How to Protect Your Outlook.com Account with Two-Step Verification

Want to secure your Outlook.com account? Enable 2-step verification

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Old key in a rusted door lock. © Depositphotos.com/scyther5

Outlook.com wants your account to be secure. A strong password is a good first step which can be followed by another.

With Outlook.com two-step verification, your password alone is not enough to access the emails in your account or send messages from it. Instead, a second means is needed to log in: a specially generated code delivered from Outlook.com to an alternate email address or, more securely perhaps, to your phone; the phone may also be able to generate the code itself using an authenticator app.

Two-step verification makes your Outlook.com account much more secure. For the convenience to which you are accustomed, you can exempt browsers on devices and computers only you use from the need to enter a code. For the flexibility afforded by POP access and even more by IMAP in email programs, you can generate specific—and relatively hard to guess—passwords.

Instructions in this article apply to Outlook Online.

Protect Your Outlook.com Account with Two-Step Verification

To have logging into your Outlook.com (and Microsoft) account require two steps—a password and code delivered to your mobile phone or an alternative email address, for instance:

  1. Select your name or picture in the top Outlook.com navigation bar.

    Outlook.com inbox.
  2. Select My account from the menu that has appeared.

    Viewing settings in Outlook.com.
  3. If you are prompted for a password:

    • Type your Outlook.com password over Password.
    • Select Sign in.
  4. Select Security in the menu at the top.

    Advanced settings in Outlook.com.
  5. Select more security options below the Change your password box.

    Basic security settings in Outlook.com.
  6. If Help us protect your account appears under What security info would you like to add, select either A phone number or An alternate email address.

    Login prompt to add additional security in Outlook.com.
  7. Enter either a phone number and select Text or Call or enter an alternate email address and select Next.

    Choosing either text or email for security code in Outlook.com.
  8. Enter the code you received via phone or email and select Next.

    Dialog awaiting a security code in Outlook.com.
  9. You may be prompted to enter in your password in again. Enter it and select Sign in.

    A dialog box requesting a password in Outlook.com.
  10. Select Set up two-step verification under Two-step verification section.

    Additional security options in Outlook.com.
  11. Select Next.

    Instruction to set up two step verification in Outlook.com.
  12. Under Verify my identity with, select one of the following:

    • An app
    • A phone number
    • An alternate email address
    Selecting an option to verify identity in Outlook.com.
  13. Now follow the appropriate directions depending on which option you choose to verify your identity.

Using an App to Receive Outlook.com Sign-In Verification Codes

  1. If you choose An app, select Get it now.

    Choosing to use an app to verify identity in Outlook.com.
  2. A new browser window will open up and present a selection to download the Microsoft Authenticator for either Android or Apple iOS. Enter in your smartphone number and select Send Link.

    The Microsoft authentication website in Outlook.com.
  3. Once you receive the link on your smartphone and install it, sign into the app

  4. Tap the plus sign (+) to add your account. You'll need to select between a Personal account, Work or school account, or Other account (Google, Facebook, etc.).

    MS Authenticator setup screenshots on Android.
  5. Sign in with your Outlook.com credentials.

    You may be asked to enter a code which will be emailed or texted.

    Logging into MS Authenticator on Android.
  6. Now back to Outlook.com, select Next.

    Finish setting up the authentication app for Outlook.com.
  7. Select Finish.

    Microsoft Authenticator is setup with Outlook.com.

Using a Phone Number to Receive Outlook.com Sign-In Verification Codes

  1. If you choose to verify your identity with A phone number, enter in your phone number and select Text or Call under Verify phone via.

    Choosing to verify identity with a phone number in Outlook.com.
  2. Once you receive the code enter it and select Next.

    A prompt to enter in a code that was sent via phone.
  3. You'll receive a confirmation with a recovery code. Make sure you print or save this code then select Next.

    Confirmation that 2 step verification has been turned on in Outlook.com.
  4. Select Next again. (Unless you want to set up syncing to other devices.)

    Optional additions to setup security on smart phone.
  5. Select Finish.

    Another optional screen to setup password on other Microsoft apps and devices.

Using an Alternate Email Address to Receive Outlook.com Sign-In Verification Codes

  1. If you chose to verify your identity with an alternate email address, enter the email address and select Next.

    Verifying identity with an alternate email address in Outlook.com.
  2. Once you receive the code from an email from Microsoft, enter the Code and select Next.

    Awaiting a code that was sent via email in Outlook.com.
  3. You'll receive a confirmation with a recovery code. Make sure you print or save this code then select Next.

    Confirmation that 2 step verification has been enabled with an alternate email address in Outlook.com.
  4. Select Next again. (Unless you want to set up syncing to other devices.)

    Optional additions to setup security on smart phone.
  5. Select Finish.

    Another optional screen to setup password on other Microsoft apps and devices.