A Quick Guide to Apple Watch Icons

Man wearing an Apple Watch

Ever wonder what some of the icons mean on your Apple Watch? Each of those tiny colored symbols has a meaning, but it may be difficult to keep track of them all. Stay on top of the alerts and indicators with our quick guide to Apple Watch icons.

Apple Watch Icons and Symbols Explained

The icons appear at the top of your Apple Watch face or in the Control Center. These handy symbols keep you up to date on different actions and happenings with your Apple Watch and in your life.

Apple Watch with a Mickey Mouse face and notification icon

Whether it’s easier to relate to them by color or icon, we’ve included both for you below.

  • Blue padlock: your Apple Watch is locked. Tap the screen, and enter your passcode to unlock it.
  • Red dot: an alert symbol that means you have notifications. Swipe down from the top of the screen to see your notifications.
Lock and notification icons on Apple Watch
  • Red lightning bolt: your battery is low. You should charge your Apple Watch to continue using it.
  • Green lightning bolt: your Apple Watch is charging, so you’ll see it when your Watch is on its charger.
  • Yellow icon (circle): lets you know that your Apple Watch is in Low Power mode. Open “Settings -> Battery” to turn Low Power mode off or on.
  • Red rectangle with line: your iPhone isn’t connected to your Apple Watch. If necessary, move your devices closer to each other or ensure Airplane Mode is disabled.
  • Green rectangle: your iPhone is connected to your Apple Watch. You may see this display at the top of the Control Center.
  • Orange airplane: your Apple Watch is in Airplane mode, which turns off wireless features while you’re in flight. Open the Control Center, and tap the “Airplane” icon to turn this mode off or on again.
Airplane and yellow circle icons on Apple Watch
  • Blue Wi-Fi icon: your Apple Watch is connected to a Wi-Fi network rather than your iPhone.
  • Green bars: if you have an Apple Watch GPS + Cellular model, you’ll see this symbol when you’re connected to a cellular network.
  • Red X: also for those with an Apple Watch GPS + Cellular model, you’ll see this icon when you lose the connection to your cellular network.
  • Green-blue bed: your Apple Watch is in Sleep Mode, which uses the schedule you set up on your iPhone to track your sleep patterns.
  • Purple moon: Do Not Disturb is enabled. You’ll hear alarms you’ve set when using this mode but won’t hear or see calls or alerts. If you use a specific Focus mode, you’ll see this icon as well.
  • Orange masks (two faces) icon: your Apple Watch is in Theater Mode. This mode also places your Watch on silent and keeps the screen dark until you tap the screen, press a button, or turn the Digital Crown. Open the Control Center, and tap the “Masks” icon to turn this mode on or off.
Moon and masks icons on Apple Watch
  • Aqua water drop: you have Water Lock enabled and cannot access the screen by tapping, which is handy during a swim. Press and hold the Digital Crown to turn off this mode.
  • Blue arrow: your Apple Watch recently used Location Services. This may display after using the Maps app for navigation or allowing another app to access your location.
  • Orange microphone: your Apple Watch is listening to you. You may be giving Siri a command or recording a voice memo.
  • Yellow radio: you have the Walkie-Talkie app turned on. Tap to send and receive messages, just as you would with a handheld walkie-talkie.
Microphone and water drop icons on Apple Watch

Good to know: use your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac if you have a passcode enabled.

Apple Watch Control Center Icons

While the icons in the Apple Watch Control Center will vary, depending on which items you add to it, the list below includes the indicators you may see. When a service or mode is active, you’ll see the icon highlighted or colored in. When a mode is turned off, the icon is gray. The Apple Watch on the left has no active toggles. The Apple Watch on the right has Theater Mode and Silent Mode enabled.

Control Center icons on and off on Apple Watch

If your Watch is connected to your iPhone (green rectangle), and you have an accessibility feature enabled (person in a circle), you’ll see both of these icons at the top of the screen. You can also tap them for details, as shown below.

Multiple icons at the top of the Control Center on Apple Watch
  • Padlock: tap this to lock your Apple Watch.
  • Cellular: use this icon on Apple Watch models with cellular to turn cellular on or off.
  • Wi-Fi: blue means you’re connected to your Wi-Fi network, and gray means you’re disconnected.
  • Airplane: Use this icon to turn Airplane mode on or off.
  • Percentage: shows your Apple Watch battery level. Tap the icon to see more details about your battery.
  • Shaking iPhone: use it to ping your iPhone from your Apple Watch. It plays a sound and displays a light on your iPhone, allowing you to find it easily.
  • Flashlight: use it to turn on your flashlight. You’ll see a bright white screen to help in dark environments.
  • Moon: tap it to choose a Focus mode or enter Do Not Disturb mode. You may see additional icons for specific Focus modes you set up, such as a Personal or Work Focus.
  • Masks: use it to turn Theater Mode on or off.
  • Audio: tap it to choose your audio output, such as Bluetooth headphones or a speaker.
  • Ear: use it to check your Bluetooth headphones volume.
  • Water drop: tap it to turn the Water Lock on or off. Keep in mind that the Apple Watch isn’t waterproof.
  • Bell: use it to turn Silent mode on or off.
  • Bell with bars: tap to turn Announce Notifications for your AirPods on or off. When enabled, Siri announces incoming notifications, even with your iPhone locked.
  • Radio: use it to turn the Walkie-Talkie app on or off.
  • Raised hand: tap to turn Schooltime mode on or off on supported Apple Watch models. This mode helps you focus with a specific Watch face and limited usage during a set schedule.
  • Letters: use it to change the text size on your Apple Watch screen.
  • Person in a circle: tap to turn Accessibility Shortcuts on or off, such as reducing motion.
Icons in the Control Center on Apple Watch

Tip: venturing out into the unknown? Be sure to activate the Backtrack feature on your Apple Watch to find your way back, even if you are off the grid.

Glance and Go

The icons you see on your Apple Watch are convenient indicators that let you know what’s going on at a glance. Whether you receive a new notification, have Do Not Disturb turned on, or need to charge your Watch, you can see what you need quickly with an icon. For other basics, discover our beginner’s guide to navigating your Apple Watch.

Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Sandy Writtenhouse.

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Sandy Writtenhouse
Sandy Writtenhouse - Staff Writer

With her BS in Information Technology, Sandy worked for many years in the IT industry as a Project Manager, Department Manager, and PMO Lead. She wanted to help others learn how technology can enrich business and personal lives and has shared her suggestions and how-tos across thousands of articles.