Touch ID not working for you? Here's a fix!

Touch ID not working for you? Here's a fix!

Since Touch ID debuted there have been numerous reports of it not working so well for some people. From high failure rates to fingerprints becoming less sensitive over time, there's no denying some people experience problems. Steve Gibson over on TWiT's Security Now podcast recently talked about how to overtrain Touch ID to get better accurate rates. Here's how to try it:

How to overtrain Touch ID for a better accuracy rate

  1. Launch the Settings app and tap on General.
  2. Tap on Touch ID & Passcode and enter your numerical passcode when prompted.
  3. Now tap on Touch ID.
  4. Here you see a list of all your registered fingerprints. Place one of your registered fingers on the Touch ID sensor. The registered print will pulse grey. Continue placing and lifting each registered finger as many times as you'd like to train Touch ID further.

Supposedly this method overtrains Touch ID further than what the initial registration does which results in better accuracy. I personally have never had issues with Touch ID but I've had friends who have and I've recommended this to them. Some are claiming it has worked but the key is to move your finger in very small increments at a time so each registered print has the best overall image of your print. If you want to hear Steve Gibson's entire explanation of overtraining Touch ID, be sure to check out the podcast in its entirety via the link below.

If you've been having issues with Touch ID accuracy, give this a try and let us know in the comments how it works for you. Did it make it any better or are you still getting high failure rates?

Source: Security Now

Thanks to @lionheartck for making me aware of this!

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Touch ID not working for you? Here's a fix!

41 Comments

I've had some strange/annoying experiences with Touch ID recently. Up until a couple of weeks ago it worked perfectly. But all of a sudden it started playing up - but seemingly only on the thumb that I use 95% of the time to unlock the phone. I assumed the sensor was dirty, so gave it a good clean. But still the thumb only work about 1/3 of the time (the three other prints registered continued to work fine).

In order to resolve I did the following;
I left my thumb (that I normally use to unlock the phone) as Fingerprint number 1. FPs 2-4 are other fingers that I'll sometimes use if the phone is on a flat surface or in the other hand, so I left them alone. But FP number 5 I set up as new but logged the same thumb as FP 1. So now I have my right thumb logged under FP 1 & 5 and it's been working a treat since - obviously as it now has 2 sources to compare against, so if it doesn't quite work one FP1 it'll pretty much always work off FP5.

Thanks for the tip! I found I had to lift and place my finger multiple times to get it to register. Will see how this works.

I only use my Thumb for my touch ID. At first I was having problems but then I just added my Thumb a few more times to the touch ID. Now I have 3/5 prints used up all of my Thumb. Hasn't failed me yet.

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Nope. That's why I asked for people to try it and report back. Mine has always worked fine so I don't personally see a difference.

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Skeptical is good, but... Through years of evidence to his credit, Steve Gibson is not a man to make up stuff for fun. She cited the podcast, listen to it if you are unsure. He likely isn't privy to any Apple secrets but gives compelling reasons. Besides, how could it NOT work? if you are using 4 different profiles of the same finger and slightly rotating and changing the training method on each, how could it not be any better?

My sensor has had about a 96% success rate since I first got the 5s in October. It works pretty much all the time, except for a few. One thing I have noticed though is that when my fingers are wet or damp, it won't work at all. The same stands true if my finger happens to be cold. Apparently the touch id doesn't take too well to cold weather, especially like the recent days we've had here in Chicago. Though other than that it works as often as it should and more often than I expected it to.

I know this is a but off topic but one thing that does annoy is the material of the home button. It is literally the hardest part of the phone to clean! It attracts prints so easily and the smudges are hard to get off with a normal cloth or squeegee. This bothers me even further because Apple recently filed a patent which grants them the implication of sapphire as the new make up of their future phone screens, replacing the gorilla glass that they've been using since the iPhone 4. Yes, I'm aware that sapphire is the hardest material in the world next diamond, but if you're anything like me then you probably hate using screen protectors and this practically make it a necessity. Oh well, all change is good with Apple I suppose. With that being said, I hope they capitalize on the touch id and expand on it further with the iPhone 6 because as a standalone spec, it has a world of potential.

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Has anyone tried this and had no response from the touch if indicator? Mine will not turn gray when I try to "overtrain" the stored prints. It stays the static red fingerprint icon...

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That's not what turns gray. It's the Finger 1 or Finger 2 below that will turn gray, depending on which finger it is sensing.

I registered both of my thumbs twice and that seems to have worked great. I have far less errors in my fingers being read now.

Thanks for the suggestion. Response time on Touch ID feels a little better after implementing suggestion! Will watch for a few more days to give a final conclusion

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Would love to know why I don't have a shortcut to touch id like Ally does. I have to click general then scroll down and click touch id. she has hers right below sounds. I don't have that.

I was thinking the same thing.

Mine gets to a point where it say you're done and doesn't scan my finger any more. (Just like always)

Training my finger under several prints help, IMHO...

