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

Image of person sitting in front of a computer

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When you secure your Google account with 2-Step Verification, 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 2-step verification, print or download a set of backup codes.

  1. Go to the 2-Step Verification page of your Google account, and log in when asked.

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

    2-Step Verification page on a Google account
  3. Select DOWNLOAD to save a text file containing the codes, or use PRINT to print the codes.

    Save your backup codes screen on the Google 2-step verification page

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.

    2-Step Verification page for Google
  3. Select Enter one of your 8-digit backup codes.

    2-Step Verification page from Google
  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.