back to

How to Change Watch Faces Automatically with Focus

13th October 2021

Jacob Woolcock


Focus Modes on iOS 15 are really powerful ways of controlling your device like never before. Using these options you can configure your Apple Watch to change its Watch Face when you arrive at work, leave the gym or turn on any of your custom Focus Modes. No more manually switching between Watch Faces for home and work – let Focus Shortcuts on iOS 15 take control of it all automatically for you. Here’s a quick guide to how it works…

Play Video

When you combine Focus Modes on iOS 15 with the Shortcuts app, there are some truly incredible things that you can make happen. For example, in this #QuickTips video, I’m going to teach you how you can automatically change your Watch Face when your Focus Modes go on and off. Here’s how it works. We’re going to do this entirely on the iPhone, but obviously, you’re going to wear the Apple Watch at the same time so it’s connected. So, in the Watch App on the iPhone at the top, there you can see my Watch Faces, and when I go on there and scroll around, I’ve currently got 18 different Watch Faces.

However, I want to start using some of these Watch Faces at home and at work. As you can see on my Watch onscreen there at the moment, I’ve got a lovely Portrait Watch Face featuring my cat Mr Tibbs. But really, when I go to work, I want to use the Infograph watch face to have my Calendar appointments, my To-Do list, and more. Also, at the Gym, it would be great to have my Activity Rings and the Workout app front-and-center. So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to use the Shortcuts app to customize what our Watch does and when it does it.

Now, as soon as we open the Shortcuts App, at the bottom, we have a tab bar. We’re going to tap onto the Automation tab. From here, you may see I’ve already got a couple of different automations that are triggered when my Focus Mode changes – for example, when I arrive home, I can then have my Home Focus Wallpaper changing. We’re going to create a new Automation for this first one, although you could add this step into your existing Automations, and I’ll show you that in a second. Okay, let’s press the Plus button in the top corner, and we’re going to create a new Personal Automation. From here, we’re going to scroll down the list of triggers until we get to our Focus Modes, and I’m going to choose when Work Focus is turned on. So tap onto Work Focus, and then you can choose when turned on. That means that our Watch Face will change when we arrive at Work, and our Work Focus is activated. Press Next in the top corner, and now we get to the screen where we can start adding our actions.

But before we add the actions of the Shortcut, I just want to really quickly ask you that perhaps if you’re enjoying this video and you’re perhaps finding it interesting, please do consider Subscribing down below. That will really help me grow my Channel and share my videos with more people, and it will help you get all of my latest iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch #QuickTips videos as and when they’re released each week. Okay, enough of that, let’s add the action! The action we want is simply called Set Watch Face. I’m going to search for the word “Watch,” and, there you go, it’s popped up straight away. When I tap on that, it will add my action to my Shortcut, and then if I tap on the word ‘Face,’ I can choose which of my Watch Faces I showed you earlier should be changed. At this point, I’m going to go for my Infograph Modular because that’s the one I’ve configured for Work, and when I’ve chosen that Watch Face, I can then press Next in the top corner. That’s right, there’s only one action in this Shortcut! That’s all we need. Now on this next screen, we have a prompt to Ask Before Running. We’re going to turn that off; we want this to happen silently in the background without push notifications. Then we’re going to press Done, and on your list of Automations, you should now have a brand new Automation for when the Work Focus is turned on.

Now, the more eagle-eyed amongst you will notice I’ve already got a Shortcut for when work is turned on, so I’ve actually got two Shortcuts that will run at the same time. Whilst you can do this, it’s a little bit untidy, and over time it could get a bit confusing, so what I’m going to do is I’m going to tap onto one of my existing Shortcuts for Personal and Gym and add the Watch Face action to that existing Shortcut – just like this. The only complicating factor here is when we add that Set Watch Face action, it’s going to try and inherit a variable from earlier on in the Shortcut. In this case, the Photos variable I used for my wallpaper. Now, I don’t want that as a Watch Face – in fact, it isn’t a Watch Face. So, if I tap on the word Photos, I can then press ‘Clear Variable’. Now, I’ve got my Shortcut action back again, and I can tap on Face and choose the Watch Face I want for the Gym

. I can press the Back button in the top left corner to update my action, and then press Done. And that’s my new automation updated.

Finally, I’ll go on to my Personal Focus, and I want to make sure my lovely picture of Mr Tibbs comes back whenever I’m on my Personal Focus mode. Again, we’re going to press Add Action and we’re going to choose Set Watch Face. From here, though, you’re going to take off that variable of Photos by tapping on it and pressing Clear Variable. Then you can tap on Face and choose the Watch Face you want. Lastly, we’ll press the Back button in the top corner and then press Done to update that Automation. And now on my Automation Screen, I’ve got the four that I’ve set up – two for Work, one for Gym, and one for Personal. All of which will now change my Watch Faces.

So, time to jump into Control Center and see if it works. I’m going to tap onto Focus Modes, and I’m going to choose my Work Focus first of all. Of course, if you’re doing this on a location basis or by time of day, it’ll happen automatically (you haven’t got to go into Control Center each time). So, I’m going to tap onto Work, and just like that, my Watch Face has changed. I’ve now got my Calendar, my To-Do list – everything that I need. Let’s go on to the Gym Focus, and again almost immediately, my Apple Watch has changed to my Gym Focus. You can see the little Focus icon at the top of each Watch Face. And of course, if I go back to Personal, we get the lovely Mr Tibbs coming back again. There are tons of things that you can do with Focus Modes – from custom icons and wallpapers to custom home screens on your devices, and now custom watch faces as well! Make sure you Subscribe to my channel down below; there are loads more #QuickTips for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch just waiting for you there. See you next time.

Leave a Reply

All of my content is completely free to watch. However, to create these videos I require a steady stream of caffeine!

If you've found this #QuickTip helpful then please do consider buying me a coffee. Thank you.

Copyright © 2019-2024 Jacob Woolcock. All Rights Reserved.