Apple Working on OS X 10.12 Feature Allowing Macs to Be Unlocked via iPhone's Touch ID

iPhone 6 Touch IDUnlocking an iPhone via Touch ID in lieu of a passcode makes it much easier to maintain security while preserving convenience, and Touch ID's ease of use has left many Mac users wondering when a similar feature might be introduced for Apple's desktop and notebook machines.

There has been speculation Apple might introduce dedicated Touch ID fingerprint scanning hardware for the Mac, but as it turns out, Apple is working on a simpler way to allow a Touch ID to unlock a Mac, and it's a feature that could be included in OS X 10.12.

Apple engineers are designing an auto unlock function that would allow an iPhone to unlock a Mac when in close proximity, alleviating the need to enter a password on a password-protected Mac.

The feature, which uses Bluetooth LE frameworks, will presumably work similarly to the automatic unlocking function on the Apple Watch, which allows an unlocked iPhone to bypass the passcode restriction on a connected Apple Watch. In this scenario, an iPhone's Touch ID button would likely be used as a verification method for simpler logins.

It's also possible that a connection with an Apple Watch could be used to unlock the Mac even when an iPhone isn't present, making the process even simpler. This concept has already been demonstrated through the Knock app for the iPhone and Apple Watch, using a Bluetooth connection to unlock a Mac instead of a password. Knock requires an iOS app and a Mac app to work, but an Apple-designed feature will undoubtedly be simpler.


The unlocking feature would likely work hand-in-hand with Apple Pay support for web browsers, also rumored to be coming soon. Remote Touch ID authentication from the iPhone or Apple Watch may be used to confirm purchases made via Siri on the Mac.

Features planned for OS X 10.12 are not yet set in stone, so there is a chance that the unlocking function could be shelved until a later date if work is not completed in time.

Because OS X 10.11 El Capitan focused heavily on internal updates and optimizations, Apple appears to be aiming to debut new features in OS X 10.12. Along with the unlocking feature, Apple is also working on integrating Siri into the Mac and we may see improvements to Photos and iTunes.

Details on Siri for Mac and the prospective design of the dock and menu bar icons can be seen in a post we shared yesterday.

Related Roundup: WWDC 2020

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
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55 months ago
Picking up my phone to unlock my mac doesn't make anything easier. Adding a sensor to the keyboard will.
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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55 months ago
This is dumb as hell... Put a Touch ID sensor on one of the keys and be done with it
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
55 months ago
MacID already does that: https://macid.co. I have it and it works flawlessly!
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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55 months ago
Honestly, I hope this is temporary and there will be a fingerprint sensor built into Macs. Not everyone has iPhones, and most importantly, I'm not about to pull out my phone to unlock it, open an app, then fingerprint it again. Might as well enter my 6-digit password because that's about as secure my computer needs to be since nobody even has access to it.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
55 months ago
Siri, Touch ID unlock, and hopefully a redesigned iTunes? 10.12 is getting more interesting by the day. Only one more month to go :D
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
55 months ago

This is dumb as hell... Put a Touch ID sensor on one of the keys and be done with it

This isn't "dumb as hell". It effectively gives you pseudo-two factor authentication, because to get into the Mac, you need the phone, AND the fingerprint.

I'd like the option to require both the phone and a password to get into the machine.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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