How to fix an unresponsive Apple Watch screen: A step-by-step guide

by Barbara Wilson

The Apple Watch, a marvel of wearable technology, seamlessly integrates into our daily lives, revolutionizing how we interact with our devices. However, like any intricate piece of technology, it can sometimes hit a snag. One common frustration that users may encounter is an unresponsive screen – a scenario that can be concerning. Fear not, for this comprehensive guide aims to unravel the mysteries of unresponsiveness and equip you with the knowledge and steps needed to troubleshoot and resolve this issue. This way, you can continue to enjoy all the wonderful features your Apple Watch has to offer.


I. How to Troubleshoot an Unresponsive Apple Watch Screen

An unresponsive Apple Watch screen can be frustrating, but fear not, as troubleshooting the issue is the first step towards finding a solution. Let’s delve into the essential techniques to diagnose and resolve the problem, addressing common causes, and equipping you with the skills to restore your Apple Watch’s functionality.


1. Check for Software Glitches

Software glitches are a common cause of unresponsiveness. Start by ensuring that your watch is running the latest software version. If not, proceed to update it (we’ll cover this in more detail in Section III). Often, a simple software update can resolve the issue by addressing bugs or conflicts.


2. Inspect Battery Levels

Low battery levels can lead to unresponsive screens. Check your watch’s battery status by swiping up from the watch face. If the battery is critically low, charge your watch for a while before attempting further troubleshooting. A fully charged watch is more likely to respond to your interactions.


3. Force Restart

If your Apple Watch is completely unresponsive, a force restart may be necessary. To force restart a Series 3 or later watch, simultaneously press and hold the side button and the Digital Crown until the Apple logo appears. For Series 1 and Series 2 watches, press and hold the side button until the Apple logo appears. This action can often clear minor glitches causing the unresponsiveness.

4. Check Hardware Connections

Ensure that your watch’s hardware connections, such as the band and charger, are secure. A loose band, for example, can cause connectivity issues. Detach and reattach the band, and make sure the charger is properly connected when charging.

5. Disable Water Lock

If you’ve used the Water Lock feature, make sure it’s turned off. Water Lock is designed to prevent accidental taps on the screen while swimming, and it can affect touch sensitivity when enabled. To disable it, swipe up on the watch face, find the water droplet icon, and tap it to turn off Water Lock.

6. Remove Unresponsive Apps

Problematic third-party apps can occasionally cause unresponsiveness. If you suspect a specific app is causing the issue, try removing it. Press and hold the app icon on the watch face until it starts shaking, then tap the “x” on the app to delete it. Reboot your watch after removing the app.

7. Test on a Different Wrist

If you wear your watch on your non-dominant wrist and experience unresponsiveness, try switching wrists. The watch’s orientation might affect touch sensitivity for some users.

By systematically exploring these troubleshooting steps, you increase your chances of identifying the cause of the unresponsive screen. Remember, patience is key; take your time with each step to ensure a thorough assessment. If the issue persists, don’t worry; we have more advanced solutions in the following sections.

II. Updating Your Apple Watch Software: A Fix for Unresponsive Screens

Keeping your Apple Watch’s software up-to-date is not only essential for security and performance improvements but also can be a key solution to resolving unresponsive screen issues. In this section, we’ll delve into the importance of software updates, how to check for updates, and the steps to install them, ensuring your Apple Watch runs smoothly and responsively.

1. The Significance of Software Updates

Apple periodically releases software updates for the Apple Watch, addressing bugs, introducing new features, and enhancing overall performance. These updates can also contain critical fixes for issues that might cause unresponsive screens. Therefore, ensuring your watch is running the latest software version is a fundamental step in troubleshooting.

2. Checking for Updates

To check if an update is available for your Apple Watch:

a. Ensure your iPhone is connected to Wi-Fi and is within range of your Apple Watch.

b. Make sure your Apple Watch is connected to its charger, as software updates can consume a significant amount of battery.

c. On your iPhone, open the Watch app.

d. Tap on “My Watch” at the bottom of the screen.

e. Scroll down and tap on “General.”

f. Tap on “Software Update.” Your iPhone will check for available updates for your Apple Watch.

