What is Compass Backtrack on Apple Watch: A Feature Guide


Michael Collins

Have you ever found yourself lost while on a hike or a walk and wished you had a way to retrace your steps back to where you started? Well, if you have an Apple Watch, you’re in luck! The compass backtrack feature on your Apple Watch can help you do just that. In less than 100 words, here’s the gist of it: Open the compass app on your Apple Watch, set a starting point, go on your adventure, and when you’re ready to head back, use the compass backtrack feature to guide you back to your starting point. Simple, right?

How to Use Compass Backtrack on Apple Watch

Before we dive into the steps, let’s get a clear picture of what we’re trying to achieve here. Compass backtrack on the Apple Watch is a nifty feature that records your starting point and then shows you the way back to that point when needed. It’s like leaving digital breadcrumbs that you can follow back home.

Step 1: Open the Compass App

Open the compass app on your Apple Watch.
When you open the compass app, you’ll see your current location’s coordinates and a compass dial that shows which direction you’re facing.

Step 2: Set Your Starting Point

Press firmly on the watch screen and tap ‘Set as Start Point’.
This will save your current location as the starting point. It’s important to do this before you start moving away from the location you want to return to.

Step 3: Go On Your Adventure

Now, you can go on your adventure without worrying about getting lost.
As you move, the compass app will continue to display your current coordinates and the direction you’re facing.

Step 4: Use Compass Backtrack to Return

When you’re ready to head back, open the compass app, press firmly on the screen, and tap ‘Backtrack’.
The compass will then show you the direction and distance to your starting point. All you have to do is follow the arrow to make your way back.

After you’ve completed the steps, your Apple Watch will guide you back to your starting point using the compass backtrack feature. This can be particularly useful in situations where you may not have a clear path back or if you’ve wandered off-trail.

Tips for Using Compass Backtrack on Apple Watch

  • Make sure your Apple Watch’s location services are turned on for the compass app to work correctly.
  • Remember to set your starting point before you begin your journey.
  • Keep an eye on your watch’s battery life as using the compass app for an extended period can drain the battery.
  • The compass backtrack feature is not a substitute for a map or a professional navigation system, especially in extreme conditions.
  • Familiarize yourself with the compass app and its features before heading out on a trek or adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions

What models of Apple Watch have the compass backtrack feature?

The compass backtrack feature is available on Apple Watch Series 5 and later models.

The compass backtrack feature started with the Apple Watch Series 5 because that’s when the built-in compass was introduced. If you have an earlier model, unfortunately, you won’t have access to this feature.

Do I need to have my iPhone with me for compass backtrack to work?

No, you don’t need your iPhone. The compass and location services are built into the Apple Watch.

This means you can leave your iPhone behind and still rely on your Apple Watch to guide you back to your starting point.

Can compass backtrack work without cellular service?

Yes, the compass and GPS features can work without cellular service.

However, if you’re planning to use the feature in an area with poor or no cellular service, it’s a good idea to preload the area’s map on your Apple Watch.

How accurate is the compass backtrack feature?

The compass backtrack feature is generally accurate but can be affected by environmental factors.

For example, large metal objects, magnetic fields, and dense forest canopies can affect the compass’s accuracy.

Can I use compass backtrack in an urban environment?

Yes, you can use compass backtrack in an urban environment, but be aware of potential interference from buildings and other structures.

Urban areas can cause what’s known as "urban canyons" where GPS signals can bounce off buildings, leading to inaccuracies.


  1. Open the compass app on your Apple Watch.
  2. Set your starting point by pressing firmly on the screen and tapping ‘Set as Start Point’.
  3. Go on your adventure.
  4. Use compass backtrack to return by opening the compass app, pressing firmly on the screen, and tapping ‘Backtrack’.


The compass backtrack feature on the Apple Watch is a handy tool for outdoor enthusiasts and city explorers alike. It’s like having a digital safety net that helps ensure you can always find your way back to where you started. Whether you’re hiking in the mountains, exploring a new city, or just taking a walk in your local park, compass backtrack can give you peace of mind and a sense of direction. So the next time you strap on your Apple Watch and head out for an adventure, remember this feature, and you’ll never have to worry about getting lost again. Happy exploring!