How to fix Touch ID not working on your iPhone or iPad

TouchIDIconApple’s Touch ID technology in its latest iPhones and iPads is a convenient way to unlock your system and authenticate for services like paying for apps in the App Store; however, there are times when the Touch ID will not pick up your fingerprint. This may be especially true if you are using your iPhone or iPad in different conditions, such as it being hotter or more humid, or perhaps colder and drier outside, where the environment will change the texture of your fingerprint enough to prevent a proper identification.

Besides the effects of changing fingerprint textures, when you first set up your iOS device’s Touch ID you might be purposefully following the directions on Apple’s setup instructions, and in doing so may be holding your device and applying your finger differently than you would under normal operation. While Apple’s instructions attempt to compensate for this to get an accurate Touch ID, it is possible you might have created a profile that does not always recognize your finger when applied at different angles.

If this happens to you, then you might find yourself frustratedly attempting again and again to get Touch ID to work, and end up resorting to your password or pin to authenticate; however, this happens frequently then it can be overcome by simply creating different Touch ID profiles for the various conditions in which you use your device.

In essence, if you find you are having trouble using Touch ID, then it is time to create an additional Touch ID profile for the specific condition you are in:

  1. Go to Settings > Touch ID & Passcode
  2. Enter your passcode to authenticate
  3. Tap on the “Add a Fingerprint” option
  4. Proceed with the on-screen steps to create a new Touch ID

You can create as many Touch ID profiles as you would like, and the more you create in the various conditions in which you use your phone or iPad, the better your device will detect your fingerprint and allow you to log in or purchase things. Keep in mind that you can also create profiles for different fingers, so be sure to do so for any finger that you might at some point consider using for logging into your device.

4 thoughts on “How to fix Touch ID not working on your iPhone or iPad

  1. forkboy1965

    When I first set-up Touch ID I was very cognizant to hold the phone in a way that would be natural for picking it up and pressing either of my thumbs to the reader. This worked very well and has made Touch ID work almost perfectly. I’ve only had a few problems in the past few days, but I think that’s down to exactly what you talk about here: environmental changes.

    Very cold and dry the past few days and I’m certain its caused the skin across my thumbs to contract some.

  2. Paul Majewski

    “If you have trouble enrolling one finger, try enrolling a different finger. Touch ID works only for fingers that you enrolled. You can enroll up to five fingers using Settings > Touch ID & Passcode. With each additional finger that you enroll, it may take slightly longer for Touch ID to recognize your finger when you use it.” This is a statement from the Apple web site. Can more then 5 fingerprints be scanned, or is 5 the limit?

  3. Dot

    I have tried using different fingers to create IDs, and have created separate IDs using the same finger at different angles. Even when I’m in the same room in the same house, after an hour or so Touch ID fails. If I delete all the fingerprints and recreate them, they work only for a little while. Apple’s troubleshooting guide suggests backing up the phone and wiping it by using “Restore”. After I did this one evening, Touch ID worked better than ever – until the next morning, when it didn’t work at all. I’m making an appointment at the Apple Store.

  4. Peter Ogden

    I thought I was having Deja Vu when reading this article but I realized I read nearly the exact same thing about environmental conditions impacting Touch ID on another Mac website in my RSS

    This must be a very common problem! One would hope that with so many popular sites writing about it perhaps Apple could improve the Touch ID reliability a bit! Surely with this coverage it must indicate that many people experience this problem, right? I have added my fingers multiple times in all directions and weather. Fumbling with this at the checkout counter with Apple Pay is not my idea of fun or “it just works”!

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