3. Installing Updates

If an update is available, follow these steps to install it:

a. Make sure your Apple Watch is charged to at least 50%, and keep it on the charger during the update process.

b. On the Software Update screen in the Watch app, tap “Download and Install.”

c. The update will begin downloading to your iPhone first. Once the download is complete, the update will automatically transfer to your Apple Watch.

d. Wait for the update to install. This process may take some time, so be patient. Your watch will restart once the update is installed.

e. Once the update is complete, you’ll see a confirmation message on your iPhone, indicating that the update was successful.

4. Reassessing Screen Responsiveness

After the update is installed, assess your Apple Watch’s screen responsiveness. Many users find that a software update can significantly improve touch sensitivity and resolve minor issues causing unresponsiveness. If the problem persists, don’t be discouraged; there are additional steps to consider in later sections of this guide.

5. Regular Check for Updates

Make it a habit to check for software updates regularly. Apple frequently releases updates, and staying up-to-date ensures you benefit from the latest enhancements, fixes, and security patches. Regular updates can contribute to a smoother and more reliable experience with your Apple Watch.

By understanding the importance of software updates, knowing how to check for them, and following the installation steps, you’re taking a proactive approach to maintaining the health and responsiveness of your Apple Watch’s screen. It’s a simple yet powerful solution that can make a significant difference in the overall performance of your device.

III. Cleaning Your Apple Watch: A Preventative Measure for Unresponsive Screens

Keeping your Apple Watch clean is not just about maintaining its pristine appearance; it’s also a crucial preventive measure to ensure that your watch functions properly, including its screen responsiveness. In this section, we’ll explore the importance of cleaning your Apple Watch, provide guidelines for safe cleaning, and share tips to keep your watch in optimal condition.

1. Why Cleaning Matters

Over time, your Apple Watch can accumulate dirt, sweat, oils, and debris. This buildup can hinder touch sensitivity, making the screen less responsive. Regular cleaning prevents these contaminants from interfering with the watch’s operation, ensuring that you can interact with it effortlessly.

2. Safe Cleaning Practices

When cleaning your Apple Watch, it’s essential to follow proper guidelines to avoid causing any damage:

a. Power Off: Before cleaning, turn off your Apple Watch to prevent accidental interactions.

b. Use a Soft, Lint-Free Cloth: Choose a clean, lint-free cloth to wipe the surface of your watch. Microfiber cloths work well for this purpose.

c. Avoid Excess Moisture: Dampen the cloth slightly, but avoid excessive moisture. Water or moisture can seep into the device, causing damage.

d. Be Gentle: Gently wipe the screen, the case, and the band, being careful not to apply excessive pressure. Avoid using abrasive materials or harsh chemicals that can scratch or damage the watch.

e. Focus on Edges and Corners: Pay attention to the edges and corners, as these areas are more prone to dirt accumulation. Use a soft brush (e.g., a clean, soft toothbrush) to reach these spots if necessary.

f. Remove Bands for Thorough Cleaning: If your watch has a removable band, take it off for a more thorough cleaning. Wipe both the watch and the band separately.

g. Dry Thoroughly: After cleaning, ensure that your Apple Watch is completely dry before turning it back on.

3. Cleaning Frequency

How often you clean your Apple Watch depends on your usage and the environment in which you wear it. If you engage in physical activities or sweat a lot while wearing the watch, consider cleaning it more frequently. A general guideline is to clean it at least once a week to prevent the buildup of dirt and oils.

4. Protective Measures

Consider using a screen protector or a case to add an extra layer of protection to your Apple Watch. These accessories can help shield the screen from scratches and reduce the accumulation of debris.

5. Storage

When not wearing your watch, store it in a clean, dry place. Avoid leaving it in excessively humid or dusty environments, as this can contribute to the buildup of grime.

