Theater Mode Makes Wearing Apple Watch While Sleeping Easier


Since day one I have been using my Apple Watch 24/7 and that means while I sleep (yes, it is feasible to wear it at night and yes it can track your sleep). But up until very recently, every night before bed it would take me multiple screen taps and Digital Crown turns to turn off "raise to wake" on my Apple Watch so every time I turned over at night my Apple Watch wouldn't light up the room. But now that Apple has released WatchOS 3.2 and introduced "Theater Mode" this just got a whole lot easier!

What is Theater Mode?

Theater Mode on Apple Watch is designed to be used when you are in a movie theater and you want to both silence your watch and keep it from lighting up each time you raise your wrist. So Theater Mode, while active, overrides two settings on your Apple Watch:

  • "Wake Screen on Wrist Raise" is set to "Off"
  • "Silent Mode" is set to "On", which keeps your watch from making any notifications sounds (but you still get haptic feedback just no sounds)

So regardless of what your "Do Not Disturb" settings are or your sounds settings, theater mode will keep you Watch silent and dark. If you want to activate your Apple Watch screen when it is in this mode you have to press the Digital Crown. If you want to go a step further check out this article at iMore about how to create a custom movie theater Apple Watch face so when you do want to check the time during a movie you don't blind everyone near you.

A Simplified Bedtime Mode

So for those of you who are like me and wear your Apple Watch while you sleep the new Theater Mode is a HUGE convenance. Instead of having to go into "Settings" on the Apple Watch and select "General" and then "Wake Screen" and finally toggle "Wake screen on Wrist Raise" (it takes 5 taps), now all you have to do is swipe up to bring up the Notification Center on Apple Watch and select the Theater Mode button to activate and deactivate. So if you wear your Apple Watch while sleeping taking advantage of this new shortcut.

Getting your Apple Watch ready for bed is so much easier now!

Getting your Apple Watch ready for bed is so much easier now!

Setting Up a New Apple Watch

One of my friends recently got her first Apple Watch and was asking me for tips or recommendations for apps. As I was going back and forth with her via iMessage I realized that these tips would be useful for a lot of other people as well. Heck, it would useful even for people who have had an Apple Watch since they came out and just want to get more use our of their watch. So here we go...

Initial Setup

I have to admit, when I first setup my Apple Watch (the first day it came out) I didn't follow this advice. But back then I really didn't have this advice to follow. I recommend that when you are presented with the option during setup to install all apps from your iPhone that have a corresponding Apple Watch app that you decline that option. Here's why. Most of the 3rd party apps out there, the ones that are not apps made by Apple, aren't all that useful. So installing all of these during the setup is just going to clutter up your app switching screen with a bunch of little icons that you will never use. You are better off starting with a few apps you use the most and slowly trying out others you think you might have use for. After the initial setup you can go into the Watch app on your iPhone and scroll down the main screen of the app and it will list all the apps that are on your iPhone that are available for the Apple Watch. If they are already installed there will be a text next to it saying "Installed," otherwise it will be blank. If you want to install the app on your Apple Watch just select the app and then toggle the "Show App on Apple Watch" toggle to green.


This is yet more advice that I didn't follow when I first setup my Apple Watch. Whether you accept the default setup process (which is for any apps on your Apple Watch to mirror the same notification preferences from your iPhone and use them on your Apple Watch) or not I suggest you setup custom notification on your Apple Watch. The reason I suggest having separate notification on your Apple Watch is that most likely (unless you are an information junkie) you will not want every little notification throughout the day going straight to your wrist. Mail is the best example. Do you really want to know each and every time you get a new email? For email, instead of opting to get a notification on your Apple Watch for each new email I suggest you setup notifications such that only email from people on your VIP list alert your Apple Watch. Apple has a thread explaining how to do this. Also, go through your list of Apple Watch apps and think about what kind of notification you want to see instantly and what can wait. Remember, with iOS 10 you can see notifications just by picking up your iPhone (your iPhone wakes automatically and displays missed notifications on your lock screen). Go into the Apple Watch app on your iPhone and go into the "Notifications" section (it's the 2nd menu item under the "My Faces" section showing your installed watch faces. When you go into "Notifications" it will list all the apps on your watch that you can customize. Below is a screenshot showing how I have setup my iMessage notifications on my watch.

My Apple Watch custom alert settings

My Apple Watch custom alert settings


There are quite a few really amazing and useful Apple Watch apps out there, but here are just a few that I think most people will find really useful on the Apple Watch:


This is a pre-installed app that comes with your iPhone and Apple Watch. But there is a customization with the Apple Watch that not everyone takes advantage of. You can customize quick replies that show up on the watch. So if there is a phrase that is unique to you that you use a lot to reply to texts you can write that phrase and save it as a custom reply. Then when you get a text on your Apple Watch you can scroll down and that preset reply will show up as a button you can select on your watch. iMore has a great article that walks you through how to do this. The other really great but not often used iMessages feature on the watch is the option to hit the little microphone button below the text message and dictate back a response. So much faster and easier than fishing your iPhone out of your pocket and thumb typing a message.


Twitterific has the best Apple Watch features of any Twitter Apple Watch app out there. The app gives you the option to setup custom replies (just like I talked about in iMessage above). 9to5 Mac has a piece on how to use the "actionable Twitter notification" features of Twitterific. If you are active on Twitter then Twitterific for Apple Watch is a must!


There are two weather apps that love on my iPhone that I also use quite a bit on my Apple Watch...Dark Sky and Weather Nerd. I use Dark Sky mostly for the instant notifications of when it is going to rain. I use Weather Nerd as my powerhouse weather app because it has the best hourly, daily and weekly visualizations of the weather of any iOS app I have tried.

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