Trying to upgrade your Apple Watch and find that you can’t update to watchOS 5?
Several Apple Watch users find that their Apple Watch won’t update and get error messages instead. If you are having issues updating your Apple Watch to the newest watchOS update, here are some tips that we hope are useful for you!
We have addressed the suggested tips in two principal sections. The first section is for regular watchOS users, and the next section is for users who were running watchOS beta at some point before trying the official update.
- Quick Tips
- Check the watchOS 5 Update Pre-Requisites
- Cannot Find the watchOS 5 Update, What Should I Do?
- Watch Message Stuck on Checking for Update or Shows Looking for an Update, Cannot Pair
- Seeing “Unable to Check for Update Because You Are Not Connected To The Internet?” Or “An Error Occurred While Checking For A Software Update?”
- Using a watchOS Beta and Unable to Update to the Latest Beta?
- How To Update From watchOS 5 Beta To watchOS5 Public Update
- Not Enough Storage on Apple Watch to Update?
- Apple Watch Wi-Fi Not Connecting after watchOS 5 Update
- Persistence is Your Friend When Updating watchOS
Follow These Quick Tips To Get Your Apple Watch Updating its watchOS Today
- Update your paired iPhone to the latest iOS first, then update your watch
- Check your connection between your watch and phone. Make sure Bluetooth and WiFi are on (for both devices)
- Ensure Airplane Mode is off on both the iPhone and watch
- Ping your iPhone from your watch to refresh the connection
- Force quit the Apple Watch App on your iPhone and restart your Apple Watch
- Put both iPhone and Apple Watch on their chargers and update from there
- Check that your watch has at least 50% charge or more before updating (even if the watch is on the charger)
- Verify your watch has sufficient storage space for the update. If not, remove some content (like music, apps, or photos)
- Unpair and re-pair your Apple Watch to the phone
- Remember to Restart your iPhone and Watch after the update. This solves a lot of issues including missing achievements from your watch.
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Check the watchOS 5 Update Pre-Requisites
- Before applying the watchOS 5 update, make sure that your iPhone is running the latest iOS 12 updates
- On your iPhone, Tap on Settings > General > Software Update to confirm the iOS version on your iPhone
- If you have an iPhone 5 or 5c, then your devices cannot be updated beyond iOS 10.x and watchOS 3.x
- The new watchOS 5 is not available for the original Apple Watch
- watchOS 5 update is for Apple Watch Series 1 and beyond (released in 2016+), and your iPhone needs to be 5S or newer running the latest iOS 12
- Connect your Apple Watch and your paired iPhones to their chargers
- Make sure that your iPhone has a good WiFi Signal and enable Bluetooth
Test The Connection Between iPhone and Apple Watch
- On your Apple Watch, swipe up to access the control center
- Tap on the ‘Ping’ icon (a small phone icon surrounded by a signal)
- If your iPhone chimes, it confirms that your Bluetooth connections between the devices are solid
Cannot Find the watchOS 5 Update, What Should I Do?
Now that you have checked all the pre-requisites for the update, you should be good to go ahead and apply the update.
Unfortunately, many users find that they cannot see the latest update on their Apple Watch. When they tap on the Watch app on their iPhone and then navigate to My Watch > General > Software Update, they cannot find the update.
It says that the system is up to date.
First, confirm that the new watchOS 5 update is available in your region
- Please note that in the initial hours/ days of the latest watchOS release, the servers can be busy and it can take some time to locate the update.
If the update is available for your region, try these steps to update to the latest watchOS.
- Close the Watch App on your iPhone
- Double press the home button or swipe up the Home Gesture Bar on your iPhone, locate the Watch app preview and close it by swiping it up off the top of the screen
- Turn Both the iPhone and the Apple Watch off
- Restart the iPhone first
- Then restart the Apple Watch
- Try unpairing and then re-pairing your Apple Watch to your iPhone
- The Watch app makes a backup of your watch when unpairing via the app
- Choose to Restore from Backup during set up. Most of your data and settings are restored
- Once Paired, go to the Watch App on your iPhone and check for a Software Update in Settings > General > Software Update
Are You an Apple Watch Beta Tester?
