Garmin watch or tracker not syncing to Connect app on your phone? Let’s fix it!

sync button on Garmin vivosmart 4

If your steps are not showing in the Garmin Connect app or the activity you recorded on your device is not showing in your Garmin Connect account, you need to sync your watch with Garmin connect App on your phone. 

Your Garmin device should display a green dot from the My Day view of the Garmin Connect App, indicating a connection with your phone or another mobile device.

But if that’s not working, your Garmin is stuck connecting, says not connected, or the app says that it failed to connect, check out our troubleshooting guide on Garmin syncing issues!

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Quick checklist myhealthyapple quick checklist icon

  • Fully charge your Garmin device, especially if it’s a new device or you haven’t used it in a long time. 
  • Update the Garmin Connect app to the latest version in the App Store (Apple) or Google Play (Android.)
  • If you connect your Garmin to more than one mobile device (like a phone and a tablet), make sure those two devices are not in the vicinity of each other, turn one of the devices off, or turn off Bluetooth on one of them.
  • Temporarily remove other Bluetooth-connected devices from your phone.
    • Try disconnecting all other BT active devices, such as headphones, speakers, and so forth. 
  • Check that your Garmin is not in power save mode.
    • Find these settings on your Garmin device itself using Menu > Power Manager > Battery Saver > Off or Menu > Activity Settings > Power Save Timeout and choose Extended instead of Normal. 
  • Make sure you turn off any battery savings features on your phone, like low power mode (iOS) or battery saver (Andriod.) 
  • Verify that Garmin Connect runs or refreshes in the background. To work, Connect app must remain open in the background.
    • For Apple devices, go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh > and toggle on for Connect.
    • For Android, go to Settings > Apps > Connect > Mobile data & Wi-Fi > toggle on Background data.
  • Check the phone permissions for the Garmin Connect app.
    • Open Garmin Connect and tap the three-dot More button (iOS) or the three-line Menu button (Android).
    • Choose Settings > Phone Permissions and turn them all on or tap Manage Permissions to enable them.
    • Make sure you allow location access. Android users also need to allow Files and Media access (also called Storage.)
  • If you use a new phone, remove your Garmin device from Garmin Connect on your previous phone, so it’s no longer connected to that older phone.
    • Make sure you remove it from Garmin Connect and your phone’s Bluetooth settings.

Here’s how to sync your Garmin watch or tracker with the app

Let’s first confirm that you sync with Garmin Connect the recommended way.

  1. On your phone, open the Garmin Connect app.
    1. If needed, choose the My Day tab from the bottom menu. My Day tab in Garmin Connect
  2. Locate the picture of your Garmin Device at the top of the app. Garmin Connect syncing to garmin watch or tracker successfully
  3. You should see a green dot next to your Garmin watch’s or tracker’s image.
  4. When you see a green dot on the ring, it means your Garmin watch is properly connected via Bluetooth to your Garmin Connect App. 
    1. Press the manual sync button (circular arrows icon) in the Garmin Connect App’s top corner to sync data from your watch. 
    2. Syncing can take a few minutes if your device has not connected in a while.

Don’t see a green dot next to your Garmin device?Garmin Connect shows device isn't syncing

    1. If you see a red dot, you must first turn on Bluetooth on your phone. Open your phone’s Bluetooth settings, turn it on, and then wait for your Garmin to show as connected.
    2. If you see no dot, toggle Bluetooth off on your phone, wait 20 seconds, and then toggle Bluetooth back on in your phone’s settings. Wait and see if your Garmin connects to your phone’s Bluetooth.
    3. Once you see the green dot, follow the manual sync steps listed above.

In rare cases, your Garmin itself might have Bluetooth turned off

  • On your Garmin watch or tracker, open the controls menu.
    • If you don’t know how to access your Garmin’s control menu, see your users’ manual.
  • Select the Phone and Bluetooth icon. Garmin watch or tracker icon for Bluetooth
  • Turn on your Garmin’s Bluetooth to allow it to connect to your phone’s Bluetooth.

