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17 Cool Things Garmin Watches Can Do

17 Cool Things Garmin Watches Can Do

Are you taking full advantage of your Garmin watch? Just in case, we've created this list of 17 really cool and helpful things various Garmin watches can do.

***This article was updated with new Garmin watches in August of 2023*** 

Did You Know Your Garmin Watch Could Do This?

Whether you got it as a gift or hunted down the perfect one yourself, chances are there's a few things your Garmin watch can do that you're not yet aware of.

That's because this tech titan just keeps pumping out and perfecting their top-of-the-line GPS wearables, so you can get a more holistic experience regarding your health, fitness, pursuits, and daily affairs—right from your wrist.

Many of these features happen through the Garmin Connect™ app (downloaded on your smartphone)—free with your Garmin watch purchase. Plus, you can customize your smartwatch experience with free apps, watch faces, data fields, and more on the Connect IQ Store.

To help you personalize your Garmin watch to the fullest, we've fired up this list of 17 things that you should check out, and we let you know which Garmin watches are compatible with these features. Have fun exploring the possibilities!

Watch Dave at Chase the Summit show you how to get music ON your Garmin Watch for phone-free runs, rides, and workouts!

Use the Garmin Connect App

This is kind of an obvious one, as most fitness smartwatches work with a companion app. But if you've never had a Garmin watch, it's good to know what it's all about right out of the gate.

The Garmin Connect app open on a smartphone

In a nutshell, the Garmin Connect app is a tool for tracking, analyzing, and sharing health and fitness activities recorded by your paired Garmin device. It gives you a custom dashboard and your data at a glance and allows you to save, compare, and share your stats in multiple ways. Be a part of a community if you want and create or join challenges. Plus, there's a ton of other very useful things you can do through it—several of which we are going to share with you in the rest of this list!

Get a Garmin Coach Training Plan

Garmin Coach options on the Garmin Connect app on a smartphone 

Garmin Coach allows you to send an adaptive training plan to a compatible Garmin watch. Just head to this section in the Connect app, choose your expert running coach and your race goal, then receive guidance with a free training plan that includes dynamic workouts selected for you. These workouts sync to your watch and will adjust to get harder or easier based on your performance in the plan. You choose from one of many plans that best fit your race goal, and receive dynamic workouts based on your abilities. Plans support beginner to intermediate participants (from run/walk up to a 7:05 min/mile pace). Right now, there are plans for 5K, 10K, and half marathon races.

Garmin Watches that support Garmin Coach:

Get Music on Your Watch

Black Garmin Forerunner 255 Music edition with the Spotify app on the display

Unlike a lot of running or multisport GPS smartwatches out there, Garmin has several watches that allow you to store offline music on your watch so that you can go phone-free and have your motivational training tunes with you. All you need is a Bluetooth audio device of some sort to listen to music through or on your Garmin watch (select watches only). Headphones are best for workouts, but it will also pair with a speaker, your car ... anything with Bluetooth technology and a speaker.

Onboarding your tunes to your watch plays out like this:

  • Manually copied music files: These are saved MP3 files, playlists and the like that you sync via USB cable to your computer.
  • Streaming services cached files: These are offline playlists/favorites from music services like Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Deezer, cached for playback when not near connectivity.

Garmin Watches that you can slap your playlist on:

Note: These are the watches that can store music on watch. Most Garmin watches can control and play music on or through your paired smartphone.

Create Your Own Workout

A gold and tan Garmin watch with strength workout on the display

The advanced workout feature in Garmin Connect lets you create, plan, and edit personalized fitness exercises that conform to your specific training goals or targets. Compatible devices are limited to 25 non-scheduled workouts that can be downloaded onto the device, including preloaded workouts.

Check under a workout below to see if your Garmin watch is compatible:



Pool Swim







Create a Course

In the Training section of the Garmin Connect app is Courses, where you can map out routes to sync to your watch to guide you while on a run, ride, or hike. For longer activities, we recommend you create your routes on the Garmin Connect website, which is slightly easier. Each platform offers a variety of options to create custom courses to round-trip courses that feature Trendline™ Popularity Routing.

