Touch ID not working? Try this

By , Jan 14, 2016

iPhone 6 space gray Touch ID

Has your Touch ID experience been a little flaky lately? There are various reasons that you might not be having the best of luck unlocking your iPhone or iPad with your Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

It is the fastest way to unlock your device, give permission to digital content store purchases, and authenticate supported third-party app logins, but no one likes it when problems arise. In this tutorial, we’ll take you through the steps to recalibrate your Touch ID sensor when it feels like Touch ID fails to authenticate more than it actually authenticates.

Potential causes for problems

Touch ID may stop working in conditions where your fingerprints become wet or dirty; this may happen while exercising, cooking, changing your oil, doing outside work, and other similar activities. Likewise, cuts, lotions, oils, sweat, and even dry skin can affect the accuracy of reading your fingerprint, so before you take any drastic measures, you should check for these issues as noted by one of Apple’s support pages.

When you are absolutely sure that none of these reasons are affecting your Touch ID accuracy, then you probably have a problem on your hands, so continue reading to get to the bottom of things once and for all.

Recalibrating the Touch ID sensor

Whether it’s because you set up Touch ID incorrectly from the beginning, or you believe it’s become unreliable over time, there are all sorts of reasons why your iPhone or iPad’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor may not be picking up your fingerprint as well as it used to, or as well as it should. Sometimes in these kinds of scenarios, the best thing to do is just start all over.

To do that, you’ll just need to follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Launch the Settings app and open “Touch ID & Passcode;” enter your passcode when prompted.


Step 2: Tap on the fingerprint you’re having problems with, then tap the “Delete Fingerprint” button.


Step 3: Tap on the “Add a Fingerprint…” button to begin re-scanning the finger you deleted.

touch-id-settings-5Step 4: Place your finger on the Touch ID sensor in various ways – right-side-up, up-side-down, and sideways until the fingerprint icon becomes fully colored.

touch-id-settings-3Step 5: When asked to adjust your grip, scan the edges of that finger until the fingerprint icon becomes fully colored.

Note: Scan the front, the back, and the sides of that finger in ways you think you will unlock your device in situations where your grip isn’t the best.

Step 6: Tap on the “Continue” button when the process is complete to save your fingerprint.


Step 7: Lock your device and verify that the fingerprint works; if it does, congratulations!

Touch ID still not working properly?

If after taking these steps to recalibrate your Touch ID fingerprint sensor, you still can’t unlock your iOS device with your fingerprint, there may be something else wrong other than user error. Consider these troubleshooting steps:

  • Clean the Touch ID sensor with a microfiber cloth to remove finger oils and residue.
  • Use a different finger; the one you’re trying to use may not have a bold fingerprint.
  • DFU Restore your device to factory settings through iTunes and try again.
  • Contact AppleCare and have Apple check to make sure your Touch ID sensor isn’t malfunctioning.


No one likes a finicky Touch ID fingerprint sensor, but hopefully after trying these steps, you’ll have been able to get back to unlocking your iOS device with your fingerprint in no time.

Did this tutorial help you get back up and running again? Share in the comments below!

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  • diggitydang

    Thanks! Mine has been a bit shoddy lately too! Off topic, but another weird thing that is happening is that my iPhone restarts overnight while charging. I caught it rebooting once, but I know it’s doing it because most mornings, I have to enter my passcode manually and App Store always requires my passcode because of it. Anyone else having this issue or know of a fix? I’m jailbroken on 9.0.2.

    • fawaz badranii

      might be cause of a tweak, installled something recently?

      • diggitydang

        Yeah, it’s been happening a long time, so I would have to try and test it, but I don’t really want to spend a day or two for each tweak to see if it continues to happen. I’m hoping someone might know something I don’t. Fingers crossed…

      • No one even knows what tweaks you have installed so no need to cross your fingers.

      • diggitydang

        Haha. I was crossing my fingers that someone would say “I have that problem. Uninstalled and haven’t had the same issue since”.

      • It’s usually not due to one tweak acting up but a combination of tweaks that you have that conflict with each other. So one would need to know which tweaks you’ve installed to further assess.

    • Rick Hart

      Mine too. iPad does it too

      • diggitydang

        Weird… It doesn’t happen every night either… only 2/3 nights or so.

    • the hood

      For a period of time across various jailbreaks this occured regularly and by chance I noted it to occur at exactly midnight. Not sure if that helps you.

    • Daniel Gibson

      thats issue has been caused by widgets with animations for some people, do you run animated widgets?

      I use the InstantTouchID tweak from Cydia and have had no issues, I use it because I like to be able to unock my iPhone from a black screen

  • Stefano Polo

    Ever since touch ID came out, it’s been flaky for me. I find the reason for me is due to the natural oil residue left from the previous touch. Whenever it doesn’t work for me, I would wipe it down with my thumb to remove any leftover residue and try again. This usually works like 85% of the time. However this is still cumbersome since just putting in the passcode ends up being quicker which I’ve been transitioning back to….

    • Kelvin Lieu

      yo i had the exact same issue as you until i learnt to tap the home button more gently. I used to tap with a lot more force (making sure not to press the button) and it would always fail. Try very gently placing the finger on the scanner and hopefully it will improve for you like it did for me.

  • pnh

    For some reason Touch ID works so much better for me in apps that utilize it more than for opening my device. App Store, Fidelity, etc always works the first time a quickly. Unlocking my phone can take 2 or 3 tries.

    • Stefano Polo

      I’ve been saying this for so long!!! It ALWAYS works within apps, never a problem. But unlocking the phone is a different story for some reason!

      My only guess is that there must be some sort of acceptable percent of matching going on and that unlocking the iPhone is at a much higher standards than what Apple sets for in app use

  • I only ever use my left and right thumbs, and my right thumb predominantly. What I do is save my right thumb print three times and my left two times and it works nearly every time for me.

    • Moses

      Very clever!

    • Guilherme 

      That’s a great method. I’m trying it out right now!

    • Anthony Bouchard

      Good tip!

  • askep3

    When you go into the Touch ID and passcode menu, you can hold down one of your fingers and it will highlight the “finger 1”, or “finger 2” depending on which one you used. I’m pretty sure this also trains it, so you don’t need to delete as add it again

  • diggitydang

    Same here… It’s been happening for awhile for me! I’m hoping someone was a little quicker on the ball than you or I and can suggest which tweak is doing this.

  • Yujin

    I read a few threads on Apple support about ios 9.2 breaking something and people actually doing the above and nothing happening until a full clean install is done. Anybody have any issues like that?

  • blu

    My wife has issues with her prints. I have done her thumbs and index fingers of both hands multiple times and it rarely works on her 6. When I had it, I never had issues, and still don’t (I currently have my thumb and index finger saved under 1 profile it works every time first time).
    On my 6s, I have found it almost works too well, I tap the home button to look at the notifications and it unlocks it. I now use the power button or a finger not assigned to touch ID.

  • GreenTea13

    I tried to register another finger on the finger scanner but it is a scan. It’ll do the scanning animation but then the red lines disappear no matter witch finger I use, how many times I try and how well I clean it. I’ve tried turning it on and off, I tried rescanning my fingers and none of it works. It was working just fine yesterday and nothing has changed on my phone since, no updates or anything like that. HELP????