If you cannot get your Garmin to connect and still don’t see a green dot next to your watch or tracker, following the troubleshooting steps below to fix this problem.

Having trouble syncing your watch and with Garmin connect? 

If you can’t get the green dot to show up and still see a red dot, gray dot, or no dot at all next to your watch from the My Day tab at the bottom of the Garmin Connect App, try these troubleshooting steps.

1. Close the Garmin Connect App Garmin Connect app close on Apple and Android devices

  • To close the App on iOS: swipe up from the bottom to open your phone’s app switcher or double-tap the home button and then swipe the Garmin Connect App upwards until it disappears.
  • To close the App on Android: swipe up from the bottom, hold, then let go. Swipe up on the Garmin Connect app. Or tap on the recent applications menu and swipe the Garmin Connect App to the right until it disappears.
  • Open the Garmin Connect App on your phone again.
    • Look at the picture of your Garmin Device at the top of the Garmin Connect App. 
    • Wait a few seconds and wait for the green dot to appear next to your watch.

2. Restart your Garmin and your phoneGarmin smartwatch restart process

On watches with power buttons, hold down the power button for 15 seconds to power off. Wait 10-20 seconds, and then power it back on. 

If you have a rechargeable Garmin tracker or watch that does not have a power button, plug the watch or tracker into its Garmin-branded charging cable and connect it to a USB power source, then immediately unplug it. Restart Garmin vivosmart with charging cable

This is the equivalent of a restart (you cannot power cycle a Vivofit device except automatically after a software update).

Restart your smartphone by turning it off and then back on restart Apple and Android devices including iPhone with slide to power off

  • On Android, press and hold the phone’s physical power button. Then tap Restart (might also be called Reboot.) 
  • On Apple, press both the volume down button and the side button. Press and hold the side button until the power-off slider appears. Then slide your phone off. Once it’s off, please wait 10 seconds and press the side button to power it back on.
    • For models with a home button, press and hold the side button (or top button) until the power-off slider appears and slide it off. Wait 10 seconds, and then press the side or top button to power back on.

3. Turn the Bluetooth (BT) setting on your phone off then back on

Remove your device from Garmin Connect and from Bluetooth on your phone to force the pairing process.

  • On Android: go to Settings > Connected Devices > Connection Preferences > Bluetooth. Toggle Bluetooth off. Wait 20 seconds, then toggle back on. toggle android bluetooth off and on
  • On Apple: go to Settings > Bluetooth and toggle Bluetooth off. Wait 20 seconds, then toggle back on. Turn or toggle bluetooth off and on on iPhone

For Android, try clearing your Bluetooth cache.

  1. Go to Settings > Apps & Notifications (or Apps) and show all your apps.
  2. Tap the Menu or More button (icon looks like three dots or three lines.)
  3. Chose Show system (or Show system apps.) Android show system apps
  4. Scroll the list and tap Bluetooth.
  5. Choose Storage & cache (or Storage.)
  6. Tap Clear cache. Android clear Bluetooth cache

4. Delete and reinstall the Garmin Connect app

If it’s still not working, remove the Connect app from your phone and reinstall it from the App Store (Apple) or Play Store (Android.)

Deleting the app from your phone removes the app data as well. As long as you upload your data to Connect’s servers, your data is preserved.

After reinstalling the app, you need to sign back into your Garmin account and pair your watch or tracker with the phone again.

Delete and reinstall the Connect app for Android

  1. Open Settings > Apps & notifications.
  2. Choose to see all your apps.
  3. Scroll down and tap on Connect.
  4. Choose Uninstall and confirm you want to remove it. Remove Garmin Connect app from an Android phone
  5. Open Google Play Store app.
  6. Search for Garmin Connect.
  7. Tap Install. Google Play Store install Garmin Connect app
  8. Open Connect and sign in with your username and password.
  9. Give Connect permission to run in the background and other permissions.
  10. Look for a notification to link your Garmin with your phone. Link Connect app with Garmin device on Android
  11. Once linked, your Garmin should automatically sync with Connect.