- If you are (or were) a Beta participant for watchOS and deleted the beta profile from your iPhone, you also need to delete the Beta profile from your Apple Watch
- Find watchOS profiles in Watch App > Settings > General > Profiles
- Once you delete the watchOS beta profile, check for the watchOS 5 update
Watch Message Stuck on Checking for Update or Shows Looking for an Update, Cannot Pair
Some folks discover that can’t pair their Apple Watches with their iPhones because the watch needs an update and they can’t update before pairing with their iPhone!
Talk about confusing! Most of these issues happen due to iOS and watchOS version incompatibility.
What’s going on here is that to pair your Apple Watch, your iPhone needs to be using the latest version of iOS.
Update your iPhone first and then Pair and Set Up Your Watch
- On your iPhone, tap on Settings > General > Software Updates and update to the latest iOS
- Next, on your watch, Go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase all content and settings
- On your iPhone, open the Apple Watch app, tap the My Watch tab, then tap your watch at the top of the screen
- Pair your Apple Watch and iPhone again following Apple’s directions
- The Pairing process normally updates the Watch to the latest watchOS
Seeing “Unable to Check for Update Because You Are Not Connected To The Internet?” Or “An Error Occurred While Checking For A Software Update?”
Several users who have no problems locating the watchOS 5 update get stuck with these error messages.
When they try to install the latest watchOS 5 update, it shows this message about not being connected to the internet–when they know they are!
Many readers report this error even when their iPhone is connected to a reliable WiFi network, and the Bluetooth connection between your Watch and iPhone is good.
If you get this message, here are some suggestions to fix this issue. Try each of the steps and check if the update shows up!
Fixes for Apple Watch Error Message Unable to Check for Update
- Check The Storage Space On Your Apple Watch
- Go to the Watch app on your iPhone and tap General > Usage on your Apple Watch
- Toggle Bluetooth off, wait 20-30 seconds, and turn back on
- Try pinging your iPhone from the watch to force refresh the connection between phone and watch
- On your watch, swipe up Control Center
- Check to make sure your iPhone is connected (you see a green connected icon at the top of the screen)
- Make sure WiFi is on (highlighted in blue)
- Then tap software update in the watch app on your iPhone
- Switch your WiFi signal to a 2.4 GHz WiFi network if using 5 GHz
- Disable the WiFi Assist feature and then try the update again
- On your iPhone tap on Settings > Cellular > Scroll down to bottom and switch off WiFi Assist
- Switch the iPhone and Apple Watch into Airplane Mode
- Wait for 30 seconds and then switch off Airplane mode on the iPhone
- Check your Apple Watch and make sure Airplane Mode is off on the watch. If not, tap it off
- Update with Apple Watch and iPhone on chargers and place them directly next to each other
- Ensure that your Apple Watch has at least a 50 percent charge before starting AND is connected to the charger when updating
- Turn off the passcode on your watch
- On watch, open Settings > Passcode > Turn Passcode Off
- Your watch removes any credit or debit cards associated with Apple Pay when you turn off passcode lock
- On your iPhone, tap Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings
- Once phone restarts and you connect to a WiFi network, restart your Apple Watch
- Then try to update to the latest watchOS
- Some folks report that they could update their watchOS only when the watch was not charging!
- If you get this error message, take the Apple Watch off the charger (make sure it has 75% or more remaining charge), unlock it, and see if it starts to update on its own
- When you see the error message, click on cancel instead of try again
- Tap on App Store tab on the Watch App in your iPhone
- Once the App store loads, go back to My Watch > General > Software Update and try again to install the watchOS update
- Unpair and Re-pair your Apple Watch with the iPhone and give it a try
- Unpair the watch, back up the iPhone and use the encrypted option in iTunes
- Then reset and restore the iPhone and re-pair the watch
- If you were on a Beta for iOS or watchOS, remove the beta profiles from both your Apple Watch and Apple iPhone
- Restart your devices (starting the iPhone first) and then try to install watchOS
Already Using watchOS 5?
