Touch ID for Desktops?

Apple sells desktop machines (notably three! Mac Mini, Mac Studio, and Mac Pro), meaning bring-your-own keyboard. If you want to use Touch ID, which is awfully nice UX, you’ve got one choice: Magic Keyboard. I’ll get an RSI flareup in half a day of not using an ergonomic keyboard — so that keyboard is out.

Turns out you can get real hackery if you want to.


I can’t do it though. Looks like a fun project, but I ain’t even got time for that.

I’m wondering if things will change though. Apple is releasing Passkeys and they seem, rightfully, quite proud of it. I’m all about it. It’s not some proprietary Apple thing, it’s Apple getting a jump on emerging standards from the “FIDO Alliance and W3C standards”. It’s a really great system and I’m optimistic it’s what will ultimately kill passwords. But I believe it’s seriously hampered by not having Touch ID available (desktops without an Apple keyboard) or Face ID (any desktop or laptop). So maybe if Apple really wants to push this tech (yes please), let’s see a dedicated Touch ID device and/or Face ID come to webcams.

One response to “Touch ID for Desktops?”

  1. Curtis Wilcox says:

    I’m all for having Face ID on Macs and a keyboardless Touch ID device would be fine (Apple won’t make one, building it into a desktop chassis is slightly more likely).

    There’s no technical reason why you can’t have your ergonomic keyboard and a Touch ID keyboard on your desk. Looking at your work desk photo from your speaker post, you could turn the Apple keyboard 90 degrees so it’s between your Mac Studio and your MagSafe iPhone charger, your left hand could reach the Touch ID spot. I don’t think the Touch ID cares what orientation your finger is in, just that it’s the same orientation as when it was taught your fingerprint. I imagine you’d have aesthetic objections.

    You could velcro the Apple keyboard to the underside of your desk; every time you use the Touch ID, imagine you’re opening a trap door.

    My Macs are laptops with Touch ID but I rarely need to use Touch ID itself because I have my Mac set to use my Apple Watch as an alternative. Instead of using my fingerprint, I double-click a button on the Watch (I also have sudo configured to work with Touch ID so that also becomes a Watch double-click). For a desktop, I expect it requires the Touch ID keyboard to remain active with the Mac; your desk doesn’t appear to have drawers but being somewhere in the room, within Bluetooth range, is probably sufficient (I’d leave the keyboard connected to a USB charger nearby).

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