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Love or hate Apple, their Apple Watch line is credited with hundreds of saved lives. The medical value of an Apple Watch is unprecedented and Apple is leading the way in advancements in the smartwatch field, especially where health is concerned.

Of course, if you buy an Apple Watch based on its health capabilities, the last thing you want is a malfunctioning notification. If your Apple Watch vibrates and you can’t see the notification, how are you supposed to know if there’s an emergency?

It sounds like a macabre way to approach the uniqueness of the Apple Watch but it’s very true. The notifications need to work and a vibration with no notification is a no deal, regardless of the manufacturer and reputation. It’s something you want to fix immediately.

Depositphotos_416009186_S man checking his smartwatch outdoors. Blurred background

Apple Watch Vibrating But Not Showing Notifications (5 Potential Fixes)

1. Start with a Restart

It could be that the watch is experiencing some sort of glitch and is vibrating even without any notifications coming through. The problem is, how do you know for sure?

Fortunately, one of the most foolproof and effective methods of getting the Apple Watch back on track is a simple reset.

An old-fashioned reset has been the go-to answer since the days of Egyptian sundials. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. It’s tried and true.

  1. Press and hold the side button
  2. When the slider appears, slide it to the right
  3. The Watch will power off from here
  4. Give it about two minutes or so and don’t place it on a charger
  5. Hold the side button again until you see the Apple logo
  6. Once the watch is back up and running, get someone to send you a message to test it out

The random vibrations should stop, assuming that’s what you’re dealing with. If you were just getting real notifications that only presented themselves as vibration without showing you anything, you can test that out with a second person sending you a text.

2. Make Sure You’re Wearing the Apple Watch Correctly

Much of the Apple Watch’s functionality is entirely dependent on the fact that it can detect your arm and gather information about your health details, such as pulse, oxygen-blood saturation, etc.

If you’re wearing the Apple Watch loosely or too tight, it may be vibrating because it’s detecting things that aren’t happening—things exacerbated by the fact that you’re wearing the watch incorrectly.

You want to tighten the band enough that the watch can’t revolve around your wrist. At the same time, you don’t want it so tight that it leaves impressions on your skin or outright cuts off circulation to your hand.

3. Silent Mode

Keep in mind that Silent Mode is not the same thing as Do Not Disturb Mode. Silent Mode on an Apple Watch simply turns off the noise.

It does not turn off the haptics, which includes vibration. While this shouldn’t conceal messages, it could be that it’s glitchy, so Silent Mode isn’t functioning as it should.

In a perfect world, Silent Mode means your Apple Watch vibrates and you can read the incoming notifications. To start things off, simply turn off Silent Mode.

  1. Open the Settings App
  2. Scroll down on the watch face and select Sound & Haptics
  3. Toggle off Silent Mode
  4. Adjust the slider to turn the volume up or down
  5. Or, tap the slider and use the crown button on the side to adjust the volume up or down

All you need to do is make sure the volume is up and Silent Mode is off. Then you can test it out by getting someone to send you a text, email, etc. If it’s still acting glitchy, go ahead and reset the Apple Watch and double-check your Silent Mode setting when it cycles back up.

Depositphotos_367771624_S Pink and blue flat lay home office with modern gadgets such as smartphone, smartwatch, earphones, notepad, pen. Pink and blue colors.

4. Connected Accessories

Of course, the primary accessory that people typically have on their Apple Watches are their iPhones.

But other accessories may be causing the problem because they are receiving notifications and it’s not transferring to your Apple Watch the right way.

There’s a really easy way to check this. You can either turn off Bluetooth functionality on your Apple Watch or put it in Airplane Mode, which accomplishes the same thing.

  1. Press the Digital Crown on the side of the Apple Watch
  2. On the App screen, tap the Settings icon
  3. Select Bluetooth and disable it by toggling it off
  4. Or, select Airplane Mode and toggle it on

Either way, this will drop Bluetooth on your Apple Watch, disabling Bluetooth communications between the Watch and any connected devices.

Now, get a friend to send you a text message to see if you’re getting notifications with the vibration.

If turning off Bluetooth solves the problem, now you have to work your way through each connected device to see which one is causing the problem.

5. Reset to Factory Settings

In a worst-case scenario, you will need to reset your Apple Watch to factory settings. No one wants to have to do this but, if you have iCloud, you can at least back up the Apple Watch and reload all of your stuff once it restarts.

  1. Unpair the Apple Watch from your iPhone or iOS device
  2. Press the Digital Crown on the side
  3. Open the Apps Menu
  4. Open Settings
  5. Select General
  6. Select Reset
  7. Select Erase All Content and Settings
  8. Enter your passcode
  9. If you have cellular on your Apple Watch, select Erase All and Keep Plan

Once the Apple Watch is back up, pair it to your iPhone or iOS device. Go to your iCloud account on a PC or Mac.

  1. Select your Apple Watch
  2. Restore from Backup
  3. Select the backup if you have multiple ones
  4. Agree to the Terms and Conditions
  5. Select Next
  6. Enter your 2FA and Verify
  7. Create a passcode for your Apple Watch
  8. Follow the remaining instructions

If you find that you have pairing issues, check out our article here on how to solve them.

Final Thoughts 

Apple Watches are enormously helpful, secondary/companion devices and the last thing you need is a lack of notifications. This is especially true if you don’t even know if you’re legitimately getting notifications.

Hopefully, the methods above will get your Apple Watch back in shape. If not, you can always contact Apple Customer Support, especially if you have the Apple Care plan. If it’s under warranty and Apple can’t fix it, you can file a claim to get it replaced.