How to Unlock Apple Watch 5 Series: A Step-by-Step Guide

Encountering a locked Apple Watch 5 Series can be a common yet frustrating experience. Whether it’s a forgotten passcode or a second-hand device that’s still linked to the previous owner’s account, various scenarios can lead to your watch being inaccessible. But there’s no need to worry. The process to unlock your Apple Watch is methodical and secure. In this guide, we’ll teach you how to unlock Apple Watch 5 Series and more.

How to Unlock Apple Watch 5 Series

Unlocking with Wrist Detection

Wrist Detection is a valuable feature on your Apple Watch 5 Series that enhances security and convenience. By utilizing the built-in heart rate sensor, your watch can determine if it is being worn. When it’s not on your wrist, the device automatically locks to protect your information. This is particularly useful in situations where you might remove your watch and forget to lock it manually.

To adjust the Wrist Detection feature, follow these steps:

  1. Lift your Apple Watch and wake it by tapping the screen or pressing the Digital Crown. The watch face should light up, indicating that it’s active.
  2. Press the Digital Crown, which is the round button on the side of your Apple Watch, to access the home screen. You’ll see a grid of apps or a list, depending on your settings.
  3. Look for the Settings app, which has an icon resembling a gear. Tap this icon to open your watch’s settings menu.
  4. In the settings menu, swipe up or turn the Digital Crown to scroll down until you find the Passcode option. Tap it to open the passcode settings.
  5. Within the passcode settings, there should be an option labeled Wrist Detection. If this feature is on, your Apple Watch will lock automatically when it detects it’s no longer on your wrist.
  6. Toggle the Wrist Detection option by tapping the switch next to it. Green means the feature is active. If you choose to turn this feature off, your Apple Watch will no longer lock automatically. This might be useful during exercise or if the watch is worn over clothing, but be cautious as it could compromise security.

While Wrist Detection is a helpful feature for security purposes, it also plays a role in health and fitness tracking. With Wrist Detection enabled, your Apple Watch 5 Series can more accurately track your daily activity and workouts. Disabling this feature may result in less accurate measurement of your movement and exercise, and you will also need to enter your passcode every time to unlock your watch.

Moreover, with Wrist Detection turned off, features like Apple Pay and automatic SOS emergency calling are disabled for your safety and security, as your watch cannot verify if it’s you using it. If you rely on these features, it’s recommended to keep Wrist Detection turned on.

It’s essential to find a balance that suits your lifestyle and security needs. If your Apple Watch is locking unexpectedly, ensure that it’s snug on your wrist and that the back sensors are clean. Adjust the Wrist Detection setting as a last resort, and be mindful of the trade-offs in convenience versus security and functionality.

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Resetting Your Apple Watch

If you’ve entered the incorrect passcode too many times, or if you’ve simply forgotten it, your Apple Watch 5 Series will become disabled for security reasons. To regain access to your watch, you will need to perform a factory reset. This action will erase everything on your device, including any cards you have added for Apple Pay and any settings you’ve customized.

Therefore, it’s important to consider this as the final step after you’ve exhausted all other options, such as attempting to remember your passcode or using the ‘Unlock with iPhone’ feature if set up previously.

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Before you begin the reset process, it’s recommended to have a recent backup of your iPhone, which should include the data from your Apple Watch. A backup ensures that you can restore your data after the watch has been reset. To reset your Apple Watch Series 5, follow these detailed steps:

  1. Ensure your Apple Watch is placed on its charger throughout the reset process. This prevents the watch from powering off unexpectedly due to a low battery, which could cause additional issues.
  2. Press and hold the side button on your Apple Watch to bring up the power menu. Do not slide to power off. Instead, press and hold the Digital Crown. This combination of button presses forces a hard reset, which is necessary when you can’t access the settings due to a locked screen.
  3. Wait for the watch to reboot. You’ll know this has happened when you see the Apple logo appear on the screen. After the reboot, press the Digital Crown to exit the power off screen and go to the home screen.
  4. From the home screen, tap the Settings app (look for the gear icon). Scroll down and tap ‘General,’ then scroll to the bottom and tap ‘Reset.’
  5. In the reset menu, select ‘Erase All Content and Settings.’ If your watch has Activation Lock enabled, you will be prompted to enter your Apple ID and password. This step is crucial for security and is required to remove the Activation Lock.
  6. After you have entered your Apple ID details, confirm that you want to erase your watch. The reset process will then begin. Depending on the amount of data on your watch, this process could take from a few minutes to several minutes. It’s vital to keep the watch on the charger until the reset is complete.

