Explore everything your Apple Watch can do in watchOS 8!

Take Control of
Apple Watch

Second Edition
Jeff Carlson

Get to know your Apple Watch and customize it to help you focus on what you care about most. Tech expert Jeff Carlson helps you understand the watch mindset, pick the watch model that’s right for you, set up and share its faces and their complications, get the notifications you want, handle communications, and learn how the controls and core apps work.

All Take Control books are delivered in three ebook formats—PDF, EPUB, and Mobipocket (Kindle)—and can be read on nearly any device.


Since its introduction in 2015, the Apple Watch has become the world’s best-selling watch, as well as the most popular wearable digital device. During that time, Apple has also added numerous new watch product lines, vastly expanded the device’s capabilities, and enabled developers to create entirely new apps and tools. The Apple Watch hides an enormous amount of technical complexity behind that unassuming touch screen, and with help from author Jeff Carlson, you’ll unlock every last bit of its power.

Note: Jeff is currently working on an updated version of this book to cover the Series 8 Apple Watch models, the Apple Watch Ultra, and watchOS 9. We expect the new version to be available in late 2022, and it will be a free update for anyone who purchases the book now.

Take Control of Apple Watch covers all Apple Watch models through Series 7, as well as all the new features introduced in watchOS 8. Jeff walks you through getting to know the Apple Watch (including how to pick one out if you haven’t already), along with topics that teach you how to navigate among the watch’s screens with the physical controls, taps on the screen, and Siri. You’ll also find advice on customizing watch faces and sharing them with others, taking advantage of the blood oxygen sensor in the Apple Watch Series 6 and later, getting the notifications you want, handling text and voice communications, using Apple’s core apps, and monitoring your heart rate, hearing, and monthly cycle to improve your overall health. A final chapter discusses taking care of your Apple Watch, including recharging, restarting, resetting, and restoring.

Among the many topics covered in the book are:

  • Picking out and setting up your own Apple Watch—covers models up through Series 7
  • Making watch face complications work for you
  • Using the Control Center and Dock
  • Understanding how the watch interacts with your iPhone
  • Staying connected using a cellular-enabled Apple Watch model
  • Tracking your exercise, even when you leave your iPhone at home
  • Placing and receiving phone calls on the watch
  • Using the Walkie-Talkie feature to chat with other Apple Watch owners
  • Sending default (and customized) text messages
  • Seeing email from only certain people
  • Adding items to your reminder lists with Siri
  • Loading your watch with photos and using them to create new watch faces
  • Doing workouts with Apple Fitness+
  • Finding people, devices, and items
  • Controlling your home with HomeKit-compatible devices
  • Triggering the iPhone’s camera remotely using the watch
  • Paying at contactless terminals using Apple Pay
  • Putting tickets in your watch
  • Using health-related features such as the blood oxygen sensor, ECG, Cycle Tracking, and Noise apps
  • Getting navigation directions (and using the Compass app)
  • Controlling an Apple TV, or Music or iTunes on a Mac with the Remote app
  • Unlocking a Mac (and authenticating certain actions in Catalina or later) with your watch
  • Adding apps to the watch via your iPhone or the watch’s built-in App Store
  • Resetting a messed-up Apple Watch and force-quitting an app
Jeff Carlson

About Jeff Carlson

Jeff Carlson is a contributing editor of TidBITS, a frequent contributor to Macworld and DPReview, and the author of best-selling books on the Mac, digital photography, and, in earlier incarnations, web design and Palm organizers. He consumes almost too much coffee. Almost.

What’s New in Version 2.0.1

What’s New in Version 2.0.1 Version 2.0.1 corrects a few minor errors found in version 2.0:

  • In a few spots, Series 7 models were omitted in lists of features that apply to recent Watch generations, and this has been corrected.
  • The existence of an on-screen keyboard on Series 7 models was noted in “Talk to Your Wrist” and “Wi-Fi.”
  • Clarifications about the Wi-Fi indicator in Control Panel were added in “Wi-Fi.”
  • “Write Email” now points out that multiple recipients can be added in watchOS 8.
  • “Use Emergency Features” was updated to mention the availability of the SOS feature on cellular models.

