Rails User Manual



This manual describes all features of Rails, but the availability of specific features may depend on your watch model. If you don’t find an option in your settings, this means that option is not available on your watch. In particular, AMOLED/LCD devices work quite differently from the other models, so some topics discussed here, like ‘Power save options’ are not applicable. For more details on this, please refer to the AMOLED section below.

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A configurable digital face with:

  • 6 customizable color themes (14 base colors + 4 custom colors on supporting models, applicable to different screen elements)
  • 2 time font options (Option 2 requires unlock key) with adjustable weight
  • 6 (or 10 on Venu Sq/Sq2) configurable status/data icons
  • 8 data fields and 2 rail gauges (options depend on what your watch supports)
  • flexible date format (for date format definition, see the date format below)
  • 2 separate date options which can also be used for arbitrary text
  • several battery saving modes that can be activated for the night on on DnD
  • enhanced HR information (requires unlock key)
  • weather (requires unlock key)

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Changing settings

If you are not familiar with adjusting Connect IQ app settings, check: https://forums.garmin.com/developer/connect-iq/w/wiki/14/changing-your-app-settings-in-garmin-express-gcm-ciq-mobile-store

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Common Problems / Frequently asked questions

Some advice on frequently asked questions is available here: https://vgfsyhcxft.com/common-problems/

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The default settings for the configurable data after installation are:

* Top icon 1 – battery level (% remaining)
* Top icon 2 – notifications (number of messages pending)
* Top icon 3 – alarms (number of alarms set)
* Bottom icon 1 – phone connection status (on/off)
* Bottom icon 2 – activity tracking enabled (on/off)
* Bottom icon 3 – do not disturb mode (on/off)
* Option data 1 – steps counter
* Option data 2 – steps goal
* Option data 3 – distance
* Option data 4 – calories
* Option data 5 – off
* Option data 6 – off
* Top rail – steps goal completion %
* Bottom rail – move bar
* Left data – current HR (on watches with wrist HR sensor)
* Right data – off

The meaning of other icons available for option data can be understood from the settings – if you choose a specific setting, you will know what the corresponding icon means.

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On most supported models, the seconds can be configured to show all the time, during daytime only, or on gesture for about 10 seconds.

On Chronos and AMOLED/LCD devices, the seconds can be configured to show on gesture or to not show at all.

There is also an option to display a single short data field in place of the seconds, when the seconds are inactive.

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Current HR

On watches with a wrist HR sensor, HR reading can be displayed on the left side of the screen. There is an option to show it all the time, only during daytime, or on for about 10 seconds on gesture.

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Enhanced HR info

This feature allows to:
– display an ‘HR bar’ representing the current or the average HR on the scale ranging from the min to max HR over an adjustable monitor duration
– display two customizable data fields that can show min, max, current, average and resting HR
– use min, max, average and resting HR as optional data fields
– the min, max, average monitor period is adjustable from 10 to 360 minutes

This feature requires an unlock key. To get the key, please go to: https://vgfsyhcxft.com/rails-unlock/

NOTE: All the HR parameters are retrieved from the watch system, except the average which is calculated by Rails. It has been observed and reported by some users that the ‘resting HR’ is not displayed (showing only –). This appears to be a problem of the watch firmware – from time to time it stops providing the resting HR information. If this happens, you can fix this problem (at least for some time), by going to the watch Settings/User Profile/Heart Rate/Resting HR and choosing an option there (this possibility is only available on some models).

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Configurable fields

There are several configurable data fields in 3 separate groups, with focus on different uses:

  • Top/bottom icons with text info
  • Bottom icons without text info (default)
  • 6 data fields in the middle
  • Left and right data fields

NOTE: By default, the bottom icons are shown without text – this is the original design. In version 3.0.0 an option was added to display bottom icons with text (in which case they behave exactly like the top icons). This is activated by the ‘Bottom field’ setting – choose ‘Bottom icon text’.