Once the reset is finished, your Apple Watch will restart as if it were brand new. You will go through the initial setup process, during which you can re-pair it with your iPhone. During the pairing process, you will have the option to restore from a backup if you have one available. Restoring from a backup will bring back your data, settings, and any apps you had installed on your watch.

After resetting and re-pairing your Apple Watch, you’ll need to reconfigure some settings like Apple Pay and any other services that were wiped during the reset. Take this opportunity to set a new passcode that you’ll remember to prevent future lockouts.

How to Unlock Apple Watch 5 Series

Disabling Activation Lock via Web

Activation Lock is a security feature integrated into your Apple Watch 5 Series through the ‘Find My’ service. It’s designed to prevent anyone else from using your device if it gets lost or stolen. When Activation Lock is enabled, your Apple ID and password will be required before anyone can erase your watch or pair it with a new iPhone. This feature is automatically turned on when you set up ‘Find My’ on your device.

However, there are instances where you may need to disable Activation Lock, especially if you’ve purchased a second-hand Apple Watch that’s still linked to the previous owner’s Apple ID. If you’re the original owner but cannot access the paired iPhone, maybe due to it being lost or damaged, you will also need to perform these steps through iCloud’s web interface. Here’s a more detailed guide on how to disable Activation Lock for your Apple Watch Series 5 via iCloud:

  1. Open a web browser on your computer or another device and go to Here, you’ll sign in using the Apple ID that is currently linked to the Apple Watch. If you’ve purchased the watch second-hand, you will need to ask the previous owner to perform these steps.
  2. After logging in, click on the ‘Find iPhone’ app icon. Although it’s named ‘Find iPhone,’ this service tracks the location of all your Apple devices, not just iPhones.
  3. At the top of the browser window, you’ll see an ‘All Devices’ dropdown menu. Click on it and select your Apple Watch to view its status and options.
  4. Once you have selected the Apple Watch, you’ll see an option to ‘Erase Apple Watch.’ Select this to remotely wipe all content and settings from the device. Confirm your choice and continue through the prompts. This action is necessary to remove the device from your Apple ID and to disable Activation Lock. Keep in mind that this cannot be undone, and all your data on the watch will be lost.
  5. After the erasure process is complete, you will see the option to ‘Remove from Account.’ Click on this to remove the Activation Lock, freeing the Apple Watch from being tethered to your Apple ID.
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Once these steps are completed, the Activation Lock will be disabled, and the Apple Watch is ready to be set up with a new Apple ID. If you are the new owner, you can now pair the watch with your iPhone and begin using it. If you’re selling the watch, this process ensures the new owner will be able to set it up without issues.

It’s essential to understand that if you are unable to perform these steps because you don’t have the Apple ID password, or if the device was not properly removed from the previous owner’s account, you will not be able to use the Apple Watch. In such cases, contacting Apple Support for help would be the next appropriate step. Always ensure that any second-hand Apple device you purchase is no longer linked to the seller’s account before completing the transaction.

Unlock with Paired iPhone

Using your paired iPhone to unlock your Apple Watch Series 5 adds convenience and speed to accessing your watch, bypassing the need to type in a passcode on the small screen. This feature is particularly useful when you’re wearing gloves or in situations where you can’t easily enter your passcode on the watch. Here’s an expanded explanation of how to use this feature:

  1. Firstly, make sure you are wearing your Apple Watch on your wrist. The Wrist Detection feature must be enabled for this to work, as it ensures that the watch is securely on your person and not just nearby.
  2. Bring your iPhone close to your Apple Watch. The devices use Bluetooth to communicate, so they need to be within a standard Bluetooth range, which is generally around 10 meters (33 feet).
  3. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. This app is where you manage most of your watch’s settings and is where you initially paired your watch to your phone.
  4. Tap on the My Watch tab at the bottom of the screen to access the settings specific to your watch.
  5. Scroll down and tap on Passcode. This will take you to the passcode settings for your Apple Watch.
  6. In the Passcode settings, look for the option that says Unlock with iPhone. Toggle this option on if it’s not already enabled. This setting allows your watch to unlock every time you unlock your iPhone.
  7. To test it out, lock your Apple Watch. You can do this by swiping up on the watch face to access the Control Center and tapping the lock icon.
  8. Then, unlock your iPhone. You can use your device’s passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID, depending on your iPhone model. As long as the Wrist Detection feature is active and your devices are close together, your Apple Watch should unlock immediately after your iPhone is unlocked.