Delete and reinstall the Connect app for Apple iOS

  1. Locate the Garmin Connect app on your home screen.
  2. Press and hold the app icon until the quick action menu appears.
  3. Select Remove App. remove the Garmin Connect App from iOS and iPadOS
  4. Confirm and press Delete App.
    1. Do not select Remove from Home Screen. delete Garmin Connect app confirmation on iPhone and iPad
  5. Open the App Store and search for Garmin Connect.
  6. Tap the cloud icon. Apple reinstall Garmin Connect app in the App Store on iPhone and iPad
  7. Open Connect, allow Connect access to Bluetooth, and sign in with your Garmin account’s username and password. Apple iPhone and iPad allow Garmin Connect app Bluetooth access
  8. Allow or Don’t Allow Connect to send notifications and decide if you want to link to Apple Health.
    1. Choose Turn All Categories On, toggle the categories you want, or select Don’t Allow.Allow or don't allow Garmin Connect to sync with Apple Health app on iPhone
  9. Follow the instructions on your phone’s screen and tap your Garmin device model.
    1. If you don’t see your device model, tap Browse all compatible devices Garmin Connect app on Apple select your Garmin model for pairing and connecting to app
  10. Place your Garmin device into pairing mode or tap the Show me how to pair banner to learn how.
    1. For most watches, go to the watch face, hold MENU or go to the Settings app and select Phone > Pair Phone.
    2. For most trackers, press the button at the bottom of your tracker to view its controls menu. Search for and tap the icon that looks like a wifi signal or the icon that looks like a phone with the Bluetooth icon. On some trackers, you need to press the sync button to enter pairing mode manually. Garmin watch or tracker icon for Bluetooth
    3. If you cannot find the pairing setting for your Garmin, go to the sections.
      Pairing Your Smartphone or Pairing Multiple Mobile Devices in your Garmin’s user guide.
  11. In the app, tap Connect it.
  12. Enter the pairing code from your Garmin device into the Bluetooth pairing request on your phone. iPhone Bluetooth pairing request for Garmin Connect
  13. Decide if you want to allow your Garmin to show notifications from your phone and any other requests like setting sleep hours, location access, and others.
  14. Finally, tap Sync Now to start syncing! Once done, tap Finished.

5. Remove and then re-add the Garmin watch from the Connect App

A. Remove your Garmin device from Connect

    1. Open Garmin Connect on your phone.
    2. Tap your Garmin device’s picture.
    3. Choose the Menu (three-line icon) or More (three dots icon) button. remove a garmin watch or tracer from the Garmin Connect app for mobile phones and tablets
    4. Select Remove Device from and confirm you wish to remove it.

B. Add your Garmin back to Connect

    1. On your phone, open the Garmin Connect app. Menu and More buttons in Garmin Connect for iOS and Android
      1. Android: select the Menu button (three lines icon) at the top.
      2. Apple: select the More button (three dots icon) at the bottom.
    2. Scroll down and select Garmin Device. Garmin Devices setting in Garmin Connect app
    3. Select Add Device. Garmin Connect Add A Device
    4. Choose your device from the on-screen options or browse to see a list of all compatible devices.
    5. Place your Garmin device into pairing mode following the on-screen instructions. 
      1. It would help if you got a new pairing passcode to pair your Garmin with your phone.
      2. If you cannot find the pairing setting for your Garmin, go to the sections.

        Pairing Your Smartphone or Pairing Multiple Mobile Devices in your Garmin’s user guide.

6. Remove and re-add your watch from your phones Bluetooth settings 

For most Garmin watches and trackers, you pair it directly through the Garmin Connect instead of from the Bluetooth settings on your phone.

However, if after removing your Garmin, you aren’t able to successfully add it back and pair it, check your phone’s Bluetooth settings.

