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I would like to use an external keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc and have my MacBook closed. The only issue is that I can no longer access the fingerprint scanner. Is there a way to use an external one? FYI, I have installed Unlox which is very useful but doesn't cover all cases where a fingerprint can be used.

Yes, I read the similar question but thought this one was different since that one referenced a 10-yr old Macbook that didn't have the Touchbar. And there are ways to solve the problem in that question.

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  • In what specific cases do you want to use your fingerprint? It's unlikely that any external scanner will be able to do everything the built-in Touch ID can do, due its use of the secure enclave on the Mac's T2 chip.
    – calum_b
    Feb 7, 2019 at 17:53
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    My ideal case would be to unlock 1Password like you can with the Touchbar. Most other cases seemed to be solved by Unlox.
    – kidbrax
    Feb 8, 2019 at 18:17
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    Apple now has wireless keyboards with touch-id built-in.
    – JerodG
    Aug 11, 2021 at 22:49
  • Yeah, I saw that. Don't really wanna use that keyboard but may be worth it. althoug having Apple watch kinda solves the problem for me now
    – kidbrax
    Aug 13, 2021 at 17:27

1 Answer 1

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No, there's no external fingerprint reader that works like the built-in reader. The built-in reader is not communicating directly with macOS on the main CPU, instead it communicates with a seperate kernel (still Darwin) running on a secondary ARM CPU.

As there's no way to connect an external fingerprint reader to the secondary ARM CPU, it is simply not possible for 3rd parties to create something that works exactly like the built-in reader and offers the same functionality.

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  • 2
    alternatively, if you have an apple watch, you can use it to open your macbook while it's closed and connected to external monitor when in proximity. May 16, 2021 at 10:34
  • Does this still apply to the current generation as of Q3/2021 MacBooks? Sep 20, 2021 at 6:17
  • Yes…………………………….
    – jksoegaard
    Sep 20, 2021 at 6:30
  • This does not seem to be technically true. Apple's own wireless keyboards are able to do this. So it seems to be just another trick they pull to sell more of their own products.
    – mvreijn
    May 2 at 8:40
  • The answer was for the 2019 MacBooks - you cannot use Apples own wireless keyboards with Touch ID with that. It’s not a trick to sell more of their own product - if you look at the technical details there’s simply no possible way to take any of the popular home or office market fingerprint readers and connect to the MacBook in the same manner.
    – jksoegaard
    May 2 at 15:43

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