Note that if your iPhone is already unlocked when you put your watch on, you may need to lock your iPhone and unlock it again to activate the automatic watch unlocking feature. Also, if your iPhone is restarted or has not been unlocked for a while, you may need to enter your iPhone passcode once before the automatic watch unlocking will work.

If this feature does not work as expected, ensure that both devices have Bluetooth turned on and are not in Airplane Mode. Also, check that both devices have the latest version of their operating systems, as software updates often fix connectivity issues.

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Remember, for security reasons, if your Apple Watch has been removed from your wrist after being unlocked, it will automatically lock again to prevent unauthorized access. This means if you take off your watch and someone else picks it up, they won’t be able to access your data without your passcode or your iPhone.

Additional Tips: How to Unlock Apple Watch 5 Series

To prevent common issues and enhance the user experience with your Apple Watch Series 5, consider the following tips:

  • Always update to the latest software version to enjoy new features and important security updates.
  • Maintain a backup of your Apple Watch using your iPhone to preserve your data.
  • For better security, enable a longer passcode on your Apple Watch through the Watch app on your iPhone.
  • Regularly clean your Apple Watch, especially after activities that cause sweating, to ensure the sensors work properly.
How to Unlock Apple Watch 5 Series

Troubleshooting Common Issues: How to Unlock Apple Watch 5 Series

When your Apple Watch Series 5 isn’t unlocking as expected, it can be due to various factors ranging from simple oversights to more complex technical glitches. Below, you’ll find a more detailed approach to diagnosing and resolving these issues, ensuring you can get back to using your watch with minimal downtime:

Ensure Adequate Charge: Start by checking your Apple Watch’s battery level. A critical battery level can cause your watch to enter into Power Reserve mode, where most functions, including unlocking, are disabled to conserve power. Place your Apple Watch on the magnetic charger and wait for it to charge sufficiently before trying to unlock it again.

Software Updates: Outdated software can lead to a host of issues, including security bugs and compatibility problems. On your iPhone, go to ‘Settings’ > ‘General’ > ‘Software Update’ to check if there’s an update available. For your Apple Watch, open the Watch app on your iPhone, tap ‘General’ > ‘Software Update’ to see if your watch is running the latest version. Install any available updates, as they often include fixes that could resolve unlocking issues.

Check Connectivity Settings: The ‘Unlock with iPhone’ feature relies on a Bluetooth connection between your devices. Ensure that Bluetooth is enabled on both your iPhone and Apple Watch by checking in the Control Center or in ‘Settings’. Also, confirm that Wi-Fi is turned on for both devices, as this can help maintain a stable connection. Keep your devices close together to ensure they’re within Bluetooth range.

Unpairing and Re-pairing: If you’re still experiencing issues, unpairing and re-pairing your Apple Watch can act as a system reset and often resolves persistent problems. To unpair, open the Watch app on your iPhone, tap ‘My Watch’ > ‘All Watches’, then tap the info button next to your watch. Choose ‘Unpair Apple Watch’ and follow the prompts to unpair. Afterward, reboot both your Apple Watch and iPhone before re-pairing them. To re-pair, keep your Apple Watch and iPhone close together and follow the on-screen instructions on your iPhone.

Additional Steps: If the problem persists, try rebooting both your Apple Watch and iPhone. To reboot your Apple Watch, press and hold the side button until you see the Power Off slider, then slide to power off. Press and hold the side button again to turn it on. For your iPhone, use the method specific to your model to reboot.

Check for Interferences: Sometimes, physical barriers or electronic interference can affect Bluetooth connectivity. Remove any potential sources of interference, like other Bluetooth devices or metal objects, between your Apple Watch and iPhone.

Should these steps not resolve your issue, it may be time to seek further assistance. You can get in touch with Apple Support directly for more specialized troubleshooting or to arrange for a professional assessment of your devices.

Conclusion: How to Unlock Apple Watch 5 Series

Whether you’ve forgotten your passcode, purchased a used device that’s still linked to another account, or are facing unexpected lockouts, this guide aims to help you understand how to unlock Apple Watch 5 Series. With these steps, you can tackle common lock-related issues confidently and get back to using your device with minimal interruption.

If you find that your issue persists after following this guide, contacting Apple Support directly might be your best course of action. They can provide additional assistance and support for unlocking your device.