Here’s how to set up Touch ID and use it to protect your Mac

The methods of user authentication on mobile devices have developed rapidly over the years. Today we have fingerprint sensors in the display and Face ID for user authentication. Microsoft brought along the Windows Hello facial recognition feature, which can be found on corporate laptops along with a fingerprint scanner. Apple’s 2016 MacBook range introduced Touch ID integration on macOS. Since then, it has been a constant struggle to set up Touch ID and use it intelligently to secure apps on your Mac.

In contrast to Windows, the Touch ID hardware is firmly integrated in macOS. You can use it to authenticate in-app purchases, Apple Pay payments, the login system, and other aspects of the macOS system.

In 2020, Apple has more reasons to buy one MacBook with a lower price and higher base storage . If you’ve recently purchased one, I highly recommend turning on and using Touch ID on Mac. It saves you from repeatedly adding an Apple ID password and makes the entire macOS experience seamless.

In this post, we’ll show you how to set up Touch ID on Mac and use macOS aspects to secure apps and authentication. We’ll also list some of the limitations of Touch ID.

Where is Touch ID on my MacBook

As already mentioned, the 2016 MacBooks from Apple have integrated Touch ID to the right of the Touch Bar. As of 2019 MacBook models, Apple provides a dedicated space for Touch ID. See the image below to find out the Touch ID’s location.

Touch ID in the settings

Step 3: Click the + icon to add a fingerprint, then enter the user account password when prompted.

Add fingerprint

Step 4: Follow the instructions on the screen. Be sure to cover the entire area with your finger.

Step 5: Use the check boxes to select the Touch ID features that you want to use on the Mac.

Place fingers

When adding a fingerprint, do not press the key. Slowly place your finger and lift when prompted. If you have problems with incorrect authentication, try adding the same finger twice.

How secure is Touch ID

Apple has developed a new T-series processor to save your fingerprints. To be clear, Touch ID is a great way to authenticate logins and payments. The T1 chip contains an advanced architecture called the Secure Enclave, which is designed to protect your passcode and fingerprint data. Touch ID does not store any images of your fingerprint and instead relies only on a math representation. It is not possible for anyone to reverse engineer your actual fingerprint image from this stored data.

T1 chip

Your fingerprint data is encrypted, stored on the device and protected with a key that is only available to the Secure Enclave. Your fingerprint data is only used by the Secure Enclave to verify that the fingerprint matches the enrolled fingerprint data. You can think of Secure Enclave as your Apple device’s own vault.

The Secure Enclave cannot be accessed by your device’s operating system or any applications running on it. It is never stored on Apple servers, never backed up in iCloud or anywhere else and cannot be used for comparison with other fingerprint databases. The iPhone has been storing fingerprints for years.

The latest MacBooks from Apple house the T2 security chip that provides encrypted storage for fingerprint data and secure booting.

Where can you use Touch ID on macOS?

Users can use Touch ID to unlock their Mac and make purchases from the Mac App Store or iTunes Store. You can also use Apple Pay to make simple, secure, and personal purchases on websites.

Apple Pay never stores your credit or debit card information and never gives it to the merchant. It’s also useful for autofilling passwords on select apps that support Touch ID authentication.

Apple Pay Touch ID

For example, Touch ID prompts you when you try to view password-protected notes in the Apple Notes app. You can also use Touch ID in the Passwords section in Safari Preferences.

Unlock notes with touchid

When multiple users set up Touch ID and sign in to the same Mac, they can use Touch ID to switch accounts. Just press Touch ID and your Mac will switch to the signed-in user account associated with the fingerprint.

Be aware of the Touch ID restrictions

You will need to enter your password instead of using Touch ID in these situations:

  • When you shut down the MacBook and start from scratch (it’s quite irritating as I mostly use the shutdown option instead of the sleep function).
  • You have logged out of the user account.
  • Your fingerprint is not recognized five times in a row.
  • You haven’t unlocked your Mac in more than 48 hours.
  • You have just enrolled or deleted fingerprints.

Secure your Mac with Touch ID

Touch ID is a fantastic security option from Apple for Mac users. It’s a little daunting that Apple continues to pack a 720p camera into the 2020 MacBook models. The upcoming MacBook models, which integrate Face ID in addition to Touch ID, are still a few years away. How have your experiences with Touch ID been so far? Do share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Next Up:

Your MacBook can be the ultimate tool in organizing your life. Read the post below to find the seven best Mac apps to help you stay organized.

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