The new double tap gesture for Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 is available with watchOS 10.1. Let’s look at how to use it.
With it, users can control an Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 using just one hand and without touching the display. Users can tap the index finger and thumb of their watch hand together twice to quickly perform many of the most common actions.
This new feature complements existing gestures like tap, swipe, raise to wake, and cover to mute that make Apple Watch simple and intuitive to use.
The double tap gesture is helpful in common situations when the user’s other hand is occupied, such as when walking the dog, cooking, or holding a cup of coffee.
Double tap allows users to select the primary action in a wide variety of watchOS apps and notifications, including:
Here are some common actions that are available using double tap:
- Play and pause music, podcasts, audiobooks, and other media in Now Playing
- Answer or end a phone call
- Stop a timer
- Reply to a message
- Open Smart Stack from the watch face and scroll through widgets
- Snooze an alarm
- Take a photo in Camera Remote
- Record a voice memo
- Pause and resume a stopwatch
- Switch flashlight modes
Tap your index finger and thumb together twice to answer a call, reply to a message, see and scroll through your Smart Stack, and more. When you use a double tap, its icon (a hand in a blue circle) appears at the top of the display. If you use the double tap gesture and it’s not available for a particular screen, the icon shakes from side to side.
You can choose what a double tap does when playing media or navigating your Smart Stack.
- Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch Series 9.
- Tap Gestures, tap Double Tap, then choose from among these options:
- Playback: Choose Play/Pause or Skip.
- Smart Stack: Choose Advance or Select.
- Turn off Double Tap if you don’t want to use the gesture on your Apple Watch.
You can also open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone, tap My Watch, go to Settings > Gestures, then tap Double Tap.
How to customize double tap
Double tap has been designed to automatically select the primary action for most apps and notifications. In two instances, the user can elect a different function: advancing through widgets in the Smart Stack or selecting the first available widget; and playing or pausing media during an active session, or skipping to the next track instead.
If double tap isn’t working on your Apple Watch
If you try the double tap gesture but your watch doesn’t recognize it, follow these steps:
- Raise your wrist to wake the screen. The display must brighten before you attempt the double tap gesture. On your watch hand, tap your index finger and thumb together twice—at the same pace as double clicking a track pad or double clicking the side button for Apple Pay. Attempt the gesture when sitting or standing still.* To learn more, open the Settings app on your watch, then tap Gestures > Double Tap > Learn more in Tips.
- Make sure that your watch is unlocked and fits snugly on your wrist.
- On your watch face, check whether Low Power Mode, Sleep Focus, Theater Mode, or Water Lock are on. Double tap is available only when you turn these features off in Control Center.
- Make sure that your watch isn’t paired as a Family Setup watch.
- Make sure that double tap is on. To check, open the Settings app on your watch, then tap Gestures > Double Tap. Double tap can’t be turned on when any of the following accessibility settings are on: AssistiveTouch, Quick Actions, Zoom with Hand Gestures, or VoiceOver with Hand Gestures.
- Make sure that Wrist Detection is on. To check, open the Settings app on your watch, then tap Passcode.
- Make sure that Wake on Wrist Raise is on. To check, open the Settings app on your watch, then tap Display & Brightness.
Note that Apple Watch might not detect double tap when you’re moving up or down stairs, running, or cycling, or if you have a tattoo on your wrist.
If your activity invokes double tap unintentionally
During some activities, Apple Watch might recognize the double tap gesture when you didn’t intend to use it. You can turn off double tap, then turn it back on:
- Open the Settings app on your watch.
- Tap Gestures > Double Tap, then turn off Double Tap.
- When you’re finished with the activity, turn double tap back on.
If the double tap icon shakes from side to side
When you use double tap successfully, the double tap icon (a hand in a blue circle) appears briefly at the top of the screen. If the double tap icon shakes from side to side, then double tap isn’t available for that screen or third-party app.
Also note that double tap is not available while using the Depth app or taking an ECG.
(This how-to is based on my experiences and info on Apple’s support pages — where the images sometimes come from.)