The behavior of each group is different:

  • Icons with text change colors according to their normal/alert status. For example, floors icon will change color to ‘alert’ when the daily floors goal has been reached, or the battery icon will change color to ‘alert’ if the battery level drops below 15%. The notifications icon will show ‘alert’ if there are any pending notifications, and the alarm icon will show ‘alert’ if there are any alarms set.
  • Bottom icons without accompanying text change color according to their on/off status. So, for example, the Bluetooth icon will use the ‘active’ color when the phone is connected, and ‘inactive’ color otherwise. The icons that have a goal associated with them will change the color when the goal is reached.
  • Data fields along the rails do not change icon colors, but they allow a broader choice of data options. The design of these fields is flexible to allow optimal use of the available space, but this also means that it is possible that longer pieces of data might overlap. You may need some trial and error to find the best combination that suits your needs without overlapping.
  • Left data field can be set to Current or Enhanced HR
  • Right data field can be set to a subset of data available for the general data fields (the exact choice depends on device).

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Top icons

There are 3 (or 5 on rectangular screens) status icons at the top of the face that:

  • have associated text/number data right below
  • change color when reaching a trigger or target value of the data they represent

The trigger/target value depends of the data the icon is set to show.

The color of normal/alert status of the icon is set in the theme customization at the bottom of the settings.

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Bottom icons

Bottom icons operate in two different modes. When ‘Bottom field’ is set to ‘Bottom icon text’, they behave exactly the same as the top icons.

Otherwise, they do not have the corresponding text field and so it is only meaningful to display there those data for which the icon appearance can be meaningful without accompanying text. For example moon phase/age, or icons that change color when their status changes (e.g. active calories goal reached).

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Data fields

The six data fields in the middle provide the widest choice of options, including enhanced HR and weather data. Left and right data fields have a limited number of options, but they provide some data that is not available elsewhere (Current/Enhanced HR on the left and weather icon on the right).

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Free text

This data option allows you to put any text you want on your watch face. The text is entered in the ‘Free text’ field in the settings, and it is supposed to be shown correctly in whatever system language you use on your phone and your watch, as long as Garmin got it right.

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Barometer & Watch temperature sensor

Barometric pressure and watch thermometer readings (available on some watch models only) come from internal watch sensors and not from any weather forecast web service. So you can’t expect that the temperature shown will match closely your ambient or outdoor temperature, unless you take the watch off and place it where you want the temperature measured.

However, there is an option to set the sensor temperature reading offset, which according to some users allows them to get good enough temperature readings from their wrist.

For the outdoor temperature, you need to enable the weather update which requires unlock key. The temperature from the weather service is shown on the right side of the watch above the weather icon.

Barometric pressure is ‘mean sea level pressure’ according to Garmin’s technical documentation – “This returns barometric pressure calibrated to sea level. Since pressure varies dues to several factors, a GPS-based altitude must first be obtained, then the ambient (local) pressure is measured by the pressure sensor before conversion to a calibrated barometric pressure value.”

The icon shows the barometric trend over an adjustable period, up to 1440 minutes (24 hours).

The pressure units can be switched between mbar/hPa, inHg and mmHg.

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Weather info

The weather source can be selected between openweathermap.org (OWM) and Garmin (on compatible devices).

The basic information (icon and temperature) is selectable for the “Right data” field. In addition, it is possible to select (in optional data fields or top icons) weather observation location name, wind speed and direction, minimum and maximum temperature forecast, feels like temperature, humidity, chance of rain, precipitation volume (OWM only) and UV index (OWM only).

There is also an option to show the last time the weather info was updated.

The weather update interval for OWM is adjustable and can be set to fixed intervals ranging from 15 minutes to 6 hours. A longer interval may reduce your battery drain a bit.

Please note that the weather feature needs to know your location. If you see the GPS? when you enable the weather, go to some activity that uses GPS, like run or cycle, and get the GPS locked there. Then, when you return to Rails, the weather should be updating at your set interval.

If after that you continue to see ‘…’ and a cloud with a question mark on the right side of the face, this means your watch has not been able to connect to the weather service to get the update.

If this happens, check the Bluetooth connection between your watch and your phone, and the internet connection of the phone.

If you don’t enable the always-on seconds, you have an option to show additional weather info instead of the seconds (min/max/feels like temperature, humidity, chance of rain, UV index).

There is an option to provide your own OpenWeatherMap API key if you want more accurate UV index information. It is also necessary for Air Quality Index.

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OpenWeather key validity

Please note that OpenWeather changed their free key policy sometime around mid-2022. Since that time, new API keys created with “Current weather and forecasts collection” will not work with Instinct Pro.

