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Smartphones & gadgets

5 Apple Watch secrets only power users know

Our tech gadgets don’t come with a user manual. If you want to know the secrets to get more out of your everyday devices, you’ve come to the right place.

Take your smartphone, for instance. It’s full of hidden features and even secret apps. Tap or click to explore these on your iPhone or Android.

Are you using your Apple Watch to its fullest possible extent? Don’t worry — most people aren’t. That’s why we’re here to show you five of our favorite life hacks for your Apple Watch.

1. Use it left-handed

Southpaws, this one is for you. It’s an easy fix that will make life easier. To adjust the handedness of your watch, tap into the Settings app.

  1. Open Settings > General.
  2. Select Orientation.
  3. Choose your dominant wrist.

In this menu, you can also select the orientation of the wearable’s Digital Crown. That’s the big button on the side of the watch. Never find yourself fumbling around again.

2. Manage notifications like a pro

If you know, you know: Having all of your notifications on your wrist at all times can be overwhelming, especially if you get a lot of emails and texts. And sometimes you just don’t want anyone else to see the preview text of your incoming communications. Good news: You can make that private.

  1. Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Select the My Watch tab
  2. Tap Notifications. Turn on on Tap to Show Full Notification.

Then when you get a notification, you can tap it to see the full text.

You can also stop the onslaught of notifications altogether. Delivering notifications “quietly” is a great custom option. Go to your Notification Center, tap a notification you want to mute or turn off, then tap the More button (three dots).

From here, you can disable sound and haptic alerts by choosing the Deliver Quietly option. Whenever you need to focus, you’ll be free of annoying notifications.

3. Use Theater Mode

Is there anything more embarrassing than seeing your watch blow up in the middle of a dark movie theater? The shame. OK, maybe it’s worse when your phone rings, but still.

To avoid this faux pas on your next date night or outing, try Theater Mode. It silences your notifications during times you don’t want your watch to light up or make a sound.

Swipe up from your Control Center and tap on the Theater Mode button. It looks like a happy face and a sad face side by side. Think of it as Airplane Mode for the movies. It incorporates Silent Mode, as well, but it doesn’t disable other noiseless haptic alerts.

4. Track your sleep

It goes without saying that an Apple Watch can do a lot for you in terms of your health, including saving your life! Your sleep is no exception. In fact, you can use your wearable to track your nightly sleep patterns and monitor and improve your sleep hygiene. This can really open your eyes to bad patterns in your sleep.

Setting up Bedtime mode is easy and offers a wind-down period before bed and even fine-tuned notification options that keep the world at bay when you’re trying to relax. 

  1. Open Settings > tap Sleep.
  2. Enable any options that you want to try, including Sleep Tracking.

The widget can help you estimate how much of your rest is devoted to REM and deep sleep — and can show you whether your nightly rest is improving or waning week over week.

5. Take an electrocardiogram

Speaking of health, this is a big one. With an Apple Watch Series 4 or later, you can take an electrocardiogram, an ECG or EKG. This test records the timing and strength of your heartbeat. Doctors often use these tests to look for irregularities.

An important note: This feature is not a replacement for seeing your physician. Always consult a doctor if you feel uncomfortable or notice a change in your heart’s rhythm or any other aspect of your health.

You’ll first need to install and set up the ECG app. Here’s how:

  • Open the Health app on your iPhone.
  • Tap the Browse tab, then tap Heart Electrocardiograms (ECG) Set Up ECG App.
  • After you complete the setup, open the ECG app.

If you still don’t see the app on your Apple Watch, open the Watch app on your iPhone and tap Heart. In the ECG section, tap Install.

How to take an ECG:

  • Make sure your Apple Watch is snug and on the wrist that you selected in the Apple Watch app. To check, open the Apple Watch app, tap the My Watch tab, then go to General Watch Orientation.
  • Open the ECG app on your watch.
  • Rest your arms on a table or in your lap.
  • With the hand opposite your watch, hold your finger on the Digital Crown (the small dial on the side of your watch). You don’t need to press the Digital Crown during the session.
  • Wait. The recording takes 30 seconds. At the end of the recording, you will receive a classification; then you can tap Add Symptoms and choose your symptoms.
  • Tap Save to note any symptoms, then tap Done. 

The Apple Watch has a few other features that can help you spot health problems or save you in an emergency. Tap or click here for steps to set them up.

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