Touch ID Not Working on your Mac? How To Fix

Several users have reported that the Touch ID feature on their Mac is not working properly. More specifically users have said that they are unable to use Touch ID to unlock their Mac because their fingerprints are not recognized or they are unable to add their fingerprints. Some users have further reported that Touch ID started to malfunction after installing a new macOS update. This article explains how you can troubleshoot if you are experiencing similar issues with Mac Touch ID.

Touch ID is Apple’s fingerprint recognition feature to authenticate your identity. Several Mac models (MacBook Air and MacBook Pro) have Touch ID. Using this feature, you can unlock your Mac, use Apple Pay, log in to third-party apps, and make purchases from the iTunes Store, the App Store, and Apple Books.

Mac Touch ID

Touch ID is also available on several iPhone and iPad models. This feature makes unlocking your device much easier and faster. We previously wrote on how you can fix if Touch ID is not working on your iPhone or iPad.

How to fix Mac Touch ID not working

There are a number of solutions that you can try. Please try the steps below. Make sure to check your Mac after each step to see if Touch ID starts working.

1. Clean your fingers and Touch ID sensor

Make sure that your fingers and Touch ID reader are clean and dry. Any dirt or liquid may cause your Mac not to read your fingers properly. Furthermore, if your fingers are wet or oily, Touch ID may not work. Wash your hands and wait until your fingers are dried out. You may use a clean and dry cloth to wipe off any dirt or debris that may be interrupting the fingerprint reader.

2. Update your Mac

Make sure that you have the latest version of the macOS software. Here is you can update your Mac:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Click Software Update.
Software Update

This will check for macOS updates. And if there are updates available, follow the onscreen instructions to install updates on your Mac. You may have to enter your admin password.

3. Re-add your fingerprints

Delete your existing fingerprint, then restart your Mac, and then register a new fingerprint. Here is how:

  1. On your Mac, go to Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Touch ID.
  2. Click Delete a fingerprint. You will need to enter your password.

Now restart your Mac by going to Apple menu and Restart. And add a new fingerprint. Here is how:

  1. Go to Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Touch ID.
  2. Click Add Fingerprint. And then follow the onscreen instructions.

4. Reset the SMC

Resetting the system management controller (SMC) may fix your Touch ID problem.

Before resetting the SMC, try this first:

  1. Turn off your Mac (Apple menu > Shut Down).
  2. Press and hold down the power button for 10 seconds.
  3. After 10 seconds, release the power button.
  4. Wait a few seconds and turn on your Mac by pressing the power button.

After completing the steps above, still, Touch ID is not working? Then reset the SMC. Please note that if you have purchased a Mac with an M1 chip, the steps below do not apply. The steps below apply to the Intel-based Mac computers. You can learn what type of processor your Mac has (Intel or Apple M) by going to Apple menu > About this Mac.

Apple Processor

Here is how you can do this if your Mac has a Intel processor:

  1. Turn off your Mac (Apple menu > Shut Down).
  2. Press and hold the following four keys: Control, Option, Shift. Keep holding them for 7 seconds. Ignore if your Mac turns on.
  3. After 7 seconds, while pressing and hold the keys above, press and hold the power button too.
  4. Now press and hold these 4 keys (Control, Option, Shift, and power) for 7 more seconds.
  5. After 7 seconds, release all buttons.
  6. Wait a few seconds and turn on your Mac.
Reset the SMC

5. Safe Mode

Restart your Mac in Safe Mode to see if this can fix your problem. Safe Mode is a diagnostic mode of macOS. Simply restarting your Mac may fix this problem. Here is how you can do this. How you do this depends on what type of processor your Mac has (Intel or Apple Silicon M). As stated above, you can find out what type of Mac you have by going to Apple menu > About This Mac.

Intel processor Macs:

  1. Turn off your Mac.
  2. Turn on your Mac and immediately press and hold the Shift key.
  3. Keep holding the Shift key until you see the login screen.
  4. And log in to your Mac.

Apple processor Macs

  1. Turn off your Mac.
  2. Press and hold the power button for 10 seconds.
  3. You will see the startup window, release the power button when you see this.
  4. Select your startup disk (e.g., Macintosh HD) and press and hold the Shift key.
  5. Then click Continue in Safe Mode.
  6. Release the Shift key.

Your Mac is now in Safe Mode. Does your issue happen in Safe Mode? In either case, exit Safe Mode (simply restart your Mac normally).

Now test again. Does Touch ID work now?

6. Check your hardware

If you are still having this problem, you may be having hardware problems. Check your MacBook. Does your fingerprint sensor seem damaged? Do you see any scratches?

If this is the case, contact Apple about a possible repair. You can easily ask about your possible options via Apple Support Live Chat. You may also want to reserve a Genius Bar Appointment.

See also: Your Computer was Restarted Because of a Problem: How to Fix Kernel Panic on Mac

Dr. Serhat Kurt worked as a Senior Technology Director. He holds a doctoral degree (or doctorate) from the University of Illinois at Urbana / Champaign and a master’s degree from Purdue University. Here is his LinkedIn profile.

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