How to sync playlists and listen to music on Apple Watch without iPhone

By , May 18, 2015

Apple-Watch-with-music

The Apple Watch has eight gigabytes of onboard storage, of which up to two gigabytes can be used to keep music files on the device. You can sync a playlist to your Apple Watch to listen to music when the iPhone is out of range, remove songs from the device at any time and more.

In this post, I’m going to teach you how to make a dedicated Apple Watch playlist and sync it to the wearable device through the companion app on your iPhone, find the playlist on your wrist and enjoy your synced track through wireless headphones or speakers.

You can stream any song residing in your iPhone’s library to the Apple Watch, or play it directly on the phone. But in order to listen to music when the iPhone is out of range, you must first sync some music to your Apple Watch.

The Apple Watch companion app won’t let you just select a few songs to transfer to the Apple Watch — you must first create a dedicated playlist.

You can keep one playlist on your Apple Watch at a time. Storage limitations apply, which we’ll discuss at the end of this article.

How to create a new music playlist on iPhone

In the following example, I’m going to show you how to create a sample playlist titled ‘Apple Watch Music’ in the iOS Music app on your iPhone.

Then, we’ll add some songs to it and sync the playlist to our wearable device.

Step 1: Open Apple’s Music app on your iPhone by touching its icon on the Home screen. Alternatively, use Spotlight by pulling down on any Home screen to find and launch the app.

Step 2: In the Music app, tap the Playlists icon at the bottom. If you can’t see it, tap More and then hit Playlists. A new screen showing all your playlists will pop up. Tap New Playlist at the top to create a new playlist.

iOS 8 Music New Playlist iPhone screenshot 002

Tip: If you can’t see New Playlist, that’s because it’s hidden at the top. Just pull down slightly on the interface to reveal the option.

Step 3: Name your playlist and tap Save. For the sake of simplicity, we shall name our playlist ‘Apple Watch Music’. In the next step, we’re going to add some music to it.

Step 4: Tap either the Songs or Artists icon at the bottom (or tap More, then Songs or Artists) in order to search for music on your iPhone to add to the newly created playlist. Tap the plus sign next to each song you wish to add to the playlist.

iOS 8 Music New Playlist iPhone screenshot 001

Tip: To quickly add all album/artist songs at once, tap Add All Songs at the top.

Step 5: When you’re finished, tap Done in the upper right corner. You will return to the Playlists screen, which should now list your newly created playlist.

How to edit a playlist on iPhone

To remove songs from your Apple Watch playlist, or add new ones to it, use the following steps. The process applies to any playlist in the iOS Music app, not just the custom one you’ve created specifically for syncing songs to your Apple Watch.

Step 1: Tap the Music icon on your iPhone’s Home screen to open the app, or use Spotlight to search for it.

Step 2: Tap Playlists icon at the bottom, or navigate to More > Playlists.

Step 3: Pick a playlist by tapping it. We’re going to edit the Apple Watch Music playlist we’ve just created so let’s tap on it. Now hit Edit at the top of the screen to start editing your playlist.

iOS 8 Music Edit Playlist Delete Songs

Step 4: To delete songs from the playlist, tap the minus sign next to a song. To add more songs, tap the plus sign in the upper right corner.

Tip: You can also remove all songs from the playlist by tapping Clear, or delete the whole playlist entirely by tapping Delete.

Step 5: When adding songs to the playlist, first navigate to Songs, Artists or Albums. Next, tap the plus sign next to a song to add it to your playlist. Hit Done in the upper right corner when you’re finished.

How to sync your playlist to Apple Watch

Now that we have created a custom playlist with some music in it, it’s syncing time! Like many other things, it’s done through the Apple Watch companion app on your iPhone.

Step 1: Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone by tapping its icon on the Home screen, or use Spotlight to search for “Apple Watch”.

Step 2: Go to Music > Synced Playlist on the Apple Watch app. You should see a screen listing all the playlists available in the iOS Music app.

Step 3: Now tap the playlist you want to synchronize to your Apple Watch. When a Sync Pending message appears, your playlist will begin syncing from the iPhone to your Apple Watch. If it reads “Syncing…”, your music has just begun transferring to the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch Music Synced Playlist iPhone screenshot 001

Tip: After the playlist has been synced to the Apple Watch, its name should appear next to Music > Synced Playlist in the Apple Watch companion app.

