Google Pixel Watch unresponsive, stuck on a black screen, or won’t turn on? Let’s fix it

Google Pixel Watch not turning on stuck on black screen

After waking up this morning, I grabbed my Pixel Watch off its charger as usual and slapped it on my wrist, and almost immediately noticed that it didn’t show my watch face. Instead, it showed just a black screen.

Okay, it must be off, so I pressed the crown to turn it on. And nothing…oh no. Darn it, just yesterday, it was working perfectly!

After inspecting the charger to make sure it was actually plugged in (it was) and then trying another wall outlet, my watch was still not turning on.

Flipping it over, I saw that the green lights for the heart rate sensor were working, and the Google Watch app was also connecting to the watch, so clearly, there was another problem here. My Pixel was just stuck and not responding to my taps or the crown.

The good news is that I did fix it (by myself.)

So if your Pixel Watch isnโ€™t firing up, no matter what button you push or how long you charge it, take a look at our top tips.

Some basics for your Pixel Watch 

Okay, most of you (like me) probably already ran through these steps, but I’ll review them just in case.

  1. Try a different wall outlet or power source and charge your Pixel Watch for at least 30 minutes. Use the charger that came with the watch instead of a third-party product. Use a wall outlet instead of a computer, USB port, or portable charge.
  2. Remove any case or screen protector. These often block the ambient light sensor.
  3. Restart the watch by pressing and holding the Digital Crown for at least 10 seconds and choosing Restart or Power off. Restart or power off Google Pixel Watch

If you haven’t tried these three things, please do them first. Now, if your Pixel Watch still isn’t responding, move on to the next steps.

Force restart a frozen Pixel Watch or a watch that won’t turn on

Forcing your watch to restart helps when software errors and other bugs cause a problem. Force restarting your watch immediately cuts off power from your watch’s battery to its hardware, causing it to shut down and forcing it to reboot.

A force restart immediately terminates any apps or background processes. When it reboots, it clears its cache, and all software processes should start up normally.

Now, if you can restart your watch normally, you should do that. But if your Pixel Watch is frozen, unresponsive, or stuck–that’s when you try a forced reboot.

How to force restart your Pixel Watch

  1. Remove your watch from your wrist, so it’s unlocked.
  2. Press and hold both buttons (the Digital Crown and the Recent Apps buttons) simultaneously. Google Pixel Watch side buttons
  3. Hold both buttons until you see a white Google “G” icon on the watch’s screen. Google Pixel Watch white G icon
    1. You may need to hold these buttons for anywhere between 15 to 60 seconds. Keep pressing the buttons if you see Google Assistant or the Restart/Power off options.
  4. Once you see the Google logo, release both buttons.
  5. Wait for the watch to start back up. Google Pixel rebooting

The crucial part of this process is to hold the buttons simultaneously for long enough (usually 45 seconds but could be up to 1 minute+.)

Use your Pixel Watch’s Fastboot mode Fastboot Options on Google Pixel Watch

If your watch is off and won’t turn on or reboot using the instructions above, you can use Google’s Fastboot mode to reboot the watch (and other things like clearing its cache.)

You can only initiate Fastboot mode from a watch that’s off.

How to enter Fastboot mode to reboot your Pixel Watch

  1. Verify that your Google Pixel Watch is off. That means you see no activity or sensors flashing.
    1. Confirm your watch is off by opening the Google Watch app on your phone. It should show that your watch is disconnected. Pixel Watch disconnected from Google Watch app
  2. Press the crown and wait for the white Google “G” icon to appear on the screen. How to enter Fastboot mode on Google Pixel Watch
  3. Once you see the white G icon, simultaneously tap the upper-left and lower-right corners of the watch face.
  4. You should see the watch go into Fastboot mode.
  5. Press the side button (not the crown button) to see the Fastboot mode options.
  6. Keep pressing the side button until you highlight Recovery Mode.
  7. Press the crown.
  8. When you see the message No Command, press and hold the crown and swipe up on your screen simultaneously. No Command in Google Pixel Watch Fastboot mode
  9. The Reboot system now option should automatically be highlighted. Pixel Watch reboot system now in fast boot
  10. Swipe right on the words Reboot system now. Wait for your watch to reboot entirely.

Tips for updating your Pixel watch and apps

We noticed a lot of Pixel Watches get stuck when downloading and updating the watch’s firmware (or apps), so we include some tips to help with those issues too.

For software and app updates, disconnect your watch from Bluetooth and force it to update via Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, the watch defaults to updating via Bluetooth, which is very slow compared to Wi-Fi.

  1. Go to the watch’s Settings app. Settings app on Google Pixel Watch
  2. Choose Connectivity. Connectivity settings on Google Pixel Watch
  3. Tap Bluetooth and toggle it off. Google Pixel Watch Bluetooth and WiFi settings
  4. Select Wi-Fi, toggle it on if needed and verify it’s connected to a network.
    1. Pixel Watches only connect to 2.4 GHz networks. Google Pixel Watch WiFi settings
  5. For software updates, go to Settings > System > System Updates and update there. Google Pixel Watch update system software
  6. For app updates, go to Play Store.
    1. Scroll down and choose Manage apps at the bottom. Samsung Watch Google Play Store Manage apps
    2. Select Update all or choose each app one by one to update. Samsung Galaxy Watch Google Play Store Update All apps
  7. Once done, remember to toggle Bluetooth back on via Settings > Connectivity > Bluetooth.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, your Google Pixel Watch is back to normal!

Although we don’t recommend frequently forcing a reboot, it’s a handy tool to use when other methods don’t work. We recommend restarting or powering your watch off every week to clear the system cache clutter and remove those temporary files.

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A. Beth Whittenberger
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. Additionally, I was a writer, content producer, and editor on the popular tech blog AppleToolBox. 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! Connect with me on LinkedIn!

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