15.6 C
New York
Friday, May 17, 2024

How to Log In to Your Devices Without Passwords

You might be used to typing out a lengthy password every time you log in to your computer, and it's essential that you have one in place—otherwise anyone could come along and get at your files and apps. But what if we told you there was a better way?

Both Windows and macOS support various biometric security options now for logging in to your user account, as we'll outline below. Not only are these options very convenient, they're also pretty secure: You can't steal a face or a fingerprint as easily as you may steal a password.

Similar options are available on phones, though in the case of Android and iOS you're only saving the time it takes to type out a PIN rather than a password. Still, it's very much worth getting face or fingerprint recognition set up.


Windows Hello is the name Microsoft gives you password-free access to your computer: It can include facial recognition via a webcam, fingerprint scanning via a sensor, and the use of a short PIN code. If your desktop or laptop doesn't have a webcam or a fingerprint scanner built-in, you can add one as an accessory—but it must be labeled as compatible with Windows Hello for it to work.

Assuming you do have at least one Windows Hello-ready piece of hardware attached to or integrated into your computer, open up the Start menu then click the cog icon to get to Windows Settings. Pick Accounts then Sign-in options to see what's available (any options that your device doesn't support simply won't appear).

Pick from Windows Hello Face, Windows Hello Fingerprint, or Windows Hello PIN to choose an option and to get it configured—you can use several together if you want. Windows will take you through the process of recognizing your face or identifying your fingerprint, or prompt you for a PIN that's unique to the computer.

The next time that you come to the login screen, you can simply position your face in front of the webcam or place your finger on the fingerprint sensor—there's no need to wait to be asked—and you'll get dropped straight into your user account. If you're using a PIN, you do need to select your user account to bring up the PIN entry dialog.

Depending on your system, you might see one more entry on the Sign-in options screen: Security Key: This enables you to use a special device plugged into a USB port to verify your identity. These devices aren't expensive and are simple to configure, and Microsoft has more details on how to set one up here.


At the moment, the best way to log in to macOS without having to type out a password is to buy a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro with a Touch ID sensor above the keyboard. It's present on all Apple laptops now, though it's not yet an option on desktop Macs, and it's not possible to add it on the desktop by buying an accessory.

If you do have a MacBook laptop with Touch ID available, you can open up the Apple menu, choose System Preferences, and then select Touch ID and Add Fingerprint. Up to three fingerprints can be added per user, and you can also use the biometric security method to make Apple Pay purchases on your Mac besides using it to log in.

When you next get to the login screen, all you need to do is place your finger on the sensor and you should be granted access (if there are several user accounts registered on macOS, you may have to select yours first). Fingerprint data can be removed or replaced by going back to the Touch ID screen.

The other password-free option is to use an Apple Watch—this works on both desktop and laptop Macs, and with all recent versions of the Apple Watch (check the supported models here). Open the Apple menu, then choose System Preferences and Security & Privacy, and tick the box marked Allow your Apple Watch to unlock your Mac.

As long as both Mac and Apple Watch are signed in to the same iCloud account, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are both turned on in macOS, and the Apple Watch has been configured with a passcode, you'll be signed straight into your account when your Apple Watch is brought close to your computer.


Android lets you log in to your phone using your face or your fingerprint, though Android being Android these technologies are implemented in slightly different ways depending on the make and model of your phone. Your handset might have both of these options, but at least one of them should be available.

In the case of the Google Pixel phones, if you open up the main Android Settings app and then choose Security, you can see the options available on your device—tap on one of them, such as Face unlock, to get it configured.

As well as working through the process of getting Android to recognize your fingerprints or your face, you'll also be able to set additional options for the biometric security measure. In the case of face unlock, for example, you can choose to skip the lock screen when you're recognized and go straight to the last app you were using.

On Samsung phones, meanwhile, from Settings you need to pick Biometrics and security to get a face or a fingerprint configured. Again, besides the core functionality, you'll find options specific to your particular Android phone.

Logging in is pretty straightforward once these measures are enabled: Just hold up your phone to your face or place your fingerprint on the sensor to get in. Support for these options from individual apps varies, but if an app does support face or fingerprint identification, the relevant setting should be fairly easy to find.


Face ID and Touch ID are the two passcode-free ways of signing into an iPhone, and which one is available to you will depend on which model of iPhone you've got. If you open up Settings on your device, you'll see either Face ID & Passcode or Touch ID & Passcode.

This menu option enables you to configure either Face ID or Touch ID on your device, though you should also have been prompted to set them up alongside a passcode when you launched iOS for the first time on the device.

You can have up to five fingerprints registered with Touch ID, but only one face logged with Face ID—because you are you. If you're using Face ID you will notice an option labeled Set Up an Alternative Appearance, which lets you either give someone else access to your device, or get your iPhone to recognize you when you look a little different (with glasses or a face mask, perhaps).

On the Face ID & Passcode or Touch ID & Passcode screen, you can tap Other Apps to see the installed apps that let you verify your identity with your face or fingerprint. You can also use biometric security to get apps from the App Store and to make purchases with Apple Pay.

Logging in to your iPhone couldn't be much easier once Touch ID or Face ID is enabled: Just press your finger on the sensor or hold the phone up in front of your face and you'll be taken straight to the iOS home screens.

Related Articles

Latest Articles