Confused about a low Apple Watch Storage Capacity? You’re not alone

apple watch storage capacity in Settings app on watch

If you have ever taken a look at your Apple Watch’s storage capacity, you might have noticed that the storage capacity numbers do not add up. You are not alone! Quite a lot of our readers notice that their Apple Watch storage capacity doesn’t look right.

In particular, they noticed that the total amount of GB on their Apple Watch did not match what Apple advertised. So what gives? 

Well, the answer is simple. Keep reading to find out. 

Suggested reading

How does Apple Watch storage capacity work?

apple watch storage on iphone watch app

The way Apple Watch’s storage capacity works should be straightforward.

When you check your Apple Watch’s storage in the Watch app or your watch’s Settings app, you see two sections: Capacity and Available.

  • To check in the Watch app, go to My Watch > General > About or General > Storage ( or Usage.)
  • To check on the Watch, go to Settings > General > About or General > Storage (or Usage.)

capacity and available storage on Apple Watch

  • Capacity is the amount of storage that the device can hold.
    • On watchOS 7 and below, the listed capacity is your watch’s total storage minus its system partition (more about this later.)
    • The listed capacity on watchOS 8+ is your watch’s total storage, including its system partition.
  • Available shows you how much space your device has to use. 

Some users are upset that their watch’s listed Capacity amount doesn’t equal the advertised storage space.

For example, Apple lists my Apple Watch Series 6 (running watchOS 7.6) as having 32 GB of storage. But when I check in the Watch app or the Settings app on my watch, it shows its total capacity as 26.3 GB. That’s a difference of 5.7 GB! Kind of a lot.

But Apple has an explanation for this discrepancy.

While your Apple Watch advertises a certain amount of storage, you cannot access all of it. All of Apple’s devices follow this method.

So why’s that? Easy. Your Apple Watch keeps some storage for itself so that it can hold the operating system. This is known as the watch’s system partition.

  • If your watch uses watchOS 7 and below, your watch does not include the space used by its system (watchOS) in calculating its total capacity.
  • However, starting in watchOS 8, Apple changes this, and now capacity reflects all storage, including the system partition.

So the main reason why your device’s storage capacity numbers don’t add up if your watch runs watchOS 7 or below is that it does not display your watch’s storage partition (watchOS.) That makes sense, right?

As we all know, watchOS can take up a lot of roomapple watch home screen

And so do all those pre-installed Apple Watch apps. With all of those installed on your Apple Watch by default, that leaves less storage space available for whatever you want to add!

The good news is you can remove many of those pre-installed apps to free up storage on your Apple watch!

Delete pre-installed apps from your Apple Watch 

  1. In grid view, tap and hold an app from your watch’s home screen until the app icons jiggle. Tap the “x” delete button in the corner of the app that you want to delete, then confirm Delete App. remove apple watch apps from your watch
    1. If you see the view options screen, tap Edit Apps, then press the “x” delete button.
  2. For watches that use a home screen in list view, swipe left on the app you want to delete, then tap the red delete button and confirm. apple watch delete apps in list view

You can also remove the built-in apps by deleting them from your iPhone. When you delete an app on your iPhone, Apple also removes that app from your Apple Watch. 

Check out all the ways to free up your Apple Watch’s storage in our article: Cannot install update for Apple Watch? Need to free up storage first? These tips work even when you don’t need to update your watch!

Is your Apple Watch’s storage capacity or available storage unusually low?

If your Apple Watch’s storage capacity seems low and abnormal, there might be something wrong with your device.

Luckily there’s a fix for that! All you have to do is unpair your Apple Watch.

Unpair Apple Watch to impact storage capacity 

unpair apple watch iPhone

Unpairing your Apple Watch with your iPhone increases your storage capacity by a small amount. 

Go to the Watch app and select All Watches to unpair your Apple Watch. Then tap on the information icon next to your watch. 

Then, you click on Unpair Apple Watch. After that, you’re going to want to pair it with your iPhone again.

How to check your Apple Watch’s Storage Capacity

storage settings apple watch

You can check your Apple Watch’s storage capacity from both the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and the Settings app on your Apple Watch.

In the Watch app on your iPhone

  • Go to General > About. You can also go to General > Storage (or Usage.)

There, you can see both the capacity and available numbers. apple watch capacity in Watch app on iPhone

  • In watchOS 8 and above shows the total device storage capacity, including your system watchOS files. WatchOS 8+ also includes a storage graph when you tap on General > Storage. storage graph in apple watch iPhone watch app
  • In watchOS 7 and below shows the device storage capacity, excluding your system watchOS files.