6. Band Care

If your watch has a removable band, be sure to clean it as well. Bands can accumulate sweat and dirt, which might transfer to the watch itself. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning the band, as different materials may require specific care.

By incorporating regular and proper cleaning practices into your Apple Watch maintenance routine, you’re taking a proactive approach to prevent unresponsive screen issues. A clean watch not only ensures optimal functionality but also enhances the overall user experience by keeping the device in top condition.

IV. DIY Fixes for Minor Unresponsive Apple Watch Screen Issues

Minor unresponsive screen issues can sometimes be resolved with simple do-it-yourself (DIY) fixes that require no technical expertise. In this section, we’ll explore some quick and effective DIY solutions to tackle common minor unresponsiveness problems, such as adjusting settings and toggling features. These solutions can save you time and frustration, getting your Apple Watch back to its responsive state.

1. Adjust Screen Brightness

In certain lighting conditions, the screen brightness might be affecting touch sensitivity. Here’s how you can adjust the screen brightness on your Apple Watch:

a. Swipe up on the watch face to access the Control Center.

b. Adjust the brightness slider to your desired level.

c. Try using your watch to see if the change in brightness improves screen responsiveness.

2. Toggle the Screen Lock

The screen lock feature is designed to prevent accidental taps when your watch is on your wrist. However, this feature can sometimes cause unresponsiveness, especially if it’s enabled unintentionally. To toggle the screen lock:

a. Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch.

b. Scroll down and tap on “Passcode.”

c. Turn off the “Wrist Detection” feature.

d. Test the screen responsiveness with the screen lock disabled.

If you find that turning off the screen lock improves responsiveness, you can choose to leave it off or turn it back on based on your preference.

3. Restart Your Apple Watch

A simple restart can often resolve minor software glitches causing unresponsiveness. Refer to Section I.3. for detailed instructions on how to perform a proper restart.

4. Check App Notifications

Some unresponsive screen issues may be related to a specific app causing conflicts or issues. If you recently installed a new app and the screen started behaving oddly, try disabling notifications for that app or uninstalling it to see if the problem is resolved.

5. Check for App Updates

Ensure that your apps are up-to-date. Developers often release updates to fix bugs and improve compatibility, which can affect screen responsiveness. To check for updates:

a. Open the Watch app on your iPhone.

b. Scroll down to “Installed on Apple Watch” and look for the app in question.

c. If an update is available, tap “Update” next to the app.

6. Reboot Your iPhone

Sometimes, the connection between your Apple Watch and your iPhone can cause screen responsiveness issues. Rebooting your iPhone can help refresh this connection:

a. Restart your iPhone (refer to your iPhone’s manual for specific instructions).

b. Once your iPhone restarts, check if the Apple Watch screen responsiveness has improved.

By trying out these simple DIY fixes, you may resolve minor unresponsive screen issues on your Apple Watch without the need for professional assistance. Remember to be patient and methodical in testing each fix. If the problem persists, don’t worry; we have more advanced steps to explore in the upcoming sections.

V. Resetting Your Apple Watch: A Last Resort for Unresponsive Screens

While it’s essential to exhaust all other troubleshooting options before resorting to a reset, there are instances where resetting your Apple Watch to its factory settings can be the solution to persistent unresponsive screen issues. In this section, we’ll explore the reasons for resetting, guide you through the process, and emphasize the importance of backing up your data before taking this step.

1. When to Consider a Reset

Before resetting your Apple Watch, make sure you’ve attempted all the other troubleshooting steps outlined in this guide. A factory reset should be a last resort when you’ve exhausted all other options, and the unresponsive screen issue persists, and there’s no other apparent cause.

2. Backup Your Data

Before proceeding with a reset, it’s crucial to back up your Apple Watch to prevent data loss. Here’s how you can back up your Apple Watch:

a. Make sure your Apple Watch is connected to Wi-Fi.

b. Keep your Apple Watch on its charger throughout the backup process to ensure it doesn’t run out of battery.

c. On your iPhone, open the Watch app.

d. Tap on “My Watch” at the bottom of the screen.

e. Tap on “General.”

f. Tap on “Reset.”

g. Choose “Erase Apple Watch Content and Settings.”

h. Enter your Apple ID password if prompted.

i. Follow the on-screen instructions to confirm the reset.

