12 Ultra Useful Touch ID Tricks for Mac

Sep 27, 2022 - 5 Comments

Touch ID tricks for Mac

Touch ID for Mac is super useful, and now that basically all modern Mac laptops have Touch ID sensors on their keyboards, and the new Magic Keyboards for Mac have Touch ID, you’re almost certain to encounter the biometric authenticator when using a Mac.

We’ll review some handy and interesting Touch ID tricks for the Mac, ranging from improving Touch ID response, to alternate biometric authentication options (including a few super unique options you almost certainly haven’t considered), to faster sudo usage with Touch ID, to making purchases and autofill easier, logging into the Mac, and more.

1: Add Multiple Fingerprints

While most of us use a single fingerprint for Touch ID, it can be useful to add an additional backup fingerprint.

This can be useful for many situations, whether the finger is covered in a bandaid, or you just want to have a backup fingerprint available.

Do this through  Apple menu > System Preference > Touch ID > + Add Fingerprint

2: Use Other Body Parts for Touch ID, Instead of Fingerprints

An interesting Touch ID fact; you don’t necessarily have to use fingerprints. In fact, you can also use toe prints, nose prints, or, uhm, other body parts, which will also register into Touch ID and work for authenticating at any Touch ID prompt. So get creative, if you’re up for it anyway.

To try this out, just go to add a new fingerprint, and use the other body part instead.

Go t  Apple menu > System Preference > Touch ID > + Add Fingerprint > and use the other appendage or body part instead of a finger.

3: Add the Same Fingerprint Twice in Different Conditions

Another great trick is to add the same fingerprint twice, but in different skin conditions. For example, maybe you want add the same fingerprint but after you got out of the bath and your finger is all wrinkled? Or perhaps the same fingerprint after you’ve been wearing gloves all day and your finger is dry?

Whatever the situation, adding the same fingerprint twice with different skin conditions will dramatically improve the ability of the feature to unlock for you.

4: Authenticate sudo with Touch ID

If you’re a heavy command line user, you’ll be thrilled to know they can use Touch ID for sudo in lieu of entering the admin superuser password. Setting this up is fairly easy to anyone experienced at the command line:

First login to root:
sudo su -

Now enter the following command to append the Touch ID module to sudo authentication options:
sudo echo "auth sufficient pam_tid.so" >> /etc/pam.d/sudo

You can now use sudo with Touch ID, no entering passwords required!

use Touch ID for sudo on Mac

This makes executing commands with sudo super fast, and is particularly nice when you need to execute the previous command with sudo privileges.

5: Use Animal Paw Prints for Touch ID

Sure you can use your own fingerprints, or toeprints, or body prints, but did you know you can also use an animals paw print? Yes really! Grab your (willing) cat or dog, and you can use one of their paw toes to add to Touch ID on the Mac.

This tends to work best with softer animal paw prints, which is perhaps why it works better with indoor cats than a particularly burly outdoor active dog print.

This may sound goofy, but if you want to add a secret backup print to Touch ID that someone else could use, but you don’t want to add their finger directly or perhaps you can’t because they aren’t nearby at the moment – for example a house-sitter – well, this just may fit the bill!

6: Rename Fingerprints

By default, the added fingerprints are called Finger 1, Finger 2, but you can rename these simply by clicking on the name.

This is useful if you want to specify what each print is for, or if you’re doing one of the above tricks to add a different body part, or animal print, as Touch ID.

Rename Fingerprints in Touch ID

7: Delete Fingerprints

You can remove any fingerprint (or alternate print) at any time, simply by hovering your mouse cursor over the print you want to delete, then clicking the (X) button and confirming you wish to remove that print.

This must be done in the Touch ID system preference panel, of course.

8: Unlock / Login with Touch ID

The ability to unlock and login to a Mac with Touch ID is incredibly useful.

Fortunately this feature is enabled by default, but if for some reason it’s not turned on your Mac, go to System Preferences > Touch ID > and toggle the switch for “Use Touch ID for Unlocking your Mac”.

9: Access Keychain Password Autofill with Touch ID

The ability to access and authenticate Keychain autofill using Touch ID is incredibly convenient, as it makes online logins, shopping, and purchases so much easier.

Whenever you’re in Safari and going to login to a website or make a credit card purchase, you can simply authenticate with Touch ID and the autofill information is immediately available.

This is enabled by default if you use iCloud Keychain (and you should, it’s a great feature!), but if you find it the setting in System Preferences > Touch ID.

10: Use Touch ID for Apple Pay

Similar to using Touch ID to authenticate iCloud Keychain, you can also use it to authenticate and make quick purchases with Apple Pay.

You’ll of course need Apple Pay setup for use on the Mac, and this setting will be enabled by default if that is the case, otherwise you can find it to toggle in System Preferences > Touch ID.

11: Use Touch ID for Fast User Switching

If you make use of Fast User Switching on macOS, then make sure you have Touch ID enabled to make the process of switching between user accounts even faster and easier.

This setting is available in System Preferences > Touch ID.

12: Make Purchases in iTunes, App Store, Books

Of course you can also use Touch ID to authenticate purchases and downloads in iTunes, App Store, and Apple Books. This makes buying media, music, movies, books super easy, and it also really simplifies downloading and buying apps from the App Store.

Enabled by default, you can toggle this setting on or off in macOS System Preferences > Touch ID.

What do you think of these Touch ID tricks for Mac? We’re obviously focusing on the Mac here, but these tips will apply to most iPad and iPhone models with Touch ID too. Do you have any additional Touch ID tips or tricks? Share them with us in the comments!


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS, Security, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Carrie Williams says:

    D to authenticate sudo commands, this means you can use your fingerprint to authenticate as the superuser rather than typing in your password.

    5: Use Touch ID for iCloud Keychain

    If you have iCloud Keychain enabled on the Mac, you can use Touch ID to quickly and easily authenticate to fill in saved usernames and passwords, credit card details, and more.

    6: Use Touch ID for 1Password

    1Password is a fantastic password manager, and like iCloud Keychain, you can use Touch ID to quickly and easily authenticate to fill in saved usernames and passwords, credit card details, and more.

    7: Improve Touch ID Response Time

    Touch ID can be a bit finicky, and sometimes it can take a few attempts before it recognizes your fingerprint and unlocks the Mac. If you find yourself in this situation often, you can train Touch ID to be more responsive to your fingerprint by scanning it multiple times.

  2. Dale says:

    The command:

    sudo echo “auth sufficient pam_tid.so” >> /etc/pam.d/sudo

    Failed with:
    permission denied: /etc/pam.d/sudo

    That was after I successfully logged in with
    sudo su –

    • Sam says:

      The file system that contains /etc/pam.d/sudo is read-only.

      This tip will need to be rewritten for current OS versions, is going to involve recovery mode I suspect.

      Too bad, it would be handy.

  3. Tristan Hubsch says:

    Why are sections 2, 3 and two lines of 4 linking to a 2013 article on “P0sixpwn Jailbreak” ??

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