What Was New in the Second Edition

This book started as “Apple Watch: A Take Control Crash Course” and was published even before the first Apple Watch arrived. Since then, the watch has become a major product in Apple’s lineup and I see people wearing them everywhere. The book you’re reading now was completely overhauled and expanded into a full Take Control title for version 1.0. This new edition has been updated to cover changes in watchOS 8.

Noteworthy changes include:

  • A new Portraits watch face uses the depth map created by the iPhone’s Portrait camera mode to position text behind the subject in the face’s photo. See “Personalize the Apple Watch Face.”
  • Apple has expanded the text input controls, described in “Communicate with Friends.”
  • Do Not Disturb is now one part of the larger Focus feature, working with your other devices to help you define ways of limiting interruptions at given times.
  • The Breathe app introduced in watchOS 7 has been rolled into the Mindfulness app, which now includes opportunities for reflection and optional guided meditation through the Fitness+ service. See “Be More Mindful.”
  • More options to “Stay Healthy with the Apple Watch” have been added. You can Work Out with Apple Fitness+ subscription service that uses the watch to track activity metrics through guided workouts. Those workouts can also be shared with friends via SharePlay.
  • I created an entirely new section that covers how to “Control Your Home” from the watch using the Home app and HomeKit-enabled accessories.
  • With the addition of the new Find Devices and Find Items apps, you can now “Find People, Devices, and Items” using your watch.
  • If you have a compatible door lock or automobile, you can unlock it by just ambling over and having your watch close. See “Unlock Doors Using Home Keys.”
  • Multiple timers can now run at the same time, huzzah! Learn how to “Set Timers.”
  • The Photos app now includes photos from the Memories and Featured collections that the Photos app on the iPhone creates, as described in “View (and Capture) Photos.”
  • Read Me First
    • Updates and More
    • What’s New in Version 2.0.1
    • What Was New in the Second Edition
  • Introduction
  • Apple Watch Quick Start
  • Understand the Apple Watch
    • The iPhone Connection
    • Charge the Apple Watch
    • Apple Pay and Wallet
    • Security
    • Which Watch?
    • Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Cellular Connections
    • Watch Bands
  • Apple Watch First Tasks
    • Switch to the App List View
    • Turn Off the Option to Auto-Add Apps
    • Set the Watch’s Default Wi-Fi Network
    • Set the Appearance and Feedback
    • Set Up Medical ID
    • Activate Find My Apple Watch
    • Give Siri a Try
  • Interact with the Apple Watch
    • The Digital Crown
    • The Side Button
    • Interact with the Screen
    • Talk to Your Wrist
    • Haptic Feedback
  • Personalize the Apple Watch Face
    • Pick a Watch Face
    • Set Up and Use Complications
    • Save a Custom Face
    • Use Your Own Photos
    • Share Watch Faces
  • Use Control Center
    • Connection Info
    • Cellular
    • Wi-Fi
    • Airplane Mode
    • Battery Level
    • Ping iPhone
    • Flashlight
    • Focus
    • Silent Mode
    • Theater Mode
    • Water Lock
    • Audio Output
    • Audio Controls
    • Announce Messages
    • Walkie Talkie
    • Edit Control Center Icons
  • Work with Apps
    • Locate and Open Apps
    • Access the Dock
    • Add and Organize Dock Apps
    • Turn Off Animation
    • Customize the Home Screen
    • Install Apps
    • Remove Apps
  • Manage Notifications
    • Act on a Notification
    • Keep Notifications Private
    • View Missed Notifications
    • Clear Notifications
    • Choose Which Notifications You Receive
    • Choose Feedback for Alerts
    • Receive Mail from VIPs Only
  • Communicate with Friends
    • Reply to Messages
    • Chat Using the Messages App
    • Communicate by Phone
    • Speak Using Walkie-Talkie
  • Communicate Using Mail
    • Read Email
    • Reply to a Message
    • Write Email
    • Personalize Mail Browsing
  • Stay Healthy with the Apple Watch
    • Activity Tracking
    • Monitor Your Heart Health
    • Measure Your Blood Oxygen Level
    • Monitor Your Hearing
    • Share Activity
    • Work the Workout
    • Calibrate the Sensors
    • Track Your Cycle
    • Be More Mindful
    • Sleep Better
    • Thoroughly Wash Your Hands
  • Control Your Home
    • Control Lights and Accessories Using the Home App
    • Broadcast Using the Intercom Feature
  • Use Apple Pay and Wallet
    • Set Up Cards for Apple Pay
    • Use Apple Pay in Person
    • Use Apple Pay on a Mac
    • Work in Wallet
    • Unlock Doors Using Home Keys
  • Use Maps and Directions
    • Find a Location Using Siri
    • Find a Location Using the Maps App
    • Get Directions
    • Return Home
    • Compass
    • About the GPS
    • Find People, Devices, and Items
  • Manage Calendars and Reminders
    • Open the Calendar App
    • Views in the Calendar App
    • Use Siri with Calendar
    • Respond to a Reminder
    • Use the Reminders App
    • Set Timers
  • Experience Media on the Apple Watch
    • Now Playing
    • Listen to Music, Podcasts, and Audiobooks
    • Control Media Remotely
    • View (and Capture) Photos
  • Use Family Setup
    • Add a Watch Using Family Setup
    • Configure Schooltime Mode
  • Customizations and Important Settings
    • Watch Orientation
    • Wake Screen Options
    • Adjust Appearance
    • Sounds and Haptics
    • Rename Your Watch
    • Nightstand Mode
    • Accessibility
    • Passcode
    • Wrist Detection
    • Pair Another Watch
    • Unlock Your Mac
    • Use Emergency Features
  • Care and Feeding of Your Apple Watch
    • Recharge the Watch
    • Restart the Watch
    • Reset the Watch
    • Restore the Watch
    • Updating the Watch’s Software
    • If the Watch Goes Missing
    • Cleaning
  • About This Book
    • Ebook Extras
    • About the Author
    • About the Publisher
    • Credits
  • Copyright and Fine Print

