A Guide to Fixing Touch ID Not Working on MacBook

Although fingerprint authentication is becoming obsolete on iPhones (thanks to Face ID), Touch ID is still very much the in-thing on MacBooks. Touch ID is fast, convenient, and easy to set up on MacBooks. You can use it to unlock your Apple device or pay apps and other products. Though it is marveled, Touch ID does fail at times and leaves you stranded.

Fix touch id not working macbook featured image

Touch ID authentication often fails if your finger is moist or extremely dry. Similarly, if your finger is seared with oil, lotion, sweat, or any other obstructive material, then you’ll face trouble unlocking your MacBook.

So if your MacBook suddenly stops recognizing your finger, you clean your finger(s) and the Touch ID sensor with a dry, lint-free cloth. Then try again. If the problem persists, proceed to the solutions in the section below.

1. Reset SMC

The System Management Controller (SMC) is responsible for activities relating to power, fan, battery, and other hardware like the fingerprint sensor. If you find that some of the aforementioned components of your MacBook aren’t working correctly, resetting the SMC could help restore them to normal.

According to the detailed research we conducted, we found that several affected users could get Touch ID working again on their Mac by resetting its SMC.

Fix touch id not working macbook

Follow the steps below to get it done.

Step 1: Shut down your MacBook and wait for about 10 seconds.

Step 2: Next, tap and hold the Shift key (on the right side of your keyboard) + Option key (on the left side of your keyboard) + Control key (on the left side of your keyboard) simultaneously for 7 seconds.

Fix touch id not working macbook 09

Step 3: Without releasing the three keys (in step #2), tap and hold the power button.

Fix touch id not working macbook 10

Hold these four keys (Right Shift + Option + Control + Power Button) for about 7 seconds. Your Mac will come on for a few seconds and turn back off in the process.

Step 4: Finally, release the four keys after 7 seconds and tap the power button.

Upon restart, you’ll be prompted to enter your Mac’s password to log in to your device. Afterward, put your Mac to sleep, turn it back on and check if Touch ID now works.

Note: You cannot sign in with Touch ID after shutting down or restarting your Mac; you’ll be prompted to sign in with a password. Touch ID can only be used to unlock your Mac when you put it to sleep.

2. Check Touch ID Configuration

Fix touch id not working macbook image

If Touch ID isn’t working for some apps and services (e.g., App Store, Apple Pay, etc.) on your Mac, you should check that biometric (read: fingerprint) authentication is enabled for the affected apps/services.

Step 1: Launch System Preferences and select Touch ID.

Fix touch id not working macbook 01

Step 2: In the ‘Use Touch ID for’ section, make sure you check the activities and apps that you want to authenticate using fingerprint.

Fix touch id not working macbook 02

If Touch ID still doesn’t work for the selected apps/services, uncheck all the options, and shut down your Mac. When you turn it back on, check all the options (in step #2) and see if Touch ID now works with the selected apps.

3. Re-Add Fingerprints

Another reason why Touch ID isn’t working on your Mac could be because your fingerprint(s) were registered wrongly. When setting up Touch ID, it is recommended that you ensure the sensor sufficiently captures the ridges and surface of your finger. If the sensor only captures and registers a portion of your finger, Touch ID might fail to work on some occasions.

To fix this, delete the registered finger(s) and re-add a new fingerprint. You can move your finger around enough for the sensor to capture the entire surface of your prints..

Step 1: Go to System Preferences and select Touch ID.

Fix touch id not working macbook 01

Step 2: Hover your cursor on the fingerprint you want to delete and click the x icon.

Fix touch id not working macbook 03

Step 3: Enter your Mac’s password to proceed.

Fix touch id not working macbook 04

Step 4: Click Delete on the warning prompt.

Fix touch id not working macbook 05

Step 5: Now, click ‘Add a fingerprint’ to add a new finger.

Fix touch id not working macbook 06

Step 6: Rest and lift your finger on the sensor at different angles until all the edges of your fingers are captured.

Fix touch id not working macbook 07

Step 7: When you get a ‘Touch ID is Ready’ message, tap Done.

Fix touch id not working macbook 08

macOS can store up to three fingerprints. So, we recommend that you add an alternate fingerprint to your Mac. That way, if your PC fails to recognize a particular finger (perhaps because it is bruised or moist), you can use the alternate finger(s).

Restore Touch ID

Some users couldn’t sign in with Touch ID after installing a bug-ridden macOS version on their Mac. We recommend that you install only stable version(s) of macOS on your device. Go to System Preferences > Software Update and check if there’s an update available for your Mac. If Touch ID is still not working after trying all the recommended solutions in this guide, we suggest that you take your Mac to an Apple Store near you to get it examined for possible hardware damage.

Next up: Are you unable to close applications on your Mac because the Force Quit function isn’t working? Refer to the troubleshooting tricks in the guide linked below to get the issue fixed.

Last updated on 13 July, 2021

The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.