How to set up Medical ID and adjust SOS on iPhone and Apple Watch

How to set up Medical ID and adjust SOS on iPhone and Apple Watch

The iPhone and Apple Watch provide some very useful features in terms of health and fitness and they also include important tools to get help in the event of an accident, injury, and others. Follow along to make sure your Medical ID is set or up to date, along with how to adjust the SOS settings on the iPhone and Apple Watch. We will also see a new part of the Medical ID during the emergency call feature.

Apple has included a new option to automatically share your Medical ID information with first responders when your Apple Watch or iPhone makes an emergency call. This feature is available with iOS 13.5 and watchOS 6.2.5. Read together below for how to set it up and update / manage Medical and SOS IDs.

Medical ID and SOS can be life-saving features. Nothing is a shiny feature that is used regularly, which is why it’s easy to not have a Medical ID set, or in the case of SOS, not sure how to use it. But they are both very valuable to be established and understand how it works.

Medical ID allows users to save important health information along with emergency contact details that can be accessed by first responders from the Lock screen on the iPhone and Apple Watch and with iOS 13.5 Your Medical ID can be automatically sent to the first respondent when an emergency call occurs.

As for SOS, there are two ways to activate the emergency feature.

How to set or update a Medical ID on an iPhone

  1. Make sure you are running iOS 13.5 to get access to all features
  2. Launch the Health application
  3. Works through a new welcome welcome screen that will allow you to set or update your Medical ID and activate new sharing during the emergency call feature
  4. Tap Done when finished

Here’s how it looks on iOS 13.5:


After you have updated or managed your Health profile, tap Review Access Medical ID at the top of the Health application and follow the instructions.

Also don’t forget you can add more than one emergency contact, in fact, you can add more than two dozen. I found no limit, but I made it to 25.

After completing updating your Medical ID profile, you can review your sharing settings. This is where you can enable “Share Medical ID Information during Emergency Calls.”


To change this setting again at any time in the future, head to the Health app> tap your profile picture in the upper right corner> select Medical ID> Edit> swipe down.


Register with national organ donation registration

Apple offers the option to register with the national organ donation registration, Donate Life. This is a simple and fast way to register for those who are interested and it will go with you, whatever your circumstances. Tap the Learn More link directly above the button for good details when you edit your Medical ID.

How to set or update a Medical ID on Apple Watch

The great thing about Medical ID is that it automatically syncs from your iPhone to the connected Apple Watch, no need to do anything. If you update information in the Health application, it will immediately appear on your Apple Watch.

Health Settings in the Apple Watch app is to calculate calorie burn and other health metrics and is separate from your Medical ID profile.

How to access Medical ID on iPhone and Apple Watch

To see what it looks like if someone else needs to pull out your Medical ID, press and hold the Side and volume buttons on the latest iPhone (only the Side button on the iPhone SE 2020), then swipe from left to right on the Medical ID Slider.

On Apple Watch, press and hold the Side button. The Medical ID slider will be available along with the toggle and SOS options.

How to adjust SOS settings on iPhone

There are three ways to activate the SOS feature on the iPhone to call emergency services. Two of the more automatic features are enabled by default in the latest version of iOS.

For the latest iPhone, users can press and hold the Side key and one of the volume buttons to start the 5 second countdown (previously 3 seconds). This is called Automatic Calling.

The second option is to quickly press the Side button (or the sleep / wake button), this is called a Side Button Call. The third option is to use the SOS slider on the off screen.

Here’s how to change this setting:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Swipe down and tap SOS Emergency
  3. Choose which SOS option you want to use by activating / deactivating the option


Countdown sounds

Countdown sounds are active by default, which is a loud and alarming tone to make sure you use SOS intentionally. You can also turn off this feature if you feel you can make an emergency call secretly.

If you leave it, the SOS countdown will not make a sound for 5 and 4, with 3, 2 and 1 all producing alarming sounds.

If you accidentally called 911, press cancel as soon as possible (during the test and take a screenshot for this article, I accidentally made an SOS call, but because I immediately canceled it, no emergency services were sent ).

How to adjust SOS settings on Apple Watch

Apple Watch doesn’t have a quick click the Side button for SOS. Instead, it displays two options. First, the user can make an automatic SOS call by pressing and holding the Side key. Second, you can press and hold the side button until you see the screen turn off, then use the SOS slider.

The SOS calling feature is automatically activated by default in the Apple Watch application settings.

  1. Open the Apple Watch application
  2. Tap General → SOS Emergency
  3. Switch the Side Hold Button if desired

Apple Watch displays a loud countdown warning sound like the iPhone. However, there is no option to turn it off. Even with your iPhone or Apple Watch set to silent / vibrate, a countdown warning will sound.

If you feel like practicing a little, just to feel more comfortable with the SOS feature on the iPhone and Apple Watch make sure to release the countdown to 2 seconds.

Remember, if you accidentally make an SOS call, you should be able to end it before reaching emergency services if you press Cancel as soon as possible.

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