Mid-range Garmin watches will show a simple breadcrumb trail of the route, with just a line and a pointer to keep you on track. And you can use the “back to start” feature if you don't use a route and get lost.

Higher-end Garmins, like the Forerunner 955, epix Pro, and fēnix 7 Pro, put full-color mapping on your wrist, which not only makes it easier to follow pre-planned routes, but you can also create new ones on the fly. Need an impromptu route to run? Set a rough direction and distance, and the watch will create three options based on paths that are popular with other Garmin users.

Garmin watches that support courses:

Garmin watches that support round-trip courses:

Three examples of courses on Garmin watch sketches

Use the PacePro Feature

Want to go after your next personal best? PacePro offers pace guidance for your compatible Garmin watch to help you stay on track during training. When PacePro is applied to a course loaded to your watch, it analyzes elevation changes along the course to calculate a pace strategy. A PacePro Strategy is created by using a course found in the Garmin Connect app. The strategy calculates when to increase or decrease your pace along the course for the best overall pace.

These Garmin Watches support PacePro:

Shop on the Connect IQ Store

The Garmin IQ Store open on a smartphone image

The Connect IQ™ Store is your all-in-one source for personalizing your compatible Garmin watch with free downloads of apps, widgets, watch faces, data fields, music streaming services and more.

Apps: These are fully functional applications that run on your Garmin watch that can have menus and be driven through a number of user interactions. They function similarly to an app on your phone.

Data Fields: This allows you to create a single data field (or multiple fields) that you can add to your existing data pages on your Garmin watch. These fields can be different sizes as well, and potentially have more than one piece of information on them.

Watch Faces: These are faces that are available from the default screen of the watch and can include any information you’d like. They’re updated at once per minute and run 24×7 in a low-power mode that doesn’t require shutting off.

Widgets: These are glanceable pages that are mostly non-interactive (though they can do basic input such as accept/reject) that are included within the main screen loop of your watch. For example, a widget might be something that has a single page that pulls the local weather forecast from an internet service based on the device location data.

Get the Info You Want in Glances

Four examples of Garmin watch widget glances

Widget Glances allow you to see three widgets at a time while scrolling through widgets on a compatible Garmin watch. This allows you to compare information between widgets without having to scroll between them. When you select a widget when in Widget Glances mode you will see additional information about the widget you selected.

Garmin watches that feature widget glances:

Set Up Incident Detection

When an incident is detected on your GPS watch, Garmin Connect can send your name and location (if available) to your emergency contacts. Your location is determined using our LiveTrack location tracking feature. LiveTrack creates a real-time feed of your location during an activity. You must set up Incident Detection and emergency contacts in the Garmin Connect app.

What Are the Requirements to Use Incident Detection?

  • Incident Detection MUST be available and enabled for the activity profile being used.
  • Incident Detection does not work with activity apps that are downloaded from the Connect IQ Store.
  • The Garmin device must have LTE service enabled (only available for certain products), or the Garmin device must be connected via Bluetooth to the Garmin Connect app on a compatible smartphone. If using an iOS smartphone, the Garmin Connect app must be open in the background of the smartphone and cannot be closed.
  • For non-LTE Garmin devices, the connected smartphone must have a cellular signal with a subscribed data plan from a phone network provider.
  • The Garmin device must have a GPS signal when Incident Detection is triggered.
  • Emergency contacts must be able to receive text and/or email messages.

Emergency contacts must be added through the Garmin Connect app before Incident Detection can be used.

Incident Detection will be enabled and ready to use with supported Activity Profiles once emergency contacts have been set up in the Garmin Connect app and those contacts get synced to the device.

Activity profiles that support Incident Detection vary by device. If your Garmin watch has the following profiles, then it will support Incident Detection: Run, Track Run, Trail Run, Ultra Run, Bike, eBike, Gravel Bike, Bike Commute, Bike Tour, Road Bike, Walk, and Hike.

LiveTrack & GroupTrack

LiveTrack creates a real-time view of your location during an activity, so friends and family can follow along.

