Apple Watch: Create your own default replies for Messages

Apple includes a range of canned replies you can quickly use to respond to Messages, but you can replace them

Apple, iOS, iPhone, Apple Watch, How to
Sebastiaan ter Burg (Creative Commons BY or BY-SA)

7 a.m.

…and you’re in the weekly team meeting. Today’s topic is ‘Boosting collaboration through digital business processes – the challenge of staff engagement.’

You’re about to explain why senior staff must lead teams by using these processes themselves, rather than yelling at everybody else. And an urgent personal Message comes in on your iPhone/Apple Watch. What will you do? Will you….

  • Apologise swiftly and attend to the message?
  • Walk out the meeting room and call the person?
  • Call the meeting to a halt while you attend to your personal business?
  • Speak into your wrist and try to dictate a response while blushingly attempting not to be overheard?
  • Pretend to drop your pen and surreptitiously tap out a poorly spelled email under the conference table?
  • Or use the built-in ‘Reply’ response messages Apple provides on your Apple Watch?


If the latter, prepare for a little disappointment, because the responses Apple provides are a little generic, and some may seem brusque to the point of rudeness. You access these by tapping the Reply button on your Watch and scrolling through the available answers.

Apple’s default messages are:

  • What’s up?
  • I’m on my way.
  • OK
  • Sorry, I can’t talk right now.
  • Can I call you later?
  • Thanks

You can change these to more appropriate messages if you wish, but you are limited to just six responses in total and each one must replace one of Apple’s default messages.

apple watch create your own default replies for messages1 Jonny Evans


To change the available responses you must open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone. Once in the app choose My Watch>Messages>Default Replies.

There you will see the various Apple default replies. To change any of these to your own custom response just tap the entry in the list and type your own.

I changed the ‘What’s up?' statement since if I’m using a canned response because I’m too busy to chat, I probably don’t want that question answered immediately. What if the person I’m talking to tells me something deeply traumatic that deserves an immediate and insightful response packed with depth and nuance. I already know I don’t have the time to deal with it, so I'm not going to ask.

Once you have created your own (set of) personalized responses you’ll be able to select them using the Reply button. You can easily change them to something else using the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.

If you are expecting to receive serious communication you can use this tip to pre-create appropriate responses in advance. That way you can give a considered response quickly without interrupting the meeting.

apple watch create your own default replies for messages2 AppleHolic


You can also send an Emojii, or tap the microphone icon to swifty dictate a message. When you are in position to speak, Dictation works quite well when sending short messages; it will attempt to transcribe your message, and also allow you to send your message as audio.

The Dictate feature also understands punctuation, so you can say, “Thanks for the message full stop What’s the next step question mark" and it will write, ”Thanks for the message. What’s the next step?” (You can also use Dictation to search for places in Maps: Maps>press the map firmly>tap search>tap dictation> say what you seek, tap Done and hope for the best!)

I hope this helps you get more from the default responses using Apple Watch.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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