How to Set Up & Use the iPad Clock App in iOS 6

| How-To

When the first iPad was put on sale back in 2010, we certainly were thrilled, and we delighted in exploring all the new features of this wonderful new device from the future. For those of us already familiar with the iOS interface and apps on iPhone and iPod touch, we soon came to realize that some apps were strangely missing on iPad. For me and many others, the fact that the Stocks, Weather, Clock, and Calculator apps were MIA was troubling. We had to go off and find decent third-party replacement apps providing the functionalities we had come to rely on.

What's behind Apple's reasoning for giving the ax to these simple, but useful apps? Who knows why Apple does what it does; I won't speculate. Nevertheless, with the introduction of iOS 6, Apple threw us a bone and gace us a new Clock app for our iPads. Let's jump right in and look at our shiny new timekeeper and what it can do.

In keeping with Apple's tradition of providing stock apps that are simple in functionality yet abundant in style, the new iPad clock app is visually stunning while providing basic time-keeping features. In fact, the beautiful clock-face that Apple chose was identical to the iconic – and trademarked – clock design used by the Swiss Federal Railway. Apple will be paying them $21 million. Which reminds me – next time I visit Switzerland, I'm definitely checking out their shiny, new trains...

Side-by-side comparison of clock-face used by the Swiss Federal Railway and the clock design used in the iPad Clock app.

Comparing the clock-face used by the Swiss Federal Railway and the clock design used by Apple.


The Clock app consists of four modules – similar to the Clock app present all-along on iPhone and iPod touch –  World Clock, Alarm, Stopwatch, and Timer. Each is accessible by tapping the appropriate tab at the bottom of the open Clock app.

Each of the four modules' displays take advantage of the iPad screen real estate, providing crisp, clear and large time functions visible even from across a large room.

The World Clock Module

The main window shows the stunning aforementioned clock-face. As we'll soon see, the clock displayed will show one of several times based on world cities that you can choose. Initially, this clock also displays the current temperature at that location. By tapping anywhere, only the clock-face shows for a clutter-free view. The background will either be white or black indicating day- or night-time. The dots at the bottom, similar in function to other iOS apps, indicate the number of other "pages" of clocks – one for each city clock configured. Tap on the dots or simply swipe left or right to peruse the individual clocks.

Tapping on the World Clock button on the large clock screen leads to a panel showing all the selected city clocks.

Tapping on the World Clock button will allow you to see and edit all your city clocks.

By tapping on the arrow/button called "World Clock" at the top-left, you are taken to a high-altitude view of the world cities you have configured. Your cities, along with local weather condition icons, are overlaid on top of a world map projection. This map comes complete with a real-time terminator delineating day and night as well as general time zone indicators.

You can configure up to six world clocks, all running simultaneously. When first launching the Clock app, you are given a few pre-configured clocks (including the one showing the obligatory Cupertino time) plus a blank "Add" placeholder for you to configure a new clock. Tapping on this will bring up a pre-built list of cities around the globe for you to select. There is a search bar, but that is only for searching for cities/countries already on the list. Unfortunately, the ability to search for any location (as can be done in the OS X Date and Time system preference) is not available. Hopefully, some day, but for now simply choose the city in the list, and your new clock is set for that time zone.

A side note: I was trying to figure out how this list of cities was put together at Apple. Again, who knows why they do the things they do? This is an odd assortment to set your clocks to. There are numerous major cities, of course, but there are also many smaller communities I never heard of. For example, available choices include Menominee (Michigan? Wisconsin?), or Crotone, Italy – small towns for sure. Why? What is their significance? Are these the hometowns of certain Apple employees? Maybe the answer is staring in my face. If anyone knows, please leave a comment!

The World Clock edit pane where you can delete and rearrange the clocks.

The Edit pane lets you rearrange and delete the clocks. You can also set your preferred temperature scale.

If you want to change the order of the city clocks, or to delete them, tap the Edit button at the top-left. A standard picker is shown. To change the order of the city clocks, tap-and-drag vertically the "grab" handle at the right of the city name. Tap the red minus-sign button to delete a city. This will open up a spot for you to configure back on the main World Clock panel as described previously. At the bottom of the Edit panel, you can select your preferred temperature scale (°F or °C).

The Alarm Module

The Alarm module is visually rich ("eye candy" in the tech lingo), giving you an overall view of your alarm clock landscape. Setting your alarms is pretty much like what we've seen on the smaller iOS devices.

