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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Quick Tip: Disable annoying Apple Watch directions notifications while driving

Note: This story has not been updated since 2020.

Apple Maps has come a long way since its debut. On the only road trip I’ve taken since the whole world situation went to pot1, we ran into a strange issue where Google Maps wanted to take us on a bizarre route that would have taken an hour longer than the normal route, for reasons that we still don’t understand. I encouraged my wife, who was driving, to use Apple Maps instead, but she was annoyed by the way the Apple Watch taps her wrist to alert her even though CarPlay is already showing the directions onscreen.

I didn’t think of it much until recently, when I found myself irritated by the same thing. Surely, I thought, there must be some way to disable this. Really, the Apple Watch should be smart enough to realize that I’m already getting my navigation with CarPlay, and I probably don’t want to be looking down at my wrist while driving.

While I was pretty sure that there was an easy way to turn off those alerts altogether, I felt like they could still be useful sometimes, so disabling them entirely seemed like it might be throwing the baby out with the bath water. But, lo and behold, Apple has—at some point in the past—improved its options, and you can now disable the alerts on a granular basis, depending on what kind of directions you’re using.

Just open up the Watch app on your iPhone and scroll down to Maps. There you’ll see options for Driving, Driving with CarPlay, Walking, and Cycling. You can turn off the haptic alerts for just the modes in which you don’t want them—maybe, for example, you still want to be alerted while biking, so you don’t have to look down at your wrist. I did a quick drive around the block to verify that this works as expected, and sure enough, my wrist remained untapped.

Just goes to show you that even though Apple often likes to impose a certain way of doing things, sometimes the best option is a preference toggle.

  1. Pandemic-wise, anyway. 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

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