How to Deal with Access Key Log-In to Yahoo! Mail

Woman sitting at laptop holding a smartphone

William Iven / Unsplash 

With Access Key, you need just tap on your phone to log in to Yahoo! Mail—with no password to type or forget.

Passwords are a lot like the plans we tend to make: either so simple that anyone can guess them or so difficult that we cannot remember and reproduce them even after we have written them down. Then, social engineering may trick you into handing out your password—or a keylogging application may record it for somebody else to use.

If passwords are dangerous, what can you do to secure your Yahoo! Mail account? Go without a password altogether?

Yes. Precisely.

Security Beyond Passwords for Yahoo! Mail

Yahoo! Mail lets you secure your account without a password—and much convenience.

Once you have set up Access Key for your account using the Yahoo! Mail apps for iOS or Android, the app is all you need to log in anywhere (with the exception of email programs that connect to Yahoo! Mail using IMAP or POP; for these, you will need to create passwords).

Logging in using Access Key is supremely convenient, too: when you open Yahoo! Mail, say, in a browser, an authentication request is sent to the app, and all you need to do is tap "Yes" to authorize it. (If you do not recognize a log-in request, you can also tap "No", of course, to deny access.)

What If You Lose Your Yahoo! Mail Access Key Phone?

Without a password to lose, what is there to lose? Ah… your phone; but no worries! It’s not like it now is the key to your Yahoo! Mail account.

The key, of course, is not to lose the device you have set up for Yahoo! Mail Access Key.

Realistically, though, phones get lost and devices, too. So, to keep your Yahoo! Mail account secure:

  • Make sure your phone is securely locked; nobody can log in to your account if the phone without unlocking the device.
  • Make sure you have recovery phone numbers and email addresses specified for your Yahoo! Mail account so you can log in to your account and disable Access Key on the lost device. (See below.)

Enable Access Key for Yahoo! Mail

To turn on Access Key for your Yahoo! Mail account and log in using but the Yahoo! Mail app for iOS or Android:

From now on, you will need your device and the app to log in.

  1. Make sure the Yahoo! Mail app is installed on your iOS or Android device.

  2. Open the Yahoo! Mail app and sign into your account.

  3. In your Inbox, select the account menu icon (iOS) or the hamburger menu icon (Android).

  4. Select the key icon next to your name.

  5. Select Setup Account Key.

  6. Select Yes under This is a sample Account Key.

    This is how Account Key authentication will look like for Yahoo! Mail; note the device, IP address and time for the requested key at the bottom and make sure they are familiar.

    Screenshots of set up account key
  7. Selecting Yes logs you into Yahoo! Mail.

  8. Selecting No denies access.

  9. Select Got it!

  10. Verify Yahoo! Mail has a recovery phone number on file where you can receive SMS text messages.

  11. Select Enable Account Key.

    Screenshot of Yahoo account key on Android
  12. Select Great, got it! under You’re using Account Key.

  13. Make sure to set up application passwords for all email programs you use with Yahoo! Mail using IMAP or POP access.

Log On to Yahoo! Mail Using Account Key

To sign in to your Yahoo! Mail account using Account Key in a browser:

  1. Type your Yahoo! Mail username or the complete Yahoo! Mail email address over Email address under Sign in to your account.

  2. Click Continue under, well, Click continue to use Account Key.

  3. Open the Yahoo! Mail app on your phone.

  4. Check the sign in data (device, browser, IP address, and date) under Are you trying to sign in?.

  5. Tap Yes if you recognize the details.

Add Recovery Options to Your Yahoo! Mail Account

To add a recovery email address or phone number which you can use to confirm your account if you ever lose access to the device with Account Key:

  1. Click your name in the top Yahoo! Mail navigation bar.

    Screenshot of Yahoo Mail inbox
  2. Select the Account Info link.

    Screenshot of Account Info
  3. Go to the Account security category.

    Screenshot of Account Security tab
  4. If prompted, log on using Access Key.

    Screenshot of notification to approve sign in

To add an email address for recovery:

  1. Select Add Recovery Email Address.

    If you do not see Add recovery email address, click Email addresses first.

    Screenshot of Add Recovery Email Address
  2. Type the email address you want to add over Email address. Select Send verification email.

    Screenshot of Please enter your email address
  3. Check the email account whose address you added for a message from “Yahoo” with the subject Please verify your alternate email address. Follow the verification link in the email and select Verify.

To add a phone number for recovery:

  1. Select Add recovery phone number.

    If you do not see Add recovery phone number, click Phone numbers first.

  2. Enter the phone number over Mobile Number.

    Screenshot of Add Recovery Phone Number
  3. Select Send SMS or Call Me.

    Screenshot of Send SMS and Call Me buttons
  4. Enter the code you received and select Verify.

Disable Yahoo! Mail Access Key

To turn off Access Key for a Yahoo! Mail account and return to either a static password alone or two-step authentication:

  1. Select your name in Yahoo! Mail and choose Account Info.

    Screenshot of Account Info
  2. Open the Account Security tab.

    Screenshot showing Account Security tab
  3. Select Manage next to Yahoo Account Key is enabled.

    Screenshot of Manage next to Yahoo Account Key is enabled
  4. Select Disable Account Key at the bottom of the window.

    Screenshot of Disable Account Key
  5. Confirm that you want to disable the account key and select Got It to return to Yahoo Mail settings. You can now log in without using the account key.