How to set up Touch ID and your new iPhone or iPad

Touch ID on iPad Air 4
Touch ID on iPad Air 4 (Image credit: iMore)

Having Touch ID on a new Apple device is a rare sight these days. However, there are still some new products with this feature, including the 2020 iPhone SE and the newest iPad Air 4. If you just got any of these new devices, then here's everything you need to know on how to set up Touch ID.

Understanding your options

There are several ways to get started with a new iPad or iPhone that uses Touch ID.

  • Set up as "new", which means starting everything — every setting — from scratch. This is for people who've never used a smartphone or online services before.
  • Restore from a previous iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch backup. You can do that online with iCloud or over USB with iTunes. This is for people who've had a previous iOS device and are moving to a new one.
  • Import from Android, BlackBerry, or Windows Phone. Apple has an app in Google Play to make Android easier, but online services let you move a lot of data over from any old device. This is for people switching to iPhone or iPad.

How to set up Touch ID on iPad or iPhone

Regardless of whether you're setting up as new, restoring from backup, or switching from another device, everything starts off the same way.

  1. Touch slide to set up and, as it says, slide your finger across the screen to get started.
  2. Choose your language. If you bought your iPhone or iPad in your home country, it should pick the right one automatically.
  3. Choose your country or region. Likewise, this should default to the correct place if you live where you bought it.
  4. Choose a Wi-Fi network and enter its password, if necessary. If you don't have access to Wi-Fi or no networks are found, you can choose Use Cellular instead for an iPhone or iPad with data.
  5. Wait for your iPhone or iPad to activate. It can take a few moments.
  6. Choose whether or not you want to enable Location Services. You can always change your mind later, but keep in mind you'll need to enable at least some location services to use apps like Maps.
  7. Set up your Passcode and Touch ID. You can skip this step by selecting Set Up Touch ID Later but security is important. If you need extra help, here's how to set up Touch ID on your new iPhone or iPad

How to restore or transfer your data from an old smartphone or tablet

As part of the process, you're given the option to set up your iPhone or iPad as a new device, restore from a previous device's iCloud or iTunes backup, or — for iPhone — move over your data from Android.

If you want to restore or transfer your data from an old iPhone, iPad, Android device, Windows Phone or Surface, or BlackBerry, here are your options:

Otherwise, you'll need to start as new. There's also the option of setting your device up as a new iPhone, rather than restoring from a backup, as detailed in the article below.

How to set up your Touch ID supported iPad or iPhone as new

Touch ID on MacBook Pro

Multiple iPhones are stacked showing the Touch ID sensor. (Image credit: iMore)

If you're a first-time iPhone or iPad user and don't need to move your data, here's what you need to do. First, you'll need to link your device to your iCloud account. You have a few options for this:

  1. Sign in with an existing iCloud Apple ID — simply enter your username (typically your email address) and password).
  2. Tap Use different Apple IDs for iCloud and iTunes if that's how you have things set up.
  3. Create a new, free Apple ID.
  4. Tap Skip This Step if you don't want to do either right now, or you don't have an Apple ID yet. You can always go back and create one or sign in from the Settings app at any time.

How to set up your iPhone or iPad as new: Sign in with an exisiting iCloud Apple ID. You can tap use different Apple IDs for iCloud and iTunes, if you need to. Create a new Apple ID. If you want, you (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap to agree to Apple's Terms and Conditions.
  2. Confirm that you agree one more time.
  3. Set up Apple Pay, Apple's Touch ID-based payment option, if it's available in your area.
  4. Set up iCloud Keychain, if you want to store and sync your passwords across all your devices
  5. Set up Siri, Apple's voice-activated assistant. If you need extra help, here's how to set up 'Hey Siri' on iPhone and iPad
  6. Also set up "Hey Siri,", if you want to automatically trigger Siri with the aforementioned catchphrase.

How to set up your iPhone or iPad as new: Agree to Apple's Term and Conditions and confirm that you agree. Set up Apple Pay, if available. Also, set up an iCloud Keychain to store your all your passwo (Image credit: iMore)
  1. Tap to send Diagnostic information to Apple when apps crash or other issues arise. If you'd rather not, just tap Don't Send.
  2. Turn on Display Zoom, if you need the extra visual accessibility of a larger interface.

How to set up your iPhone or iPad as new: If you want, you can send Diagnostic information to Apple. This is optional, so if you don't want to just tap on Don't Send. Turn on Display Zoome if you need (Image credit: iMore)

And with that, you're done with the initial setup process for iPad and iPhone with Touch ID!

Questions on how to set up Touch ID on your new iPhone or iPad?

If you're having any issues while trying to set up Touch ID on your new iPhone or iPad, or you have any other questions about the initial setup process, then let us know in the comments.

Updated November 2020: Updated for iOS 14 and iPadOS 14.

Lory Gil

Lory is a renaissance woman, writing news, reviews, and how-to guides for iMore. She also fancies herself a bit of a rock star in her town and spends too much time reading comic books.  If she's not typing away at her keyboard, you can probably find her at Disneyland or watching Star Wars (or both).