How to use the hidden Apple Watch web browser to browse the web

Apple Watch supports viewing web content on your wrist, and in this tutorial, we’ll show you how to use the hidden watchOS browser to visit any website you like.

Browsing the web on Apple Watch

How it works

Apple Watch doesn’t have a visible Safari browser. Therefore, you won’t find it in your app list. However, Apple’s WebKit engine is integrated into watchOS, making it possible to use the internet on your wrist.

So, how do you access the web if there is no Safari browser?

How to visit websites on your Apple Watch

  1. Open the Messages or Mail app on your iPhone and send yourself the link you want to access on your Apple Watch. This also works if someone has already sent you a text or email with a website URL.
  2. Press the Digital Crown to see all your apps. From here, open the Messages or Mail app.
  3. Tap the link, and it will open that web page.
  4. When you’re done, hit Close to exit web browsing and return to the Mail or Messages app.
Open link on Apple Watch

Controls while browsing on Apple Watch

You can interact with the web view using these gestures:

  • Scroll: Move your finger on the screen or rotate the Digital Crown.
  • Zoom: Double-tap to zoom in, and double-tap again to zoom out.
  • Follow hyperlinks: Tap a web link to load the underlying webpage.
  • Enter text: Tap a text field to type, speak, or spell out some text.
  • Back or Forward: Swipe left/right from the edge of the screen.
  • Normal Web View or Reader View: Tap the URL bar at the top.
  • Reload page: Tap the URL bar at the top.
Controls while browsing on Apple Watch

Note: Apple made the right choice by defaulting to Safari Reader. In case you haven’t yet tried Reader Mode in Safari, it strips articles of annoying ads, navigation bars, custom stylesheets, and other distractions, leaving you with pure text and images.

Can I type in the URL bar?

Once a web page opens, you’ll see an address bar at the top which shows the site URL you’re currently on. Sadly, tapping that URL box doesn’t pop open the keyboard, and you can’t enter any other site name or address manually. However, you can tap any link on the current webpage, and it will work. For example, if iDownloadBlog is open on your Apple Watch, you can tap a link you see there (say for a post), and it will open.

How to open Google on Apple Watch

Just send yourself the link and open it on your watch. A mobile-optimized Google search page will show up. You can type the search query in the search box with the QWERTY keyboard (on Series 7 & later), scribble or dictate your query, as well as select the desired item from the Google homepage.

Browsing the web with Google on Apple Watch

WebKit integration on Apple Watch: What’s the use?

Implementing support for WebKit is a monumental achievement. The Cupertino technology giant doesn’t feel like browsing the web on such a tiny screen would make sense—that’s why Apple Watch doesn’t ship with Safari. That said, it’s possible for your Apple Watch to render web content, albeit in a limited fashion. For example, you can check out a restaurant menu or read a quick news article without pulling an iPhone out of your pocket.

In other words, the lack of manual input significantly reduces the web browsing ability on your Apple smartwatch. However, if there are links that you must open on your wrist for any reason, then you can send yourself the link via messages or email and visit it later. Besides that, if someone sends you a link in iMessage or email, the WebKit integration allows you to have a quick look from your watch, and for a deeper experience, you can always visit that link later on your iPhone.

Browsing web on Apple Watch

Old Apple Watch?

Series 2, Series 1, and Series 0 models aren’t supported. Attempting to open an attached link on an unsupported model yields an error message saying, “This link isn’t viewable on Apple Watch, but you can open it on your iPhone.”

Web pages not loading on Apple Watch

Don’t expect the watch to render all websites properly. In our experience, webpages with complex layouts with embedded widgets and JavaScript code might get stuck, resulting in a blank page or refusing to load at all. Still, it’s nice knowing that limited web content support is there should you ever need it.

Third-party browsers for Apple Watch

Apple doesn’t offer Safari on Apple Watch, but you can use a third-party app to access the web. Here are two mini browsers you can try:

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