How Notifications are Smartly Handled on Apple Watch and iPhone


One of the best features of Apple Watch is how the device handles notifications between itself and the iPhone. Notifications are only sent to the device you’re using, so that means you won’t have a billion notifications going off on your iPad, Mac and so forth.

So for example, if your iPhone is unlocked, notifications will be delivered to your phone only and not Apple Watch.

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But if your iPhone is locked or asleep, and your Apple Watch is unlocked and on your wrist, notifications will head to the smartwatch:

Screenshot 2015 04 27 20 53 53

Apple says when you ‘dismiss’ notifications on Apple Watch, they’ll similarly be dismissed from your iPhone, so you won’t have to do it twice. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m glad this is finally here.

If you set a passcode for Apple Watch, notifications will be sent to iPhone when the watch is locked (like when it’s charging or off your wrist).

If you’re having issues receiving message, email or other notifications on Apple Watch after the initial setup, check out our quick fix tutorial video here.


  • johnnygoodface

    When will we EVER be able to be even more granular this even: I would like to be able to receive notifications only from certain email (or text messages) containing certain words… Been waiting since 2007 I guess… And no app to compensate from this — maybe Pushover but it’s limited.

  • What about setting up a filter in Gmail for these types of emails? But then you’d have to be using Gmail.

  • While full granular filters aren’t there, here’s a couple ideas. You can setup notifications for VIP’s emails only. You can setup notifications for certain email conversations you want – I use this for work when I really want to know when a person responds to a particular email. Then with the rest of my emails I just keep notifications off so I only get notified on things that are important.

  • natedog

    After a few days with the watch sport, I love it. The notifications are the best part. At home, I essentially leave my phone on the counter and never use it. One thing I will say, I am super glad I only bought the sport. I love the watch at $450, but I would have serious buyers remorse right now If I purchased the edition (not that I could have afforded it anyways).

  • Mac

    And why can’t they do that between iPhone, iPad and Mac OS X???