The Apple Watch has come a long way in just a few years. One of the biggest early changes to its control system was the introduction (as part of watchOS 3) of the dock: a handy menu of your favourite and most frequently used apps that could be accessed via the side button.

The dock is great (and, needless to say, far more useful than the contact list that the side button used to trigger), but you may be wondering how to change the apps that appear there. In this article we explain. 

For more general advice, see How to use an Apple Watch. And for money-saving tips, read our roundup of the Best Apple Watch deals.

How to change apps in the Apple Watch dock: Which apps are shown?

What apps appear in the dock?

Either your most recently used apps, or your favourites (a list of apps that you select and can change at any time). Note that if you go for the favourites option, the single most recently used app will also appear at the top, as a sort of handy bonus.

How to change apps in the dock

As with many watchOS features, the easiest way to change the dock list - certainly to add apps, or make lots of changes - is to do it on your phone, not your watch.

Open the Watch app on the paired iPhone. From the My Watch tab, tap Dock.

Here you can select either Recents or Favourites. If you want to control which apps appear, select Favourites, and you'll see two lists below: the apps that are included, and the apps that are excluded. You can include up to 10.

How to change apps in the Apple Watch dock: iPhone Watch app

Tap Edit at the top right, then tap the red minus sign next to an app to take it out of the dock, or the green plus sign to add it. To change the order of apps in the dock, tap and hold the triple-line icon next to an app and drag it into the new position.

Hit Done when you're finished.

Changing apps from the watch itself

It's fairly easy to remove apps from the dock without using your phone. Open the dock, then swipe left across one of the apps. A big red X will appear. Tap this to get rid of the app.

How to change apps in the Apple Watch dock: Remove apps

Finally, there is one way to add apps to the dock from the watch itself, but it's quite obscure.

Assuming you've got it set to show favourites, you'll remember that a bonus app is added at the top - the app you've used most recently. Scroll up so you're on that app in the dock list, and wait for a second or two. After a moment the thumbnail will expand to fill most of the screen, and you'll see a new button at the bottom that lets you add this app to the dock permanently. (Well, until you take it out again.)

How to change apps in the Apple Watch dock: Keep in Dock

So if you desperately want to add an app to your watch's dock, and you can't reach your phone, here's what to do:

  1. Use the app, so it's now your most recently used app.
  2. Open the dock.
  3. Scroll to the top, and wait for a moment.
  4. Tap 'Keep in Dock'.