Five tips for using the iPhone 5S Touch ID fingerprint sensor

Apple's Touch ID fingerprint sensor is a convenient security tool for the iPhone 5S, and possibly for future iOS devices. We share some tips and tricks for using Apple's new biometric reader.

Ed Rhee
Ed Rhee, a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an IT veteran turned stay-at-home-dad of two girls. He focuses on Android devices and applications while maintaining a review blog at techdadreview.com.
Ed Rhee
2 min read

Watch this: Tips for the iPhone 5S' fingerprint scanner

The fingerprint sensor feature on the iPhone 5S, called Touch ID, is a convenient security tool that makes it easier to unlock the iPhone, compared to using a 4-digit PIN code. It also allows purchases from iTunes and the App Store without having to type in your Apple ID password. If you already use a 4-digit PIN, you'll likely find Touch ID to be more convenient. If you don't use any security at all, Touch ID might finally be the security measure you've been looking for.

Setting up Touch ID is fairly straight forward. Just go to Settings > General > Touch ID & Passcode > Touch ID, then go through the fingerprint enrollment procedure. There are some things to consider when using Touch ID, though, and we've got a list of trips and tricks for you to keep in mind.

  • Scan your finger upside down, if you want. When you enroll your fingerprint, the directions make it seem as if you have to line up your finger in a certain orientation, but in reality, the Touch ID sensor has 360-degree readability.
  • Five fingers max, but use less for performance. You can store up to five fingers in Touch ID, but remember that the more fingerprints you store, the longer it will take Touch ID to identify which finger you're scanning.
  • Which finger is which? If you enrolled multiple fingers, but didn't label them, you can easily identify which is which by scanning them in Touch ID Settings. When you scan one of your fingers, the matching print will briefly be highlighted from the list.
  • Five tries, not three. When attempting to unlock the iPhone 5S, you'll get a passcode prompt after three failed scan attempts. You can choose to enter your passcode here, but you actually have two more attempts before you're forced to use your passcode.
  • Cover the home button. Touch ID is supposed to learn and gradually improve its recognition of your fingerprints. However, if you're having problems with consistency, make sure you're covering the entire home button; it works much better when it's completely covered.

Touch ID isn't a fool-proof security measure, as we now know, but it's certainly a good deterrent for most people in most circumstances. If you're using Touch ID, let us know how it's working for you in the comments below.