Apple Watch screen not waking up or turning on? How to fix it

Apple Watch not waking up or turning screen on

Is your Apple Watch screen not waking up when you raise your wrist? You’re not the only one experiencing this issue. Several users have noticed that their Apple Watch screen won’t wake up.

Your Apple Watch screen could not be waking up and turning on for many reasons. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you resolve the issue. Keep reading to learn how to fix it. 

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Check if your Apple Watch is actually on or is using power reserve mode

This may seem like a no-brainer, but if your Apple Watch isn’t waking, you should check to see if it is on. Sometimes when your watch’s battery gets too low, it may go to power reserve mode and then, once the battery is depleted, turn off completely. 

If you only see the time on your screen, your watch is likely in power reserve mode–usually turned on automatically to conserve power. Or you accidentally turned it on (less likely.)

To turn on your Apple Watch and turn off power reserve mode, press and hold the side button until the Apple logo pops up. When it pops up, the watch should turn on. 

If the logo doesn’t pop up or continue only to see the current time, you need to charge your Apple Watch! Clean the back of your watch and the charger before connecting to make sure that nothing prevents its magnetic connection.

Then, charge it for at least 2 hours non-interrupted, and see if the screen wakes then.

Apple recommends using your watch’s original charger or an Apple-branded charger.

Just see a black screen with the Apple logo on your watch? Apple Watch apple logo on screen after restart or force restart

When your watch shows the Apple logo and appears stuck on that logo, put the watch on its original charger (or Apple-branded charger) and see if it boots up to your watch face.

First, check that the back of your Apple Watch and the magnetic charger are clean and if not, use a microfiber cloth to remove any debris before charging.

If your watch is still stuck on that logo after trying to charge it, try force restarting your watch while it’s on the charger. Press both the side button and the digital crown, wait for the screen to turn off, and then show the Apple logo again. Then, release both buttons and wait to see if your watch boots up.

Find My app Play sound and ping Apple Watch

Another option is to use the Find My app on your paired iPhone or another Apple device and try the option to Play Sound that pings your Apple Watch. This function may get your watch to resume normally.

How to wake Apple Watch

Chane apple watch screen orientation so digital crown is at the bottom left side of the watch

There are three ways you can wake your Apple Watch screen. You can raise your wrist, tap the watch’s screen or digital crown, or turn the digital crown.

Check these settings

If your Apple Watch is on and fully charged but the screen isn’t waking up, then you need to check your watch’s settings.

Wrist Wake setting

Apple Watch turn off wrist wake settings

If your watch’s screen isn’t waking when you raise your wrist, you should check to see if Wrist Wake is on. 

To turn this setting on, go to your Apple Watch settings. You can do this from either the Apple Watch iPhone app or on the Apple Watch itself. 

  • Open Settings and scroll down to Display & Brightness.
  • Scroll down to Wake on Wrist Raise and make sure the button is lit up. If it isn’t, toggle the switch to turn it on. 

Orientation settings

Watch app on iPhone screen orientation settings for apple watch

Your Apple Watch has specific settings based on how you wear the watch! The Apple Watch has specific settings based on which wrist your wear your watch and more.

If you have changed how your wear your watch, this might be why you are having issues. 

To check these settings, go to your Apple Watch settings. You can do this from either the Apple Watch iPhone app or on the Apple Watch itself. 

  • Open Settings on the watch or tap the My Watch tab in the iPhone Watch app and scroll down to General.
  • Select that and then scroll down to Orientation or Watch Orientation. Then make the changes you need to.

Theatre Mode setting

theater mode on Apple Watch in Control Center

One common occurrence for many users experiencing this issue was not realizing Theatre Mode accidentally turned on. 

Theater Mode keeps your Apple Watch screen from turning on when you raise your wrist, so the screen stays dark until you turn the Digital Crown or tap or press a button. Theater mode also turns on Silent Mode and silences your notifications. 

Since Theater Mode turns your display off, this could be the reason why your Apple Watch is not waking when you raise your wrist. 

  1. To check if Theater Mode is on, swipe up on your Apple Watch to bring up its Control Center.
  2. Look for the icon with two theater masks, the Theater Mode button. 
  3. If this icon is lit up, then Theater Mode is on. Theater mode on Apple Watch
  4. Just tap it once to turn it off. It automatically turns off silent mode too.

What else you can do

If all those settings are correct, there might be another issue with your Apple Watch. Follow these additional tips to troubleshoot the problem. 

See if Screen Curtain is on

There is a little-known accessibility feature for the vision-disabled called screen curtain that turns off your Apple Watch’s screen and keeps it off at all times when you use VoiceOver on your watch. 

There is no quick way to disable Screen Curtain on your watch, so open the Watch app on your iPhone to make changes. Turn off screen curtain on Apple Watch using iPhone Watch app

  • Open the Watch app and choose the My Watch tab at the bottom.
  • Select Accessibility
  • Select VoiceOver and toggle off Screen Curtain.

Check for Software Update

software update for Apple Watch

For some users, this issue was a bug from an older version of iOS. So, if you are still experiencing this issue, your best bet is to check to see if your Apple Watch needs an update. 

  1. To check on your Apple Watch, tap on the Settings app.
  2. Then scroll down to General and tap it.
  3. Then select Software Update. If an update is available, connect your watch to WiFi for the fastest way to update your watch, then choose to update your watch.

You can also update your Apple Watch from your iPhone. Open your Watch app and click on General, then select Software Update. If an update is available, go ahead and proceed. 

Restart your Apple Watch

how to restart the apple watch (not forced restart)

Whenever you experience any kind of glitch, sometimes restarting your devices can do the trick.

  • To restart your Apple Watch hold down the side button and slide the power off button.
  • To restart your iPhone, press and hold one of the volume buttons and the side power button until the power off slider appears.

When restarting your Apple Watch or iPhone, you should turn your device off for a minute or two and then turn it back on.

After restarting your devices, try and see if your Apple Watch wakes when you raise your wrist. 

Hard restart your Apple Watch (forced restart)force restart an apple watch

If a restart didn’t work, try to force your Apple Watch to restart–called a hard restart. 

Press and hold both the side button and the Digital Crown simultaneously and maintain this hold until the Apple Logo appears on your watch’s screen. This process usually takes about 15 seconds but could be as long as 20 seconds (and maybe even more.)

Turn on the Always On setting

If you find yourself constantly checking your watch and waking its screen, then you might benefit from turning on the Always On setting for your Apple Watch. This setting always shows you the time on your Apple Watch.

To turn this setting on, go to your Apple Watch settings. You can do this from either the Apple Watch iPhone app or on the Apple Watch itself. 

  • Open Settings and scroll down to Display & Brightness.
  • Scroll down to Always On. Toggle the switch to turn it on. You can also adjust the settings for Complications, Notifications, and Apps that show data when your wrist is down.

Change Wake Duration

wake duration settings

If it seems like your watch is going to sleep constantly, then you should try changing your watch’s wake duration. 

To turn this setting on, go to your Apple Watch settings. You can do this from either the Apple Watch iPhone app or on the Apple Watch itself. 

  • Open Settings and scroll down to Display & Brightness.
  • Scroll down to Wake Duration and select it. You can choose from either 15 seconds or 70 seconds. 

Final thoughts

If the issue still persists, report the bug to Apple so they are aware of the problem or schedule an online or in-person appointment with Apple Support.

You can also call Apple Support. See a list of Apple phone numbers for locations worldwide via Contact Apple for support and service.

Some users also mentioned that when they disabled Wake on Wrist raise, it helped improve their Apple Watch’s battery life. 

Have another suggestion on how to fix this issue? Let us know!

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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