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Apple Watch Not Tracking Steps? Try These 10 Fixes


From checking your blood oxygen levels while you sleep to monitoring your heart rate as you exercise, an Apple Watch can do a lot to help you improve the quality of your help. But if the smartwatch isn’t tracking steps, it’s important to troubleshoot and fix the error.

Generally, your Apple Watch is not counting steps because of loose contact, clogged debris, software glitches, wrong settings, cached data, conflicts with third-party apps, or inability to link to iPhone. Also, you may have forgotten to activate the option to track steps.

I understand that Apple tries to make its smartwatches the best devices in the wearable space.

In fact, the integration of health tracking features makes every Apple Watch, from Series to the latest Ultra, more than just a timepiece.

But even the best Apple Watch will experience glitches and fail to perform operations such as tracking and logging steps.

In this guide, I go into details on why your Apple Watch may not be counting your steps, as well as what you can do to fix each problem.

Why is My Apple Watch Not Tracking Steps?

The following table summarizes the reasons why your Apple Watch isn’t tracking your steps, as well as a quick fix to each error:

 Problem  Suggested Fix
1.There’s no contact between Apple Watch sensors and your skin.Wear your Apple Watch to a snug to make a good contact with your skin.
2.Your Apple Watch is dirty.Clean your Apple Watch to remove dirt and debris, and then try again.
3.There’s a software glitch on your Apple Watch.  Update your Apple Watch and iPhone to the latest version of watchOS and iOS respectively.
4.The step-tracking option on Apple Watch is off.Activate this option to get your Apple Watch to resume counting steps.
5.Apple Watch tracks steps but the count is inaccurate.Turn on the GPS location service to enable accurate tracking of your steps.
6.You have wrong settings selected on your iPhone.You should activate the activity settings option on your iPhone.
7.Your Apple Watch is not communicating with your iPhone.Make sure your iPhone and Apple Watch are in synchronization mode. Unpair and re-pair the two if you have to.
8.Your Apple Watch is locked and therefore unable to count steps.Set the watch to unlock whenever you unlock your iPhone.
9.Third-party apps could be conflicting with your Apple Watch’s performance.Close third-party apps that you don’t need. Delete the apps that you don’t use or no longer need.
10.Default calibration overestimating or ignoring steps.Reset the existing data and recalibrate your Apple Watch.

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10 Fixes for Apple Watch Not Tracking Steps

Just because your Apple Watch isn’t counting steps doesn’t mean it has lost its premium value.

In my experience, it’s common for a smartwatch to fail every occasionally, and an Apple Watch isn’t an exception.

So here is a detailed explanation of what to do if your Apple Watch is not tracking steps or counting them accurately:

1. Wear Your Apple Watch to a Snug

Your Apple Watch is likely not tracking steps because you’ve worn it loosely.

More often than not, the lack of contact between your skin and the sensors make it difficult for the watch to listen to your movement. The result is Apple Watch counting steps inaccurately or not racking them at all.

To fix this:

Tighten the straps around your wrist to ensure safe contact between the watch and your skin. Doing so will ensure a stable contact between the built-in sensors and your skin.

As for Apple Watch fitting, you need to make sure the contact isn’t too tight. The last thing you want is to damage your skin. 

2. Clean the Apple Watch to Remove Clogs and Debris

If you’re wearing your Apple Watch every day without bothering to clean it, you’re doing it wrong.

As you use the watch in constant changing environments, dirt will more than likely collect around and clog the sensors.

Clogged dirt and debris prevents data transmission as you engage in your workouts.

The solution here is to clean your Apple Watch to remove dirt from its surfaces and opening.

By doing regular cleaning, there’ll be minimal dust collecting on the Apple Watch, hence no missing steps when working out. 

If you rely on your Apple Watch for daily workout tracking or regular training, dirt is going to be inevitable. So it’s best if you develop a habit of cleaning your Apple Watch regularly.

3. Update Your Apple Watch to Fix Software Glitches

If your Apple Watch is counting steps inaccurately or not tracking steps at all, it could be because of a software problem. 

First, you may be dealing with an obsolete version of watchOS. If this the case, you should update the watchOS to the latest version of the software.

Doing so ensures your Apple Watch runs on the most recent and effective version of the operating systems. After the update, counting your steps should not be a problem at all.

Second, cache and extended period of use without restarting the Apple Watch can cause software glitches, making it impossible for the smartwatch to account for the steps you take.

