Moving from the Forerunner 920 to the Forerunner 945: Day 1, Part 1 – Navigating the buttons and menus

I use a Garmin Forerunner 920 in conjunction with a Garmin Edge 520 on the bike. This is a really wonderful combination, especially since many of the new features added in the FR 935 (which I skipped) were bike related, and already resided in the Edge 520. But, I have a need to collect my heart rate during the day, and with the FR 945, it seemed like there was enough maturity of the built-in optical heart rate monitor and additional new “stuff” to go ahead and get the 945. (Note: I need the optical HR only during regular daily activities; for training and racing I intend to keep using the chest straps as they give me more data and cause me no discomfort. I know, lucky me!)

So, I’m going to log my experiences as I switch over to the 945 (meaning, I’m not going to over-edit my writing here!), and in particular I will be looking at it from the standpoint of someone switching over from the 920.

As always, if you want to know everything about this multisport watch/fitness tracker, go see Ray Maker‘s review at DCRainmaker: Garmin Forerunner 945 Multisport Watch In-Depth Review.

Also, Garmin has a decent online manual for the 945. They are getting better at this.

Navigation: Menus and Buttonology

Even before talking about setup, I find it necessary (or at least easier) to talk about how you navigate around the watch. I apologize about not having many pictures in here, but there are plenty of resources, and I’m just giving the impressions of a user stepping up from a 920.

Overall menu impressions

Just as the there were significant changes in going from the 910 to the 920, there are further changes in moving from the 920 to 945 (most of which were introduced in the 935 and its Fenix brethren). And this is as it should be. The “simple” interface on the 910 was/is (yes I still have mine) simple because it efficiently allowed you to get to the relatively, from today’s view, few functions on the 910. As more functions were added in the 920, especially due to the introduction of Connect IQ and the fact that the thing could be used as, you know, an actual watch, the 910 interface was not something that was easily “scalable”. A reorganization was needed. The same is true in going to the 935 and 945, as now you’ve got music, Garmin Pay and so forth, and still a small number of buttons to with which to navigate menus.

Overall, I think the 920 user is going to find the 945 familiar and not too daunting, it is not the large conceptual difference that going from the 910 to the 920 was.

Once you get used to the buttons…


The six buttons on the 920 (2 on the left, 2 on the right, 2 on the bottom) become five on the 945 (3 on the left, 2 on the right, none on the bottom).

920 on left, 945 on the right. 6 buttons become 5.

Here’s how they map from the 920 to the 945:

  • ENTER/START-STOP, bottom right, moves to the upper right, and takes on a new functionality as it becomes “ENTER/SELECT ACTIVITY/START-STOP”. SELECT ACTIVITY was the left “ellipses” (…) on the 920, and the “…” button is gone, as we shall see.
  • BACK (or “exit”)/LAP, bottom left, moves to lower right. When it’s not doing its during-activity LAP function, as best I can tell BACK is always BACK. Very nice because you can always use it to get yourself out of programming trouble…

So, basically, the bottom row of the 920 moved to the right on the 945. Where did the 920’s now displaced SCROLL UP and SCROLL DOWN go? They move to the other side, and take on some new functionalities:

  • SCROLL UP, upper right, moves to the middle left, and becomes SCROLL UP/MENU. A long push on this button now accesses the scrolling menu that we’re used to using for programming. MENU was the center “ellipses” (…) on the 920.
  • SCROLL DOWN, lower right, moves to lower left, and becomes SCROLL DOWN/MUSIC. A longer push on this button gives you access to your realtime music controls, the music being a new feature.

So, in summary, the UP and DOWN moved to the other side and replaced the single “…” button.

A side note, it doesn’t seem to have the “Press to Unlock” of the 920. At least I haven’t seen it yet.

So, how about the POWER Button in the upper left? Well, you still use it to turn on the backlight, but when you hold it, instead of immediately turning off, it takes you to a rotary menu (navigated with UP and DOWN), of which Power Off is one of the choices. The choices are:

The power of the Power button.

  • Power Off
  • Find My Phone
  • Timers
  • Stopwatch
  • Wallet (for Garmin Pay)
  • Lock Keys
  • Do Not Disturb
  • Sync
  • Open App on Phone
  • Assistance

I honestly don’t even know what all of these do yet. But as you can see, the POWER button takes you to what amounts to an “uber button”, to take you to a lot of upper level functionality that you’d want to get to quickly and easily. Note that, since music is something you’d possibly be messing with even more so (volume, skip, repeat, pause), it got its own special shortcut access (long press of the lower left button) instead of appearing on this menu.

Ironically, to actually power off the device, you use the ENTER button as shown in the picture. It does make logical sense.

Oh, yeah, you also still use the POWER button to turn the thing on.

Garmin 945 and Edge 520 share essentially the same buttonology.

This new buttonology may seem odd to the 920 user, but there is a method to it: The button locations and most of the functionality are the same as those for Garmin’s non touchscreen Edge bike computers (the 520/530; see photo). Given the extra real estate on the bike computer, the Edge does have two additional buttons at the bottom as dedicated START/STOP and LAP buttons, but otherwise it should be very easy to go back and forth between the 945 and the Edge 520/530. I think it is nice that Garmin coordinated their triathlete’s watch with their bike computer.

Next up: Day 1, Part 2 –  Setup

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