Available on the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and the new iPads, Touch ID offers an easy way to secure your iPhone or iPad without the cumbersome process of having to enter a passcode for access. Setup still requires you select a passcode, should you need to use services like Find My iPhone or need to restore your iPhone. In addition to fast, easy and secure access, Touch ID can also be used to purchase apps from the App Store. This might very well be the killer feature on the iPhone 5s, but all too often, I come across friends and family who haven’t had much success with it. I attribute it to an incorrect setup, a change in how you typically access your iPhone or both. If you’ve had trouble setting up your fingerprints or experienced middling results, follow along for our full guide on how to setup Touch ID on iPhone 5s. We’ll also show you how to use Touch ID to unlock your iPhone and use it to make purchases on iTunes and the App Store.

Setup Touch ID on iPhone 5s

You’ll want to access your Touch ID settings by navigating to:

  • Settings > General > Touch ID & Passcode

If you have an existing passcode, you’ll be required to enter it to access your settings.

  • Tap on ‘Touch ID‘.

Below you’ll find a options to ‘Add a Fingerprint‘. If you’ve set up Touch ID before, you may have a few lingering fingerprints. Apple allows up to five fingerprints. If you are having difficulty with Touch ID, you might want to consider deleting them and starting fresh. While unconfirmed and not part of the changelog, some users have found that adding new fingerprints after Apple’s iOS 7.0.3 update has been applied, will result in improved scanning. To delete a fingerprint, swipe from left to right and tap on the red ‘Delete’ button.

Delete fingerprints

Tip: Let’s say you’ve got four fingerprints stored. Some are working, but others are hit or miss. How do you know which fingerprint to delete? While in the Touch ID settings, gently press down on the home button using a previously scanned finger. Touch ID will highlight the correct ID number of your scan.

Add a fingerprint

How to add Touch ID fingerprints

  • The instructions call for you to lift and rest your finger on the Home button repeatedly. I’ve had great success using the upper third of my finger. For the first round of scans, I hold my finger centered to the sensor. Press down until you feel a vibration. We are not looking to click the home button, only touch it. Lift your finger and place it down again on the sensor. Keep repeating this process, moving your finger slightly.
  • Once it completes the first round of scans, you will be prompted to ‘adjust your grip’. Pick up your iPhone and hold as if you would normally if you were opening it with one hand.
  • Again, repeat the process of gently touching the home button, lifting when it vibrates. Repeat this process until it completes. You’ll see a message that Touch ID is ready. By default, you can use it to unlock your iPhone.

Fingerprint scan complete

Options For Unlocking iPhone and Making Purchases With Touch ID

The first two options let your iPhone know how you’d like to use Touch ID. The first option is ‘iPhone Unlock’, the more common of the two options. From the lock screen, Touch ID will unlock your iPhone. No swiping or passcodes are required. The second option when enabled can allow you to use your fingerprint when buying something from the App Store or iTunes Store. If you’ve purchased or downloaded free apps, I’m sure you’ve experienced the frustration of having to constantly enter your passcode. I should note that from time to time, the App Store will still require you enter your password. Over time, hopefully this will improve and perhaps Apple will allow third party developers access to the APIs.

Touch ID is a secure method of unlocking your iPhone, without having to enter a passcode. If you were someone who shied away from using passcodes, you are not alone. While it’s the smart thing to do, it’s been a rarity for me to use a passcode. I unlock my iPhone around a hundred times per day and security be damned, I opted for convenience. With Touch ID, you don’t have to give up convenience and your iPhone is just as secure as if you were using strictly a passcode. It also has the added advantage of a speed pass through App Store purchases.


If you own an iPhone 5s and have had trouble using Touch ID, delete your fingerprints and give it a second chance. It’s a wonderful feature and works brilliantly when it’s able to get reliable fingerprint scans. If you need help, drop by this thread on Touch ID in the forums.