Touch ID Not Working on Mac, How to Fix in 2024

Touch ID Not Working on Mac

Hey there! If you're a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro user or even if you have an external Apple keyboard, you've probably come across Touch ID.

It's a super handy tool that lets you confirm your identity without the hassle of typing in your password every time.

And let's be real, who doesn't love a bit of convenience? Usually, it's smooth sailing and works like a charm - you set it up, and then just place your finger over the Touch ID reader whenever you need to use it.

But, every now and then, things don't go as planned, and you might be left wondering, "Why isn't my Touch ID working?" Don't worry, I've got your back.

Are you having trouble with your Touch ID on Mac? Don't worry, it's a common issue and often easy to fix.

Start by cleaning your finger and the Touch ID button, and trying a different finger. If that doesn't work, restart your Mac or check for macOS updates.

If the problem persists, reset Touch ID by removing and re-adding fingerprints, or try resetting the SMC.

These simple steps can get your Touch ID back up and running smoothly.

In this article, I'll explain why this happens and give you some tips on how to fix it.

6 Ways How to Fix Touch ID Not Working on Mac

Method 1 : Dry your fingers or Try a different finger

If your Touch ID is not working on your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro, it could be due to something as simple as the moisture on your fingers.

The Touch ID sensor uses capacitance technology to read your fingerprints, and if there is any moisture on your fingers, it can interfere with the sensor's ability to read your fingerprints accurately.

To fix this problem, the first thing you should do is clean and dry your fingers thoroughly. Use a clean, dry cloth to wipe your fingers and make sure there is no moisture left on them. This will ensure that your fingerprints are read accurately by the Touch ID sensor.

How to Fix Touch ID Not Working on Mac

If cleaning your fingers doesn't work, try using a different finger to unlock your Mac. If you have set up multiple fingerprints in Touch ID, you can easily switch to a different one.

Simply place a different finger on the sensor and see if it unlocks your Mac. If it does, it means that the problem is with your original finger, and you may need to clean and dry it thoroughly before trying again.

In some cases, Touch ID may not recognize your fingerprint due to changes in your skin, such as cuts or burns. In such cases, you can try setting up a new fingerprint.

  • To do this, go to System Preferences > Touch ID & Passcode and click on the "+" button to add a new fingerprint.

Method 2 : Clean your Touch ID with a soft and dry cloth

If your Touch ID is still not working on your MacBook, the problem may not be with your fingers, but rather with the Touch ID sensor itself.

Over time, dirt, oil, and grime can build up on the Touch ID button and interfere with its ability to read your fingerprints accurately.

To fix this problem, you should clean the Touch ID button. To do this, use a soft, dry cloth and wipe it gently. Avoid using any liquids or cleaning solutions, as they can damage the Touch ID sensor.

How to Fix Touch ID Not Working on Mac

Make sure to wipe the button thoroughly and remove any dirt or grime that may have accumulated on it.

If you're having trouble cleaning the Touch ID button with a cloth, you can also use a toothbrush or a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the button. This can help remove any dirt or grime that may be stuck to the button.

Once you have cleaned the Touch ID button, try using it again to see if the problem has been resolved.

If not, you may need to try other solutions, such as restarting your Mac, checking for software updates, or resetting Touch ID.

Method 3 : Fix Touch ID issues by restarting your MacBook

Restarting your Mac clears out temporary files and can fix minor software glitches that may be affecting Touch ID.

How to Fix Touch ID Not Working on Mac

Additionally, on Apple Silicon Macs, restarting can perform checks on the boot disk and fix any issues that may be preventing Touch ID from working correctly.

  • To restart your Mac, click on the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen and select "Restart."
  • Alternatively, you can press and hold the power button until your Mac shuts down, and then press it again to turn it back on.

Once your Mac has restarted, try using Touch ID again to see if the problem has been resolved. If the issue persists, you may need to try other solutions, such as cleaning the Touch ID button, checking for software updates, or resetting Touch ID.

Method 4 : Update your MacBook to fix Touch ID issues

Sometimes, bugs or glitches in the current version of macOS can cause Touch ID to stop working correctly. By updating to the latest version of macOS, you can often fix these issues and improve the overall performance of your device.

To check for software updates on your MacBook, go to the Apple menu in the top-left corner of the screen and select "System Preferences."

Touch ID Not Working on Mac, How to Fix

From there, click on "Software Update" in the bottom-left corner of the window. Your MacBook will then check for available updates.

If an update is available, click on the "Update Now" button to download and install the update. Make sure to save any unsaved work before proceeding with the update.

Touch ID Not Working on Mac, How to Fix

Once the update is installed, restart your MacBook and try using Touch ID again to see if the problem has been resolved.

If you're still experiencing issues with Touch ID, you may need to try other solutions, such as cleaning the Touch ID button, resetting Touch ID, or contacting Apple support for further assistance.

Method 5 : Reset Touch ID to fix issues on Mac

If you've tried all the previous steps and Touch ID still isn't working on your Mac, it may be time to reset your fingerprints.