On the Apple Watch

  • Open up the Settings app > General > About or scroll down to General > Storage (or Usage.)

There, you see your available and capacity storage amounts. storage capacity on Apple Watch in Settings app

  • In watchOS 8 and above shows the total device storage capacity, including your system watchOS files. WatchOS 8+ also includes a storage graph when you tap on General > Storage. Apple Watch storage graph
  • In watchOS 7 and below shows the device storage capacity, excluding your system watchOS files.

Getting a message that your Apple Watch is out of media storage despite having a lot of available space on your watch? Out of media storage message and notification error on Apple Watch and in the iPhone Watch app

Many folks find that they can’t add more music, playlists, podcasts, or audiobooks to their Apple Watch even though those watches have plenty of storage available. That’s because Apple only allows users to store up to 8GB (for 32GB models) of their watch’s total storage capacity.

Apple places a media storage limitation of 25% of the watch’s total storage on all Apple Watches, regardless of Series and total onboard storage. For example, Apple limits the Ultra, Series 8, or SE to 8GB (1/4 of 32GB), while the Series 3 is limited to 4 GB (1/4 of 16 GB.)

These storage limits include all music, podcasts, and audiobooks combined–they can only add up cumulatively to 25% of your watch’s total storage (for recent Series watches, that’s 8 GB.)

To check your current media storage, go to Settings > General > Storage (or for older watchOS, Usage.) Scroll down to see how much space is taken up by your music, podcasts, and audiobook apps.

Unfortunately, there is no workaround here. You can try downloading music, podcasts, etc., via third-party music apps like Spotify, Audible, or Pandora. However, there is also a media storage limit on those apps, although we can’t find any specific documentation from Apple about what those limits are! 

If you’d like Apple to change its 8GB music limitation, please send your feedback directly to Apple’s development team.


The storage capacity numbers not adding to the advertised amount are confusing! But after knowing the reasoning, it makes total sense. Of course, your device needs storage space for the operating system.

We hope this helped clear things up! If you have any questions at all, leave us a comment. We’re happy to help!


  1. I have recently bought the Apple Watch, series 8, GPS + Cell, with Air Canada-Aeroplan Reward Points. Only the latest Apple products are sold.

    Discovering that the latest Apple Phone , series 8, only had a 32G storage capacity was a great surprise
    and disappointment.The first computer I bought in 1973, the grey box with the porthole and floppy disk, the IMac, I think had perhaps a maximum capacity of 32G(?) at the time! Since then, I have always bought Apple products and have always been satisfied.

    Today, 64G seems to be the minimum capacity.I have just discovered that Apple knows how to go back in time.Today, one knows how very limited this capacity is.I never assumed that the latest watch was so limited. One expects 32G but, in fact, such is not really the case. Consult your phone’s available capacity. It really never starts at 32G!
    Apple has deliberately and arbitrarily decided to allow a certain percentage of music downloads! Has Apple become so big that it now knows how to control and limit information. The 32G is, in very small print, is only mentioned on page two amidst several very complex specifications. Rare are the customers
    who read the small print on their insurance policy.
    Such is the case for the Apple Watch! One would never believe that there is no choice, unlike other Apple products. A watch is not a computer but, it is synchronized with the I Phone, which definitely has more than a watch. As mentioned in your article, one must take time to select apps to free up space which is waste of precious time! With most Apple products, the customer has choice! Such is not the case with this watch!

    I am planning to return this watch and, be assured, that I will not be recommending it simply because of its limited capacity. When buying a watch, the series numbers are not in sequence. Which is the latest series? Confusing, and frustrating.

    Apple certainly knows everything there is to know about marketing strategies. The series 8 is a lovely watch but a 32G capacity is insufficient. Having to delete to free up more space, is unacceptable!

    Be assured that I plan to share my comments with Apple Canada!

    I believe I should have bought an IPad, had I known that the phone only had 32G’s!

    I ope to return the watch and buy one that will have more memory. Until then, I will buy an IPad and be able to choose the capacity that I need.

    Thank you for reading my editorial.

    • Hi B,

      Thank you for sharing your experience with the Series 8–yes, we agree that 32 GB on a watch in 2023 is less than it should be–AND that there should not be these strict storage limits (at 25% of total storage) placed on music/photos/media.

  2. You overlooked the hard-coded limits, for example, music, that restricts media to 8GB. I have a 32 GB S5 yet show 26.4GB free but a message tells me I’ve no more storage for music!


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