If you have a free “Current weather and forecasts collection” created earlier, it should continue working.

Alternatively, you can subscribe to “One Call by Call” subscription plan for One Call API 3.0. This subscription comes with 1,000 API calls per day for free, and Instinct Pro will not exceed 300 calls per day (3 calls every 15 minutes).

This information is believed to be accurate as of November 2023, it may become invalidated by OpenWeather changing their policies again.

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Rail gauges

With the exception of the ‘Sun bar’, these two gauges located above and below the main time allow to show the level of several kinds of data, from 9 to 100%, growing from left to right.

Two display modes are available, one where the gauges use the color defined in the current theme, another where regardless of the theme they are shown as a ‘Heat map’, gradually changing from blue (0%) to red (100%).

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Sun bar

When selected for one of the rails, this option shows a scrolling representation of different sunlight phases – darkness, blue hour, golden hour, day light using the relevant colors (black, blue, orange, yellow). In addition, sunrise/sunset is shown as a little vertical line using the same color as the data icons.

The display covers 2-hour period where the left end of the bar corresponds to the current time and the right end to the time 2 hours ahead.

If ‘Sun bar + times’ is selected, it overrides the data fields above or below the rail and shows twilight, blue and golden hours instead (using blue and orange text color for identification).

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GPS location update

After fresh installation, the watch face needs to retrieve from the watch system the current GPS coordinates which are necessary to display correct sun, moon and weather data. On some devices this can be done automatically, but on some it can’t. If the location data is not present, “GPS?” prompt will be shown instead of the requested data. To update GPS coordinates, just switch to an activity such as run or cycle and wait until ‘GPS ready’ message appears or the GPS indicator turns green. Then you can cancel the activity and return to the face. Note that you may need to repeat this procedure after you have changed your location.

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Color themes

This face features 6 color themes that you can easily switch and customize.  In each theme you can modify the colors of all screen elements. Your modifications will be kept until you choose to restore the factory theme.

The available colors depend on your watch model. There is a base set of 14 colors, and on some watches there are 4 additional custom colors that can be set to any of these values:


This color map is a rough guide and the colors that appear on your watch might not exactly match the colors shown above.

If you change the color theme, press ‘DONE’ first to activate it on your watch before you start customizing it. Otherwise your customization will modify the previous theme. But if it happens, don’t worry – you can easily reset the theme back to the factory setting with the ‘Reset theme’ option.

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Date format

The date format is very flexible. It may require some effort to understand how it works, but it allows you to make it any way you like. There are 2 date choices for the data fields: Date and Date2. They can be used to split a long date to be shown in two places on the screen, or to quickly switch the date format. Note that they also allow to enter arbitrary text with the help of the escape character ‘=’.

To customize the date, enter a string of characters up to 12 in length, with this coding:

D = day number with leading zero

d = day number without leading zero

M = month number with leading zero

m = month number without leading zero

Y = 4-digit year

y = 2-digit year

N = month name

n = day name

w = ISO week number

a = AM/PM indicator (shows a or p)

A = capital AM/PM indicator (shows A or P)

= = escape character

| = separates Data and Data2 format

Any other character (e.g. – / : . ) will be displayed if it is available in the selected system language on the watch.

For example, you can use the following formats:

“n N d”  →  Fri Aug 24

“n D.M”  →  Fri 24.08

“d/m W”  →  24/8 w34

“Y\M\D”  →  2018\08\24

“m-d-y”  →  8-24-18

“n D [w]”  → Fri 28 [34]

“n d A=M”  → Thu 4 PM

“G=ar=mi=n Y”  → Garmin 2022

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Countdown timer

You can set it up to show the time remaining until the date and time of your choice (e.g. an exam, your next marathon, your mother in law’s birthday, etc). If you select the countdown as an option for a top icon, it will show the remaining days and hours. If you select it for one of the data fields, it will also show minutes.

The event time is entered in the format YYMMDDhhmm where:

YY = last 2 digits of the year
MM = 2 digit month with a leading zero if needed
DD = 2 digit day of month with a leading zero if needed
hh = 2 digit hour with a leading zero if needed
mm = 2 digit minute with a leading zero if needed

So for example, to set the timer at 12 July 2022 12 noon, enter 2207121200.

