Apple Watch stuck on verifying or preparing watchOS update? Let’s fix it.

Apple Watch preparing watchOS update

Is your Apple Watch stuck on verifying or preparing when updating its watchOS? Some Apple Watch users are experiencing this issue when trying to update their Apple Watch.

When they try to update their watch, and the verifying/preparing update message appears, some Apple Watches freeze up and get stuck on that page, and won’t go away. Even though it may seem like you can’t get off this verifying screen, you can!

If your Apple Watch is stuck on verifying or preparing, it’s often because your watch does not have enough storage space available. So if you free up some space on your watch, that should do the trick! 

If your watch has plenty of space and you still get this problem, we’re here to help fix it. Follow these steps to resolve the issue. 

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 get your Apple Watch updated and unstuck from verifying!

  • Place your Apple Watch on its charger and check that it is charged to at least 50 percent before and while you update. Keep your Apple Watch on its charger until the update completes.
  • Make sure your watch has sufficient storage available on the watch for the update. Delete any apps, music, podcasts, or other storage hogs to open up space on the watch and try updating again.
  • Check if your watch or iPhone asks for you to enter your iPhone passcode or Apple Watch passcode, and if so, enter it. 
  • Delete old watchOS install files from your Apple Watch’s storage.
  • Force close the Watch app and then try updating your Apple Watch again.
  • Restart both your watch and your paired iPhone.
  • Update directly from your Apple Watch, rather than via your iPhone (for watchOS 6+.)
  • Unpair and re-pair your Apple Watch.

Suggested Reading:

Before you troubleshoot Watch app stuck on verifying

Watch updates can take a lot of time, so it might not be stuck on verifying/preparing at all! Be patient and wait, especially if it’s been “stuck” on this screen for less than a few hours.

If it’s been more than a few hours and you still see the verifying or preparing message, we still think it’s best to wait for a day or overnight. iPhone Watch app stuck on preparing Apple Watch update

While you wait, it’s also a good idea to check Apple Servers to see if there are any reported problems. When a new watchOS update releases, the first few days are always jam-packed, and interruptions or slow updates are quite common.

If you’ve waited for a day or more and that message is still there, and there aren’t any problems reported on Apple’s servers, then try some of our troubleshooting tips or reach out to Apple Support.

Please remember that there is always a risk in bricking your Apple Watch, especially when experiencing problems with updating. So tread carefully.

If you see that the update is installing rather than verifying or preparing, do not interrupt it!

watchOS installing on Apple Watch
If you see that a watchOS update is installing (either of these graphics,) do not troubleshoot, restart, or otherwise interrupt it!

When stuck on the installing screen for more than a day (or overnight,) contact Apple Support.

Check your Apple Watch’s storage space (if possible)

storage graph apple watch

The primary cause for this issue is your Apple Watch not having enough storage space to support the new update. Some updates need at least 3 GB of space available.

So, go and check your watch’s storage space (if you can navigate in the Watch app or on your watch.) 

To do so, on your watch, go to Settings, select General, and tap Storage (or Usage.) Or, in your iPhone’s Watch app, go to General > Storage.

If it shows your watch’s storage space is low, you have some options on how to open up your storage.

You can either disable the apps that consume the most storage. Or, you can delete any unnecessary items on your watch.

Typically, music and podcasts take up a lot of space. See this article for additional tips: Cannot install update for Apple Watch? Need to free up storage first?

After cleaning up some space, restart your Apple Watch and try updating it again. Your watch should download and complete the update after doing so.

Follow these strategies first to fix watchOS updates stuck on verifying or preparing

#1 Check if you need to enter your passcode type in your passcode on your apple watch

Sometimes it’s as simple as entering your watch’s passcode or your iPhone’s passcode. 

So check both your phone and your watch to see if you need to enter your passcode.

I’ve personally had a lot of problems with updating my Apple Watch due to passcode issues, so I now turn my passcode off before I begin any watchOS update. If you want to do this too, go to the Watch app > My Watch > Passcode and temporarily turn it off.  

#2 Make sure your iPhone is nearby

iPhone and apple watch

One reason why your Apple Watch isn’t updating might be because your iPhone isn’t close enough to your watch. Both devices need to be near one another to update.

I often have to place them almost on top of each other to get my watch to update! So move them closer, but keep your watch connected to its charger.

If your iPhone and Apple Watch are close to one another, complete the next step. 

