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Touch ID provides its users with an alternative way to authenticate themselves on their computers. Instead of entering/re-entering the password time and again, one can easily log in to the OS directly through their ID. However, sometimes, this feature fails to respond and abruptly stops working on a Mac.
This unresponsive Touch ID issue usually occurs due to unsuitable configurations on your System Preferences. Also, this form of authentication is not compatible with every Mac version. So, a system update and altering the preference settings are your best bet for fixing this issue.
However, there are a couple of other fixes as well, and all those methods are explained below briefly.
Unsuitable Touch ID settings
A dirty keyboard/hand
Automatic login feature
Corrupted SMC data
Along with the causes mentioned above, here are all the reasons why Touch ID is not working on your mac:
Furthermore, the Touch ID does not work in all scenarios. For example, every time you turn on your computer, you cannot log in directly from your touch ID. On the first login menu after the system startup, you have to manually enter your password. After this, when your system goes to sleep or switches to the login page, you can log in with your Touch ID.
Similarly, here are other scenarios when you have to manually enter the password rather than relying on the Touch ID:
When changing the Touch ID system settings.
When your system has not been turned on for more than or equal to 48 hours.
When your Touch ID does not get recognized for 5 successive times.
Whenever your Touch ID is not working, it’s best for you to restart your computer first. This will remove any OS bugs and glitches from the previous session.
Furthermore, the next time you turn on your system, make sure that you lightly hold and cover the Touch sensor with your finger. That’s because, sometimes, the sensor might take a while to verify your ID. So, if you move your finger quickly, it might not work. But if it does not do much, follow the methods briefed below.
The Touch ID authentication feature is not compatible with every mac computer. Moreover, if your iMac has an Intel chip instead of Apple Silicon, the magic keyboard’s Touch ID sensor will not work on your system.
Furthermore, your macOS version also determines if the Touch ID is compatible with your system or not. That is, if your system build is lower than Big Sur 11.4, this feature is not compatible. But you can counter this shortcoming by updating your system to the latest version (if possible).
Here’s how you check your system’s characteristics:
If you use a magic keyboard with an iMac, you can try and restart your keyboard to see if it fixes your issue. Doing so will discard certain hardware glitches and establishes a fresh connection with your system. The magic keyboard usually has an ‘Off’ button on its side panel. Press this button to turn on your keyboard.
Then, connect the keyboard to your computer with its lighting cable. Now, turn on your keyboard and start up your OS. The Touch ID could work now.
The System Preferences window offers you to configure your Touch ID in various different ways. For starters, you can add multiple Touch IDs on your system, all of which can be used to authenticate your account.
Also, if you have not set your Touch ID to unlock your computer or use the Apple Pay service, among others, your Touch ID will not respond when you perform those particular tasks. So, here’s how you correctly configure your Touch ID settings.
Greasy hands and a dirty touch sensor are not a good combination. When your hands are unclean, the touch sensor will not be able to read and register your fingerprint. Similarly, when the sensor itself is dirty/dusty, it will not work.
So, it’s important that you clean your hands and dry them up before you try logging in to your system. Also, you can clean your sensors with a soft microfibre cloth dipped in Isopropyl alcohol (70%). However, be sure that you let the sensor completely air dry before using it.
The automatic login feature on the macOS is designed to automatically log the user into the OS without the need for a password or any other authentication method. So, if you have this feature enabled on your system, there is no need for the Touch sensor to register and verify your fingerprint.
The keyboard plist files store certain keyboard options and profile options. However, sometimes these plist can get corrupted and will result in certain malfunctions, such as a faulty Touch sensor.
But, these corrupted data can be reset by deleting the plist file entirely. Once you do so, your system will automatically create a new plist file the next time you use your keyboard. So, here’s how you clear the plist files:
The SMC is responsible for ensuring that your hardware devices perform their tasks efficiently and without any fault. It’s a pretty important part of your system’s stability and performance. So, the SMC manages your Touch ID and registers your fingerprint when you place it on the sensor.
But, if your Touch ID is not working, the data in your System Management Controller (SMC) might have gone corrupted. And to fix this corruption, you can reset the SMC. Once you do so, your touch sensor will go up and running in no time.
As we mentioned above, the Touch ID feature will only work on macs with a build of Big Sur 11.4 or greater. So, if you have not updated your system for a long while, now is the time to do so. Then, not only will you be able to use this feature to its full potential, your system will be patched with additional software features and security strategies as well.
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