Where Is Touch ID for the Mac?

One of the best features Apple added to its iOS devices is Touch ID. It makes it easy to unlock a phone, and unlock certain apps that use it, such as Dropbox, Day One, and others. Apps can leverage Touch ID to identify you, and my bank’s app lets me log in using Touch ID as well.

But there’s still no Touch ID on the Mac.

According to Patently Apple, Apple patented a Finger sensing apparatus using hybrid matching and associated methods, initially applying for this patent in 2007. It wasn’t called Touch ID back then, of course, and the biometric technology itself doesn’t belong to Apple; Apple merely patented its use integrated in a computer.

So why is Touch ID still not on the Mac? You can use a number of third-party apps on iOS devices to remotely unlock your Mac, but this is a hack. The beauty of Touch ID is that you press a button, and the phone or app unlocks immediately. With these iOS apps, there are several steps, making the process a bit complex; I can wake up and type my Mac’s password much more quickly than using an app.

I think for Touch ID to be integrated into Macs, there needs to be more than just a remote device, such as an app or trackpad. There is probably a risk of this pathway – iOS app to Mac – being compromised. Touch ID has to be unbreakable, so it can be used to authenticate websites and apps, not just unlock a Mac. It needs to integrate with the keychain on a specific Mac. So the sensor needs to be built into the Mac itself.

This is no big deal on a laptop, but it’s more complicated on an iMac. How comfortable will it be to press your thumb on a button that would be, for example, on the bottom right corner of an iMac? (Or could Apple integrate the Touch ID sensor in the Apple logo at the bottom of the display?) Unlike the iPhone and iPad, where the home button serves multiple purposes, a Touch ID sensor on a Mac will not have any other use.

I would love to see Touch ID on my Mac, not only to unlock it, but to enter passwords. Imagine how much easier it would be if logging into a website was as simple as pressing your thumb on a sensor. (It would be great if iOS adopted this too…) I’m sure Apple is working on this, but perhaps they will offer other techniques, such as voice biometrics, that some banks in the UK are rolling out soon, and bypass Touch ID on computers.

10 thoughts on “Where Is Touch ID for the Mac?

  1. Simple, just integrate the touch sensor into the power key; of course this would entail a total redesign of the power key (and the whole keyboard itself) but this would be the most elegant way to go. One button — push to turn on your Mac; rest your thumb on it for biometric verification. I suspect the reason Apple hasn’t done this yet is that to do it “right” would mean millions and millions of $$’s retooling Mac’s and its just not a high enough priority.

    • I don’t think the power key is a good idea. On the iMac, it’s on the back, and on the MacBook and MacBook Pro it’s a key on the keyboard. If you have an iMac, just try putting your thumb on it…

      And I don’t think it would cost millions of dollars to retool for something as simple as a power button.

      • I guess in my mind I envision a round power key, exactly like the home button on an iPhone. And as I recall, this is exactly what older Apple laptops had — a separate round power button not integrated into the keyboard at all. Oh and the other thing this touchID key should have — Siri activation just like the iPhone. It drives me crazy that my iPad feels more powerful and convenient to use in many ways than my MacBook 12″. Why do I need to type just to find out the temperature outside or to look up directions?

        • The laptops used to have a round power key, but Apple got rid of that years ago. It’s round on the iMac, but on the back. I can’t see them putting the power button on the front; Jony Ive would go crazy.

          Apparently, Siri is coming in the next major upgrade to OS X.

  2. Simple, just integrate the touch sensor into the power key; of course this would entail a total redesign of the power key (and the whole keyboard itself) but this would be the most elegant way to go. One button — push to turn on your Mac; rest your thumb on it for biometric verification. I suspect the reason Apple hasn’t done this yet is that to do it “right” would mean millions and millions of $$’s retooling Mac’s and its just not a high enough priority.

    • I don’t think the power key is a good idea. On the iMac, it’s on the back, and on the MacBook and MacBook Pro it’s a key on the keyboard. If you have an iMac, just try putting your thumb on it…

      And I don’t think it would cost millions of dollars to retool for something as simple as a power button.

      • I guess in my mind I envision a round power key, exactly like the home button on an iPhone. And as I recall, this is exactly what older Apple laptops had — a separate round power button not integrated into the keyboard at all. Oh and the other thing this touchID key should have — Siri activation just like the iPhone. It drives me crazy that my iPad feels more powerful and convenient to use in many ways than my MacBook 12″. Why do I need to type just to find out the temperature outside or to look up directions?

        • The laptops used to have a round power key, but Apple got rid of that years ago. It’s round on the iMac, but on the back. I can’t see them putting the power button on the front; Jony Ive would go crazy.

          Apparently, Siri is coming in the next major upgrade to OS X.

  3. The problem of TouchID on a Mac is that personal computers are too easily hacked. So until the Mac is one solid slab of electronics that is largely inaccessible like the iPhone, then TouchID will not come to the Mac.

  4. The problem of TouchID on a Mac is that personal computers are too easily hacked. So until the Mac is one solid slab of electronics that is largely inaccessible like the iPhone, then TouchID will not come to the Mac.

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