Using Your Fingerprint Scanner Correctly

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a bit more than 2 minutes to read!

I was always quite excited about fingerprint scanners in business laptops as it spelled “I’m doing something serious and I need extra security”, so after I got my Lenovo business laptop sometime ago it took me exactly 1 minute of thought about what I want to set up first… that’s when the trouble started.

I mean, I’m used to Windows applications being bulky and very “user-unfriendly”, as I’ve developed a few of those myself in the past (it’s just a different world from iOS and Android), but getting the kind of “You’ve failed! Now, try again!” message after 15 minutes of horrendous swiping was too much even for me. When after an hour of swearing and promising to break the laptop in half if it doesn’t finally accept my fingerprint, the success message popped up I thought my hardships would be over, but, as it turned out, my laptop had another piece of mind, as I now had to get used to seeing the “Failed” message on the Windows fingerprint login screen.

For a few days I thought my fingerprint scanner was broken as I kept seeing about 5 or 6 “Failed” messages before I would manage to log in, and searching online certainly didn’t help the case, as Lenovo owners were sharing similar experiences across multiple forums. However, as my degree taught me, if an electronics device is functioning to some extent, but not as you expect it to, it may be that you’re not using it correctly.

Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint scanner is straightforward and the user is learning to use it immediately after its’ introduction, whilst Lenovo provided no clear instructions and left me to try and figure it out on my own — and as it turned out, I got it wrong just like many laptop users before me. So, here I’m not in any way building a case against Lenovo, but rather putting together a general comprehensive guide to correctly using the fingerprint scanners where swiping is required (especially in older business laptops).

So… it’s asking for a horizontal swipe…

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Basically, it’s asking you to swipe the finger left-to-right or right-to-left. That’s the one I got as my laptop belongs to the older generation of tablet-like laptops. The advice is simple: when swiping, apply no pressure on the scanner (although you probably did so when teaching the laptop to recognise it), make it as light as possible, as if you’re removing some bread crumbs or something, and, most importantly, place your finger perpendicular to the reader’s plane as these scanners are seemingly a lot less capable of reading anything that is placed in parallel. I get 9/10 good reads and you will too.

It’s a vertical (upside-down) swipe…

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These are apparently a bit more straightforward, but I’ve often seen people using them in a manner similar to Apple’s Touch ID — basically, just pressing their finger on the scanner; this won’t work as you need to actually swipe your finger, and my best advice would be to use your index finger by vertically “rubbing” it against the reader’s surface (once again, apply no pressure).

This article could be seen as being a bit of a joke as it’s usually implied that people have at least some clue how to use a laptop when given one… well, in my experience they don’t. Ask around your office and you’ll be surprised how many people struggle with even basic tasks because they never bother to learn how to do certain things properly. Because they’re idiots. Happy 1st of April!