Does your Fitbit screen shut off too fast? Change this one thing

screen timeout feature on Fitbit watch and tracker

You’re trying to check out your notification and stats on your Fitbit watch or tracker or update a setting, and then before you finish, the screen turns off. Sadly, this is a common problem and user complaint.

Believe it or not, your Fitbit’s screen switching off after just a few seconds is actually a feature called Screen Timeout. And it’s intended to conserve your Fitbit’s battery.

The downside is that we often don’t get enough “screen time” to read the screen’s information! So we need to do something to increase the time the screen is on.

The good news is that we can now change the default screen timeout setting for many Fitbit models.

And for those mostly older models that don’t offer this customization, we’ve got you covered with some tips to prevent your screen from going dark.

So let’s get to it!

Related reading

How to change your Fitbit’s screen timeout setting

Most Fitbit smartwatches and some trackers, like the Charge 4 and even the older Charge 3, now come with a feature called Screen Timeout  (called Display Awake in older versions.) Plus, it’s easy to find AND adjust.

This feature determines how long your Fitbit screen stays active when you don’t interact with it (i.e., touching the screen, pressing a button.)

  1. On your Fitbit device, open the Settings app. Fitbit watch Settings app
    1. Depending on your device, you either swipe left or swipe down to get to the Settings app from your clock face.
    2. The Settings app looks like a gear icon or a slider. Fitbit app icons for Settings app on watch and tracker
    3. Your Settings app is different than your Quick Settings–if you see a menu of icons for things like Do Not Disturb, Sleep Mode, or Screen Wake, these are your Fitbit’s Quick Settings. 
  2. Tap the Settings app, then scroll down and choose Screen Timeout. 
    1. On newer models, tap Settings > Display, then scroll down to Screen Timeout. Just below it, tap open Delay. Screen timeout delay feature on Fitbit Sense and Versa 3
  3. The default screen timeout setting is always the lowest, so choose one with more seconds.
    1. For Fitbit trackers like Charge 3 & 4, the default is 3 seconds. Tap to change its length. Fitbit Charge 4 screen timeout setting
    2. For older Fitbit watches, the default is 8 or 10 seconds. Change your Fitbit’s timeout length by tapping on Screen Timeout. Screen timeouts settings on Fitbit Versa 2 and older models
    3. For new smartwatch models like the Sense or Versa 3, choose a different length from the list of options by tapping it twice.Options for Fitbit screen timeout delay

The longer you choose, the more it impacts your battery life since keeping the screen display on for longer periods drains your battery.

Don’t see Screen Timeout in your Settings app?

If you don’t see a setting called Screen Timeout and use a smartwatch model like a Versa Series, Sense, Ionic, or a tracker like the Fitbit Charge 3 and above, you may need to update your Fitbit’s firmware to get this setting on your device.

For other tracker models, like the popular Inspire Series and older Fitbit models like the Surge or Alta, Fitbit does not currently offer a screen timeout adjustment setting.

For those models, see our tips on how to manually prevent your screen from timing out too quickly.

How to update your Fitbit’s firmware

Fitbit occasionally releases updates to your Fitbit device’s operating software, called its firmware.

For some older models, like the Fitbit Charge 3 and Versa Lite, you need to update your device to the latest firmware to get the screen timeout settings option.

You can update your Fitbit using the Fitbit app or the Fitbit Connect app for Macs and some older Windows computers. Unfortunately, Fitbit Connect does not work with new Fitbit models.

Update your Fitbit using the Fitbit app

  1. Check that you allow the Fitbit app to run in the background on your mobile phone.
  2. Charge your Fitbit to at least 50% or place it on its charger.
  3. Place your Fitbit nearby to your paired phone, tablet, or computer during this update.
  4. For Fitbits that support WiFi, connect your Fitbit to a WiFi network.
    1. Fitbits update using WiFi or Bluetooth. WiFi is much faster than Bluetooth, so if it’s available, make sure you connect to a WiFi network before updating.
  5. Tap the Today tab > your profile picture or icon > tap your device name from the list. Fitbit device in the list of Fitbit app account settings
  6. Look for a pink Update button and tap it. Then follow the instructions. update fitbit inside the fitbit app
    1. If you don’t see it, an update is not currently available for your Fitbit.
  7. Wait for the update to complete. You should see a progress bar indicating the current status.
    1. Do not disconnect your Fitbit from the charger until the update completes.

Update your Fitbit using Fitbit Connect

  • First, make sure your computer uses the latest Fitbit Connect version by opening the app and then choosing Troubleshooting. Troubleshooting Fitbit Connect on main menu
  • Look just below the Fitbit Connect version number and tap Check for updates. Check for app updates for Fitbit Connect app on Mac and Windows computers

Once you update or confirm you use the latest Fitbit Connect, follow these steps to update your Fitbit device.

  1. Connect your Fitbit to your computer.
  2. Open the Fitbit Connect app.
  3. On the main menu, choose Check for device update. Fitbit Connect check for device update
  4. When asked, log in with your Fitbit account credentials.
  5. If Fitbit Connect shows an update is available, tap Update and follow the steps on your computer’s screen.
  6. Wait for the update to finish before you disconnect the Fitbit from your computer.
    1. You see a progress bar showing you the current status.

How to manually prevent your screen from timing out too quickly

If you use a Fitbit Inspire, Alta, or another model that does not currently offer a setting to change your screen’s timeout, there are still things you can do to prevent the screen from shutting off right in the middle of things!

The key is an interaction.

As long as you are interacting with your Fitbit’s screen, it shouldn’t timeout.

So, try keeping your finger on part of the screen or even minutely scrolling back and forth inside the same screen. No, it inside ideal, but it does work.

As long as your Fitbit recognizes an interaction–small or large–, it won’t timeout.

Send in your feedback! Feature suggestions site for Fitbit users

Although this won’t change things in the here and now, it might just get Fitbit to pay attention and add a future feature.

Letting your voice be heard via Fitbit’s Feature Suggestions site is a great way to let them know you want something on your Fitbit that’s not available.

And it does work!

Fitbit added the Screen Timeout option for both the Fitbit Charge 3 and 4 in a firmware update because enough users asked for it.

What about the Always-On feature? Doesn’t that prevent my Fitbit’s screen from timing out? Fitbit always on display settings on Sense and Versa

It’s a little confusing, but the Always-On feature available in newer models, like the Sense and Versa 2/3, does not prevent your screen from timing out if you aren’t interacting with it.

Instead, the always-on feature always displays your clock face or the current time.

  • To see your clock face, you must choose one that supports always-on display mode.
  • Clock faces without an always-on display mode use a default analog or digital time display.

So when your Fitbit with Always-On times out, instead of getting a black/blank screen, you’ll either see your clock face or the current time.

Final thoughts

For folks with devices that offer Screen Timeout settings, it’s easy to change how long your screen stays on without interacting. 

Unfortunately, for those of us with older Fitbits or trackers that don’t offer this timeout adjustment, you need to keep interacting with your Fitbit to keep the screen from timing out. 

However, that interaction does not need to be a large one–it can be something small, like wiggling your screen with your finger. 

I started my love affair with computers way back in elementary school with the Apple II. Since then, I've worked with technology in my career as a media educator and videomaker. I have an MFA in media making from Temple University, where I also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member. So I know a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides! After a cancer diagnosis, I turned to mobile technology like my Apple Watch to help me monitor my health throughout my chemotherapy treatment and later, to regain my wellness once in remission. I love sharing how to understand and use mobile tech, like smartwatches and phones, as a tool for empowerment to live our best and healthiest lives!

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