This process may take some time, depending on the amount of data on your watch. Once the backup is complete, you’ll have a recent copy of your Apple Watch’s data that you can restore after the reset.

3. Performing a Factory Reset

Once you’ve backed up your data, you can proceed with the factory reset:

a. On your Apple Watch, open the Settings app.

b. Scroll down and tap on “General.”

c. Scroll down and tap on “Reset.”

d. Choose “Erase All Content and Settings.”

e. Confirm the action and enter your passcode if prompted.

f. Your Apple Watch will begin the reset process. This may take some time.

g. Once the reset is complete, your watch will restart as if it were brand new.

4. Restoring Your Apple Watch

After the reset, you’ll need to set up your Apple Watch as if it were new. Follow the on-screen instructions to pair it with your iPhone and configure your preferences. During the setup process, you’ll have the option to restore your watch from the backup you created earlier. Choose this option to restore your apps, settings, and data.

5. Reassessing Screen Responsiveness

After the reset and restoration, test the screen responsiveness. This fresh start should resolve any software-related issues that might have been causing the unresponsiveness. If the issue persists even after the reset, it’s time to consider seeking professional assistance, as there might be an underlying hardware problem.

By understanding when a reset is necessary, ensuring you back up your data, and following the proper steps, you’re taking a measured approach to resolving persistent unresponsive screen issues on your Apple Watch. Remember that this is a last resort, and careful consideration is essential before taking this step.

VI. The Importance of Backing Up Your Apple Watch Data Before Repair

When facing the need for professional repair, particularly for unresponsive screen issues on your Apple Watch, it’s vital to understand the critical role of backing up your data. Failing to do so could result in the loss of valuable information and personal settings. In this section, we’ll explore the significance of data backup, guide you through the backup process, and emphasize the steps to ensure your data is safe before any repair work begins.

1. Preventing Data Loss

Backing up your Apple Watch data before repair is essential to prevent data loss. The data stored on your watch includes activity history, health and fitness data, customized watch faces, app settings, and more. Losing this data can be frustrating, especially if you’ve spent time personalizing your watch or if the information is essential for tracking your health and fitness progress.

2. The Repair Process

When you send your Apple Watch for professional repair, the device might undergo various diagnostics and service procedures. In some cases, a repair may require replacing internal components or even replacing the entire device. These processes can result in the loss of data stored on your watch.

4. Verify Your Backup

After the repair is completed, it’s essential to verify that your data has been properly restored to your Apple Watch. Check your settings, watch faces, apps, and other personalized data to ensure everything is back to normal. This step ensures that the repair process didn’t inadvertently lead to data loss.

5. Safety Measures

While Apple and authorized repair centers take every precaution to protect your data during repairs, it’s always better to be safe. Backing up your data provides an additional layer of security, ensuring that even if the unexpected occurs, you won’t lose the valuable information stored on your Apple Watch.

By understanding the importance of data backup before repair, you’re taking proactive steps to safeguard your valuable data and maintain the continuity of your personalized Apple Watch experience. Always ensure your data is backed up before any repair work, reducing the potential frustration of losing important information due to unforeseen circumstances during the repair process.

VII. The Cost of Repairing an Unresponsive Apple Watch Screen

The cost of repairing an unresponsive Apple Watch screen can vary based on several factors, and understanding these factors can help you anticipate the potential expenses involved in getting your watch fixed. In this section, we’ll provide insights into the cost considerations, factors that influence pricing, and tips for managing repair costs.

1. Warranty and AppleCare+

If your Apple Watch is still under the original warranty or if you’ve purchased AppleCare+, your repair costs might be significantly reduced or even covered entirely, depending on the nature of the issue. Check the terms and coverage details of your warranty or AppleCare+ plan to understand your entitlements.

