At the bottom right of the playing screen, there is a small banner that displays 3 Pokémon. Selecting it brings up a screen that details all the nearby Pokémon.

Typical "Nearby Pokémon" watch list in Pokémon Go

Previously caught Pokémon show in full colour, uncaught Pokemon show as a silhouette, and doubles can be displayed. When I select any of these Pokémon and click the footprints the Pokémon becomes circled in purple on the previously mentioned banner.

'Watching' a Pokémon

Why would I want to "watch" a Pokémon in this way?

I have observations and assumptions, so far, but nothing concrete.

  • 2
    This is kinda a weird case where the 'watching' mechanic still exists but what was originally described has changed drastically - there is no longer a concept of 'footprints' distance; clicking a Pokemon adds a waypoint to the overworld map. It could maybe have been re-asked as a new question and this one closed as duplicate, but given @Ben has added a bounty to it seeking updates, I have instead removed OP's original speculations as to what the footprints might mean. This revision contains the original if you want to see the history.
    – Robotnik
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 2:33

5 Answers 5


There are two things to look out for when hunting Pokemon.

1) The number of feet - the number of footprints drops from 3-2-1-0 the closer you are to the Pokemon.

2)The Pokemons position on the nearby pokemon list (or Poketracker as i refer to it). Top left is closest to you, bottom right is farthest.

When I am hunting a specific Pokemon I keep the Poketracker up , if the silhouette moves left I know I am getting closer and if it moves right I know i am getting further away. Think of it like a very sophisticated version of marco polo or Hot&Cold.

  • Hi Remlish, this is outdated information. Would you care to update it?
    – Robotnik
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 7:05

"Watching" a Pokemon allows you to get the distance to it (measured in footprints) on the main screen. It's purely a time-saver to keep you from having to constantly open/close the Nearby screen.

Additionally, Watching a Pokemon will cause the nearby screen to have a green "blink" when you're headed in the Pokemon's current direction. You can also do this without selecting a watch, as Pokemon will move around the menu, with the nearest always being in the top left.

  • Hi Kaz, your answer is a tad out of date with the changes to the 'nearby' mechanic. Would you care to update it?
    – Robotnik
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 7:06

Most of the answers here are outdated because the system has changed since they were posted.

The Nearby pokemon are only the ones that are currently near pokestops that are near you. If there aren't any stops it will simply show the pokemon that are somewhere near you and is of little use. Although then you can use it as in the older configuration; disappearing from nearby means either that the pokemon is in the opposite direction and is too far to be visible or it has just disappeared.

When you want to catch a pokemon that is nearby and by a pokestop, by clicking that pokestop it will show you on the map where related to you that pokemon is and you can more easily get there. Also it will start tracking that pokemon and will notify you if that pokemon disappears before you get there so that you don't go there in vain. Although some times you might get notified that that pokemon isn't there anymore because of bad connection or when you are already quite close to that stop (from personal experience).


Here's the answer.

Footprints are representative of your pulsing search circle diameter. Zero means it is in your immediate circle. ONE means it is one circle diameter outside yours, and so on and so forth.

Zero= 0 One= 00 Two= 000 Three= 0000

With you being in the center of the first circle and the pokemon being within the vicinity of the adjacent circle in an ever growing circle.

Assuming you're walking in the right direction, a pokemon 3 footprints away would be no more than 4 circle diameters from your current position.

Hope that makes sense.

This was verified by several reddit users and myself through quite a bit of walking and field testing.

  • 4
    Are you sure it's diameter and not radius?
    – KOVIKO
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 23:17

When 'watching' a pokemon, if you're walking in the correct direction the box pulses, much like you have a pulse around your avatar but much smaller.

This appears ot be more reliable than waiting for the number of footprints to adjust - something which doesn't always work - it also pulses at a faster rate than the footprints update

  • 5
    It seems to pulse regardless of what direction you're going. You can turn around and go the opposite way and it will keep pulsing.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 16:33
  • @Kevin Yep, it seems that the pulse has nothing to do with going in the right direction.
    – Enoch
    Commented Jul 9, 2016 at 17:53
  • 2
    The pulse indicates that the nearby Pokemon have updated. This will happen regardless of what direction you go in, or if you move at all.
    – SPavel
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 20:19

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