The following information can be displayed within a LiveTrack session that is shared with a designated person:

  • Current location
  • Average pace
  • Elapsed time of activity
  • Distance traveled
  • Elevation gain
  • A planned route
  • Current pace*
  • Speed*
  • Current elevation*
  • Heart rate*
  • Cadence*

*This information will be displayed by selecting Graphs at the bottom of the LiveTrack map.

The Garmin device must be paired and connected to the Garmin Connect app on your phone to use LiveTrack. The paired phone must be with you during your LiveTrack activity. The phone must have a cellular signal when using LiveTrack. LiveTrack must be set up in the Garmin Connect app before first use.

NOTE: The Forerunner 945 LTE does not require a paired phone with a cellular signal to use LiveTrack when it has an active LTE subscription and an LTE signal. Your watch will indicate LiveTrack Ready when accessing an activity profile which means it is ready to start LiveTrack when you begin your activity.

Compatible Devices:

GroupTrack allows you to keep track of other riders in your group using LiveTrack directly on the screen of a compatible device. Users will only be able to see another connection's location in relation to theirs. There are no interactive features available with GroupTrack.

Customize Smart Notifications

The Garmin epix Pro multisport watch with on a wrist with a text notification on the dispay

Controlling which notifications you see on your Garmin device is managed from your phone. Steps differ between Apple and Android.

For Android, controlling what notifications display on your Garmin device can be managed from the Garmin Connect app.

  1. Open the Garmin Connect app on your phone.
  2. Select menu at top left.
  3. Select Settings.
  4. Select Notifications.
  5. Select App Notifications.

From here, toggle to enable or disable all smart notifications or customize by selecting individual apps.

For iPhones, check out the adjoining video to customize notifications on your Garmin watch.

Know Your Sleep Score

Want to get a more holistic approach to your health and workouts? Sleep score and accompanying insights on Garmin watches are new lifestyle-oriented additions with advanced sleep tracking. You can find this nifty new feature on:

Advanced sleep tracking is designed to recognize when you fall asleep, when you wake up, and to show your sleep stages as they occur during the night. This includes light, deep, and REM sleep stages.

Sleep and sleep stages are identified using a combination of heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration rate, body movement, and other key inputs. Supported devices enable you to add body movement, respiration rate and oxygen saturation overlays to your sleep charts in the Garmin Connect app for a more complete picture of your night.

Your sleep score is a number (0-100) that summarizes the underlying data to give you an idea of how you slept. A high sleep score means you are well-prepared for the challenges of the day ahead. You also get instant insight into significant factors that influenced your score.

Take Health Snapshots

The Garmin Health Snapshot feature helps you capture, save, and even share a collection of key health-related insights recorded during a two-minute session. Heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (HRV), Pulse Ox, respiration, and stress are the metrics included in your report, which collectively provide you a glimpse of your overall cardiovascular status.

This feature is available on several of the latest Garmin watches:

You can generate a report with your stats via the Garmin Connect app on your compatible smartphone to share with a healthcare provider, coach, family member, or friends, if you choose.

Women's Health Tracking

To help you feel even more in control of your health, the Garmin Connect app offers you a way to track and monitor your cycle—including regular, irregular, menopause transition, or pregnancy. This can be found in the Health Stats menu under Menstrual Cycle/Pregnancy.

As you track, you’ll tune into patterns and trends that can help you make mindful choices for your health and easily share with your health provider, if you choose.

Once you’ve set up the feature in Garmin Connect, you can also view cycle information right on your wrist via the free app from Garmin's Connect IQ Store.

Menstrual Cycle Tracking

If your cycle is regular or irregular, you’ll have the ability to log periods and symptoms (mood, physical symptoms, etc.) while receiving guidance based around nutrition, fitness, and general health throughout the different phases of your menstrual cycle. You’ll also be able to view period and fertility window predictions alongside your other stats in Garmin Connect.

Phases Breakdown

A typical menstrual cycle is broken down into 4 phases. Garmin Connect will display your current cycle’s phases and predict where you are in the cycle. Predictions are based on previous completed cycles you’ve logged.

  • Phase 1: Menstruation
  • Phase 2: Follicular
  • Phase 3: Ovulation
  • Phase 4: Luteal

If you don’t have a period, you can select the No Period cycle type and still track symptoms to help you better understand your body and your cycle’s rhythm. This can be helpful if you have polycystic ovary syndrome or similar conditions, are using certain types of contraception to alter your menstrual cycle, are breastfeeding, are experiencing menopause, or other reasons.