This is a simple process that involves deleting all of your saved fingerprints from Touch ID and adding them again from scratch.

How to Fix Touch ID Not Working on Mac

To reset your Touch ID, follow these steps:

  • Go to System Preferences and select Touch ID & Password.
  • Hover over the fingerprint you want to delete, and click the "X" that appears.
  • Enter your password to confirm the deletion.
How to Fix Touch ID Not Working on Mac
  • Repeat this process for all of your saved fingerprints.
  • Once all fingerprints are deleted, click the "+" sign and follow the on-screen instructions to add your fingerprints again.

This process can help resolve issues with Touch ID if there was an error in the initial setup, or if something went wrong with the saved fingerprint data.

By starting from scratch and re-adding your fingerprints, you can ensure that the system has the most up-to-date and accurate information to work with.

Method 6 : Reset the SMC on your Mac to fix Touch ID issues

Resetting the System Management Controller (SMC) on a Mac can help fix Touch ID issues by resolving problems with low-level tasks such as power management and the Touch ID system.

How to Fix Touch ID Not Working on Mac

If your MacBook has an older Intel-based processor or the latest Apple Silicon, the process for resetting the SMC may vary.

  • On an Intel-based Mac, shut it down, press and hold the left-side Shift, Control, and Option keys together with the power button for 10 seconds, and then release all the keys and turn on your Mac.
  • On an Apple Silicon Mac, shut it down, press and hold the power button for at least 10 seconds, and then release it and wait for your Mac to start up.

If this doesn't solve the Touch ID issue, there may be other underlying causes that require further troubleshooting.

What is Touch ID and How Does it Work?

This nifty feature, available on your iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro, allows you to use your fingerprint instead of a password for many common operations.

But how does it work? The technology within Touch ID is some of the most advanced hardware and software that Apple has ever put into any device.

The button is made from sapphire crystal, one of the clearest, hardest materials available, which protects the sensor and acts as a lens to precisely focus it on your finger.

How to Fix Touch ID Not Working on Mac

On your Mac the button detects your finger and tells Touch ID to start reading your fingerprint. The sensor uses advanced capacitive touch to take a high-resolution image from small sections of your fingerprint from the subepidermal layers of your skin.

Touch ID then intelligently analyzes this information with a remarkable degree of detail and precision. It categorizes your fingerprint as one of three basic types—arch, loop, or whorl.

It also maps out individual details in the ridges that are smaller than the human eye can see, and even inspects minor variations in ridge direction caused by pores and edge structures.

It then creates a mathematical representation of your fingerprint and compares this to your enrolled fingerprint data to identify a match and unlock your device.

Not only is Touch ID super convenient, but it's also secure. Every fingerprint is unique, so it's rare that even a small section of two separate fingerprints are alike enough to register as a match for Touch ID.

The probability of this happening is 1 in 50,000 with a single, enrolled finger. And Touch ID allows only five unsuccessful fingerprint match attempts before you must enter your password.

Sometimes Touch ID Isn't Supposed to Work

It's possible you've never heard of this, but there are a few occasions when you'll believe something is wrong with your Mac's Touch ID sensor, yet everything is OK. Isn't it confusing?

For security concerns, your Mac may occasionally prompt you to enter your password rather than allowing you to utilize Touch ID. Here's a list of some of them:

  • Following a restart of your MacBook
  • After adding or deleting fingerprints, your Mac fails to recognize your fingerprint five times in a row.
  • Following the use of Emergency SOS
  • When attempting to alter the Touch ID settings after not using your Mac for more than 48 hours

So, if you're attempting to use Touch ID in the scenarios indicated above and your Mac is refusing, don't worry. Aside from those exceptions, if your Mac's Touch ID does not identify your fingerprint, there is a problem with it.

Touch ID not Working on Mac - Takeaway

If you've tried all of the above solutions and nothing has worked, it's possible that you're experiencing hardware problems. If you discover that your Mac's Touch ID sensor is damaged or has many scratches, you should contact Apple to inquire about a possible repair.

Touch ID not Working on Mac - FAQs

What is the function of Touch ID on the MacBook Pro?

Touch ID employs electronic fingerprint recognition technology to allow users to securely unlock and access various functionalities on their devices.

The acquired data is stored on Apple A7 and subsequent CPUs in a secure enclave.

You can use your MacBook Pro's Touch ID button to:
Shut down, restart, and go to sleep.
Unlock and log in to your Mac. (Through a fingerprint scan)
Access system preferences and other password-protected locations.
Use Apple Pay to purchase in the App Store, iTunes Store, and iBookstore.
Force restart or shutdown.

When did Touch ID originally appear in the MacBook Pro?

The 2016 MacBook Pro was the first to include Touch ID. Since then, it's been on the right side of the Touch Bar.

Who developed Apple's Touch ID?

As intriguing as it may sound, the technology was initially identified as AuthenTec's fingerprint technology.

Scott Moody, a co-founder of AuthenTec, a mobile, and network security startup, invented it.

In 2012, Apple paid $356 million in cash for the company. They released it with the Apple 5s after three years of study and development.

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