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Apple Watch touchscreen not working? Here's how to fix it

A watch that won't swipe is never ideal but we have solutions.

Published onMarch 18, 2024

An unresponsive touchscreen on your go-to wearable can be incredibly frustrating. It’s nearly impossible to effectively use an Apple smartwatch if it won’t swipe up or down. Luckily, it is also one of many common Apple Watch problems that are easily solved. If your Apple Watch touchscreen is not working, follow our suggestions below.


To fix an Apple Watch touch screen that is not working, clean your hands as well as the device, remove any screen protectors, disable Water Lock, and if necessary, restart the device.


Why is my Apple Watch not responding to touch?

An Apple Watch Series 8 user cleans their screen with a microfiber cloth.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

There are a few simple reasons your smartwatch touchscreen may not be working properly. Review the most probable explanations below.

  • Your screen protector needs to be replaced 
    • Some screen protectors can impair the sensitivity of your Apple Watch as a result of improper installation or even poor design.
  • Your fingers are covered or unclean
    • While typically fairly responsive, the Apple Watch touchscreen can not register touches in every situation. You cannot use the device with gloves, for example. Likewise, grease, sweat, lotions, and other debris can impede your screen’s response.
  • Your Apple Watch is dirty
    • Even if you approach your device with clean hands, sweat, dirt, and other debris on the watch itself can also leave the touchscreen unusable.
  • You have Water Lock enabled
    • When you enable Water Lock, the Apple Watch screen will not respond to swipes. Look for a water drop icon at the top of your screen.
  • Your Apple Watch is frozen
    • If your device is frozen or experiencing a software glitch, it can make using the touch screen finicky, if not impossible.

How to fix an Apple Watch that’s not responding to touch

A user force restarts their Apple Watch Series 8.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

If any of the culprits above apply to your device, follow the relevant steps below to get your watch back in working order.

  • Remove and replace your screen protector 
    • Remove any added screen protection that may be impeding touchscreen responsiveness.
    • Reapply a new screen protector if desired, following the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Clean your hands
    • Using soap and warm water, clean your hands of any oils, lotions, or dirt.
    • Dry your hands completely.
  • Clean your device
    • Using a nonabrasive, lint-free cloth, wipe down your Apple Watch screen. Lightly dampen the cloth with water if needed.
    • Dry the device completely.
  • Disable Water Lock
    • Press and hold the Digital Crown until the device screen displays “Unlocked.”
  • Force restart your Apple Watch
    • Hold down your side button and the Digital Crown simultaneously until the Apple logo appears.
    • If needed, restart your paired iPhone as well.

      • Press and hold the side button and volume button, then tap and drag the power icon to the right.
      • Turn your iPhone back on by holding down the top or side button until the Apple logo appears.

Finally, Apple Watch software updates can also sometimes provide solutions to existing bugs that may be impacting your experience. Check to see if your device is running the latest available update. Open the Apple Watch app on your paired iPhone, tap General, then tap Software Update. If an update is available, tap Download and Install.


To turn off haptics on your Apple Watch, open the Settings app and scroll down to and tap Sounds & Haptics. Tap the toggle next to Haptic Alerts.

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