Troubleshooting Guide: When Touch ID Isn't Working on Your Mac

If you're having trouble using Touch ID on your Mac, such as not being able to unlock your Mac, enroll a fingerprint, or use Touch ID to enter your password, this guide will help you troubleshoot and resolve these issues.

Locating the Touch ID Sensor

The Touch ID sensor is situated in the upper-right corner of your keyboard.

Magic Keyboard with Touch ID

With Touch ID and Numeric Keypad:

Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Numeric Keypad

Checking Compatibility

To set up and use Touch ID on a Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, ensure you have a Mac computer with Apple silicon and macOS Big Sur 11.4 or later. For built-in Touch ID on a Mac laptop, set up Touch ID in System Settings (or System Preferences) > Touch ID & Password.

Troubleshooting Steps

If you're experiencing issues with Touch ID, follow these steps, testing Touch ID after each one:

  1. Update to the latest version of macOS.
  2. Clean your fingers and the Touch ID sensor. Use a clean, lint-free cloth to wipe off any dirt or debris on the Touch ID sensor.
  3. Fully cover the Touch ID sensor with your finger. Avoid tapping too quickly or moving your finger around while Touch ID is scanning.
  4. Navigate to Apple menu  > System Settings (or System Preferences) > Users & Groups. Click the lock to make changes, then click Login Options and ensure that Automatic login is off.
  5. Go to Apple menu  > System Settings (or System Preferences) > Touch ID & Password, then activate the setting to use Touch ID to unlock your Mac.
  6. Try adding a different fingerprint. Go to Apple menu  > System Settings (or System Preferences) > Touch ID & Password, then click Add Fingerprint.
  7. For Magic Keyboard with Touch ID, turn your keyboard off and on, then connect your keyboard to your Mac with the USB to Lightning cable. After turning the Magic Keyboard off and on, Touch ID may be unavailable for up to 10 seconds.
  8. Restart your Mac.

When You Need to Enter Your Password

You must manually enter your password the first time you log in after turning on, restarting, or logging out of your Mac. After that, you can use Touch ID to log in.

However, you might need to enter your password instead of using Touch ID in these situations:

  • Your fingerprint isn't recognized five times in a row.
  • You haven't unlocked your device in more than 48 hours.
  • You're trying to change settings in the Touch ID & Password pane of System Preferences.

By following these steps, you should be able to troubleshoot and resolve most issues with Touch ID on your Mac.

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