What do you mean “fingerprint not recognised”?

By | November 1, 2021

If you have a phone or a tablet, you’re probably familiar with the rigmarole of unlocking the thing when you want to use it.

Modern devices have tried to make it quicker and easier to unlock a phone with fingerprint sensors and face unlocking, but they’re not foolproof.  So this week, I thought I’d give you a few tips to make using your fingerprint a bit less frustrating…

  1. Fingerprint sensors don’t like wet hands
    I do this all the time.  I’m in the middle of something and a message comes through on my phone – I quickly stop and wash my hands, go to unlock the phone and the sensor won’t have it.  I do dry my hands, but not well enough, clearly.  If this happens to you, dry your hand again, wipe the sensor and try again.
  2. They really don’t like oils and grease
    At this time of year, this is another issue for me with my phone.  As the weather starts to get a bit colder and wetter, I need to moisturise my hands more – otherwise they end up all sore and cracked.  Sadly, moisturiser (or any other oily stuff) and fingerprint sensors don’t mix.  You end up with a build-up of grease on the surface of the sensor that makes it gradually less sensitive until it stops working altogether. 
    The best fix for this is to take the phone out of its case and give the sensor a really good clean.  Use a non-abrasive cloth – with just a dab of either window-cleaner or rubbing alcohol if you have it.  Then wipe it again with a completely dry cloth.
  3. Scan multiple fingers
    You’ll probably find that you have a favourite finger for unlocking your phone, but it’s well worth scanning in “back-up” fingerprints as well.  That way, if it can’t read one of your fingers, you can quickly try another without having to faff around putting your passcode in.  It’s well worth having at least one finger on each hand scanned in anyway – in case you find yourself with your favoured hand full or dirty, and you need your phone in a hurry.
  4. Make two separate scans of your favourite finger
    It might seem like an odd suggestion, but having your favourite finger scanned in twice gives you a better chance of the sensor recognising it.  Each time you make a scan, you’ll hold your finger slightly differently, so it will give a better or worse picture of different parts of your fingerprint.  And if you often use moisturiser, it’s worth making one of the scans before moisturising and the other after (make sure you give it a while to soak in though, so you don’t clag up your sensor).

I don’t personally use face recognition with my phone, but my husband does on his tablet.  And he has one particular pearl of wisdom to pass on there.  How well it recognises him seems to depend on where his eyes are pointing.  It seems like such a little thing, but if he looks at the screen, it doesn’t always work.  If he looks at the camera it unlocks every time!  So there you go – something to try if you use face unlock and it’s a bit flaky.

That’s it from me for this week.

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