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How to Use Face ID on iPhone While Wearing a Mask

How do you unlock your iPhone with Face ID, Apple’s facial recognition system while wearing a mask ? There is one simple tip that needs only a little bit of preparation. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, wearing a mask is now obligatory whenever we are around other people, especially when shopping, at work, in public transport, and in the streets. Apple has a facial recognition system for its most recent models (iPhone X, XS, 11 and 12) however, unsurprisingly with your face partially hidden, your iPhone can’t recognize you.


If you are wearing a mask and gloves, and if you are in a search for a solution that doesn’t imply taking them off, then you should know there is a way of using Face ID and still making it work. iPhone has an option called “Alternate appearance” that was initially created in case of face modification - like growing out a beard, for example - but it can also come in handy when you have your mask on. If you want to know the steps to follow, then keep reading.


Set up an Alternate Appearance

In order to make Face ID recognize you with or without mask, you should set up two appearances.

  • Open setting and then tap Face ID and passcode.

  • Input your existing code.

  • Tap Set up an Appearance.
  • Fold your mask in two (ear to ear side) and then hang it on your ear. Cover your mouth and your nose as you usually do, but do not unfold the mask. You may use your finger to maintain it.
  • When you are ready, tap on ‘Get Started’.

  • Place your face in the center. Then, start moving it slowly so that the face outline gets scanned. Keep moving until all the little lines get green.

  • If you get a message saying your face is obstructed, tap ‘Cancel’. Adjust your mask and then start again.

  • Once this is done, hang your mask on your other ear and start over the procedure.

  • When this procedure is done, tap on Set up an Alternate Appearance. Take off your mask and start the procedure again, with a bare face.

Make sure Face ID works with your mask on

Once your two appearances are set up, it is time to make sure the facial recognition of your iPhone works properly.

  • Put your mask on as you usually do.
  • Start your phone and place your face in the center of the Face ID spot.
  • If everything works fine, the little padlock on the screen will open.
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This document, titled « How to Use Face ID on iPhone While Wearing a Mask », is available under the Creative Commons license. Any copy, reuse, or modification of the content should be sufficiently credited to CCM (ccm.net).

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