How to Use Theater Mode on the Apple Watch

Apple’s watchOS includes Theater Mode, a way to stop annoying people in a cinema or theater when you look at your watch. When this is active, raising your wrist does not cause the watch’s display to light up. So if you raise your hand to take a drink, scratch yourself, or cross your arms, your Apple Watch won’t illuminate your neighbors.

Here’s how to set it up.

Swipe up to display Control Center, then scroll up a bit to see the Theater Mode button (the comedy/tragedy faces).

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Tap that button; it turns orange.

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Press the digital crown to go back to your watch face; you’ll see a small Theater Mode icon at the top.

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If you raise your wrist, you’ll need to tap to see the watch face. However, there’s a neat way to check the time without tapping, and without annoying others too much. Just turn the digital crown a bit; this fades the watch face in from black. Here’s an example of my watch face after I’ve turned the crown a small amount (the more you turn, the brighter it gets):

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To deactivate Theater Mode, go back to Control Center and tap the orange button.

There’s another way to use your watch without annoying people in dark places, which I’ve been using for quite some time. I go to the theater often, and I immediately found that the Apple Watch was too bright. So I created this watch face:

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This is the Modular face, with no complications, in the darkest color I could find. It looks a bit darker on the watch than in the above screenshot, and if you turn down the brightness as well, you can make it almost totally unobtrusive. So when I go to the theater, I just swipe to this watch face. In the dark, it’s easy for me to see the time, but the light is subtle enough that it doesn’t bother others.

6 thoughts on “How to Use Theater Mode on the Apple Watch

  1. The mode was in watchOS 3 as well. One side benefit is that it extends battery life by not lighting the watchface as often. In watchOS 4, the mode also makes the default flashlight color red instead of white, good for dark-adapted eyes .

  2. The mode was in watchOS 3 as well. One side benefit is that it extends battery life by not lighting the watchface as often. In watchOS 4, the mode also makes the default flashlight color red instead of white, good for dark-adapted eyes .

  3. The most interesting point here is that you got one. I could swear that’s a U-turn! My wife bought one recently. She’s using it to keep fit (and make me jealous).

    • Well, as part of my work, I need to stay up to date on this sort of technology. I abandoned the Apple Watch last year, and I’m giving it another try. I will say that having a potential phone on my wrist, in case my iPhone runs out of charge, or if I want to go out without my iPhone, is quite compelling.

  4. The most interesting point here is that you got one. I could swear that’s a U-turn! My wife bought one recently. She’s using it to keep fit (and make me jealous).

    • Well, as part of my work, I need to stay up to date on this sort of technology. I abandoned the Apple Watch last year, and I’m giving it another try. I will say that having a potential phone on my wrist, in case my iPhone runs out of charge, or if I want to go out without my iPhone, is quite compelling.

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