I'm attempting to update an Apple Watch Series 3 to watchOS 7.4 via Software Update.

When I Download and Install the update, I get the error message:

Cannot Install Update

To install the watchOS update, your Apple Watch needs to have at least 2.5 GB of available storage. You can free up storage by deleting apps using the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.

I had this same issue when attempting to install watchOS 7 last year. I went through the process of deleting apps and data, however I was never able to delete enough to proceed with the software update.

Research indicates that this may be an issue with the Apple Watch Series 3. The watch has 8 GB of available storage, which may not be enough to ever download a new watchOS update.

Can an Apple Watch Series 3 be updated normally by deleting apps and data? Or is there a hard limit with the 8 GB that does not allow this?

How else can I update the Apple Watch Series 3?

  • support.apple.com/en-us/HT211283
    – pkamb
    Apr 26, 2021 at 18:37
  • The usual process of un-pairing and re-pairing should allow you to update. FYI, the S3 is going to have these problems going forward, most likely.
    – fsb
    Apr 26, 2021 at 18:58
  • Check to see if you have any music or photos downloaded into the watch. This can also affect the amount of storage available.
    – agarza
    Apr 26, 2021 at 19:12

1 Answer 1


The alert on my watch links to this Apple knowledge base article:

If you don’t have enough space to update your Apple Watch

At the top, there is a note specifically for the Series 3:

If you have Apple Watch Series 3, skip directly to the steps to unpair and update your Apple Watch.

This indicates that the only way to update the Apple Watch Series 3 is to perform an unpair and update.

Skip directly to that step, and don't bother manually deleting photos, music, or data.

After updating watchOS, you can unpair the watch again and restore from your previous iCloud Backup.

  • Unpairing and re-pairing caused me to lose an app that I had installed. Also, I had to reset some of my settings, watch faces, etc.
    – agarza
    Apr 26, 2021 at 21:18
  • One note of clarification: It is possible to get it to install without wiping - it's just not a guarantee. It depends on the sizes of the operating system files and whether there's enough stuff to delete.
    – Ezekiel
    Apr 26, 2021 at 21:21
  • 1
    @agarza The instructions indicate that after updating, you can re-pair a second time to restore your backup - see the bottom of the page.
    – Ezekiel
    Apr 26, 2021 at 21:21
  • On my watch I had to also turned off Siri to be able to free up enough space to install the update
    – jpoh
    Apr 27, 2021 at 10:27

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