How to Disable Face ID on iPhone (Temporarily)

Nov 7, 2017 - 3 Comments

How to disable Face ID on iPhone X temporarily

Want to temporarily disable Face ID on iPhone? For iPhone models with Face ID, like iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone X, XS, iPhone XR, or iPhone XS Max, you may find yourself wanting to quickly turn off Face ID on iPhone so that it can not use facial recognition to unlock the device. We’ll show you how you can disable the feature with a variety of different methods.


Note this doesn’t turn off Face ID permanently, it just disables Face ID temporarily, until the passcode has been entered properly, and then upon being locked again Face ID will automatically re-enable itself. If you want to turn off Face ID completely you’d need to do that through the system Settings in iOS. But that’s not what we’re aiming for here, instead we’re focusing on temporarily disabling Face ID on iPhone 12, iPhone 11, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone X, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max.

There are actually many different ways for Face ID to temporarily become disabled, some methods can be intentionally initiated, while others happen automatically under certain conditions.

How to Temporarily Disable Face ID on iPhone

Perhaps the easiest way to temporarily disable Face ID is to use the button press technique:

  • Hold either of the volume buttons down, along with the Power button, for a second or two until you trigger the Power Down screen
  • As soon as you see the power down screen, stop holding the buttons *
  • Hit the “Cancel” button to dismiss the power down screen and disable Face ID
  • Temporarily disable Face ID on iPhone

Once you see the screen to turn off the iPhone, you need to release the buttons. It usually takes one or two seconds for the power off screen to turn up, indicating Face ID will be temporarily turned off.

Be aware that button presses perform many other actions on iPhone X too, however, including taking a screenshot, rebooting the iPhone, and triggering Emergency SOS calling.

* WARNING: This is important – do not hold the buttons too long otherwise Emergency SOS will trigger automatically. Triggering Emergency SOS is fairly easy to initiate by holding a volume and power button too long, it is then not subtle, it makes a loud siren sound and counts down from 3 before making a call to local emergency services on your behalf. Yes, it will call 911 for you, so don’t accidentally do that if you’re just trying to disable Face ID. There are various reports online of various people accidentally triggering Emergency SOS and then having emergency services show up at their house or location – so don’t do that!

5 Other Ways to Disable Face ID Temporarily

According to Apple, there are other ways that Face ID will temporarily disable itself, some of which you could also use to turn off Face ID yourself if need be, like failing to authenticate with Face ID repeatedly.

  • Fail to authenticate with a face five times in a row, after 5 unsuccessful Face ID attempts the feature will disable itself
  • Reboot the iPhone, or turn on a previously shutdown iPhone X. You can reboot an iPhone through a button sequence, or by using the Shut Down menu in iOS Settings on the device
  • Leave the device locked and unused for longer than 48 hours
  • Remotely locking the iPhone via Find My iPhone will disable Face ID
  • Leave the iPhone idle and do not unlock it with a passcode for six and a half days, and not with Face ID in the prior 4 hours

Face ID logo

As mentioned earlier, you can also disable Face ID completely by going into the iOS Settings app on iPhone, then going to Face ID and turning the feature off with a toggle switch. That may not be desirable for all users however. With Face ID completely turned off, users must enter a passcode successfully to unlock and access iPhone, similar to how if you completely turn off Touch ID you would have to enter the passcode to access an iOS device.

Why might someone want to disable Face ID temporarily on their iPhone? Perhaps you don’t want someone to be able to hold your iPhone up to your face to unlock it and gain access to the device, whether that’s a kid, partner, friend, person, law enforcement, spouse, or anyone else. Or perhaps you don’t want to unintentionally unlock your device yourself while you’re looking at it and using it for demonstration purposes or something else. Or maybe you’d just rather use your passcode for that particular access attempt. In any case, you now know how you can temporarily disable Face ID on iPhone, so use it if you want to and when you need it!

And yes this article covers the iPhone, but you can also temporarily disable Face ID on iPad with the same techniques.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Security, Tips & Tricks

3 Comments

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  1. MAX says:

    I wonder why someone would need to turn the Face ID recognition feature?
    What to do if it was disabled and you need to enable it.

  2. Dun says:

    I can see law enforcement and customs unlocking people’s phone’s without any consideration for the law. This helps a little, but you need to think fast.

    And before anyone says, /if you have nothing to hide’, because we all do. Most people now have nudes of their partner, and those are not for sharing with the cops.

  3. Secundius says:

    Ohhh, that would definitely Make Me go out and Buy a “iPhone X”!/? Another Device that WON’T or CAN’T do what it was Advertised to do…

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