Pregnancy Tracking

If you’re currently pregnant, you can select Pregnant as your cycle type in the Women’s Health settings. This will pause your cycle predictions (if you’re currently tracking your menstrual cycle). This includes displaying your baby’s gestational age and size, providing weekly education relating to exercise and nutrition during pregnancy, and offering even more logging options from the other cycle types.

Logging and Reminder Options

Your symptoms and logging needs may change as your pregnancy progresses, and that’s where the variety of logging options can become handy. This feature offers the following:

  • A variety of logging categories, including mood, discharge, pregnancy-specific symptoms and more
  • The ability to manually track your baby’s movement, including kicks and hiccups
  • The ability to manually enter blood glucose levels (if diagnosed with gestational diabetes) throughout the day

You can also set up customized reminders to help you keep track of hydration goals or remind you to practice your Kegels.

Weight Gain Goals

If you’re interested in tracking your weight gain throughout your pregnancy, you can turn on the Weight Gain Goal feature in Women’s Health settings to receive a weight range that changes weekly as your pregnancy progresses. The recommendations are based on U.S. national guidelines.

Broadcast Your Heart Rate

Did you know you can broadcast your heart rate right from your Garmin watch straight to your favorite app and skip the need for a separate heart rate strap/sensor? Garmin has long been one of the few device makers enabling you to do this.

Garmin offers two modes for broadcasting heart rate:

1) Over ANT+ (for virtually all Garmin watches)
2) Over Bluetooth Smart (for most newer 2019/2020 Garmin watches)

In general, if you’re using a phone/tablet/Apple TV/Mac, it’s going to be easier to do via Bluetooth Smart. However, if you’re using a PC, it’s going to be easier to do via ANT+. This also works on most exercise gear too, like a Peloton bike (which accepts both ANT+ & Bluetooth Smart HR connections).

Enable Spoken Audio Prompts

Recently, someone reached out to PlayBetter to see if we could recommend a running watch that would give audio stats, as they had trouble seeing their current watch face. We were delighted to discover that certain Garmin watches would allow for audio prompts through the Connect mobile app.

When an audio prompt-capable device is paired with the Garmin Connect app, the Garmin Connect app will provide spoken audio alerts from the device via your smartphone's speaker, connected Bluetooth speaker, or connected Bluetooth headset.

Configurable alerts include Lap Alerts, Power Alerts (for power meter compatible devices), Navigation Alerts (for Edge devices), Pace/Speed Alerts, and Heart Rate Alerts.

NOTE: Music enabled watches can play audio alerts via a set of paired Bluetooth headphones.

Compatible Garmin watches include:

Explore the Garmin Explore App

No cell service? No Wi-Fi® connectivity? No problem. This all-in-one app is made for off-the-grid adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Download to your compatible smartphone so you can plan, navigate, and review your next great adventure.

Plan for your next journey by downloading maps and creating routes on the app. Or access the Garmin Explore website on your computer, then sync the data with your mobile device, and go.

Review and edit your waypoints, tracks, routes, and activities in the app’s library. Select and manage items from this page into organized collections for future reference.

The routes you’ve created will automatically sync to your Garmin Explore web account when you’re within cellular or Wi-Fi range, preserving your activity data with cloud storage.

Hunters can also take advantage of real-time dog tracking with Garmin dog tracking devices, save hunt data, and customize tracking lines for their hunting dogs.

Garmin Explore compatible Garmin watches include:

Bonus – Built-In LED Flashlight

The Garmin fenix 7 Pro Sapphire Solar GPS multisport watch with LED flashlight illuminated in a cavelike area

The built-in LED flashlight on your Garmin Watch offers variable intensities and strobe modes to give you greater awareness while you train at night.

Whether you are out on a late hike, a long weekend in the backcountry, or looking for something you dropped under the seat in your car, it provides convenient illumination when you need it.

Once you have one on your wrist, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it!

Garmin watches that currently have a built-in LED flashlight:

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