How to Fix Apple Watch Not Tracking Steps Properly

Introduction

Your Apple Watch is supposed to act like a fitness tracker and record various things like steps, calories, and time. When it fails to do that, it feels like there's no point using the tracker. Don't worry. This guide will walk you through fixing any issues you have with your Watch not recording your steps.
Apple watch

How to Fix the Issue

While you can correct your Apple Watch not tracking your steps by calibrating, you may need to restart the device.

Additional Tips

  • Use your non-dominant arm for your fitness tracker. It moves less than your dominant arm and is statistically less likely to cause damage to your tracker.
  • Wear your tracker against your skin, not over clothing.
  • Fitness trackers are not as accurate as chest straps. Unless the readings you're receiving are very inaccurate there should be nothing to worry about.
  • Keep your tracker charged. Low battery power could cause inaccurate readings.

1 Enable Calibration and Calibrate Your Apple Watch

Make Sure Calibration is On

  1. On your iPhone, open Settings.
    iOS Settings.
  2. Tap Privacy.
    iOS settings for privacy
  3. Tap Location Services.
    Privacy settings showing Location Services
  4. Make sure that Location Services is turned on.
    Location services turned on
  5. Scroll down and tap System Services.
    iOS system services
  6. Make sure that Motion Calibration & Distance is turned on.
    iOS motion and calibration and distance is turned on
  7. Continue with the steps below.

Calibrate

  1. While wearing your Apple Watch, go to a flat, open outdoor area that offers good GPS reception and clear skies.
  2. If you have Apple Watch Series 2 or later, you just need your Apple Watch. If you have Apple Watch Series 1 or earlier, bring your iPhone for GPS. Hold your iPhone in your hand, or wear it on an armband or waistband.
  3. Open the Workout app.
    Apple Watch workout app
  4. To start, tap Outdoor Walk or Outdoor Run.
    Apple watch with workout app open
  5. Walk or run at your normal pace for about 20 minutes.
  6. Whenever you walk or run outside using the above steps, your Apple Watch continues to calibrate the accelerometer by learning your stride length at different speeds.
  7. Calibration can also improve the accuracy of your calorie calculations in the Workout app, and the calorie, distance, Move, and Exercise calculations in the Activity app. 

2 Restart Your Apple Watch

If your Apple Watch is charging, take it off the charger first. When your watch is charging, you can't restart it.

  1. Press and hold the side button until you see the Power Off slider.
    Side button highlighted on Apple Watch and Power Off sliding direction pointed out.
  2. Drag the slider to turn off your device.
  3. After your watch turns off, press and hold the side button again until you see the Apple logo.

3 If It Still Doesn't Work

Please contact the product manufacturer for further assistance.

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Your Apple Watch is supposed to act like a fitness tracker and record various things like steps, calories, and time. When it fails to do that, it feels like there's no point using the tracker. Don't worry. This guide will walk you through fixing any issues you have with your Watch not recording your steps.
Apple watch

How to Fix the Issue

While you can correct your Apple Watch not tracking your steps by calibrating, you may need to restart the device.

Additional Tips

  • Use your non-dominant arm for your fitness tracker. It moves less than your dominant arm and is statistically less likely to cause damage to your tracker.
  • Wear your tracker against your skin, not over clothing.
  • Fitness trackers are not as accurate as chest straps. Unless the readings you're receiving are very inaccurate there should be nothing to worry about.
  • Keep your tracker charged. Low battery power could cause inaccurate readings.

Make Sure Calibration is On

  1. On your iPhone, open Settings.
    iOS Settings.
  2. Tap Privacy.
    iOS settings for privacy
  3. Tap Location Services.
    Privacy settings showing Location Services
  4. Make sure that Location Services is turned on.
    Location services turned on
  5. Scroll down and tap System Services.
    iOS system services
  6. Make sure that Motion Calibration & Distance is turned on.
    iOS motion and calibration and distance is turned on
  7. Continue with the steps below.

Calibrate

  1. While wearing your Apple Watch, go to a flat, open outdoor area that offers good GPS reception and clear skies.
  2. If you have Apple Watch Series 2 or later, you just need your Apple Watch. If you have Apple Watch Series 1 or earlier, bring your iPhone for GPS. Hold your iPhone in your hand, or wear it on an armband or waistband.
  3. Open the Workout app.
    Apple Watch workout app
  4. To start, tap Outdoor Walk or Outdoor Run.
    Apple watch with workout app open
  5. Walk or run at your normal pace for about 20 minutes.
  6. Whenever you walk or run outside using the above steps, your Apple Watch continues to calibrate the accelerometer by learning your stride length at different speeds.
  7. Calibration can also improve the accuracy of your calorie calculations in the Workout app, and the calorie, distance, Move, and Exercise calculations in the Activity app. 

If your Apple Watch is charging, take it off the charger first. When your watch is charging, you can't restart it.

  1. Press and hold the side button until you see the Power Off slider.
    Side button highlighted on Apple Watch and Power Off sliding direction pointed out.
  2. Drag the slider to turn off your device.
  3. After your watch turns off, press and hold the side button again until you see the Apple logo.
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