How to use the Compass on Apple Watch

Whether you’re into hiking or you’ve got a kayaking mission planned with friends, having access to a reliable compass can make life so much easier.

Nowadays, we’re often glued to our phones and though Apple Maps is great for giving directions, it’s still handy to have an accurate compass to hand when you’re orienteering – the good news? Apple Watch has one.

If you have an Apple Watch Series 5, Apple Watch SE, or Apple Watch Series 6, you can use the new dedicated Compass app to see which direction you (and your watch) are pointing, as well as your current location (handy for giving directions) and your elevation.


Getting started with the Compass app

Unlock your Apple Watch and head to the Compass app.

The icon looks a little bit like the one we’ve shared below.

As soon as you launch the app, you’ll see the direction that the top of your watch is pointing, and your bearing will appear on the top left-hand corner of the screen. By default, the compass will use magnetic north, but this can be changed to true north in the settings app. Head to Apple Watch, then Compass, then Use True North.


How to ensure accuracy with the Compass app

The compass on Apple Watch works in different ways, but for the most accurate reading, you should hold your watch flat to align the crosshairs at the centre.

As you move, the red cone around the compass will show you the accuracy of the heading – the narrower the cone, the more accurate the reading. You can play around with this until you’re accurate.


How to see elevation on Apple Watch Compass app

If you want to see elevation, incline, or coordinates on your watch, rotate the Digital Crown.


Using Compass from your watch face

Another benefit of the Compass app on the Apple Watch is that it can be set to work as a complication from your watch face. On your iPhone, choose a face that allows complications and choose Compass as one of the options. You can choose from a number of settings to show a compass, your elevation, and your incline. Bear in mind this can affect battery life.


Change your strap

It’s important to note: magnets in Apple Watch bands can have an impact on the accuracy of your compass sensor. Apple’s Leather Link, Leather Loop, Milanese Loop and earlier Sport Loop watch bands can interfere with the compass, so it’s recommended that you choose a more modern Sport Loop band or a third-party Apple Watch band without magnets.


Got any questions about the Apple Watch Compass app? Let us know and check back soon.

About the Author

Everything Apple, every day. This post was written by an AppleMagazine newsroom writer.