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Apple Watch Touchscreen Not Working? (Try These 6 Fixes)


One of the most common problems with any Apple Watch is the screen not responding to touch. In my experience, a smartwatch that doesn’t respond to swipes and taps is as good as dead. But why is Apple Watch touchscreen not working in the first place?

Generally, Apple Watch touchscreen won’t work because the screen is dirty or the device froze. A screen protector can keep the screen beneath from responding touches. Also, it’s likely that you touched the screen with dirty hands or the screen is faulty, making it hard for the display to respond.

Fortunately, a faulty display for the Apple Watch doesn’t mean your smartwatch’s display is completely dead.

In this guide, you’ll learn why your Apple Watch screen doesn’t respond to touch and what you can do to fix every possible cause. 

Let’s get started. 

7 Reasons Why Your Apple Watch Touchscreen is Not Working, Plus Fixes

It’s not as easy to navigate an Apple Watch whose touchscreen won’t respond.

So if you notice that your model’s screen has lost its sensitivity to taps and swipes, it could be because of any of the following reasons.

 Problem Possible Solution
1.The watch is completely frozen.Force restart your Apple watch to unfreeze it.
2.You’re touching the screen with dirty fingers.Clean and dry your hands before touching the screen. Also, remove gloves if you have any.
3.The watch’s display is dirtyUse a soft, clean piece of cloth to clean the Apple Watch screen.
4.You added a screen protector to the watchRemove the current screen protector and replace it with a new one.
5.The Apple Watch’s screen is faulty.You may have to replace the Apple Watch screen if you’ve accidentally dropped the watch multiple times.
6.You have the Apple Watch locked.Turn the digital crown to unlock and eject water from the watch.
7.You’re using gloves to navigate the Apple Watch screen.Remove a glove and tap the screen with your bare fingers, or get touchscreen gloves if the gloves are a must-have.

In my experience, fixing an Apple Watch screen that won’t work is easy, and it can take no more than 5 minutes to get the device working optimally again.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Update WatchOS to Unfreeze Your Apple Watch

It’s very rare for an Apple Watch to freeze. If it happens, though, the touchscreen won’t respond, and in a worst-case scenario, the watch may not operate at all.

Apple Watches tend to freeze because of software compatibility issues.

If your model is running on an obsolete WatchOS version, it’s going to freeze from time to time, making it difficult for the screen to be fully responsive.

To fix this problem, you need to connect to your Apple Watch to Wi-Fi and upgrade to the latest version of WatchOS.

To do this: 

  • Open the Apple Watch App.
  • Go to My Watch
  • Tap General
  • Go to Software Update

Check whether there is an update available for your Apple Watch. If there is, tap the “Download and Install” button.

You can also update the WatchOS software directly from your wrist.

  • Open Settings
  • Select General
  • Choose Software Update 

If you’re sure your Apple Watch is running on the latest version of WatchOS, you can do a force restart to fix the unresponsive screen.

To force a reset:

  • Press and hold the Digital Crown and side button at the same time.
  • Wait until Apple’s logo appear on the screen.

2. Replace the Apple Watch Screen If Damaged

Apple Watch screens are made of Ion-X sport and sapphire glasses.

From a hardware standpoint, these glasses are so tough that they can stand up to scratches and accidental falls.

Unfortunately, shock and scratch resistant doesn’t mean full proof protection.

So if you’ve accidentally dropped your Apple Watch on multiple counts, there’s a high chance it developed cracks that make it difficult for the screen underneath to respond to swipes and taps.

The best solution in a case like this is to replace the Apple Watch screen.

You can either send the watch to Apple for replacement if you have an AppleCare cover, take it to a third-party service provider near you, or service it yourself if you’re good with gadget repair.

3. Refrain from Touching the Screen with Dirty Fingers

There’s no point trying to tap or swipe the Apple Watch screen with dirty fingers and expect it to respond.

It won’t, because dirt obscures the contact between your finger and the display, making it difficult for the screen to recognize your touches.

Clean and dry your hands with a soft piece of cloth and try again. 

4. Clean the Apple Watch Screen

The reason for the Apple Watch display not responding can be as simple as a dirty screen.

Think about it like this:

You’re going to bring your Apple Watch to different environments.

Some will be serene and free from dirt. Some will be the exact opposite, filled with smokes of wind and dust flying all over and likely sticking on your Apple Watch.

And if you’re unlucky, your hands will get dirty, too.

Add the dust from your hand onto what’s already on the watch’s display and what you end up with is a display that won’t work. 

The thing about dirt and dust is that they bar contact between your fingers and the Apple Watch screen.

So use a soft or non-abrasive piece of cloth to wipe the dirt from the screen. Tap the screen to awaken the watch and see how fast it responds.

5. Change the Screen Protector

I need you to understand two things about Apple Watch screen protectors:

  • Apple doesn’t necessarily recommend using screen protectors because its watches feature strong glass that are scratch and impact resistant.
  • Using a screen protector introduces an additional protective layer, so you never have to worry about the screen of your watch cracking.

Unfortunately, a screen protector can prevent your Apple Watch touchscreen from working if it doesn’t fit.

Or, you may have applied the protector without wiping or cleaning the display.

You have two options here. You can:

  • Remove the screen protector and never use it again.
  • Find a replacement that will fit onto your Apple Watch’s display.

6. Disable the Water Lock Function

If your Apple Watch touchscreen is still not working after swimming, there’s a high chance the Water Lockfeature is active.

Here’s the deal.

An Apple Watch is swim-friendly.

To prevent it from accidental taps and swipes under water, Water Lock activates automatically and freezes the screen.

So if you were on a swimming spree with the smartwatch but noticed that its screen doesn’t respond thereafter, simply disable Water Lock and the watch will work.

To deactivate Water Lock:

  • Rotate the Digital Crown to eject water 
  • Wipe the watch until it’s dry
  • Tap the screen and see what happens.

7. Take Off Your Glove (If You’re Wearing Any)

I understand that the cold season demands that you keep warm. And one of the ways to do that is to dress properly before going outdoors.

To keep your finger safe and maintain your dexterity, you have to wear warm gloves for protection.

Unfortunately, Apple Watch and your protective gloves won’t work together. So if you’re touching the screen with the gloves on, don’t expect the watch to respond to your taps and swipes.

You can fix this by simply taking the glove off to navigate the Apple Watch screen with ease.

And if you must wear gloves for any reason whatsoever, it would be more helpful if you invested in touchscreen models. 

Final Thoughts

I understand that it’s frustrating to have an Apple Watch whose touchscreen won’t respond to touches.

But a failed display doesn’t mean you have a useless smartwatch.

And as you have seen, sometimes the Apple Watch screen fail because of issues you can solve in under 5 minutes.

So I hope this guide helps you troubleshoot and get the Apple Watch touchscreen working more efficiently again.

Photo of author

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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