I registered both thumbs twice, and one index finger, once.
On the second time for each thumb, I rotated the phone through 90 degrees before registering. TouchID is now works 99% of the time.
I think it should allow for at least 10 fingers.

If you reboot your phone, you have to enter your 4 digit code. Touch ID will not work. Kind of defeats the purpose of touch ID. If my phone is stolen, first thing they will do is reboot, or reset it. They have a better chance getting a four digit code than your touch ID.

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Settings>General>Touch ID & Passcode; switch it off and set a longer alphanumeric code to make it harder to guess. You'll only need to enter it when you reboot your phone or your fingerprint fails to register after several attempts.

You can choose to enter the passcode anytime, not just after a restart.

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I think you are missing the point of Touch ID. First off, you can attempt the passcode anytime. You do not have to reboot first. As for Touch ID itself: I don't have the statistic, but a staggering high number of iPhones roam about without any passcode. Touch ID is about making secure phones a ubiquitous feature.
What is the percentage of iPhone 5's without a passcode? Very high.
What is the percentage of iPhone 5s's without a passcode? I bet you very low, since Touch ID is one of the marquee features.
Touch ID is about improving phone security for the common man. If Touch ID gets many more people to have a locked phone, then it is a success.

Yeah touch ID is not reliable at all. its pretty annoying when you have to try like 4 times and then end up entering a passcode in the end

This works for me. I tried registering 2 slots for each thumb, but those were forgotten over time. Then, I tried the iMore suggestion from a few weeks back, where I made a concerted effort to get a wide surface for each thumb. But, again, over time one thumb was mostly forgotten and the other became less reliable. After overtraining the one that still works, it now works better. And I retrained a new slot for my other thumb and then overtrained it using this method. It's working better over all. But my question is - why does this happen? It's supposed to get better as you successfully use it, not worse. Unfortunately, too, I can say the iOS 7.1 beta has not made it any better...

This advice seems to help (albeit for only a day). Still, I haven't drank the Touch ID Kool-Aid as of yet...

This is a great suggestion! I will have to train touch I'd while watching a movie. Thanks for the tip!

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I have had zero issues with Touch ID. I have had it prompt me to "Try Again" maybe a handful of times since I've owned my iPhone 5s (first day it was out). I've used it after just putting on hand lotion not expecting it to work, unlocked no problem. So it's always weird when I hear about people who have had issues with it.

I agree this may be training the sense of the fingerprint, but I also think there may be a limit to how much it's going to remember about your fingerprint. For example, I registered a new finger like normal, focusing on the center area during registration. Then, I started my extra training focusing on one side of the finger. Slowly moved around the tip to the other side, and trained that side thoroughly. Then, suddenly jump back to the other over-trained side, nothing. It was completely gone. Had to get back to the area I had just left to sense the finger.

I know no one has said you can map your entire body with this method under a single fingerprint, but I also think there is a limit to how many scans it is retaining and sensing.

I personally blame failure on my thumb getting dry due to the weather and new very tiny cracks forming. Using some lotion every few days has patched that problem.

My right thumb is my preferred fingerprint to unlock my phone. I never worked that well, and the dry winter weather seems to make it worse. I had pretty much given up, and was using my pass code to unlock my phone. Overtraining didn't seem to work; the print # wouldn't even gray out when I tried. Added my thumb as two other fingerprints, and that seems to have improved my success rate. See how it goes over the next few days.

Doesn't improve it for me. Touch ID deteriates within a day, so not usable. Just wish Apple would come out and say whether it's a hardware fault or a software bug.

This works great now. I set up 2 touch id's and now I get instant unlock with barely a pause. It had gotten so bad that I actually turned off touch id.

This worked great for me. I also inadvertently discovered that if you swipe to the left on the individual fingerprint, you can rename it. You have to do it "blind" because the text is off the screen but it does work.

For all out there, who have trouble with TouchID:

Whenever the TouchID doesn't work 3 times in a row, before the fourth attempt, I wipe the touch sensor with some fabric (like an eyeglass wiper) or my t-shirt, whatever is available.

I still cannot believe it but 95% of the time, fourth attempt works like a charm after the wipe.

KorayB

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Touch ID is a non feature. Or a beta feature at best. Tried all of the tips above and still less than 50% success rate. The Apple store genius even gave me a replacement phone when the first didn't seem to be reading my finger correctly. And I was told that "some people" have prints that just aren't prevalent enough to be properly scanned. Somehow I doubt that the DMV or FBI would have a similar problem!

Thanks a lot .. I was facing problems with my touch id ... But
After reading this ... It works far more accurate
Great job

I have a 5s that is running IOS 8.1. TouchID is a real pain. I have registered the same finger 4 times. Each time, TouchID works for 2 or 3 times after the new registration, then it stops working. It is extremely annoying and non-functional. I've stopped attempting to use it because it does not work except for the 2 or 3 times after re-registering a finger. I've "overtrained" as directed and will give this a try (TouchID worked immediately afterwards). Maybe it will continue to work.