How to Set up Google Authenticator

The easy way to stay safe and secure

Google Authenticator Logo

Google

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Google Authenticator is an app for simple two-factor authentication, a security system that ensures the person logging into one of your digital accounts is really you. It does this by requiring a unique, one-time code in addition to your usual username and password.

How Does Google Authenticator Work?

 In many cases, the one-time access code can be texted to a phone number associated with your account, but the Google Authenticator app can provide those codes on your smartphone instead. These codes ensure no one else has access to your accounts, as a third-party would not only need your password, but also access to your phone to log in — something remote hackers are unlikely to get their hands on. 

Google Authenticator works across Google’s services, as well as a wide variety of other online accounts, including Slack.

How to Get Google Authenticator

The first thing you need to do is download the Google Authenticator app for your mobile device:

Enable Two-Factor Authentication on Your Accounts

You’ll need to activate two-factor authentication for the online services you want to use with Google Authenticator. The steps to do this will be specific to your service, so see the service’s guidance on enabling two-factor authentication. It may be listed as 2FA, and often can be found during the sign-in process.

Once you've enabled two-factor authentication for your account, you can move on to the next process for linking your account to your authenticator app.

To link Google Authenticator with your Google account, specifically, go to Google's setup page for two-factor authentication, which will let you link the two. However, you don't need to enable this if you only want to use Google Authenticator with different services.

How to Set up Google Authenticator With Your Accounts

With the two-factor authentication setup page open for your desired service, and your Google Authenticator app running on your mobile device, you're ready to get everything set up.

  1. Locate the key or bar code provided by your online account.

  2. Tap Begin in the Google Authenticator app, or tap the + if you've already linked another account.

  3. Enter an account name and the key from your online account or scan the bar code into the Google Authenticator with the built-in scanner.

    Adding account in Google Authenticator app
  4. Your account will automatically link.

    Google Authenticator two-factor authentication code

How to Use Google Authenticator to Log In

Once you have Google Authenticator linked with your accounts, it's simple to use when you want to log into those accounts.

  1. Sign into your account normally using your username and password. You'll then be prompted to complete the two-factor authentication you've set up with Google Authenticator.

  2. Open the Google Authenticator app on your phone, find the correct account, and note the number provided by the app.

  3. Quickly return to the login screen and enter the number from your Google Authenticator app to complete the login process.

The code regularly changes after a short amount of time, indicated by a time wheel in the Google Authenticator app. Make sure the code you're entering online still appears on your phone when you enter it.