Do You Think It Would Be Useful to Have a Fingerprint Scanner on a Laptop?

We’ve had fingerprint recognition on smartphones and tablets for quite some time. This allows you to access your phone without logging in with a password and prevents others who don’t have your fingerprint, meaning everyone else, from accessing it. With some devices, you can also use it to pay for purchases and log in to apps.

They are now starting to ship laptops with fingerprint scanners that work in much the same way they do on mobile devices. But do we need such a thing on computers? We asked our writers, “Do you think it would be useful to have a fingerprint scanner on a laptop?”

Jeffry explains that when it comes to functionality, you can’t deny how much “a fingerprint scanner could improve our laptop-using experience.” He notes that if it was expanded into using it to log in to websites and services, “that alone could save us tons of time.” However, on the practical side of things, he can’t imagine where the scanner would be placed to not disrupt the workflow. He figures making it part of the mouse and separated from the laptop could work.

Miguel is “very skeptical about using fingerprint scanners in any setting that isn’t highly sensitive where people do not have a strong public presence.” While you can change a password if someone steals it, you can’t change your fingerprint if someone “extracts” it. He actually wrote about including fingerprint scanners on credit cards a few months back.

Alex already has a fingerprint scanner on his 2017 MacBook Pro that includes Touch ID. He can use it to log in and authenticate some system actions and can also use it for Apple Pay. He notes that “it’s fine, but I don’t see as much need for it as I do on mobile.” He’d like to see it integrated with website logins or “auto-selecting user accounts based on multiple fingerprints.” He believes the feature has some potential.

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Corbin agrees with Miguel about it not being the best thing for potential targets of data theft, but for the average person, he thinks it could only help. “Chances are the average thief would much prefer to steal your laptop itself than research how to and extract your fingerprint, all without you noticing.” He does use Touch ID on his iPhone and thinks using it on a computer would make going through some tasks a breeze. However, he uses his Apple Watch to unlock his Mac and sees that as the way to go.

Fabio insists that if developers can guarantee fingerprint scanners will work properly and that you wouldn’t be open to just anyone figuring out how to access your computer, then he “thinks it’s a great idea.”

In terms of security, Kenneth is all for it. “If someone steals your laptop, they can easily crack the password and probably get access to confidential information.” Yet with a fingerprint scanner, he thinks it would be nearly impossible to get access to your data. He also thinks there are other factors to consider such as if there are normally other people using your laptop, and in that case you wouldn’t be able to just hand it over along with the password.

Ryan notes that he already has a fingerprint scanner on his laptop yet that he never uses it, while he uses the one on his phone all the time. However, he states “if my fingerprint could log into my social media accounts or websites, or perhaps if it could be linked to my credit card or PayPal in order to make online purchases, I might be more inclined to.”

I personally like the idea. Like some of the others, I enjoy Touch ID on my iPhone, but even more than that, I enjoy it on my iPad. I use it to keep my Evernote locked up. I store everything, including my logins I don’t use very often and account numbers for certain things. However, I have it coded so that no one could gain access to my accounts that easily. And then I lock the app with fingerprint as well. I could see having it on a laptop to be a real boon for things such as that.

Do you agree with our writers? Do you think it would be great with logins and certain other things but only for certain people? Do you already have it on your laptop? Or do you not want to use such a thing after using it on your mobile device? Do you think it would be useful to have a fingerprint scanner on a laptop? Join our conversation in the comments section below.

5 comments

  1. “Yet with a fingerprint scanner, he thinks it would be nearly impossible to get access to your data.”
    Sorry, Kenneth. It would be much easier than cracking a strong password. By their very nature (they’re oily), fingerprints leave a lasting impression. (Sorry, could not resist the pun) Your fingerprints are all over your laptop. If someone stole the laptop, all they have to do is to lift the fingerprints, especially off the fingerprint scanner, and make a copy. The technology to lift fingerprints is nothing new and difficult. Police across the world have been doing it thousands of times a day for decades.

    Mobile devices that are supposedly protected by fingerprint scanners, can be breached just as easily.

    The bottom line is, the use of fingerprint scanners to secure devices that are easy to steal is not a very good idea.

  2. My laptop from 2011 has a finger print reader and I use it all the time. I think that it is the fastest, safest and easiest way to access my laptop. It is also nice not to have to change my password or worry about someone guessing my password. I am a 30 year plus Systems Administrator and NO type of security is totally secure from someone that is willing to go the extra mile to get at your data.
    Thanks.

  3. I have a fingerprint scanner on my laptop (and also on my phone). The phone (Samsung S7) works faultlessly and has since new. The scanner on the laptop (HP Envy dv7, using the Authentec driver software) is a regal PITA. It works well with website logins but for some inexplicable reason, regularly stops working for Windows 10 login. It has become so much of a problem that I have reverted to password login to get into my laptop.
    Incidentally, most of the fingerprint scanners that I have come across (including the dv7 and the S7) require a password before the fingerprint scanner can be set up and of course, that password can always be used to ultimately gain access!
    If anyone is aware of a fix for the HP Envy dv7/Authentec fingerprint scanner problem, I would dearly love to hear how to fix it as I really like the fingerprint scanner login option …… when it works!!!

    • Did you ever think that it may be Win 10 that is the problem, not the fingerprint scanner?

  4. Yes of course that’s always possible. However, the machine was supplied with Windows 8.0 and I experienced the very same problem with that. The problem continued with 8.1 and on into Windows 10. I raised it with HP Support (whilst running 8.0) and got a deafening silence. Subsequent queries during the use of 8.1 and 10 have raised the response from HP that the scanner and its driver have not been tested with 8.1 or 10. Of course, Authentec has now been absorbed by Apple so I guess the issue is unlikely to get any attention ….. other than possibly via Microsoft. The Authentec software is unbelievably clunky anyway. To be brutally frank, I would be perfectly happy if Windows Hello could be enabled reliably and I would happily do without the web page login options provided by the Authentec software.

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