Step 4: You’re advised to wait until the sync is finished before using your Apple Watch. To see the sync progress, open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and tap Music.

Help, my music won’t sync to Apple Watch!

In order for the music files to transfer over to the Apple Watch, the device must be attached to power and Bluetooth must be enabled on your iPhone. As evidenced on the screenshot below, the Apple Watch app itself makes it pretty clear that the playlist syncs only when your Apple Watch is on its charger.

Apple Watch Music Synced Playlist iPhone screenshot 002

To charge your Apple Watch, simply connect it to its Apple Magnetic Charging Cable. To enable Bluetooth on your iPhone, open the Settings app, navigate to the Bluetooth section and make sure Bluetooth is turned on.

Disabling Bluetooth, or walking outside Bluetooth’s range of up to 30 feet (about 10 meters) while your music is being transferred to the Apple Watch, will temporarily pause the sync. Once both devices have re-established Bluetooth connection, the sync will automatically resume.

How to find the playlist on Apple Watch

Step 1: Open Music on your Apple Watch.

Step 2: Force-press the Music app to bring up its contextually-aware menu.

Step 3: Tap Source > Apple Watch to see your synced playlist.

Apple Watch Music 003

Tip: Before you can find the synced playlist, you’ll need to connect your Apple Watch to Bluetooth headphones or speakers. How to remove a playlist from Apple Watch

Removing a synced playlist from your Apple Watch is as easy as lunching the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, going to Music > Synced Playlist and selecting None at the bottom. Put the Apple Watch on its charger and your playlist will be removed.

Help, synced playlist won’t show/play on Apple Watch!

Do you have a wireless headset or speaker?

If not, you won’t be able to listen to music through the Apple Watch speaker. You can find some pretty inexpensive Bluetooth headphones online. Note we hand-picked a great selection of Bluetooth headphones.

Apple Watch Music Bluetooth headset teaser 002

To pair your wireless headphones with your Apple Watch, first put them in the Bluetooth pairing mode using the instructions that came with them. Next, go to Settings > Bluetooth on your Apple Watch.

After a few seconds, your Bluetooth headphones should appear on the list of nearby devices. Choose them and enter a passkey, or PIN, if asked. Again, you won’t be able to find the synced playlist on your Apple Watch, or listen to songs, without a wireless headset or Bluetooth speakers.

Apple Watch and music storage limits

Apple imposes a storage limit on storing music files on your Apple Watch. You can sync up to two gigabytes’ worth of music, or up to 250 songs. By default, your synced Apple Watch playlist is limited to one gigabyte.

Apple Watch Music Storage Limit iPhone screenshot 001

To store more than one gigabyte’s worth of music, simply double the limit to two gigabytes — or change the setting to 500MB, or just 100MB, under the Music > Playlist Limit section of the iPhone’s Apple Watch companion.

Tip: Should you prefer to limit music on the Apple Watch by the number of songs, the companion app on your iPhone lets you choose 15, 50, 125 or 250 songs. Just select between Storage or Songs in Music > Playlist Limit.

Again, you can sync and keep only one playlist on your Apple Watch at a time.

Also read: how to listen to podcasts on Apple Watch

More about Apple Watch

To get the most out of your Apple wearable device, check out the knowledge base of how-tos, tips and related articles in our archive:

Have a smart tip that you want shared with fellow readers? Plagued with a problem in a need of a solution? Let us know at help@iDownloadBlog.com and we’ll do our best to consider your submission for future tips and tutorials.

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  • Ben

    if your iPhone is running low on space, can you keep music on the Apple Watch after deleting the playlist from your phone or will it automatically delete it off of the watch?

  • Jake Platt

    This is a cool feature, but has anyone found themselves a bit ‘over’ the watch in general? I’ve had it for about 3 weeks now, loved it for the first week or so but have barely worn it since. It just feels a little cumbersome to wear everyday now. I can see how people thought it was a novelty item.

    • White Michael Jackson

      This is why I never even worried about buying it. There is no cool feature about….

  • M L

    Would love to be able to transfer and sync more than 1 playlist. Two at least. Very annoying.

  • Average American

    Why only one playlist? Seems like total horseshit.

  • Jai

    Only one playlist is crazy ! Samsung gear s2 allows multiple playlists/albums. It’s all round a better smart watch than the Apple watch