  1. Go to your phone’s Bluetooth settings.
  2. Find your Garmin watch.
  3. Select Forget Device or Forget This Device.
    1. When you forget it, it removes the pairing to the Garmin device from that phone.
  4. Restart your phone. 
  5. Look for a notification to re-pair your Garmin tracker or watch on your phone using a new pairing code that appears on your Garmin device.
    1. If you don’t see any notification, open Garmin Connect and then see a new notification from the app.

Forget Bluetooth and re-pair on Android

  1. For Android, look for your Garmin device in the Settings app’s Bluetooth options.
  2. If you can’t find it look under Previously Connected Devices. You may need to tap See all to find your Garmin. Bluetooth settings for Garmin tracker or watch on Android
  3. Then tap the Settings gear icon and choose Forget and confirm it.Connect Garmin watch or tracker using Android Bluetooth settings
  4. Return to your phone’s Bluetooth settings, choose Pair new device. Pair New Device using Android Bluetooth settings
  5. Tap your Garmin device from the list of available devices.
    1. It sometimes takes a while for your Garmin device to show up as an available Bluetooth device. Android Bluetooth pair a new device from available devices
  6. Wait for the pairing message and then enter the pairing code that shows up on your Garmin watch or tracker’s screen. enter pairing code on Android in Bluetooth settings
  7. Once paired, open Garmin Connect and see if it automatically syncs or if you can manually sync it to the app.

Forget Bluetooth and re-pair on Apple

  1. For Apple, open Settings > Bluetooth.
  2. Locate your Garmin device. If you don’t see it, also look under Other Devices.
  3. Tap on the info button next to the Garmin.
  4. Choose Forget This Device and confirm. iPhone bluetooth settings to forget this device
  5. Tap your Garmin Device under Other Devices. Other devices list on iPhone Bluetooth settings
  6. Wait for a message to enter the pairing code that appears on your Garmin device. iPhone bluetooth pairing message in bluetooth settings
  7. Once paired, open Garmin Connect and see if it automatically syncs or if you can manually sync it to the app.

7. Try using Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth

Garmin watches that can connect to WiFi have several advantages: they automatically upload your saved activities and download any available software updates to the device directly. 

Unfortunately, not all Garmin smartwatches offer WiFi, and at this time, no Garmin trackers support WiFi.

So let’s check if your Garmin watch is a WiFi-compatible Garmin device. 

Garmin devices currently support WiFi networks that meet the following criteria: 2.4 GHz that’s either unencrypted or uses WEP, WPA, and WPA2 passwords.

  1. In Garmin Connect, tap the Menu (three lines) or More (three dots) button.
  2. Choose Garmin Devices and tap on your Garmin watch.
  3. Select General and see if Wi-Fi Networks is available. Garmin Connect add WiFi network
    1. If you see a network, choose to Add a Network, tap and enter its password.
    2. Tap Connect and OK once it successfully connects.

Once your Garmin is connected to WiFi, all your activity data, settings, and music sync automatically when both your phone and device are connected to the same Wi-Fi network.

See this article if you have trouble connecting your Garmin device to WiFi: WiFi Problems with your Garmin smartwatch? Try these steps.

Is your Garmin still not syncing or connecting with Connect? Try using Garmin Express

If Garmin Connect isn’t working, you can use the Garmin Express App on your computer (Windows and Mac supported) to upload data to your Garmin Connect account.

It doesn’t have to be your computer. You can use anyone’s PC and upload your data to Garmin’s servers!

You will need to install Garmin Express on that computer, however, temporarily. But it’s easy to uninstall!

Try syncing your Garmin device to your computer

First, you need to install the Garmin Express App on your computer.