- On the watch toggle WiFi off and on via Settings
- Connect to the same WiFi network on the phone and watch
- Go to your watch Settings > WiFi > Manually select your WiFi network
Using a watchOS Beta and Unable to Update to the Latest Beta?
- Download profiles to both your watch and your paired iPhone and try to update
- Remove watchOS profiles from both the phone and watch and reinstall profiles, then try updating
- Uninstall the old beta profile, restart, install the new beta profile, restart, and then look for an update
- Try this process
- Un-pair the watch
- Reset and erase the watch
- Re-pair the devices
- Re-install the beta profile on the watch
- See if the update is recognized and update the watch
How To Update From watchOS 5 Beta To watchOS5 Public Update
Updating from Watch OS Beta to the Public release? Here are some pointers to update successfully
- Remove the Beta Profiles from your iPhone and Apple Watch
- Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap the My Watch tab
- Go to General > Profiles
- Tap the beta profile that you want to remove, then tap Delete Profile
- Enter your iPhone passcode if requested
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone, then tap General > Profiles & Device Management
- Tap the beta profile that you want to remove, then tap Delete profile
- Enter your iPhone passcode if requested
- After you remove the profiles, restart both devices and check for the update again
- Once you find the update, you can proceed with installing watchOS 5
Not Enough Storage on Apple Watch to Update?
If your watch doesn’t have enough space, you need to remove some items to clear out some space. We suggest music or apps or other content that’s on your watch
Remove third-party apps from your Apple Watch
- On your iPhone, open the Apple Watch app and tap My Watch
- Scroll to an app that you want to remove
- Look in the Installed on Apple Watch section
- Tap on an app, then toggle off Show App on Apple Watch
Apple Watch Wi-Fi Not Connecting after watchOS 5 Update
Once the update is up and running, you should be good.
The common errors that we have seen in past watchOS releases following the update are primarily related to content sync issues and Wi-Fi networking issues.
If you experience Wi-Fi issues following the watchOS 5 update, here are some quick steps that should help you fix the issue
- Check to make sure your iPhone and Watch are connected via Bluetooth, and your iPhone is connected to a valid Wi-Fi signal
- On your iPhone, Tap on Settings > Wi-Fi
- Tap on the “i” next to your Wi-Fi and choose ‘Forget this network”
- Your Apple Watch is still connected to your iPhone via Bluetooth (confirm by pinging)
- Now Re-connect your iPhone to your Wi-Fi Network
- 2.4 GHz on the router setting works best for most people
- On your iPhone, tap on Settings > and turn on Airplane Mode
- Now on your watch, you should open the control center to make sure that it is connected to the Wi-Fi
- Turn off Airplane Mode on your iPhone
Give it a few minutes, and the WiFi connection on your Apple Watch should be good.
Persistence is Your Friend When Updating watchOS
Be persistent! Sometimes it takes a few attempts before your watch, and phone connect to Apple’s servers!
One tip that has helped during past releases in switching off Bluetooth once the update starts downloading. This requires that your Apple Watch can connect to Wi-Fi ( via your router or shared hotspot). If you are not sure, do not try this tip.
So, the trick is to let it start downloading the update, then turn off Bluetooth on your iPhone, and it will have no choice but to maintain the connection over Wi-Fi. Then, just turn Bluetooth back on after it’s done updating. Usually, this tip reduces the “Hours remaining” significantly.
For most of her professional life, Amanda Elizabeth (Liz for short) trained all sorts of folks on how to use media as a tool to tell their own unique stories. She knows a thing or two about teaching others and creating how-to guides!
Her clients include Edutopia, Scribe Video Center, Third Path Institute, Bracket, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Big Picture Alliance.
Elizabeth received her Master of Fine Arts degree in media making from Temple University, where she also taught undergrads as an adjunct faculty member in their department of Film and Media Arts.