Set up medication reminders on your Apple Watch and iPhone with the Health app

Apple Watch Medications app reminder

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to forget to take your vitamins, supplements, and medicine, especially on days when your normal routine flies out the window. That’s why adding a quick reminder to your iPhone or Apple Watch helps you stay on track and not lose a single dose.

In the past, you needed to use a third-party app or set up a schedule in the Reminders app to get those medication notifications and alerts. But no more! With iOS 16+ and watchOS 9+, Apple added a native medication reminder feature in the Health app (for iPhones) and a new Medications app for Apple Watches. With these apps, Apple says we can now “forget about forgetting!”

In this article, we walk through the steps on how you set up and add medication reminders on your Apple Watch running watchOS 9+ and iPhone’s Health app using iOS 16+ without any third-party apps. And for those still using older watchOS and iOS versions, we covered you with steps on using Apple’s Reminders app.

And the good news is that you aren’t limited to prescription drugs. Using these apps, you can add all your pills and other medicines, including Vitamins, minerals, and supplements. For those that need or want to share medication information with a caregiver or loved one, you can do that too!

So let’s never miss a dose again!

How your Apple Watch and iPhone can work together to help you stay on track with your meds

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a quick way to ensure you take your pills and other medications on time and daily? Well, that’s exactly what Apple’s new Medications app and Health app feature is all about. You can get simple reminders to take and log your pills according to a schedule you and your healthcare team set.

Get reminders for your medications, vitamins, and supplements on your iPhone and Apple Watch!

While the Medications app on Apple Watch alerts you with dose reminders when it’s the time to take your medicines, the Apple Health app offers a lot more options, including detailed drug information, potential drug interactions between the medicines you currently take, charts, your medication history, and information about when and how consistently you take your medications. You can even learn if there are issues with taking your pills and using alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana while on them.

And it’s easy to add a new medicine or supplement. Using the Health app, you can either type in the name of the drug to see suggestions from the current database or take a picture using the built-in camera feature of the medication’s label. And if your pill isn’t listed, it’s easy to add it manually.

Sounds pretty good, right?

So let’s walk through how you do it! Just remember that these steps work only on iPhones and Apple Watches that run iOS16 or above and watchOS 9 and above.

If you use an older iOS or watchOS and cannot update to these required versions, see the section on using the Reminders app or use a third-party medication app instead.

Add your medicine and supplements to the Health app on your iPhone

Even if you own an Apple Watch, you first want to open the Health app and add your medications, supplements, and other pills. Any information you add to the Health app translates to the Medications app on your Apple Watch–they work together!

  1. Open the Health app on your iPhone.
  2. Tap the Browse tab at the bottom.
  3. Scroll down and choose the Medications category. Medications category in iPhone Apple Health app
  4. Select Add a Medication. Health app Add a Medication on iPhone using the Health app
    1. If you already added some, scroll past all listed pills and tap Add Medication. Health app on iPhone add a new medication
  5. In the search bar, add the name of the medication by typing or speaking it. If you see a camera icon, you can tap that to take a picture of your medication’s label using your iPhone’s camera.
    1. If you connect the Health app to a healthcare provider’s health records, you may see a list of suggestions for your current prescriptions with that provider.
    2. The camera feature requires iPhone XS, XR, or later that runs iOS 16 and above. Add medication name in iPhone Apple Health app
  6. If you typed or spoke the name, review the listed suggestions and tap the one that most closely matches your pill.
    1. If you don’t get any matches or a close match, tap the Add button just below the search bar to enter the details manually.
  7. Choose the format you take for your medicine, i.e., tablet, oral suspension, capsule, topical, cream, ointment, inhaler, etc. Medication type in Apple Health app on iPhone
  8. Select the medication strength from the list of options. medication strength in Apple iPhone Health app
    1. If your medicine’s strength isn’t listed, try another option or add your medicine in manually–just make sure you choose the correct unit of measurement (mg, magma g, mL, %, and so forth.)
    2. You can also choose No Strength Information, but we don’t recommend it.
  9. Next, choose your medication frequency and add in the Time of Day and number of units you should take that medicine. For frequency, choose between regular intervals like every day, on specific days of the week, or as needed.Medication frequency in Apple Health app on iPhone
    1. If you take more than one dose of this medicine daily, tap Add a time and enter those additional doses.
    2. The time of the day feature establishes when Apple sends you medication reminders.
  10. Choose the shape of the medicine to help you quickly identify it. Then, select the color of the medicine.
    1. If your pill is blue, choose that color. The idea is to match the image of the medication to the actual real-life medicine. Apple Health app on iPhone choose color and shape of medications
  11. Finally, add any additional details such as a nickname or notes that you or your healthcare team want you to know. Examples include “take with food” or “take on an empty stomach.” Apple iPhone Health app optional details for medications including nickname and instructions or notes
  12. Review the medication interactions. If you consume alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana, we recommend you toggle these under the section factors that apply–this helps the Health app identify any problems with your medication and consuming these products. Apple Health app medication interactions
  13. Tap Done to save this medicine. You must press the done button to save it!
  14. Repeat the steps for each additional medication.

