Unlock the iPhone 5S with a Fingerprint & Touch ID, Reliably
Touch ID and the iPhone fingerprint reader has been around for a while now, but a great feature that seems to not get much use is the ability to unlock an iPhone with a touch and a fingerprint – that means not having to enter the passcode when you want to unlock the iPhone. Instead, you just rest your finger or a thumb against the Home button, and the screen unlocks automatically. Whether some users have this Touch ID feature turned off, have trouble with the feature working as intended, or simply don’t know it exists, who knows, but it’s easy to set up and it does work quite well if you use a particular trick to improve the fingerprint recognition.
With that in mind, here’s how to get fingerprint based unlocking enabled and, perhaps more importantly, working reliably well so that it will unlock on every attempt.
Note: you’ll obviously need an iOS device that has Touch ID support and a fingerprint reader for this to work. As of now that’s the iPhone 5S only, but rumors indicate that basically every future iOS device from iPhone 6 to new iPad models will have the Touch ID feature built-in too.
Enable Touch ID Fingerprint Unlock
- Open the Settings app and then go to the “General” section
- Tap on “Passcode & Fingerprint”
- Choose “Fingerprints”
- Be sure that “Passcode Unlock” is set to the ON position
Once you have the fingerprint unlock feature enabled, you’ll want to be sure you have the fingerprints registered with Touch ID that you regularly use to wake the screen and unlock the iPhone. For me, that’s my thumb, but for some users it could be a pointer finger, middle finger, or whatever else.
Improving Touch ID Fingerprint Recognition Reliability
To make the fingerprint reader extra reliable, you’ll want to add fingerprints as usual, but with a twist; use the same finger twice (or more) during the setup process, but register them as different fingers:
- Choose “Add new fingerprint” and follow the instructions with the primary fingerprint you want to use
- Run through the add fingerprint setup again with a different finger
- Finally, run through the ‘add new fingerprint’ process yet again, this time using the same finger that you used in the first step, your primary unlocking finger, but at a slightly different angle
Exit out of Settings when you’re finished or you can instantly try it out by locking your iPhone and testing it out again by just holding the finger over the Home button Touch ID sensor. With the same finger added multiple times but at slightly different angles, it should perform much better.
To be clear, this does not stop the iOS passcode feature from working or disable it, you can still enter the passcode to unlock the device if you want to. In fact, if the Touch ID sensor fails to recognize a fingerprint, or if you haven’t used the TouchID feature in a few days, you’ll have to use the normal passcode to unlock the iPhone anyway.