You create a new alarm by tapping on the + button at the top-right. You are then presented with a panel for choosing time, repeat options, sound options, snooze on/off, and for assigning a label to your alarm. Notice that you can also choose a music title from your iTunes library for your wake-up call.

Finally, you are given the option to flip over to the iTunes Music Store to purchase and download additional tones and have them automatically installed as choices for the alarm clock.

The Alarms module displays a timeline showing the placement of your alarms.

The Alarms module.

Your various alarms are represented as buttons on the timeline. The ones in blue are set to ring, whereas the ones in gray are turned off. This is controlled via the on/off switch at the top, to the right of the digital clock display. It would be great if we could tap-and-drag these alarms around to make changes. Perhaps in a future revision. For now, all you can do is to tap on an alarm to select it so that you can delete it or make changes. These actions are accomplished by tapping on the Edit button at the top-left.

By the way, when one or more alarms are armed, you will see a small analog clock icon on your iPad's status bar at the top-right side of the screen. Oh, and the Clock app does not need to be running in order for any module alarms to go off.

The Stopwatch Module

Not much to talk about here. The standard stopwatch controls are provided: Start/Lap and Stop/Reset. All the lap split times are listed, and you can easily scroll through them by swiping up and down.

The Stopwatch and Timer modules side-by-side.

The Stopwatch and Timer modules.

The Timer Module

The Timer is also simple to use. You can set it at one-minute increments for up to 24 hours. There are controls for Start/Done and Pause/Resume. You can also set the sound used to announce when the timer reaches zero. The countdown timer is shown on a pleasant animated gradient circle that depicts the passing of time.

In conclusion, you might be wondering what time it is. Well, if your iPad time-keeping requirements are not too complex, it's time for you to check out the new Clock app in iOS 6. And, take some *time* to admire its elegant look.

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Lee Dronick

Thanks Sandro. I have been using my iPhone as an alarm clock and a cooking timer. I have a lot of recipes on my iPad, some that I typed in and from apps such as Epicurious and could start using the device as a timer.


Thanks for these useful tips, Sandro. I use this clock as a world timer fairly regularly.

In fact, that ‘iconic’ Swiss SSB clock is a thing of beauty. I had casually admired them for years, without thinking of actually purchasing one - until Apple put one on its iPad.

On my most recent trip to Geneva last month, I picked one up as a gift for my wife (and the house - so I too get to enjoy it) and we now have one hanging in our kitchen back in the States. It comes with a signed and stamped notice of authentication and two year international warranty. You can pick one up almost anywhere in Switzerland, including the airport, and be assured that it is a genuine SSB clock.

As for ordering the clocks, it took some playing with it to figure out how to put them in sequence, as I like to have the time zones in order. I felt that function could have been simpler with a simple tap and drag.

As for which cities make the clock list; who knows, and what’s wrong with Crotone anyway? As long as the major global cities are there, I’m happy.


My problem with the clock is that the times are not right.  I live in Fiji but traveled to Thailand.  The Thailand time was wrong the entire time.  Where do we go to fix this?



Just to clarify, are you saying when you went to Thailand, the clock did not adjust to the correct time, or on your world clock setting, the Fiji time was correct while the Thailand time was not correct?

I have Bangkok as one of my time zones, as I have research partners in Thailand. The time zone on my clock is correct. If I travel to Thailand, however, and I have the System Preferences set to change the time automatically, at least on my last trip to Thailand, this did not work, and I had to change the local time manually. If, once you arrive at a location, the time does not change automatically within a minute or so, you have to change it manually by going into System Preferences, General, Date/Time and then select the time zone manually.

Not every location changes automatically (Bangkok my last check), although increasingly over the past year, many locations are doing so (e.g. Doha, Dhaka).


Up to 24 clocks may be configured.


On the iPhone, you can use the timer as a sleep timer. At the bottom of the list for “When Timer ends” is the “Stop Playing” choice. This works with most streaming apps.

I don’t have an iPad here to check it, but I’d be surprised if it wasn’t a feature of the iPad app as well.


Is there a hidden setting that prevents the alarm volume from being affected by the volume buttons and the master volume slider. It would be much better if the alarm volume was controlled by the “ringer and alerts” slider on the “Sounds” setting page.

Her’s the problem, If I want to listen to music at a low volume while falling asleep, the alarm volume in the morning isn’t loud enough to wake me up. Is there a work around for this?


Annette Snow

I see alarm and stopwatch are digital. Why can I not switch the home page to digital?

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