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How to Customize the Action Button on Apple Watch Ultra

Right when you get your Ultra, you'll want to set up its Action button to work for you. Here's how.

man wearing an apple watch ultra
Tucker Bowe

The Apple Watch Ultra is very different from any of Apple's other smartwatches. Yes, it's bigger, brighter, more durable and way more capable; but it's also the first Apple Watch in years to have a drastically different design. Plus, it comes with a brand-new (and bright orange) button — that Apple calls the "Action button" — that you can program to do what you "action" want.

You'll want to program Apple Watch Ultra's Action button right when you get the watch out of the box; by default, all it does it signal an emergency siren when long-pressed. At the time of writing, you can program the Action button to do one of eight things:

  • Start/stop a workout
  • Start/stop a stopwatch
  • Set (drop) a compass waypoint
  • Set a backtrack (to retrace your steps)
  • Start a dive session
  • Turn on/off your flashlight
  • Set a Shortcut (you'll have one set up on your iPhone, first)
  • Nothing

    How to Customize the Apple Watch Ultra's Action Button

    You need your iPhone to customize the Apple Watch Ultra's Action button:

    1. Open the Apple Watch on your iPhone.
    2. Select Action Button.
    3. In the Action menu, select one of eight "actions."
      man wearing an apple watch ultra and looking at the settings screen on an iphone
      Tucker Bowe

      Depending on what you program the Action button to do, this will also determine if pressing it again will have a secondary action. For example, if you set the the Action button to turn on/off your flashlight, that's all it can really do; but if you set it to a specific workout, a secondary press will mark segments (or splits) to keep track of different sections of your workout.

      man wearing an apple ultra watch
      Tucker Bowe
      man wearing an apple watch ultra
      Tucker Bowe

      If you're using the Action button to start a workout, there’s a subtle feature that only the Apple Watch Ultra has. It’s called “Precision Start” and it eliminates the 3...2...1...Start countdown when starting a workout. You just press the Action button and it immediately starts tracking your workout. No delay. It’s wonderful.

      To turn on Precision Start, you can open the Settings app in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone or the Settings app on Apple Watch itself: Settings > Workout app > Precision Start.


      Apple Watch Ultra

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