enable touch id

One of the most useful features on an iPhone is Touch ID. Instead of constantly tapping in your PIN whenever you want into your phone, you can alternatively press one of your fingers against the Home button. If you want to enable Touch ID, then you need to start it yourself, as it is not switched on by default.

You should also bear in mind the security implications of Touch ID, so knowing how to quickly disable the feature is also advantageous.

Enable Touch ID On Your iPhone

Turning it on is a cinch as we will now demonstrate. However, it requires a light touch on the Home button which required some creativity to get the following screenshots! The screen clearly shows that you can add as many fingers as you want, but for security reasons, I would recommend only one.

Here’s a trick for you. Everyone naturally uses their thumb or forefinger to unlock their phone. So do it different with your phone. Use your pinky finger. Or your middle finger. That way, if someone tries to force your thumb onto the Home button, it is not going to work.

How To Enable Touch ID

Go to Settings–>Touch ID & Passcode. You will then be asked to log in with your PIN code (if you have one set up – and you SHOULD!). On the screen, tap “Add a Fingerprint“. The following screen will appear.

As the screen indicates, lift and rest your finger repeatedly on the Home button. Up and down, up and down. If you go too fast or too slow, it will tell you. The more you do so, the more the fingerprint icon will turn red.

Eventually you will see a fingerprint start to form on the screen. You’re almost there.

Now it will tell you to “adjust your grip”. This is where the Home button sensor scans your finger even wider to “capture the edges”.

Just keep doing what you did before – up and down, lift and rest. As you do so, you will see the outer rings of the fingerprint slowly being filled in.

When the phone has decided it has enough of a print, it will give you the “Complete” screen. Now tap “Continue“.

Under the Fingerprints section, you will now see “Finger 1″ which is the profile of the scan you just made. If for any reason you want to scan another finger, tap “Add a Fingerprint” and repeat the above process.

Once you have got all of your finger scans into the phone, you can then toggle Touch ID on and off. Under “Use Touch ID For“, decide if you want to use it to unlock the iPhone and to use the iTunes & App store. For the latter, you can use your Touch ID to download apps, books, podcasts, and music, instead of entering your password.

Disable Touch ID On Your iPhone

With convenience though comes risk. You may think that Touch ID is saving you time and hassle not having to enter your PIN. But in the US (at least), judges have repeatedly ruled that the police do NOT need a warrant to demand you open your phone with Touch ID. But they DO need a warrant if Touch ID is switched off and a PIN is required.

This is important if you are say an activist or if you frequently go through airports. If you are likely to encounter law enforcement, it is advisable to disable Touch ID entirely. You can always set it up again later.

How To Disable It

Go to Settings–>Touch ID & Passcode. You will then be asked to log in with your PIN code (if you have one set up – and you SHOULD!). The following screen will appear.

Scroll down to “Finger 1” and tap on it. If you have further fingers scanned in, they will appear underneath. But you have to do each one individually.

Tap “Delete Fingerprint“. It will then take you out of that screen and back into the previous screen.

To make sure you have definitely deleted the fingerprint scan, scroll down to the “Fingerprints” section and make sure the one you tapped on is gone. If it is, continue the procedure for any other fingerprints you have stored on this screen.

Conclusion

Touch ID is convenient and also perhaps a little bit cool to unlock your phone with. Therefore a strong six digit PIN code is always the better form of security. If you enable BOTH the PIN and Touch ID then it is an extra layer of security for you.

Mark O'Neill
Mark O'Neill
Freelance journalist and editor living in Würzburg, Germany. Former Managing Editor of makeuseof.com (2007-2013), and contributing writer for other sites such as PC World and Quiet Light Brokerage. Specializing in online security and privacy issues.