Face ID isn’t working with my sunglasses. What do I do?

Apple makes it easy for Face ID to work with all shades on your iPhone or iPad Pro, but you should know the risks.

sunglasses with iphone xs max ipad pro
Leif Johnson

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One of the most common complaints from fresh converts to Face ID is that it “doesn’t work” when you’re wearing sunglasses. Not everyone has this problem—it depends on the sunglasses—but early on I fell prey to it myself while wearing my gargantuan Ray-Ban aviators.

Thankfully, there’s a simple setting that makes it a lot easier for Face ID to recognize your mug when you’re sporting your favorite shades (although it comes at the expensive of sacrificing a bit of security). Here’s how you do it.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Scroll down to Face ID & Passcode. Press it.
  3. Enter your passcode.
  4. Scroll down to the toggle that says Require attention for Face ID and switch it off.
  5. That’s all! Face ID should now work when you’re wearing most sunglasses.
disable attention face id IDG

This also speeds up Face ID in general.

What are the risks of disabling attention?

The option above comes with a warning that says, “TrueDepth camera will provide an additional level of security by verifying that you are looking at iPhone before unlocking. Some sunglasses may block attention detection.”

Basically, “attention” means that you’re looking directly at your iPhone with your eyes open. When attention detection is turned off, Face ID will still be “secure” in that your iPhone will only unlock if the TrueDepth sensors are sure that they’re seeing you, but now it also works if your eyes are closed.

That means someone could force you to unlock your iPhone by merely lifting it up to your face, even if you shut your eyes. Someone could even unlock your iPhone if you’re asleep. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth the risk.

Fortunately, it’s easy to quickly disable Face ID for unlocking your iPhone if you know you’re about to be in a situation where this could be a problem. All you need to do is hold down the side button and either of the volume buttons at the same time for a couple of seconds. Anyone trying to access the phone after that will have to enter the passcode. For more detailed information, be sure to check out our dedicated how-to.

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