Why you should be using a passcode on your Apple Watch

By , May 13, 2015

Enter Passcode Apple Watch

There seems to be a bit of misunderstanding when it comes to using a passcode on the Apple Watch. I’ve seen more than a few comments about how inconvenient it would be to have to “enter a passcode on that tiny screen every time I want to use the watch.” Indeed, it would be inconvenient if that were a true statement; thankfully it’s not.

Yes, the Apple Watch will ask you to enter a passcode on its tiny screen, but that doesn’t happen every time you want to use the watch. The passcode is only requested in a few scenarios, such as:

  • Your Apple Watch reboots
  • You manually lock your Apple Watch
  • You remove your Apple Watch from your wrist

That’s pretty much it.

This means that if you put your Apple Watch on your wrist in the morning, and wear it throughout the entire day, you’ll only need to enter your passcode once.

Now consider how many times you’ve entered a passcode on your iPhone prior to Touch ID, or how many times you use Touch ID every day. Suddenly, the passcode on the Apple Watch seems like small potatoes.

Of course, you could always just omit using a passcode completely, but that would be silly. For one, you couldn’t use Apple Pay, which is one of the best features of the Apple Watch in my opinion. Secondly, it’s just not smart to walk around with a device that contains personal information without some sort of security mechanism involved.

If you do take your watch off occasionally throughout the day, there is a setting that can make your life a bit easier: Enable the Unlock with iPhone feature from your paired iPhone. This can be found in Apple Watch → My Watch → Passcode. Once you enable this switch, you will have to input your passcode once on your iPhone just to verify.

Unlock with iPhone Apple Watch

Unlock with iPhone will force your Apple Watch to unlock whenever you unlock your iPhone. This means that you can unlock your Apple Watch with Touch ID as long as you’re wearing it. If for some reason you can’t bear the thought of manually tapping the four digits required for an Apple Watch passcode, this option makes it possible to never have to input the passcode on your Apple Watch.

Unlock with iPhone Apple Watch Direct

Do you use a passcode on your Apple Watch? Do you find it to be a hinderance to you workflow? Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts and opinions on the matter.

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  • kurt

    Good read, I didn’t truly understand the point of it, but that makes a lot more sense! I am still waiting on my watch to arrive, should be here by the end of the month. Thanks for the article Jeff!

    • No problem, glad we were able to clear that up. It is very confusing if you’ve never used an Apple Watch, which, unfortunately is the case for a lot of people due to Apple’s shipping woes. Let us know what you think when you get your watch.

  • M_thoroughbred

    I use a passcode on my watch from the day I got it. It’s pretty nice how it works clever way to keep your personal date in your watch just that… Personal!

  • asch3n

    I think they did an excellent job implementing the passcode feature for the watch. Entering a passcode on this small of a screen is a bit difficult at times but having to only enter it if it is removed from my wrist is awesome. I like knowing if someone stole this off my wrist it would immediately lock. From various tests I’ve done it seems to be excellent at detecting immediately when it is removed from my wrist. Thanks for clearing this up for those who do not have the watch.

  • That_Fruitarian

    I’ve always used a passcode and have never thought of it as a hindrance. I was unaware that I could unlock it with TouchID though… Sweet!!

  • Bruce Milyko

    Because it is so easy to unlock the watch with the phone, it is even better to use a passcode that is more then 4 digits long. I have mine set up with a longer one.

  • techfreak23

    Really glad they included the “Unlock with iPhone” option. I have a complex passcode on my Watch (more than 4 digits), so it’s nice to be able to put the Watch on in the morning, unlock my phone for the day’s forecast and have it unlock my Watch as well. It’s also pretty cool for when I let people see my Watch, I can unlock it for them while they are wearing it.

  • David Pomerleau

    I seem to be the minority here but I find entering password on watch a pain so I disabled and sacrifice Apple pay. I play bass so I’m always switching hands and orientation. And this article doesn’t actually address WHY you should use a password.

    • “For one, you couldn’t use Apple Pay, which is one of the best features of the Apple Watch in my opinion. Secondly, it’s just not smart to walk around with a device that contains personal information without some sort of security mechanism involved.”

      • Luis Montana

        What personal jnformation? The Apple Watch wallet ONLY shows the last four digits of the credit cards, it does not show your name, expiration, 3 digit code,etc, yes, somebody could technically use Apple Pay if the watch is stolen, but the banks are always really good when it comes with unauthorized credit card charges, it’s a trade off I should be able to take and I’d feel 100% comfortable using Apple Pay without a passcode, do you still carry a wallet? With a driver license , credit cards with ALL information on them.. what happens if you lose it?
        I take off my watch regularly during the day, so entering a password in a tiny screen so many times per day, no thank you.
        Apple should make it so you have to enter your passcode only when you take off your Watch AND open wallet to make a purchase,why in the name of God they have to lock all functions in the watch just because you took it off?

    • Luis Montana

      Agree, I tried and it was a PITA, so no Apple wallet in the watch for me

  • Dhoklastellar Fafda®™

    I wonder what passcode people used on their USD 350+ watches prior to the release of this watch.
    Oh wait, you didnt own one. This was your first watch 😀

  • ikn0witall

    Nice article Jeff. However I don’t agree with only having to enter your passcode once.

    There’s a period of time when your watch will time out and you have to enter the code again. Unless I’m doing something wrong

  • Wanda_Horton Z

    The adjustments UI on iOS is clear, sensible, and offers you all the alternatives you need. Androids is missing half the alternatives youll absolutely need, their throughout the place, and the system only makes it charge cluttered

  • indygreg71

    I basically agree with this . . . but one caveat is if you wear your watch somewhat loosely on your arm as I do. Many times a day it thinks it has been taken off and locks which adds some frustration. It is not like I wear it super loose – it does not spin on my wrist or anything. I use the unlock with phone so it is not huge. But it is enough that I searched this article on pros and cons of locking it

  • Allygill

    I have corporate email on my iPhone which requires an 8 digit passcode which can be painful to enter on the Watch, but it is usually only once a day when I take it off the charger before going to bed. My phone is not welcome in my bedroom!