Apple

Apple Watch keeps asking for Passcode [Fixed and Explained]

Apple watch keeps asking for a password when it’s on your wrist primarily because of either issue in its touch sensor or some misconfiguration in its software. This is a very common problem and has been there for a few years as well.

The Blue lock signifies that Apple Watch is locked

This article is valid for all versions of Apple watches including Series 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, SE, 6, and 7. These steps will also be valid for all upcoming models of the Apple watch as well.

When does Apple Watch Lock itself?

Apple watch locks itself when:

  • It detects that you’ve taken it off,
  • After a restart or your Watch or your iPhone,
  • After a few hours of continuous use for increased safety,
  • Sometimes when you are trying to use Apple pay.

These are genuine cases. However, we came across several instances where the watches were automatically getting locked again and again. This happened even when none of the above events happened. Users were prompted to enter the password again and again without any clear pattern. Some were asked every few hours and some saw it being asked every time they glanced at the watch.

'Enter passcode' on Apple Watch
‘Enter passcode’ on Apple Watch

What causes Apple Watch to keep asking for the Passcode?

There are several reasons why this phenomenon occurs. Here are some of the basic classifications:

Cause(s)Explanation(s)
Obstruction of SensorsIf the sensors are dirty or being obstructed by tattoos, they will be unable to detect your heartbeat and hence ask for password.
Conflict with ApplicationsConflicts with applications including work related applications can cause issues and force the watch to lock itself.
Watch taken offIf the watch is taken off, it automatically locks itself.
Software update installedWhen a software update is installed, the watch automatically locks itself.

How to Fix the Apple Watch keeps asking for a Passcode?

Here, we will go through all the different workarounds that worked for different people and are tested by our in-house lab as well. Start with the first one and work your way down accordingly.

Enabling ‘Unlock with iPhone’ & ‘Wrist Detection’

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The first thing you should check is whether the options of ‘Wrist detection and ‘unlock with iPhone’ are enabled. Wrist detection enables the option of the Apple Watch to detect whether you are wearing it or not. The ‘Unlock with iPhone’ saves you the trouble of going through the unlocking process on your Apple Watch and you can do it with your iPhone’s FaceID. In some scenarios, it automatically works when your iPhone is unlocked and you are using it.

  1. Open your Apple Watch application and click on Passcode.

    Apple Watch Passcode settings
    Apple Watch Passcode settings
  2. Next, make sure that the option of ‘Unlock with iPhone‘ and ‘Wrist Detection’ is enabled.

    Unlocking with iPhone
    Unlocking with iPhone
  3. Exit the application and use the Watch normally to see if the issue is resolved.

Tightening up Watch

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The first thing to check here is whether your watch is sufficiently tight around your wrist. This is very important as the watch tends to lock itself when it detects you have taken it off. If it is loose and the sensors lose contact with your skin, the watch mistakenly thinks that you have taken it off.

Source: Apple Discussion Forums

Re-Adjust your watch and once it is fairly tight, enter the password on your watch again. Now use the watch normally and see if the issue is resolved.

Checking for Tattoos

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Apple has confirmed that having tattoos on your skin where the sensors are can disrupt the sensors and malfunction their readings or current state. The watch uses green LED lights paired with light-sensitive photodiodes for detection. Tattoos are known to disrupt these readings as the sensors are unable to penetrate through the black ink. When the watch doesn’t detect your heartbeat, it automatically locks itself.

Apple watch on a wrist with tattoos

If you do have a tattoo, try changing the location of the watch on your wrist. This will help the sensors get a better reading. Also, you change the wrist you wear your watch on and update this in the settings. Here’s how to do this:

  1. Open the Watch application on your iPhone. Next, click on General.

    Apple Watch General settings
    Apple Watch General settings
  2. Now, select Watch Orientation.

    Watch orientation settings
    Watch orientation settings
  3. Here, you will see all the different orientations. Select the one which will have the least amount of skin with tattoos being in contact with the Apple Watch’s sensors.
Selecting a different orientation
Selecting a different orientation

Updating Software

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Software updates are released by Apple to fix software glitches and improve the user experience. Throughout history, we’ve seen small glitches being released by Apple to their Apple Watch to fix small issues and conflicts. If you haven’t updated your watch for a while and are experiencing this issue, we recommend updating it as soon as possible.

  1. Open your Watch application and click on General.

    Checking for Software Update in Apple Watch App
    Checking for Software Update in Apple Watch App
  2. Now, click on Software Update. The app will check for any updates available and will install them accordingly.

    Downloading Software Updates for Watch
    Downloading Software Updates for Watch

Make sure you follow the instructions to keep the watch charged up in order to successfully implement the update.

Resetting all Settings

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If none of the above methods work, it might be the case that your settings are corrupt and might need to be reset. This is a very common problem when settings get corrupt or are not just in the right configuration. Follow the steps below to reset all the settings. You might have to pair it with your iPhone again.

Don’t worry about losing any of your data. That is stored over the iCloud and it will automatically be synced when you connect your watch with your iCloud ID.

  1. Press and hold both the crown dial and the side button simultaneously until the Apple Logo appears. When it does, release both of them.

    Apple Watch Crown and Side buttonApple Watch Crown and Side button
    Apple Watch Crown and Side button
  2. Count to 4 and then hold down the side button until you see ‘Erase all settings‘ come forward.
  3. Click it and then click the little green check button.
  4. The watch will take a little while before resetting all the internal settings.

Checking for Work-related Email/Application

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Another interesting scenario that we came across for users was where using a work-related application or email on the Watch was causing the repeated asking for password for the watch. This was seen across different forums and in a nutshell, companies have application policies in place for users using their apps or work-related email addresses. These policies might include you inputting the password for your Apple watch after a set interval. 

One such example we came across was a simple logging application of Starbucks an employee had on their watch. This was a normal enough application but it was causing the Watch to repeatedly ask for a password. Here is what they had to say:

…I recently installed an app for Starbucks that tracks my work schedule, I just don’t understand why that would affect me having a passcode on my Apple Watch , it’s mind boggling. (source: discussions.apple.com)

Hence, if you are using an Apple ID or an Application that is related to work on your Apple Watch, remove it and see if this solves the problem.

Re-pairing the Watch

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If none of the above methods work or are not applicable for you, you should unpair your Apple Watch from your iPhone and then pair it again. This will force the watch to completely remove all the stored configurations and reinitialize them when you pair it again.

Unpairing Apple Watch
Unpairing Apple Watch

This is a tested method and works if you don’t have any other complications at hand. Make sure that you have your Apple ID and password at hand before you proceed.

You can check out the steps on how to do this by visiting Apple’s official support article for unpairing and pairing the watch.

Contact Support

If all else fails, you can contact and chat with Apple’s support agent. If you bought your watch recently and is included in the AppleCare+, you will be eligible for a free refund and exchange as well if there is a problem with the hardware.

Apple Watch Support

Navigate to the Apple Watch Support site, scroll down and click on Start now underneath the Get Support. After inputting a few details, you will be matched with a support agent.

Shaheer Asif

Shaheer is leading the technical team at Computer Verge. He is very passionate about web applications and native software. He is a Computer Scientist but that doesn't stop him from following his passion: Art.

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