The Apple Watch can be a pretty handy (pun intended) little device if you wish to be more phone free. The smartwatch literally allows you to do almost all things one would otherwise have to take their phone out for. Almost.

You can take and decline calls. Make calls, type and send messages, check your mail, set the alarm, use it to track your fitness, measure heart rate, take ECG, track menstrual cycle, and much more with this device on your wrist. You simply have to tap, swipe or press in order to use these features, all while your phone can stay in your pocket.

apple watch gestures

But what if we tell you there is a way in which you can use your Apple Watch without having to touch, swipe or even press anything.

The Apple Watch actually comes with a feature that allows you to perform certain actions by just using hand gestures. This means you can give commands without even having to lift your other hand.

Apple introduced the option to use the Apple Watch with gesture control to make the device more inclusive and allow people with disabilities to use the smartwatch without any struggles. Hand gestures are a part of the AssistiveTouch feature on the Apple Watch. They can actually prove to be quite helpful not just for people with disabilities but even in circumstances where one of your hands may be occupied, and you need to carry out a function.

That said, the feature is available only on Apple Watch 4 and above, including the Apple Watch SE.

How to Use Hand Gestures on Apple Watch?

Using hand gestures on your Apple Watch is quite easy, too. All you have to do is follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Go to the Watch App on your iPhone

apple watch hand gestures

To activate hand gestures on your Watch, you first need to make some adjustments to your Watch app settings on your iPhone. The app comes preinstalled on your iPhone, Apple Watch, or no Apple Watch. So all you need to do is search for it on your iPhone and open it.

Step 2: Turn on Assistive Touch

apple watch accessibility

Once you open the Watch app on your iPhone, you will find the Accessibility option in the menu. Tapping on it will open up another menu with a number of accessibility features. Here, you will find the Assistive Touch feature, which comes turned off by default. Tap on the toggle next to Assistive Touch and turn it on.

Step 3: Get Hand Gestures going

how to control your apple watch with gestures - step3

You will also find the Hand Gestures option in the same menu. You have to tap on it to turn the toggle next to it green. This will activate the Hand Gestures feature on the device. You will find the list of gestures with default actions in the Hand Gestures menu.

For instance, a single pinch will take you forward in the menu, while a double pinch will take you a step back. Clenching your fist once will be equivalent to tapping, while clenching your fist twice will launch the Action Menu. It would help if you also doubled clench your fist to activate hand gestures on your Apple Watch.

All the actions these four gestures perform can be customized, and you get a number of actions to choose from. A range of options, including Tap, Action Menu, Notification Centre, Apple Pay, among others, can be selected from this list.

Step 4: Register the gestures on your Apple Watch

Before you go using hand gestures, you need to get them registered on your Apple Watch. You have to register every single gesture on your Watch before you can use them. Registering them is as simple as performing them. Once you are through with registering these gestures, you will be all set to use the Apple Watch without even using your other hand.

Step 5: Use, and learn to get used to them

While the idea of hand gestures on the Apple Watch sounds… well, handy, it is one of the features of the Apple Watch that needs some work. The problem with these gestures is almost like the commands given on tiny TWSes – they are just very erratic. For example, you might keep pinching and clenching your fist, and nothing would happen. And then, suddenly, all commands start being carried out one after the other, unleashing chaos. It takes a lot of getting used to and, to be very honest, does not always work very smoothly.

That said, it is still a useful feature in times of need. Moreover, it gets better and more manageable once you get used to it.

FAQs on Using Hand Gestures on Apple Watch

In order to use Hand Gestures on Apple Watch, you should activate some settings.

Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch. Go to Accessibility > AssistiveTouch, then turn on AssistiveTouch. Tap Hand Gestures, then turn on Hand Gestures.

Once done, you will be able to use hand gestures to control your Apple Watch.

Gestures are supported by Apple Watches with AssistiveTouch enabled. The feature is available only on Apple Watch 4 and above, including the Apple Watch SE.

  • Apple Watch Series 4
  • Apple Watch Series 5
  • Apple Watch Series 6
  • Apple Watch Series 7
  • Apple Watch SE

To turn ON the gesture control on the Apple Watch, you need to open the Watch app, then open Settings > Accessibility > AssistiveTouch, and turn on the switch for AssistiveTouch. Enabling it on one device automatically enables it on the other. Next, tap the Hand Gestures option and turn on the switch.

It is very rare that hand gestures don't work on your Apple Watch. If this happens, go back to your Watch app and open Settings. Check the setting where you choose which hand you will be wearing the watch on. If this is wrong, hand gestures might not work well.

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