Google Backup Codes: What to Know and How to Use Them

Can't get codes via email, text, or voice call? Try this method instead

When you secure your Google account with two-factor authentication (2FA), you’ll need to enter a code to complete the sign in. You can get this code from a text message, a voice call, the Google Authenticator app, or a security key.

There may be times when you don’t have your phone or a security key with you. For these emergencies, be prepared; print a list of Google backup codes and keep it in a safe place only you know about.

These steps work the same on computers, tablets, and phones, regardless of the software or hardware version, so you can follow these steps if you're on an iPhone, Android device, iPod touch, BlackBerry, etc.

How to Print or Download Google Backup Codes

After you've set up your Google account with 2FA, print or download a set of backup codes.

  1. Go to the 2FA of your Google account, and log in when asked.

  2. Scroll down to the Backup codes section and select Show Codes.

    A screenshot of Gmail's 2-Step Verification settings with the Show Codes link highlighted
  3. Select DOWNLOAD to save a text file containing the codes, or use PRINT to print the codes.

    A screenshot of Google 2FA backup codes with the Download and Print options highlighted

If you download the backup codes from your Google account, be sure to save them somewhere safe. It'd also be wise of you to change the default name to something a little less obvious than the default backup-codes file name.

If your backup codes are lost or you've used all the codes, select GET NEW CODES. You'll have a new list of codes to work with and the old set of backup codes become inactive.

How to Sign In With Google Authenticator Backup Codes

When you need to use a backup code to sign in to your Google account, find your list and follow these steps:

  1. Sign in to any Google service, be it Gmail, Google Drive, YouTube, etc.

  2. Select Try another way.

    A screenshot of Google sign-in with the Try Another Way option highlighted
  3. Select Enter one of your 8-digit backup codes.

    A screenshot of Google 2FA with the "Enter one of your 8-digit backup codes" option highlighted
  4. Enter a backup code and then press Next to log in.

    2-Step Verification screen with backup code entered

When you use a code, it cannot be used again. Be sure to cross it off your list.

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