2. Out-of-Warranty Repairs

If your Apple Watch is no longer covered by the warranty or AppleCare+, you’ll likely need to pay for the repair. The cost can vary based on the specific model of your watch, the extent of the damage, and the type of repair required.

3. Specific Repairs

The unresponsive screen issue may be caused by various factors, ranging from software glitches to hardware malfunctions. The cost of repair will depend on the specific cause of the unresponsiveness. If it’s a software-related issue that can be resolved without replacing any components, the cost might be lower than if hardware components need replacement.

4. Official Apple Service vs. Third-Party Repairs

Getting your Apple Watch repaired through an official Apple service provider or an Apple Store can ensure the use of genuine parts and qualified technicians. While this may be pricier than some third-party repair options, it can offer greater peace of mind in terms of quality and warranty. Third-party repairs may be more affordable, but it’s essential to research the reputation and credibility of the repair service.

5. Model and Generation

The cost of repair can vary depending on the specific model and generation of your Apple Watch. Generally, newer models might have higher repair costs due to the availability of replacement parts and the complexity of the technology.

6. Additional Damage

In some cases, an unresponsive screen issue may be related to additional damage or wear and tear on your Apple Watch. If the repair involves fixing other components or addressing physical damage, such as a cracked screen or water damage, the cost could increase accordingly.

7. Labor Costs

Labor costs for repairs can also influence pricing. The time and effort required to diagnose and fix the issue, as well as the expertise of the technician, may impact the final cost.

8. Managing Repair Costs

To manage repair costs:

a. Check Warranty and AppleCare+ Coverage: Determine if your watch is still under warranty or if you’ve purchased AppleCare+. This can significantly reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.

b. Research Repair Options: If you’re out of warranty, compare repair costs from official Apple service providers and reputable third-party repair centers to find the most cost-effective solution.

c. Consider DIY Solutions: If the issue is minor and you’re comfortable with DIY approaches, you might be able to address it yourself (refer to earlier sections for DIY fixes).

d. Preventive Care: Regularly clean and maintain your Apple Watch to prevent issues that could lead to costly repairs.

By understanding the factors that influence the cost of repairing an unresponsive Apple Watch screen and being proactive in managing these costs, you can make informed decisions about repairing your device while ensuring that you get the best value for your investment.

VIII. The Role of Apple Support in Fixing Unresponsive Apple Watch Screens

When facing unresponsive Apple Watch screens or other technical issues, Apple Support can be a valuable resource to help diagnose and potentially resolve the problem. Understanding their role and knowing how to reach out for assistance can be essential in getting your Apple Watch back to its optimal functionality.

1. Apple Support’s Expertise

Apple Support consists of knowledgeable and trained professionals who specialize in diagnosing and troubleshooting Apple devices, including the Apple Watch. They have access to comprehensive resources and tools, allowing them to assist with a wide range of issues, from software glitches to hardware malfunctions.

2. Contacting Apple Support

There are several ways to contact Apple Support for assistance with your unresponsive Apple Watch screen:

a. Apple Support App: Download and use the Apple Support app on your iPhone. It provides a convenient way to access support options, schedule a call, or chat with a representative.

b. Apple Support Website: Visit Apple’s official support website (, where you can find a wealth of resources, articles, and guides. You can also initiate a chat with a support representative online.

c. Phone Support: If you prefer direct communication, you can call Apple Support. Look up the appropriate support phone number for your location on the Apple website, and a representative will guide you through troubleshooting steps or schedule a repair if necessary.

3. What to Expect

When you contact Apple Support for an unresponsive Apple Watch screen issue, here’s what you can expect:

a. Diagnostic Questions: The support representative may ask you specific questions about the issue you’re facing, such as when it started, any recent changes, or any error messages you’ve encountered.

b. Troubleshooting Steps: Depending on the nature of the issue, the representative may guide you through additional troubleshooting steps to try to resolve the problem over the phone or through chat.

c. Next Steps: If the issue can’t be resolved through troubleshooting or if it appears to be a hardware problem, the representative will provide guidance on the best course of action. This may include scheduling a repair at an Apple Store, sending your watch for service, or visiting an authorized service provider.

