How to force restart (reboot) a Google Pixel Watch to fix issues

Google Pixel Watch restarting with rainbow G icon

Performing a force restart (reboot) is one of the first steps when troubleshooting almost any wearable or mobile device, and it’s a good one to have in your toolkit.

Force restarting often fixes issues like when your watch is unresponsive, frozen, stuck on an app or watch face, reboots looping, or when it won’t power on normally (black screen of death.)

The good news is that Google offers its Pixel Watch an easy way to force your watch to restart. 

So let’s get started.

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What happens when I force restart my Pixel Watch?

Restarting often fixes bugs and other malfunctions because it terminates the current processes running (operating system files and any open apps), clears the watch’s memory (RAM) cache of its temporary files, and rebuilds those temporary files again during start-up.

Force restarting kills everything running in the background as your watch shuts down. When it turns back on, your watch boots up normally and, hopefully, eliminates the errors you experienced beforehand.

Force restarting does not reset your watch or remove any data and apps from the watch.

Is there a difference between a regular restart and a forced restart?

The only difference between a normal restart and a force restart is how the watch turns itself off.

With a regular restart, the watch’s software runs through a series of steps to turn off the power to the watch. With a forced restart, that power is abruptly turned off.

Think of a forced restart as a power outage and a normal restart as intentionally turning off the power.

And that’s why it’s always better to restart than force restart your Pixel Watch and why we recommend restarting, if possible, instead of force restarting.

You can restart your Pixel watch in two ways:

  • Press and hold the Digital Crown and choose Restart from the on-screen menu (or Power off.) How to turn off Google Pixel Watch
  • Using the Settings app. Go to Settings > System > Restart (or Power off.) Google pixel watch restart or power off in Settings app
  • Confirm you want to restart by tapping the checkmark. Agree to restart Pixel Watch in settings app

However, there are times when you can’t restart your watch the “normal” way. For example, if your Pixel Watch screen or buttons aren’t responding or it seems like the watch won’t turn on and is stuck on a black screen, an app, or the Google logo.

And in those cases, we recommend trying a forced restart.

Use the Pixel Watch’s buttons to force a restart

Before you start, we suggest you remove the watch from your wrist, so it’s easier to access. 

  1. Now, press and hold both the digital crown button and the smaller side button (to access recent apps) for around 30 seconds–it might take as much as 60 seconds. Google pixel Watch side buttons
  2. Keep holding BOTH buttons until you see the white Google G icon on the watch’s screen, then release both buttons.
    1. Ignore the menu that pops up and keep holding the buttons until you see that white G icon. Google Pixel Watch white G icon
  3. Wait for your watch to reboot completely. You should see the white G icon turn to the rainbow G icon and finally a “Starting” screen before you want finally reboots.Google Pixel rebooting

If it doesn’t work, try it again but hold both buttons for a longer period. Many people release the buttons too early to initiate the reboot.

Using your watch’s Fastboot mode

If you can power down your watch (or it’s already off), you can also use the Fastboot options to restart it.

  1. Turn off your Google Pixel Watch. Google Pixel Watch off
  2. Wait 30 seconds, then turn it back on by pressing the crown.
  3. Once your watch shows the white G logo, simultaneously tap the upper-left and lower-right corners of the watch’s screen. Google Pixel Watch Fastboot mode
  4. The watch should go into Fastboot mode. If not, repeat the steps.
  5. Once in Fastboot, press the side button next to the crown to scroll down. Google Pixel Watch enter fast boot mode
  6. Highlight Recovery Mode and press the crown.
  7. You should see the message No Command on the watch–this is normal. Fastboot Recovery mode on Google Pixel Watch No Command
  8. Press and hold the Digital Crown and keep it pressed. With another finger, swipe up from the bottom of the watch’s screen.
  9. Wait for the Recovery menu to appear, then swipe down to select and highlight Reboot system now. Reboot system now on Fastboot menu Google Pixel Watch
  10. Once highlighted, swipe right on Reboot system now.
  11. Wait for your watch to reboot.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, once you restart or force restart your Pixel watch, all the problems previously experienced are gone.

As mentioned, reserve a force restart for cases when you cannot restart via the Settings app or by pressing the crown. You don’t want to routinely force restart–only when necessary, and nothing else works.

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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