In this case, restarting your Apple Watch and iPhone is the best option, as it can fix minor system errors and get the smartwatch to do its job more effectively again.

To restart your iPhone:

  • Press and hold down the volume and the side button until you see the power-off slider.
  • Drag the slider and wait for the phone to turn off.
  • Wait for at least a minute.
  •  Press and hold the side button on the right until the Apple logo appears on the screen.

To restart the Apple Watch:

  • Press and hold down the side button until the Power Off slider appears.
  • Drag the slider to turn off the watch.
  • Press and hold down the same button again for a second time until you see the Apple logo on the screen.

The final step is to connect your Apple Watch to the iPhone to start tracking your steps and logging the data again.

4. Enable Step Tracking on Your Apple Watch

Your Apple Watch is probably ignoring your steps because you haven’t enabled the step-tracking option in the first place.

You can fix this by turning on wrist detection.

Keep in mind that if the Apple Watch uses a passcode, the wrist detection locks the watch automatically when it isn’t on your wrist.

Therefore, toggle the “Wrist Detection” option to initiate the steps tracking functions whenever you wear the smartwatch.

5. Activate Apple Watch’s GPS to Count Steps Accurately

If your Apple Watch tracks some steps and misses some movements, it could be that the watch isn’t able to use the location service to measure distances and get accurate data.

You may have to deactivate and reactivate the location service to get accurate stats based on the geographical locations you cover.

To do this:

  • Go to “settings” on your iPhone
  • Choose Privacy
  • Go to Location Services
  • Enable Sharing

6. Choose the Right Settings on Your iPhone

It’s possible that your Apple Watch won’t track your steps because of wrong settings on your iPhone.

If this is the case, you will need to turn on the Motion Calibration and Distance features.

To do this:

  • Go to the General icon your iPhone
  • Select System Services
  • Tap the Toggle icon to activate Motion Calibration and Distance

7. Ensure Your Apple Watch Communicates With Your iPhone

You could be getting the wrong data because your Apple Watch is not communicating with your iPhone or other devices.

Here, your smartwatch is records the actual steps that you take but fails to transmit that data to the iPhone app, thus making it look as if the watch isn’t doing its job.

Fortunately, this issue is easy to fix.

All you have to do is un-pair your Apple Watch from the iPhone and reconnect them again.

Doing so should not only set the two devices in synchronization but also ensure the data collected by the watch reflects on the smartphone.

8. Unlock Your Apple Watch to Track Steps

Your Apple Watch can fail to recognize steps if you have it is in the unlocked state.

An unlocked Apple Watch usually prevents some applications from functioning, and that includes a deactivated step tracker.

To fix this, set your Apple Watch to unlock whenever you unlock your iPhone.

That way, you’ll have every step you take recorded.

Besides, you will get significantly positive results if you unlock your Apple Watch before starting daily activities.

9. Disable Third-party Apps Causing Performance Conflicts

Your Apple Watch is failing to record steps because of third-party apps conflicting in the background.

Some of these apps tend to affect the overall effectiveness of the sensor and health tracking system. Even worse, some competing apps slow the Apple Watch software and affect its overall tracking ability.

To fix this, identify all conflicting apps and close them.

Examples of such apps include sleep trackers and heart rate monitors that cause miscommunication, which in turn hinders the smartwatch from accounting for the steps you take. 

10. Recalibrate Your Apple Watch

If your Apple Watch misses some steps, not counting steps at all, or over estimates them, it’s likely that the default calibration is wrong.

You should recalibrate the watch to fix this problem to improve the detection and accuracy of the physical steps.

Recalibrating your Apple Watch is easy.

Simply reset your profile details and set your Apple Watch to active as you participate in a quick workout that records steps while utilizing GPS location data. 

Final Thoughts

I understanding how frustrating it can be if the Apple Watch you have fails to count your steps.

But sometimes the issue causing the failure is so simple that you can solve it within just a couple of minutes.

Notably, step tracking is a crucial feature in all Apple Watch series. And you will get positive results after applying the solutions I’ve discussed in this guide.

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Michael Jonathan

Michael Jonathan is the brainchild of Apelo Studio. He loves talking about wearable devices, and he is passionate about helping you push your wearable device to its limits. His creativity and ability to tear electric components apart and put them back together makes him an incredible troubleshooter and blogger.

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