  1. Once installed, connect the Garmin device to your computer using its original cable. If your device came with or purchased a Garmin USB ANT Stick, plug it into your computer and then open Garmin Express.
  2. Your Garmin enters mass storage mode and should also show up as a drive on your computer. Using Garmin Express, your Garmin watch or tracker shows up as a disk icon on your Mac Desktop
  3. Open the Garmin Express application.
    1. If you connected before, choose your Garmin device’s tileGarmin Express home menu
    2. If you never connected your device to Garmin Express, tap Add New Device.
  4. Wait for Garmin Express to check for an update for your device. Checking for update in Garmin express
    1. If Garmin Express lists an update, tap the Install button to update your device.
  5. Once your device connects and updates (if available) with Garmin Express, it automatically syncs in the background. To manually sync, press the Sync button. Garmin Express manual sync process

If Garmin Express isn’t syncing either, try these additional tips

  • Review your device’s Sync Audit on the phone app. See your device’s audit history inside Garmin Connect by going to Menu or More button > Settings > Device Sync Audit and search for any error or warning messages.
    • Use the navigation buttons at the bottom to review any previous audit reports.
  • Manually Upload Activities to Garmin Connect. If your computer recognizes your Garmin watch or tracker as a mass storage device, you can manually import an activity into Garmin Connect.
  • Clear your Garmin’s device storage.  Use Garmin Express to delete activity files (labeled with .fit) from your device’s activity folder.
    • Some users suggest deleting all your device’s .fit files then removing your Garmin from Garmin Connect and forgetting it from your phone’s Bluetooth settings. Once removed, restart your phone, open Garmin Connect, and re-pair your device to the app.  

Are some of your Garmin’s activity or other data missing after syncing?

You should always sync your device using a single Garmin Connect account

  • If some data is missing after it syncs, verify that you are syncing to the same account by checking your log-in credentials. It should be the same email address.
  • One verified that the account is the same, try removing your device from Garmin Connect following the directions above and then add it back.

Verify you turned on Activity Tracking and that your Garmin is listed as your Preferred Activity Tracker in Garmin Connect

When activity tracking is off, your Garmin does not record your steps, floors climbed, intensity minutes, sleep tracking, and Move IQ. 

  • Go to Garmin Connect > your Garmin device’s picture > and toggle on Activity Tracking. turn on Garmin activity tracking inside Garmin Connect app
  • If it’s already on, toggle it off, wait 10 seconds, and toggle it back on.
  • Scroll down and check if your Garmin is currently set as your Preferred Activity Tracker. Preferred activity tracker in Garmin Connect app
    • If not, tap it to set it.

Confirm Garmin Connect uploads your watch’s or tracker’s data to its servers

  1. Open Garmin Connect.
  2. Tap the Menu (Android) or More (Apple) button.
  3. Choose Settings Profile & Privacy. privacy settings in Garmin Connect app
  4. Select Data > toggle on Device upload. Garmin Connect app device upload setting

If data is still missing, try manually importing the missing activities into Garmin Connect.

Summary

I hope that this article helped you with your Garmin watch or tracker syncing issues. 

If you have any more questions or anything to add, please feel free to let us and everyone else know about it in the comments section below! 

If you liked this article, you can follow us on social media by using the social media buttons!

I have a first-class honors Physiotherapy degree and a second class honors Sports Science degree. I am also a certified Yoga teacher and Yoga therapist. Before completing my University education in the United Kingdom, I worked as a fitness instructor and athletics coach for many years. Since 2008 I have been practicing in the UK as a Chartered Physiotherapist, and traveling to European and World Cup tournaments with the Wales Masters field hockey team as their physiotherapist. I am passionate and actively involved in health and fitness and in the process of research and writing. I believe everyone should have access to the latest health and wellness research in simple, easy to understand language. In 2009 I published a research article ‘Is Yoga An Effective Treatment for Low Back Pain’ in the International Journal of Yoga Therapy. Currently, I am a freelance writer producing content relating to physiotherapy and health and wellness. I love anything animal! I have three rescued dogs and two parrots. I placed third lady in my city’s annual marathon (dressed as a bunny!) to raise funds for an animal welfare charity.

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