Google Pixel fingerprint scanner disabled by Family Link after November update, but there's a potential workaround

The erratic operation of the fingerprint reader has been one of the most recurring complaints from users of Google Pixel 6 phones. To try to solve this, Google recently sent an update.

However, it seems that the Android 12 update is causing some problems with the fingerprint reader on previous generations of Pixel phones as well.

According to multiple reports, the fingerprint scanner on some Pixels is disabled by Family Link. This had started to happen after a November update.

Fingerprint scanner disabled by Family link on some Pixel phones after November update

All reports related to the problem describe the same situation. After a November update to Android 12, the fingerprint reader suddenly stops working (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

The system indicates that the fingerprint reader is locked by Family Link. But, after completing the steps for unlocking, the system just returns to the settings page. So, it doesn’t let edit anything on Pixel Imprint.

I got the new Android 12 update, which imo sucks, and now the finger print sensor doesn’t work. (pixel 3a) When I hit the sensor it doesn’t even buzz. I thought it might be a hardware issue, so I tried to check the finger print on settings, but it’s locked by family link. When I got my father to use the parental controls password to edit the fingerprints it asked for the phone pin, which I put in, but it just took me straight back to the settings page. Source

Since the Pixel Imprint settings reportedly cannot be changed, the fingerprint scanner is disabled.

Both of my kids’ Pixel 4a updated to Android 12 last night. No resolution for me yet.

My daughter’s acts as you described: pixel imprint says a parent needs to set it up, tap on it and you’re taken straight back to the settings page without changing anything.

My son’s goes further: tap on it to set it up, enter my password then his pattern, scroll down and agree to the terms, then back to the settings page with pixel imprint still greyed out and disabled.
Source

Some users even tried to do a factory reset to solve the problem. But, this did not help.

google-pixel-fingerprint-disabled-family-link-1
Source

A workaround that reportedly fix the issue

There is a workaround (1, 2) that reportedly helps to solve the problem of the fingerprint scanner disabled by Family Link:

The problem was the Nov 5 security update, which many phones only installed recently. This appears to be happening to phones managed with Family Link. Here’s the solution:

Change the Screen Lock setting to None & save. This will clear all the saved fingerprints.

Change Screen Lock back to PIN, Pattern, or whatever you want.

Add the fingerprints back to Pixel Imprint (parent may need to do this due to Family Link) and it will work to unlock the phone again
Source

At the moment, Google has not officially ruled on this issue. therefore, it is not known if they are already aware.

If there is any new development in this matter, we will update this article. You can also check the issues/bugs tracker dedicated to Google Pixel phones.

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Jean Leon

A tech enthusiast since ever. I like to always be up to date on the latest news in the industry and write about it.