Once you add all your current medicines and supplements, you need to turn on Dose Reminders in the Health app

  1. Open the Health app and choose the Medications category.
  2. You should see a list of all the medications you added and the times you set up to take them. Medication list in Apple Health app
  3. Scroll down to the bottom More section and tap Options. Apple Health app Medications options on iPhone
  4. Toggle on Dose Reminders. Dose reminders for medicines in Apple Health app and Watch Medications app

With dose reminders on, you get notifications and alerts on your iPhone and your Apple Watch to remind you to take your medications!

Log your medications on your Apple Watch and iPhone Health app medication dose reminder on iPhone

Once you turn on Dose Reminders in the Health app, your Apple Watch Medications app and the iPhone’s Health app automatically send reminders when it’s time to take your medicines. Apple Watch Medications app reminder for dose

After you take your medicine, log it to mark that you took your medicine for that time. When you log it, you also establish a history of what treatment you took and when.

That shows how well you comply with your doctor and healthcare team’s instructions and whether you are or are not taking medication on schedule and as prescribed.

Keeping track of when and what you take also helps identify whether a drug is working or not, any possible side effects, and helps your healthcare team know if you need to increase or decrease the dosage.

How to log medicine on Apple Watch Medications app Apple Watch dose reminders

  1. Tap on the Health app’s medication reminder notification on your iPhone or open the Medications app on your Apple Watch and look for the medicines and time you want to log in and tap it.
  2. If you took everything listed, tap Log as Taken or Log All as Taken to mark that you took all medicine listed for that time. Or if you skipped everything, mark it as Log All as Skipped. When you tap a dose reminder, you also get the option to remind you later in 10 minutes.Log All as Taken for Medications app on Apple Watch
  3. After logging your medicines taken, it notes the time you logged them, which may or may not be the exact time you took medicine.
    1. You can change the exact time you took medicine inside the Medications app > Logged on your watch or the Health app > Medications > Logged section.
  4. If you skipped some medicines, open the Medications app on your watch.
    1. Tap on the time you are supposed to take your medicines. Medications app list of medicines by time to take on Apple Watch
    2. Scroll past Log All as Taken and go one by one and choose Skipped or Taken for each listed.Medication marked as skipped in Apple Watch app for Medications
  5. Scroll down and tap Done when you log everything for that time.

How to log medicine on iPhone

  1. Tap the medication reminder notification or open the Health app > Browse > Medications. Apple Health app log medication
  2. Under Log, look for the time period that you want to log your medications for and tap it.
  3. If you took everything listed, tap Mark All as Taken to mark that you took all medicine listed for that time. When you log your medicines, it notes the time you logged them. iPhone Health app mark all medicines as taken
  4. If you skipped some medicines, go one by one and choose Skipped or Taken. Apple Health app log medicine as taken or skipped
  5. Tap Done when you log everything for that time.

Made a mistake when logging your medications?

If you make a mistake and mark something as taken when you didn’t take it or skipped when you did indeed take it, it’s easy to go back and update it.

  1. Open the Health app > Browse > Medications on your iPhone or the Medications app on your Apple Watch.
    1. These apps sync information, so you only need to update once.
  2. Scroll down to the section Logged. Logged medicines in Apple Health app
  3. Locate the item you incorrectly logged as skipped or taken and tap it.
  4. Correct your mistake and tap Done. iPhone Apple Health app change a medicine to skipped from taken

Tapping Done saves your changes. If you don’t tap this, any updates you made are canceled.

How to change the time you take your medications?

For the Medications app and the Apple Health app, the time when you log your medicine is the time it lists for when you took it. But often these are not the same!

Maybe you forgot to log your medicine after you took it, or you logged your medications as taken before you took them. For some drugs, it might not matter if your log is off by an hour or two. But some medicines require you follow a strict dosing schedule.

The good news is that it’s pretty easy to adjust your logging time to reflect when you actually took medicine. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Health app > Browse > Medications on your iPhone or the Medications app on your Apple Watch.
    1. These apps sync information, so you only need to update once.
  2. Scroll down to the section Logged. Medications app Apple Watch logged medicines
  3. Locate the item(s) you need to adjust the time for and tap it.
  4. Tap the time currently listed as when you logged it. Apple Watch Medications app time you logged a medicine
  5. Tap Time or Time taken. Medications app time taken Apple Watch
  6. Adjust the time so it’s accurate.
    1. On Apple Watch, tap the checkmark icon to save the updated time. Apple Watch Medications app adjust log time
  7. Press Done at the top, scroll down, and choose Done again to save these changes. Appel Watch Medications app change log time and save it

Once you update the information, the Health app or Medications app on your watch syncs and updates too! You do not need to update both apps.

How to remove a medicine or supplement you no longer take on iPhone and Apple Watch

Medicines, vitamins, and supplements change all the time, so it’s important to know how to remove something you no longer take or need!

Because Apple wants you to keep a record of what you did take and when you took it, you can archive any item you aren’t taking so it remains in your history but doesn’t show up as a current medicine. And luckily, archiving is super easy!