Jeff Carlson discusses Apple Watch updates on MacVoices

Posted by Joe Kissell on November 10, 2021

Jeff Carlson joined host Chuck Joiner on MacVoices to talk about Take Control of Apple Watch, Second Edition.

In part one, Jeff covers some of the new features in watchOS 8 and the Series 7 Apple Watch models.

In part two, Jeff talks about Apple Watch apps, sensors, and more.

Jeff Carlson discusses Apple Watch updates on MacVoices

Posted by Joe Kissell on October 13, 2020

Jeff Carlson joined Chuck Joiner on MacVoices in a two-part interview to discuss his updated book Take Control of Apple Watch.

In Part 1, Jeff discusses new features such as sleep tracking and Family Setup.

In Part 2, Jeff covers the Series 6 blood oxygen sensor, sharing watch faces, the hand washing alert, and new apps.

MacVoices Interviews Jeff Carlson about Apple Watch

Posted by Joe Kissell on April 22, 2020

Chuck Joiner interviewed Jeff Carlson on MacVoices to discuss his new book Take Control of Apple Watch in a two-part episode.

In Part 1, Jeff discusses how his old Crash Course evolved into a full-blown Take Control book and explains why everyone should have an Apple Watch!

In Part 2, Jeff covers health features, the App Store, and more.

September 28, 2022—Jeff is currently working on an updated version of this book to cover the Series 8 Apple Watch models, the Apple Watch Ultra, and watchOS 9. We expect the new version to be available in late 2022, and it will be a free update for anyone who purchases the book now.


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