#3 Verify that your Apple Watch is charging and connected to power

Whenever you update your Apple Watch, the watch needs to connect to its power source. To run the update, your Apple Watch must have at least 50% of its battery charged.

But if your Apple Watch is charging and its battery is at 50% or more, then check its WiFi settings (if possible.)

#4 Enable WiFi (if possible)

WiFi on Apple Watch

Your Apple Watch should be connected to WiFi to update. If you can navigate your Apple Watch, check your Apple Watch’s WiFi connection by going to the Settings app on your watch and tap WiFi. 

Then select the network you want to join, type in the password if necessary, and tap Join. If your WiFi connection is fine, go to the next step.

#5 Delete old install files from the watch app

You may have an old watchOS install file hanging around, taking up precious storage on your watch and causing a host of other problems as you try to update your watch. 

To start fresh, it’s best to delete these old files so your watch gets the latest watchOS update directly from Apple’s Servers!

  1. Open the Watch app on your iPhone, tap General > Usage > Software Update.
  2. Scroll down and locate Software Update
    1. If you don’t see this file, skip this section. watchOS updates in Apple Watch storage
  3. If you have this file, tap on it and choose to delete that update file. Old watchOS updates remove them from your apple watch storage
  4. After you delete the file, restart your Apple Watch.
  5. Now, try to download and install the watchOS update again.

Force close the Watch app

Although we usually don’t recommend force closing apps, in this circumstance where your watch and the Watch app seem stuck on verifying the update, it often works. force close the Watch app on your iPhone

To force close the Watch app, swipe up from the bottom of your iPhone or double press its home button to open the app switcher. Locate the Watch app preview and then swipe it off the top of the screen. That’s it!

Once closed, restart your phone and open the Watch app again. Try the update one more time.

Restart both your watch and your paired iPhone

how to restart the apple watch (not forced restart)

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, hold down both the side (power) and volume down buttons until the power off slider appears on the screen. Then slide to power off.

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

Start with turning on your iPhone. Once it’s fully on, power up Apple Watch.

After restarting your devices, try updating again. 

Try updating your Apple Watch directly from the watch

Download and install Apple Watch update on the watch itself

If you aren’t having any luck updating your Apple Watch from the Apple Watch iPhone app, try updating directly from your watch instead. With watchOS 6 or later, you can install Apple watch updates without your iPhone.

  1. First, check for and delete any old watchOS install files.
    1. Open the Watch app on your iPhone, tap General > Storage (or Usage) > Software Update, scroll down and delete the Software Update file, if present. delete the install files for watchOS from iPhone Watch app
  2. After you delete the file, place your watch on the charger and charge to at least 50%, then try to download and install watchOS again.
  3. To update your Apple Watch on the watch, go to Settings, then General, and select Software Update. 

Unpair your Apple Watch using the Watch app apple watch unpair from iPhone

If nothing worked, unpairing and re-pairing your watch often helps update your Apple Watch to the latest watchOS update.

When you unpair your watch, it automatically creates a backup of all your watch’s content so that you won’t lose any data.

  1. To unpair, open the Watch app. Choose the My Watch tab at the bottom, then select All Watches
  2. Tap the information “i” icon next to your watch, then tap Unpair Apple Watch.
  3. Confirm you want to unpair your watch. 
  4. If your watch supports cellular data, choose to Keep Plan. Apple Watch cellular plan options when unpairing watch from iPhone
  5. Enter your Apple ID and password, if requested.
  6. Wait for Apple to make a backup of your watch and then begin unpairing.
  7. Once unpaired, re-pair your watch and restore your recent backup. restore Apple Watch from backup after re-pairing it to iPhone
  8. If you see a message to update the watchOS version, allow that update.
  9. If your watch didn’t update during the pairing process, tap Settings > General > Software Update and try to update.

If you still get stuck on verifying or have other issues updating (like storage issues), follow steps 1-6 again. But this time, after unpairing, choose to set up your Apple Watch as new

Once updated, rerun through the steps and restore to your earlier backup.

For more guidance on updating your watch, see this article: Apple Watch watchOS update too slow? Tips to speed up your update

Summary

If your Apple Watch is still stuck on verifying or preparing its watchOS update, contact Apple Support or visit your local Apple store. Let them know what steps you’ve already tried unsuccessfully.

Have you encountered this issue? What did you do to resolve it? Let us know how you fixed it in the comments below. 

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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