  1. Open the Health app > Browse > Medications on your iPhone.
  2. Scroll down to Your Medications list.
  3. Swipe left on the medication you no longer take. Choose Archive. Archive and delete a medicine from current list in iPhone Apple Health app
  4. When you archive a medication, it appears in a new section called Archived Medications. Apple Health list of archived medicines
  5. You can also unarchive a medication by selecting Archived Medications, swiping left on a medicine there, and then choosing Unarchive. Apple Health unarchive a medicine
    1. The unarchived medicine appears back on your active medications list!

Share your medication list with a caregiver, family member, or healthcare provider

There are lots of reasons you may need to share what medicines you take and when you take them with someone else.

If you see multiple doctors in different health systems, they often don’t know what medicines your other doctors prescribe. And if a family member helps with your care or if you hire someone to help you, they need to know your current medicines.

To assist you, Apple Health offers a feature that exports your medications list via a PDF that you can send to just about anyone!

  1. On your iPhone, open the Health app > Browse > Medications.
  2. Scroll down to just below your list of medicines and tap Export Medications List PDF. Export medications list in Apple Health app on iPhone
  3. Apple Health creates a simple PDF of all your current medications, including dosage strength. Notice that the PDF includes your name, date of birth, and current age at the top. Apple Health app share current list of medications with others
    1. Tap the Share button at the top to send this via Messages, email, print it, save it to the Files app, or share it with others via third-party apps.

How to turn off Medication reminders on iPhone and Apple Watch

Okay, many people do not pay attention to these reminders or find them annoying. So if you want to turn them off, it’s pretty easy!

  • On your iPhone, open the Health app > Browse > Medications.
  • Scroll down to the section More and tap Options.
  • Turn off (disable) Dose Reminders. Turn off Dose Reminders for Apple Health app and Medications app on Apple Watch

At this time, you cannot turn the reminders off on your iPhone but leave them on for your Apple Watch (or vice-versa.) It’s all or nothing, I’m afraid.

Using older iOS and watchOS versions, create your medication reminder in the Reminders app! Reminder app notification on iPhone to take medication

If your iPhone or Apple Watch cannot update to iOS 16+ or watchOS 9+, you aren’t out of luck!

There are a lot of third-party apps that you can use to keep track of your medications. OR, you can use the Reminders app that comes with your Apple devices and make your own medication reminders!

The main disadvantage of the Reminders app versus reminders from the Health and Medications app is that you don’t have the option to log that you took or skipped a medicine.

Rather, you get a notification that simply nudges you to take that pill or other medication.

Using the Reminders app for medication Apple Watch Reminders app notification to take medication

Using the Reminders app is easy. Now, you don’t get all the fancy customizations for pill size, color, and dosage strength that you do with the Health app, but you really don’t need all that data now, do you?

  1. Open the Reminders app on your iPhone. Although you can add a reminder on the Apple Watch, we don’t recommend it since the screen is so small–but the steps are basically the same (they just take a lot longer, in our opinion!)
  2. Tap New Reminder. iPhone Reminders app add a New Reminder
  3. If you have a lot of medications (like me), first create a new list via Add List button called Medications, and then add your medication reminders to that list. iPhone Reminders app add a new list
  4. Type or speak the name of your medication, supplement, or vitamin to label it. iPhone reminders app add a medication to a list
  5. Once named, tap the “i” information button to get scheduling options.
  6. Add dosage and other important information, like take with food or not with food, to the notes section. Detail options for a Reminder in the Reminders app on iPhone
  7. Toggle on Date and Time to create an initial schedule for today.
  8. Tap Repeat and select how often you need to take this medicine, i.e., daily, weekly, etc. repeat options for iPhone Reminders app
  9. If you take it for a specific period, like 30 days, add this under End Repeat. If there is no end date, keep it as Never. Repeat and End Repeat options on iPhone Reminders app
  10. Go through the remaining options, such as adding tags, and flags, setting a priority, changing the associated list, and even adding an image of the medication. iPhone reminders app all options
  11. When satisfied with all your choices, tap Done to save your medication reminder.
  12. Repeat the steps for any additional medications.

Now, just like any other reminder, you get a notification on your iPhone or Apple Watch when the time you set for taking your medicine arrives! Remember to tap the reminder to clear it out.

You can also share your medication reminders list with your family, friends, and any caregivers. 

  1. Open the Reminders app.
  2. Under My Lists, tap your Medications list.
  3. Tap the More button (three dots) and choose Share List or select the Share button and choose your sharing options. Reminders app share reminder list
  4. Select the method and the people you want to invite to share your medication list via the share sheet (i.e., Messages, Mail app, etc.)
  5. Once someone accepts your sharing invitation, they can add items, delete items, and mark them as completed.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, these steps help you set up all your medication reminders!

We love that you can add your vitamins, supplements, and others to the iPhone Health and Apple Watch Medications app, keeping all that information in one place!

We think this pill reminder feature is a big win for Apple and all its users, especially those like me who often forget.

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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