Apple Watch can track plenty of health, wellness, and fitness stats, from your 24/7 heart rate to workouts and activities, sleep duration and quality, calories burned, and more. One of the most basic stats people love to see is daily steps. The CDC recommends that a healthy person take at least 10,000 steps per day. Apple’s strategy, however, is with its Rings, which focus on Move, Exercise, and Stand minutes, diverting from basic step counting.
Your great Apple Watch does indeed track daily steps, factoring the data into the core metrics for the rings. You can also refer to the Apple Health app to see detailed trends about your step activity. But to see an ongoing step count on the Apple Watch home screen face, you’ll need to follow a few steps and use some complications.
How to see your daily steps on the Apple Watch face
The Apple Watch doesn’t show your step count by default. You need to find a watch face that shows lots of data and offers support for third-party complications.
- Go to the Watch app on your iPhone.
- Select the Face Gallery tab.
- Search among the Activity, GMT, Infographics, Modular, or Modular Compact options since these include the most complications, and choose the one you like. For the purposes of this guide, I’m using one I found under Modular.
- Select Add to download the new watch face to your list.
- The watch face will automatically move to your library.
- Go back to the My Watch tab.
- Select the watch face and scroll down to Set as current Watch Face.
- Before doing so, you can also make adjustments to the color and background. There are options to change complications as well, but we’ll get back to those later.
- Now, it’s time to download a pedometer app. For the purposes of this review, I’ve selected StepsApp.
- Go to the App Store on your iPhone and search for your chosen pedometer app.
- Tap Get to download and verify with your Apple ID or Face ID.
- Once downloaded, go to your Apple Watch and long-press on the face (which should show the new face you just selected), and tap Edit.
- Swipe to the left until you get to the Complications screen.
- Choose the spot where you want the steps to appear and select.
- Scroll through the available options (you might have to first tap the back arrow at the top left) and select the app you downloaded.
- It may take a moment for the data to populate, but it will show up.
- Alternatively, you can add the complication right from the Watch app. Go to the Watch app.
- Tap the new watch face you just added under the My Watch panel.
- Scroll down to Complications and select how you want the step counter to appear.
- Select the step counter from the app you just added.
If you don’t want to download a third-party app, you can simply find the step counts in the Activity app on the Apple Watch, but it will take a few taps and swipes to get there.
- Open the Activity app on your Apple Watch.
- Scroll up using the Digital Crown or swipe up with your finger. The view will cycle through the core rings. The first is Move.
- Next, you’ll see Exercise and Stand.
- The fourth page shows Steps, Distance, and Flights Climbed. (The fifth page shows workouts or activities you have tracked that day, if any).
How to see your daily steps in the Apple Fitness app on iPhone
You can also see your steps on the main page of the Apple Fitness app on iPhone, though you’ll have to grab your phone every time you want to take a gander.
- Open the Apple Fitness app on your iPhone.
- In the Summary tab within the Activity panel at the top, you will see steps as well as distance under the rings.
How to see your daily steps in the Apple Health app
Finally, the Apple Health app logs your daily steps and includes some additional interesting data that’s worth exploring.
- Open the Apple Health app.
- Select the Browse tab.
- Select Activity.
- Scroll down to see Steps.
- Select this to see more details. You can compare your daily steps in graph form over the last week, month, six months, or year, as well as see a breakdown of your steps throughout the specific day.
- You can see highlights, including your average steps from one year to the next.
- There’s data on how you rank that day compared to your average for the same time period within a typical day.
- Scroll further to see how many steps a day you averaged over the last seven days.
- At the bottom is a list of recommended third-party step apps if you want to get more involved step data.
Why doesn’t Apple focus as much on steps?
Apple has never focused much on steps with the Apple Watch, even in the latest watchOS 10. This is presumably because not all steps are created equal, and there’s more to health and wellness than just taking steps. Somebody who takes 5,000 steps a day, for example, could theoretically burn way more calories than someone who took twice as many if a portion of those steps were part of a cardio workout or a run. Basic steps just don’t tell the whole story.
But for someone new to fitness or using that 10,000-step number as a personal goal, it’s still important to be able to see the data. You can see the stats in both the Apple Fitness and Apple Health apps, as well as by searching in the Activity menu on Apple Watch. Apple doesn’t include a complication for step counting in any of its watch face options, but with the steps above, you can add one yourself through a third-party step-counting app like Pedometer++ and StepsApp.
Apple recommends a few good options in the Health app, but you can do your research as well. Keep in mind that these may not be as accurate and may not update in real-time; there could be a slight delay as the steps are logged. The Apple Watch is one of the best smartwatches to keep an eye on all the relevant health and wellness stats, and you can make it simple to see what’s important to you.