How to Temporarily Disable Touch ID or Face ID on Your iPhone

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

By now we’re all familiar with Touch ID, the fingerprint authentication security feature introduced with Apple’s iPhone 5s in 2013. The iPhone X replaces Touch ID with a facial recognition system, Face ID, which can be used to unlock your phone, open apps, make purchases in iTunes, and more. Biometric authentication protects our phones, but also introduces new privacy concerns by leaving iPhone users open to the possibility of criminals stealing data or law enforcement accessing it without a warrant. If you have even a few seconds notice before a robbery or unlawful search, you can discreetly and temporarily disable Touch and Face ID on your iPhone; let's learn how.

Related: How to Set up Face ID, plus Using It to Unlock Apps & Make Purchases 

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Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

How to Temporarily Disable Touch ID or Face ID on Your iPhone 

For iPhones 5s - 7

  • Click the Sleep/Wake button quickly five times.

disable touch id iphone

  • The Power Off/SOS Screen pops up, tap the cancel button.

disable touch id on iphone

Word of warning: Check your settings before using this tip. If you have something called Auto Call enabled, tapping the Sleep/Wake button five times rapidly will call 911!

  • Tap on Settings.
  • Scroll down to Emergency SOS and tap to open.
  • Scroll down and check your Auto Call option. If you want to be able to use the disable Touch ID tip without calling 911, toggle this off.
  • If you want to leave Auto Call on, scroll down and make sure that the Countdown Sound option is toggled on—this will give you a siren-like warning letting you know 911 is about to be dialed.

For iPhones 8 - X

  • Hold the Side Button and the volume button down at the same time, for three to five seconds.

disable face id iphone

  • The Power Off/SOS screen appears, tap the cancel button

disable touch id

Word of warning: Check your settings before using this tip. If you have something called Auto Call enabled, holding the side button and the volume up or down button will call 911!

  • Tap on Settings.
  • Scroll down to Emergency SOS and tap to open.
  • Scroll down and check your Auto Call option. If you want to be able to use the disable Face ID tip without calling 911, toggle this off.
  • If you want to leave Auto Call on, scroll down and make sure that the Countdown Sound option is toggled on—this will give you a siren-like warning letting you know 911 is about to be dialed.

Hopefully you'll never be in a situation where you need to use this tip. But if you must, your biometric authentication features will be disabled, and won't function again until you've entered your passcode in the passcode screen.  Just remember, your device is replaceable, but you aren't! Take precautions ahead of time and make sure you don't have sensitive data easily accessible on your phone, back up your photos often, and play it safe out there, kids.  

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Leanne Hays's picture

Leanne Hays is an SEO Content Strategist and Feature Writer at iPhone Life, and has written hundreds of in-depth how-to and troubleshooting articles. She's a former Associate Editor for iPhone Life magazine, and has written for the Iowa Source, as well as web content for education marketing. Leanne has an associate's degree in education, with a focus on curriculum development, as well as a bachelor's degree in science. She has over nine years of experience with SEO, social media management, and web development and writing. Despite years of web work, Leanne is by no means an early adapter; she's only owned a smartphone for five years, which makes her highly sympathetic to the learning curve of new iPhone owners. She enjoys making reader's lives easier and putting her education experience to work by walking them through the most practical ways to use Apple devices, step-by-step.

In off-work hours, Leanne is a mother of two, homesteader, audiobook fanatic, musician, and learning enthusiast.