You Can Mute Your Apple Watch and Even Change Faces Based on Time or Location (Here’s How)

watchOS7 faces Credit: Jesse Hollington
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Many Apple Watch users have long wished that watchOS offered more flexibility when it comes to things like adjusting to their routines, but although Apple has made some attempts to leverage AI in things like the Siri watch face, it’s generally never really offered any advanced scheduling options.

However, what Apple has done is given power users the tools to build these solutions themselves, thanks to the Shortcuts app that it debuted back in 2018.

Unfortunately, many users don’t really understand the power that’s baked into Apple’s Shortcuts app, since it can seem intimidating at first. The good news, however, is that while Shortcuts can be used to do all sorts of really advanced things, it’s actually straightforward to get started if all you want to do are fairly simple things, such as toggling Do Not Disturb on or off, or controlling home accessories via HomeKit.

What you also may not realize is that Shortcuts can also be extended to the Apple Watch, allowing you to easily address one of the most-requested Apple Watch features — automatically changing your watch faces based on the time of the day or even where you happen to be.

Changing Watch Faces

For example, you could have a busy, work-related watch face automatically come up when you get to the office, or even simply during office hours, have a workout-focused watch face come up at the gym, and then switch to a relaxing, minimalist watch face when you’re unwinding in the evenings.

This goes beyond just changing watch faces, too. Shortcuts can also toggle the always-on display on an Apple Watch Series 5 or Series 6, and set Cinema Mode or Silent Mode, or even enable the Water Lock feature when you get to the beach. Here’s how to set some of these routines up:

To Change Your Watch Face Every Morning at 8:00 a.m.:

  1. Open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone.
  2. At the bottom of the screen, tap Automation.
  3. Tap Create Personal Automation.
  4. Under New Automation, tap Time of Day.
  5. Choose Time of Day
  6. Tap on the time and key in 08:00.
  7. Note that “Daily” is select by default under the repeat interval.
  8. Tap Next.
  9. Tap Add Action.
  10. In the search field, type “Watch”
  11. Tap the Apple Watch icon when it appears.
  12. Tap Set Watch Face.
  13. Tap on the blue box at the end of “Set active watch face to”
  14. Choose the watch face you’d like to use at 8:00 every morning.
  15. Tap Next.
  16. Tap the switch beside Ask Before Running to switch it off.
  17. Tap Don’t Ask in the confirmation dialog that comes up.
  18. Tap Done.

Note that in step 14, the watch faces will be shown in the order in which they appear on the watch, so this is how you can determine which one you’re using if you have more than one of the same type.

If you look closely at each step, you’ll also see that there are many other possibilities here. For example, in step 7 you could choose a weekly repeat if you only wanted the rule to run on certain days of the week, such as working days. You can also use “Sunrise” or “Sunset” as trigger times, which can also include a relative time, such as “15 minutes before sunrise.”

Location and Other Triggers

During the first step of creating a Personal Automation, you may have also noticed a whole range of other triggers that can be used, including when a specific alarm is either stopped or snoozed, or when the various sleep modes begin and end.

More significantly, however, you can also choose to use your location as a trigger, and this is where you could change up your watch faces automatically for the office, gym, or just about anywhere else.

To Change Your Watch Face When You Leave Home:

  1. Open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone.
  2. At the bottom of the screen, tap Automation.
  3. Tap Create Personal Automation.
  4. Under New Automation, tap Leave.
  5. Beside Location, tap Choose.
  6. Choose your “Home” location.
  7. If desired, adjust the trigger radius using the map display at the bottom of the screen.
  8. Tap Done.
  9. Optional: By default, the automation will trigger any time you leave home. Tapping Time Range will let you set it to only trigger during certain times.
  10. Tap Next.
  11. Tap Add Action.
  12. In the search field, type “Watch”
  13. Tap the Apple Watch icon when it appears.
  14. Tap Set Watch Face.
  15. Tap on the blue box at the end of “Set active watch face to”
  16. Choose the watch face you’d like to use whenever you leave home.
  17. Tap Next.
  18. Tap Done.

Alternatively, in step 4 you could choose “Arriving” if you wanted to change your watch face or other settings when you arrive at a location.

Note there are some other useful options here as well, including “Before I Commute” which will use Siri-predicted commute times to and from work, and “CarPlay” which can trigger automations when you’re getting into or out of your car.

Multiple Actions

Keep in mind that you can also chain multiple activities in the shortcut actions. For example, you could not only change your active watch face, but also turn on silent mode and turn off the always-on display, all in one fell swoop.

In fact, if you explore the Shortcuts app, you’ll discover many more cool things you can do to control your Apple Watch. For example, you might want to turn off your always-on display, silence your Apple Watch, and turn on Water Lock whenever you start a Swimming Workout. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone.
  2. At the bottom of the screen, tap Automation.
  3. Tap Create Personal Automation.
  4. Under New Automation, scroll down and tap Apple Watch Workout.
  5. Beside Workout type, tap Any Workout.
  6. Scroll down and tap Swimming.
  7. Tap Done.
  8. Note that “Starts” is selected by default.
  9. Tap Next.
  10. Tap Add Action.
  11. In the search field, type “Watch”
  12. Tap the Apple Watch icon when it appears.
  13. Tap Set Silent Mode.
  14. Note that “On” is selected by default.
  15. Tap the blue plus button below the “Turn Silent Mode On” box.
  16. Tap Set Always On.
  17. Tap On beside “Turn Always On”.
  18. Tap Off.
  19. Tap the blue plus button below the “Turn Always On Off” box.
  20. Tap Set Water Lock.
  21. Note that “On” is selected by default.
  22. Tap Next.
  23. Tap the switch beside Ask Before Running to switch it off.
  24. Tap Don’t Ask in the confirmation dialog that comes up.
  25. Tap Done.

Now whenever you start a Swimming workout, your Apple Watch will automatically go into the correct mode. You can also automatically have it go back when you end your workout simply by following the above steps to create another shortcut that reverses the process — choose “Ends” in step 8 to trigger it when you end your workout, and just use all the opposite options to turn silent mode off, turn the always-on display back on, and turn water lock back off.

Lastly, note that the shortcuts here aren’t limited to Apple Watch actions either. If you’ve followed the above steps, you’ve probably already noticed that you can add all sorts of other blocks to your Shortcut automation, so you could conceivably change your watch face, silence your Apple Watch, and then enable Do Not Disturb on your iPhone. If you have HomeKit accessories, you could even control them as part of the same automation.

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