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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

On Apple Watch Ultra, Apple Watch SE, and Apple Watch Series 6 and later models running watchOS 9, you can use the redesigned Compass app's Backtrack feature to track your route and then help you retrace your steps in case you get lost.


Backtrack uses the GPS on your Apple Watch to create a virtual breadcrumb trail of your route so you don't have to worry about keeping track of where you're going. According to Apple, Backtrack is designed to be used in remote settings, away from familiar places like your home or workplace, and outside densely populated areas without Wi-Fi, but there's nothing stopping you from using it anywhere you need it.

The following steps show you how to use the Backtrack feature in watchOS 9. Note that the accuracy of Backtrack may be hindered by metal watch bands.
  1. Open the Compass app on your Apple Watch.
  2. Tap the footprints icon in the bottom-right of the screen, then tap Start to begin recording your route.
  3. If necessary, scroll down and tap Allow Once to allow Compass to access your Recent Locations.
  4. When you're ready to retrace your steps, tap the pause icon in the bottom-right of the screen, then tap Retrace Steps.

    Your starting location will appear on the compass, and a bouncing white arrow will point you in the right direction. The path back to the starting point will appear within the compass circle as a white line. Follow the path back to return to where you first turned on Backtrack.
  5. When you've arrived at your starting location, tap the footsteps icon again, then tap Delete Steps.
In watchOS 9, the Compass app also lets you create Compass Waypoints while you're on the move, which you can also use in combination with Backtrack. Click the link to learn more.

Article Link: Lost? How to Use Backtrack on Apple Watch to Retrace Your Steps
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macrumors member
Oct 22, 2015
It blows my mind they have this feature but don’t overlay the information on a map. Every time I’ve used gaia to retrace my route seeing the route on a solid topo or satellite imagery is critical to accurately navigating back the way I had come. Granted that is usually in complicated terrain with lots of cliffs and no trails, but isn’t the backcountry what this watch is all about. 🙄


macrumors 6502
Mar 24, 2010
Wondering if it would also work on a bike or if it needs the foot movement, now that would be seriously cool


macrumors P6
May 16, 2015
For someone like me who more often than not can’t figure out the direction I’m supposed to go, this feature gonna be very useful, maybe even more so sometimes than google maps.

T Grocer

macrumors newbie
Oct 6, 2022
Garmins had this for years. It’s called track back.

Would be great if apple had on board maps and a route back option like fenix watches.

It’s getting there! Pretty sure in 10 years they’ll be a serious contender for real athletes.
I think you’re trying to be funny but saying that people who can exercise with an Apple Watch aren’t real athletes is elitist, ableist, and narrow-minded.


macrumors regular
Aug 28, 2020
I wonder how accurate this is with the non Ultra Apple Watches. The Ultra is the only watch with advanced GPS location.


Aug 22, 2022
A breadcrumb feature that won’t be used but it’s a capital project that’s the development teams have been devoted.
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