How to Fix Apple Watch Not Sending or Receiving Messages

This thread covers a variety of problems related to your Apple Watch Messages app. If your watch cannot receive, send, or sync text messages, follow some of the steps below.

Here are a few reasons why text messages don’t show up on your Apple Watch:

  • You are currently using your iPhone instead of your Watch
  • You have accidentally enabled a feature that stopped your Apple Watch from receiving text messages, doesn’t matter if that is iMessages or regular SMS

Apple Watch not receiving text messages

Check your iPhone to see if the device is currently unlocked or in session. If the iPhone is active, all text notifications, including incoming text messages, will be notified via your iPhone screen instead of your Apple Watch.

When your iPhone is being used, it could prevent text messages from showing up on your Apple Watch. To avoid that from happening, lock your iPhone or turn it off. Your Apple Watch will then start to receive text messages.

iphone apple watch notification compare image

Disable Do Not Disturb Mode

Tap on your Apple Watch to see if Do Not Disturb mode is enabled. If the setting is activated, you will not be notified of any incoming text messages.

apple watch do not disturb image

To disable this option:

  1. Press the Digital Crown to access your watch face.
  2. Swipe up to launch Glances.
  3. Continue to swipe left until you see Settings.
  4. Tap on the Do Not Disturb icon to turn it off (assuming that this feature is currently enabled).

iPhone Fail to Activate iMessage

Text messages will not go to your Apple Watch if iMessage have not been enabled on your iPhone.

  1. If iMessage is enabled from the Settings app, please disable it.
  2. Restart your iPhone or iPad.
  3. Go back to Settings > Messages > and enable iMessage again.
  4. Wait for a few minutes and see if it’s activated.

If that doesn’t help, you can try a few more tips below.

  • Update to the latest firmware.
  • Go to Settings > General > Restrictions and toggle off for iMessage. This could cause the “Waiting for Activation” alert.
  • Sign out of your Apple ID and log back in.
  • Contact your carrier and see if your plan allows the use of iMessage.

Once iMessage is initiated, you should be able to use this feature on both iPhone and Apple Watch.

Messages won’t sync with Apple Watch

If you’re having connectivity issues, your text messages may not get transferred from your iPhone to your Apple Watch.

What you can do is restart your Apple Watch.

  1. Press and hold the side button until you see the Power Off slider
  2. Drag it all the way to the right
  3. Press and hold the side button again until you see the Apple logo

You should also restart your iPhone. Then, disable and re-enable both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings.

Unpair your Apple Watch

If that still doesn’t help, it’s time to unpair your Apple Watch. Don’t worry. You will be able to re-pair it after.

  1. Take out your iPhone and Apple Watch.
  2. Open the Watch app on your iPhone.
  3. Go to My Watch > tap the (i) symbol.
  4. Select Unpair Apple Watch.
  5. Confirm the action using your Apple ID (for some people this is not required).
  6. Now, wait until both devices are disconnected from each other.

When you see the “Start Pairing” message, go ahead and re-pair both devices and use the backup to restore everything. Try sending a new iMessage again. This time, it will show up on your Apple Watch and iPhone.

I hope that helps.

Similar Issues and Questions

Andrej Bencúr

Is there a way to make Apple Watch show the full contents of the notification (e.g. a text message) as soon as it arrives, or do I always have to either raise the wrist or tap the screen? I very much prefer when the notification details are shown immediately without any action.

Ellen Almendarez

Every day when I delete text messages from the watch there is always a blank text message. There is no content or a name that it came from.

Adrian Torres

Used to happen to me weekly on the series 0. Just had to delete the blank messages on the watch. With series 5, only happens now for me once here and there…

Nicole Penney

I had to delete my watch app I wasn’t getting any notifications or texts on my series 5 so I had to unpair it and delete the app and reinstall again

Katie Koppin

Has anyone else been having problems with iMessage…specifically, I read a text message from a non Apple user on my phone and if hasn’t been showing up as read on my iPad. This has just been a recent thing. I tried resetting all the message forwarding stuff and turning iMessage off and all that. Nothing is working. Same thing on my watch. Only iMessages will be read across all devices. If that makes sense.

Malory Hendel

Some of my text messages go through on my iPhone but not on my iPad. For me, it’s always like that.

