Image source: Garmin

How to reset a Garmin watch: A comprehensive guide

Garmin timepieces are essential gear for athletes, explorers, and those seeking a dependable watch with high-level features. While they are built for durability, these devices can occasionally experience hiccups that affect their functionality. Issues like a stuck screen, GPS signal interruptions, or overall sluggishness can often be resolved by resetting the device. This guide delves into various aspects of resetting a Garmin watch, such as the different reset options, necessary precautions, and steps for data recovery.

Why reset a Garmin watch?

Common reasons for resetting

  • Frozen screen: The watch becomes unresponsive, freezing the display.
  • GPS signal loss: Failure to acquire satellite signals during outdoor activities.
  • Software glitches: Unanticipated errors or malfunctions in the operating system.
  • Data erasure: When you intend to sell or gift the device and wish to remove all personal data.

Resetting the watch can often resolve these issues, making it a vital step before considering more severe actions like factory repairs.

Types of resets for Garmin watches

Before proceeding with any reset, ensure you’ve synced your data with the Garmin Connect app. This is especially crucial for Factory and Hard resets, which clear user data and activity history from your Garmin device. Also, make sure your watch has enough battery life to complete the reset, as an interrupted process can cause further issues. Lastly, check for available firmware updates, as these can sometimes resolve software issues without requiring a reset.

Soft Reset

A soft reset is similar to a system reboot and doesn’t erase any data. It’s often the first troubleshooting step and can resolve minor issues.

Steps for Soft Reset

For this example, we’re using the Garmin Forerunner, but the steps apply to various Garmin watch models, including Fenix, Quatix, Epix, Instinct models, and Descent watches.

  1. Long-press the “Light” button for approximately 15 seconds to turn off the watch. It should take about 15 or so seconds. This button is referred to as the “Power” or “CTRL” button on some watches.
  2. Alternatively, press the button until the carousel menu appears, then select “Power off.”
  3. Turn the watch back on by holding the “Light” button.

For models like some in the Vivo series and the Lily, which lack a power button, connect the watch to a power data cable and an external power source, such as a computer’s USB port. Disconnecting the cable will trigger an internal reboot.

Factory Reset

A factory reset typically erases all personalized settings and will delete data and contents of your watch, reverting the device to its original factory settings. This means all your configurations, apps, and files will be deleted. The procedure is executed through the device’s operating system or settings menu. It’s a controlled process that allows the user to initiate the reset within the device’s existing framework.

This is often used when you’re planning to sell the watch or if you’re facing persistent software issues. You are essentially reverting to factory default settings.

Steps for Factory Reset

  1. Navigate to Menu > Settings > System.
  2. Select “Restore Defaults” or “Reset,” depending on the model, and confirm with “Yes.”

Hard Reset

A hard reset is a most drastic measure that not only erases all data and settings but also bypasses the device’s operating system. This is often used as a last resort when the device is unresponsive or the settings menu is inaccessible. A hard reset is usually executed using hardware buttons on the device.

Steps for Hard Reset

  1. Long-press the “Down,” “Back,” and “Start” buttons.
  2. Turn on the watch while holding these buttons.
  3. Release the buttons when prompted.

Reset Default Settings: A milder approach

The ‘Reset Default Settings’ option is a less invasive form of resetting your Garmin watch. It is available for some but not all Garmin timepieces.

Unlike a factory or hard reset, which erase all your data and settings, the ‘Reset Default Settings’ option only restores the settings of the watch to their original state. This means that your activity data, downloaded apps, and personal files generally remain untouched.

This option is particularly useful when you’re experiencing issues that you suspect are related to configuration settings but don’t want to lose data that’s sitting on your watch. For example, if you’ve customized various settings and are experiencing glitches or performance issues, resetting to default settings can often resolve these problems without the need for a complete data wipe.

Steps for Reset Default Settings

  1. Open the Menu > Settings > ‘System.
  2. Scroll down and select “Reset.”
  3. Choose “Reset Default Settings” and confirm.

You’ll usually be prompted to confirm that you want to proceed. Confirm the action, and the watch will restore all settings to their original state while keeping your personal data intact.

Precautions before resetting

Before you proceed with any form of reset, ensure that you’ve backed up your data. This is simply done by synching your watch to Garmin Connect. All your data will be transferred to the cloud.

There is one more thing you can do on some watches.

Garmin has recently introduced a backup/restore function for some of its watches including Fenix 7 series, Epix 2 series, Enduro 2, Quatix 7, and MARQ Gen 2. Initially tested and then withdrawn, this feature has been refined and re-released, offering users a valuable tool for preserving their personalized settings. The function is particularly useful when resetting the device, transitioning to a new Garmin watch, or experimenting with different configurations.

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To utilize this feature, users need to navigate to ‘System’ > ‘Backups and Restore’ on their Garmin watch. Backups are not stored on the device but on the Garmin Connect platform. The Garmin Connect smartphone app facilitates the restoration process, and there’s also an option for automatic backups, eliminating the need for manual initiation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I manually reset or reboot my Garmin watch?
  • Long-press the “Light” button until the watch turns off and on again.
  • How do I factory reset a Garmin watch?
  • Go to Menu > Settings > System, then select “Restore Defaults” or “Reset” and confirm.
  • How do I reset my Garmin to default settings?
  • Navigate to Menu > Settings > System, then choose “Reset Default Settings” and confirm.
  • How do I force restart my Garmin watch?
  • Long-press the “Light” button until the watch turns off, then turn it back on.
  • Does Garmin have a reset button?
  • No, but the “Light” button serves this purpose.
  • What does a master reset do on a Garmin?
  • It erases all user data and restores the watch to factory settings.
  • How do you reset a Garmin that won’t turn on?
  • Long-press the power key for 20-30 seconds. Release the button as soon as the display lights up. Plug the watch into power and then press and hold the power button until the watch turns on.
  • Why did my Garmin freeze up?
  • Freezing issues can be due to software glitches, outdated firmware, or memory overload.
  • How do I reset my Garmin without the button?
  • If the buttons are unresponsive, you may need to connect the watch to a computer and use Garmin Express to perform a reset.
  • How do I restore my settings back to normal?
  • You can restore settings by navigating to Menu > Settings > System and selecting “Restore Defaults.”
  • What happens if I reset default settings?
  • Resetting to default settings will erase all personalized data and settings, reverting the device to its original factory settings.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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