How to unlock your iPhone with a mask on! Face ID works even with mask!

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

The crazy year of 2020 has certainly thrown us many curveballs. Virtual conferences, remote work 24/7 and the introduction of masks in everyday life. And with the masks came the problem of unlocking your iPhone. Face ID does not work with a mask on, except it does, but not by default. There’s a bit of setup involved to get it to work.

Here’s how to unlock your iPhone with a mask on and while using Face ID. I went and grabbed a mask and went to work trying to find the solution.

Unlock iphone with alternate face idAdd an alternate Face ID

You can add several faces to your iPhone’s Face ID. For example, parents can add their faces to their kids’ phones. Something, I did on my 12-year-old’s phone. My phone now unlocks it.

This same concept applies here. To unlock your iPhone with a mask “simply” add a Face ID with a mask on. I say “simply” because it’s takes some trying before getting it to work.

Usually adding more than one Face ID doesn’t come up because, well, we only have one face and thus need just one Face ID. With the increased use of face masks, that look is now becoming our second face so to speak for the purposes of this discussion.

Read next: How to use your Apple Watch as a camera remote

Face ID with mask as an alternate face ID

Form there, the iPhone will try to tell you to take the mask off, because it’s in the way off your face. At first that looked like this.

can't unlock with obstruction

The way around that is to fold the face mask in half and get the iPhone to start scanning your second Face ID that way. That looks like this.

Once you get the prompt to “move your head slowly to complete the circle” you are on the right track. This took me a few tries. Wiggle the mask and your face around by covering less of your face.

Even though it keeps warning me of obstructions, it starts scanning.

I kept the folded mask on one side until the first scan was completed.

I was going to move the mask to the other side of my face, but thought I would click continue and try to scan my face with the mask completely on. Once the scan had started that indeed worked – even with the constant warning.

And before I knew it the second and final scan was done.

And did the iPhone unlock now with mask on?

Yes. It worked. Once the process completed, no more problem. I can now unlock my iPhone 10 with a mask on!

Here’s a video version of the above process.


And how about Touch ID when you wear gloves?

My iPad still has Touch ID and so do older iPhones. Here’s a trick that is similar to the above Face ID unlock trick.

These particular gloves are iPhone gloves, so I can use my iPhone in the cold while wearing them.

Just like above, go to Settings, then Touch ID and add another set of fingerprints. In this case, the prints are of your touch screen gloves.

It took some effort and not every attempt worked but I kept adding the fingerprint of the glove I was wearing.


One more way to unlock your iPhone

You can also change when Face ID or Touch ID is required to unlock your phone. That way you aren’t constantly required to have your face scanned. Of course, there are some security issues with this approach! You could also increase the time it takes for your iPhone to require the code. Mine is set to immediate, but that can be pushed out. Go to settings again to update this.

Unlock iPhone wrap

Certainly, not having Face ID work is annoying, but this workaround helps you get it to work while wearing your mask. And let’s hope we can get this coronavirus pandemic under control in the near future.

Want me to speak at your virtual conference? Clips and more here!

Listen to my podcast