4. Be Prepared

Before contacting Apple Support, it’s helpful to gather some information:

a. Apple ID: Have your Apple ID ready, as this will be necessary for accessing your device’s details and support history.

b. Serial Number: Know the serial number of your Apple Watch (found in the Watch app on your iPhone under “General” > “About”), as this helps the support representative identify your specific device.

c. Description of the Issue: Be ready to provide a clear and concise description of the unresponsive screen issue, any relevant details, and what troubleshooting steps you’ve already tried.

By understanding the role of Apple Support and the options available for contacting them, you’re better equipped to seek professional assistance when faced with persistent unresponsive Apple Watch screen issues. Their expertise and guidance can often lead to a solution or help you determine the most appropriate steps for repair or resolution.

IX. Preventing Unresponsive Apple Watch Screens: Tips for Care and Maintenance

Prevention is always better than dealing with issues after they arise, and taking proper care of your Apple Watch can significantly reduce the likelihood of encountering unresponsive screen problems. In this section, we’ll provide you with practical tips and advice for maintaining your Apple Watch, ensuring its long-term functionality and responsiveness.

1. Keep Your Watch Clean

Regular cleaning is essential to prevent the buildup of dirt, sweat, and oils that can interfere with touch sensitivity. As discussed in a previous section, use a soft, lint-free cloth and be gentle when wiping the screen, case, and band. Pay special attention to edges and corners where dirt tends to accumulate.

2. Avoid Extreme Temperatures

Exposing your Apple Watch to extreme temperatures can impact its performance and potentially lead to screen issues. Avoid wearing your watch in extremely hot or cold environments. High heat can cause the internal components to overheat, while extreme cold might affect the battery life and screen responsiveness.

3. Water and Moisture Protection

While many Apple Watch models are water-resistant, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for water exposure. Avoid submerging your watch in water unless it’s specifically designed for swimming or water sports. After water exposure, dry your watch thoroughly to prevent moisture from affecting the screen and internal components.

4. Choose Quality Bands

If your Apple Watch has a removable band, ensure that you choose high-quality bands that fit securely. Loose bands can disrupt the connection between the watch and your wrist, affecting touch sensitivity.

5. Regular Software Updates

Stay up-to-date with the latest software updates for your Apple Watch. As discussed earlier, these updates often include bug fixes and improvements that can enhance overall performance, including screen responsiveness.

6. Manage App Usage

Be mindful of the apps you install on your Apple Watch. Poorly designed or problematic apps can cause conflicts and impact performance. Regularly review and remove any apps that you no longer use or that you suspect may be causing issues.

7. Proper Charging Habits

Charge your Apple Watch using the official charger and follow the recommended charging guidelines. Avoid using third-party chargers that may not provide the proper voltage or current, as this can impact the battery’s health and overall device performance.

8. Protect the Screen

Consider using a screen protector to shield your watch’s screen from scratches and potential damage. Also, be cautious when placing your watch in situations where it might come into contact with hard surfaces.

9. Seek Professional Assistance When Needed

If you encounter persistent issues or suspect a hardware problem, don’t hesitate to reach out to Apple Support or an authorized service provider for assistance. Prompt professional diagnosis and repair can prevent small issues from escalating into more significant problems.

By following these care and maintenance tips, you’re taking proactive steps to prevent unresponsive Apple Watch screens and ensuring the longevity of your device. A well-maintained Apple Watch can provide years of reliable and responsive service, enhancing your overall wearable experience.


An unresponsive Apple Watch screen can be a vexing problem, but with the comprehensive knowledge gleaned from this guide, you’re now well-equipped to tackle it head-on. Whether it’s a simple restart, a crucial software update, or even reaching out to Apple Support, you possess the expertise to navigate through these potential solutions. By understanding the intricacies of troubleshooting and the importance of proactive maintenance, you can keep your Apple Watch running like a well-oiled machine, ensuring you continue to enjoy the full spectrum of its features and convenience.


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