, reading, and drinking iced coffee!

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