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  1. What about other issues? I can send and receive iMessages from my Watch but when it comes to SMS texts I can only receive. When I try to reply to SMS texts from my watch it just says “Message send failure” — what could be wrong?

  2. ever since I updated to ios 11 on my phone and os 4 on my watch I am unable to reply all to a group text string using my watch. when I do reply, it only goes back to the sender of the most recent message,, not to the entire group. this was not the case prior the upgrade.

    I’ve reviewed settings on the watch app and can’t find anything to address this issue.

  3. This problem for me seems to have started recently (perhaps after updating to iOS 11). I am only able to receive notifications within a few minutes of doing a hard reset on the watch. But then, I stop receiving any sort of notifications. Watch is still connected, I am able to send messages from my watch. My settings are set to mirror my iPhone. Not sure how to address this problem. It is really frustrating and defeats my purpose of having the device.

  4. Bless you! This problem started after the last round of updates and has been driving me insane. Your second solution, “turn off do not disturb” turned out to be my issue. Since I never turned it on, I didn’t think to look…thank you!!

  5. When I first got my watch and synced it, it was perfect. Then I did the update, and all .my messages deleted. I have no message history. I took all the steps above and then some. I’ve exchanged it and the same thing. My message history is gone from my watch, but it’s on my phone my ipads, my macbooks. How can I sync my phone to my watch to get my message history back? This is driving me absolutely insane!! Help 🙂


  7. I’m having some similar issues. I can receive messages from anyone except my wife. I get them on the phone, sometimes with notification and sometimes not; but not on the watch. Not even a notification. Have gone through all the settings, updated both devices, paired and unpaired. Spent 90 minutes on the phone with Apple… Nothing!

      • I have to clarify; it’s my wife’s watch not getting things, and her phone acting strange. When I used “I” I meant her.

        I was on the phone with them for 90 nowhere.

        They had me go through all the settings, unpair and repair(I wish), Check for do not disturb, airplane mode, blocked contacts, network settings, power cycle, get the newest OS version on the phone etc. Nothing helped..

        The agent said she would have a senior tech call me 30 minutes after that call ended, but I didn’t get the call; I should say they did not call.

        I do have to say that the problem isn’t across the board, its only with me (husband) and my iPhone . We did all of that on my phone as well. I dont have the watch.

  8. Hi I did the lastest up date on my Apple Watch now I don’t receive messages or phone calls I only receive them on my iPhone. I haven’t touched any of the settings….

    • had same problem. Try shutting down the watch and restarting (hold side button until you see power off option….slide to right. Wait a few minutes, then restart (press/hold side button). That seems to fix my issue, when it happens

  9. you may have already answered this question but i just got a new iphone and on my old iphone it was synced with my apple watch to where when i got text messages it would ding my iwatch but now its not and i dont remember how to turn that feature back on.

  10. My problem is a bit different my AW3 with LTE just randomly fails to send message, and often the message goes green instead of blue. If I hard reset the watch, it then works again. This happens all of the time and it’s really pissing me off. I’ve tried unpair/pair multiple times. Problem still happens.

    Really frustrating when I’m on a run and try to reply, and get message send fail. I have to stop, reset my watch, reply and hope my workout doesn’t get scrapped.

  11. Hi. I had the same problem and would only get iMessages and calls but no text messages. I went to a rep at Telus ( as that’s my phone provider) spent over a hour trying to trouble shoot, we wiped and reset the watch twice, we went through every trouble shooting idea we found online. Finely I called Apple support. I was on the phone with a lady for over a hour troubleshooting every possible reason this could happen. Finely she said she had no idea and got me on the line with a “ the senior Apple tech who knows everything” 5 minutes on the phone with him everything was fixed. He had me go into my WATCH and set my watch on ON AIRPLANE MODE for 15 seconds.. then take it off airplane mode. He told me that when you change your phone plan, reset your watch/ phone or reboot it sometimes the shut down only partly shuts all the communication wires down and back up. So basically my watch was getting only part of a full shut down reboot. With the part being text kinda left out. The only way to FULLY shut all signals off to restart them is acually airplane mode even if you fully restarted the watch and phone. After setting my phone in airplane mode for 15 seconds and back on everything was reset and fixed. Such a simple thing that took hours of trouble shooting and 3 techs .


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Cydia Geeks