The countdown shows the number of days remaining and when that becomes zero, it shows the remaining hours and minutes.

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Setting up alternate time zone

For alternate time data field, you can set the UTC offset from -14 to +14 hours. The offset is a fractional number, so that half hour offsets can be taken care of as well. For example for India (UTC+5:30) enter 5.5. For UTC just enter 0.

NOTE: Garmin apps tend to have problems with accepting special character input (for example minus ‘-‘ or decimal point ‘.’). To get around this problem, you can try to:

-start from the default value “-5.0” and edit it as you need, without deleting the characters that you want to keep, or
-use another app to write the offset, then copy and paste into the Garmin app.

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Power save options

It is important to note that the more information is shown on the watch screen, and the more frequently it is updated, inevitably the watch face will drain the battery faster. This watch face has several features that allow you to reduce the battery drain in different usage scenarios.

The ‘Power save’ option allows you to reduce the battery drain at times when you don’t need to see everything and some reduced display is sufficient.

The reduced display options include:

  • Time
  • Time + alert icons (i.e. icons will not be shown in their ‘inactive’ state)
  • Time + alert icons + date
  • Big hollow time

The power save mode can be activated at ‘Night’, in which case it will turn on/off according to the ‘bed time’ and ‘wake time’ declared in Garmin’s user profile settings, or ‘On DnD’, in which case it can be manually switched on/off using the DnD hot key.

If you set your watch to switch automatically to Do Not Disturb for the duration of your sleep hours, it will have the same effect as choosing the ‘Night’ power save activation.

If you don’t enable the Power save mode, you can still control when you want the seconds and HR to be shown:

  • Off (the feature is not shown)
  • Daytime (the feature is shown during your wake hours)
  • On (the feature is shown always)
  • On gesture (the feature is shown for about 10 seconds on wrist gesture)

Of these, obviously ‘On’ will drain the most battery, while ‘On gesture’ is the best compromise between the functionality and economy.

The ‘Full on gesture’ setting allows to temporarily activate full display by gesture.

NOTE: The power save options are not available on AMOLED devices, but a similar behavior is accessible through the AOD settings. However, there is no ‘On’ option for the seconds and the HR, since AMOLED devices are not capable of refreshing the screen every second continuously.

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Some ‘premium’ features require an unlock key. These options are marked by a star icon 🌟 in the settings.

To obtain an unlock key visit https://vgfsyhcxft.com/rails-unlock/

If you select a locked feature without a valid key, it will work, but a floating padlock icon will appear on the screen.

When you receive the key, you need to enter it in the settings in the ‘Unlock key’ field, and press the button that saves the settings. Please note that the ‘Key status’ field will be updated only after you exit and enter the settings again. However, if you start changing locked settings immediately, it should work even if the key status is still shown as ‘invalid’.

NOTE: The star icon in the settings will not disappear after unlocking (it is not possible the way Garmin designed the settings system) – the best way to check if your key works is just to change these settings and see the results on your watch.

FOR AMOLED/LCD DEVICES: After entering the key and saving the settings, you may need to ‘wake up’ the watch from its ‘sleep’ state to show the watch face for the key to be validated.

IMPORTANT: The 12-digit unlock key is created for a 6-digit token that is unique to your watch. So, if you enter incorrect 6-digit token on the unlock page, you will receive an incorrect key that will not work. Please be careful and make sure you enter the correct token!

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AMOLED devices support

AMOLED devices have some restrictions on the display compared to MIP devices:

1) It is not possible to have ‘1Hz update’ for the seconds and the HR, so there is no ‘On’ option for them.

2) If Always On Display (AOD) is activated, it is not possible to use other background color than black. If the background color is anything else, the display will switch to monochrome white on black when in AOD.

The available AOD modes are the same as power save modes for MIP devices, with the addition of moving small time:
-Off (blank screen)
-Moving screen saver showing small time
-Moving screen saver showing larger hollow time
-Regular size time
-Time with date and status/alert icons
-Full display (complete information except seconds, updated once a minute)

Please note that the bigger display you enable in ‘sleep’ mode, the faster it will drain the battery.

NOTE: Rails follows Garmin’s guidelines / limits regarding the display in AOD mode (how many pixels can be illuminated and for how long), but it does not mean that screen burn-in will not occur. Use the AOD at your own risk.

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