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What is a Digital Crown and why does your Apple Watch have one?

Spin, push, or long push your way to features and settings.

Published onAugust 30, 2023

The iconic shape of Apple’s smartwatch line has always been relatively square with a protruding Digital Crown. Besides the Ultra’s Action Button, the Digital Crown is the most useful feature of the Apple Watch line for navigation. But just what is this spinning dial and how do you use it? Read on to find out.


A rotating dial you can spin or push, the Digital Crown can be used in several ways to navigate and activate Apple Watch features.


What is the Digital Crown
Five things you can do with the Digital Crown

What is the Digital Crown?

Aside from the device’s overall shape, the Digital Crown is the most noticeable feature of your Apple Watch. It’s the large protruding dial on the side of the device, right above the much less noticeable side button. It can be found on every generation, from the very first through to the current Series 8. We like it because it feels like an ode to winding up a traditional watch. However, its existence is not just for looks.

The Digital Crown is one of the most useful interaction options on your smartwatch as it can be spun, pressed, or long-pressed to accomplish different things. Push the Digital Crown to return to your watch face, spin it to zoom in or out on photos, or long-hold it to access Siri.

You may also be asked to use your Digital Crown to expel water from your device and to wake your device from sleep mode. It’s also the easiest way to snooze your Apple Watch alarm if you just need a few more Zs. To go beyond the basics, keep reading to find out more ways to use your Digital Crown.

Five things you can do with the Digital Crown

An Apple Watch Series 7 rests on a floral planner with Siri activated on screen.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Beyond the obvious, there are plenty of useful things you can do with your Digital Crown.

  • Open an app: With your app gallery open, zoom in by spinning your Digital Crown to open whichever app you have centered on the screen.
  • Reopen a previous app: Double-press the Digital Crown to return to the last app you were using.
  • Control volume: Whether you’re streaming Spotify or listening to a podcast, open Now Playing on your device and use the Digital Crown to raise or lower the volume. This works for music, podcasts, audiobooks, and anything else you are streaming or have saved on your device.
  • Skim content: You can spin the Digital Crown within most apps to scroll through content. Additionally, you can also use this same functionality to scroll through menus, including those of the watch itself.
  • Get a better look: In your navigation app, spin the Digital Crown to zoom in or out on your route or points of interest.


Yes. In addition to choosing which wrist you wear your watch on, you can also change your preferences for the Digital Crown. Open the Watch app on your iPhone and tap General. Tap Watch Orientation and choose either Digital Crown on Left Side or Digital Crown on Right Side.

If you do not like the ticking sound of spinning your Digital Crown you can turn it off.  Open the Settings app on your Apple Watch and scroll down to and tap Sound & Haptics. Scroll down to Crown Haptics and slide the toggle to the left.

To water lock your device, open your control panel and tap the waterdrop symbol. Then spin your Digital Crown to expel water and unlock your device.

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