How to create a custom watch face for Apple Watch

It’s easy to use any image if you want to create your own customized watch face for Apple Watch:

Apple, Apple watch, iOS 9, WatchOS 2.0.1

Get started

First you must sync the image to the Apple Watch (and ensure you are running WatchOS 2.0.1 or later). It’s a good idea to create an album containing the images you want to use on your iPhone. In this case I’ve taken an image from Flickr, imported it into Photos on my Mac, and synced it to my iPhone first, but you can use any image you have on your iPhone.

Create an Apple Watch album in Photos on iPhone and pop any images you hope to use inside.

Set the scene

Once you’ve assembled the image(s) you hope to use you must open the Watch app on the paired iPhone, open "My Watch" settings and choose “Photos”. (You’ll find Photos lower down the page, in among the apps).

In Photos you must tap the “Synced Album” option in Photo Syncing and then select the photo album containing the image(s) you hope to use. The image(s) will immediately begin syncing over to the Apple Watch from your iPhone.

Wait a few moments – sync takes place over Bluetooth and takes time, depending on the size of the image you hope to use.

Create Watch Face

When you open Photos on your Apple Watch the image(s) you just synced will be available there.

Tip: To grab a screenshot on your Apple Watch, just press and hold the side button on Apple Watch then immediately press and release the Digital Crown to grab a screenshot on your Apple Watch. Be careful to do this relatively smoothly, before the “Power Off” etc dialog pops up.

Also read: 11 Apple Watch talents you’ve probably never used

There are two ways to set an image as your watch face once it is on Apple Watch. The first way is from the default timekeeping screen where you should press firmly (Force Touch) until a series of watch face options appear. Swipe left or right to browse the available options, in this case you’ll choose “Photo” and select the image you wish to use.

Alternatively you can open Photos on Apple Watch and Force Touch the image there to access the “Create Watch Face” command.


Your Apple Watch will now use your chosen image as its watch face.

As you can see, in this example I used a Flickr image of Motörhead singer, Lemmy Kilmister, in tiny tribute to the iconic rock ‘n’ roller whose music is forever part of my life. You can use any image you choose.


I would like Apple to make more Customize and complications options available to Apple Watch users choosing to create their own watch face. I don’t understand why weather, world time, calendar or information from third party apps is available to other faces but not to Photos.

I can’t really dream up a technical reason for this omission and hope to see it rectified in a future update – after all, if the company is able to figure out how to make it possible to make a lost iPhone light up when it is lost with an Apple Watch command, it can figure out how to offer users a full palette of watch face tools. After all, it’s your watch and the watchface should be your choice.

(One more thing, it would also be good if Apple could enable developers to build watchface creation and sharing tools, which I think many of us would like to use).

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Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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