How to Secure Your Gmail Account With Two-Step Verification

Another layer of security ensures that only you can read your messages

Two-factor authentication (2FA) refers to two steps you must take to get into an online account after you enter your user name. The first step is entering your password. The second can be any number of things, including entering a unique code, plugging in a specific physical device, or responding to a prompt. Each online account uses its own method or methods.

2FA in Gmail

Gmail's 2FA is called 2-Step Verification. The primary method used for 2-Step Verification is a Google Prompt. That is, when you go to sign in to Gmail, you enter your user name and password. Then Google (which controls Gmail) sends a prompt to your mobile device. You must respond to the prompt before you're allowed access to Gmail. You can choose a different method if you prefer. For example, you can opt to receive a text code that you enter before you're allowed to access Gmail.

When you use 2-Step Verification in Gmail, you give yourself an additional layer of protection from hackers. This is true even if your password is strong and you have malware protection in place.

Even if you activate 2-Step Verification, your Gmail account can still be hacked. If you need greater security for your email correspondence, there are a number of secure email options available to try. Just remember that no email application is completely secure.

Activate 2-Step Verification in Gmail

To use 2-Step Verification in Gmail, you must first activate it. To do so, follow the steps below.

  1. Sign in to your Gmail account and select your profile picture or icon.

    Sign in to your Gmail account and select your profile picture or icon.
  2. Select Manage Your Google Account (or Google Account).

    Google settings with Manage your Google Account highlighted
  3. A new tab with your Google account information opens. In the left pane, select Security.

    Google account settings with security highlighted
  4. Under Signing in to Google, select 2-Step Verification.

    Google account settings with 2-Step Verification highlighted
  5. The next screen explains 2-Step Verification. Select Get Started.

    Google 2-step verification screen with Get Started highlighted
  6. Enter your password and select Next.

    Google account screen with password and "Next" highlighted
  7. Enter your mobile device's number, select Text, then select Next.

    Google 2-Step verification screen with phone number, "Text" and "Next" highlighted
  8. Google will send your a confirmation code on your mobile device. Enter the code and select Next.

    Google 2-step verification screen with code and Next highlighted
  9. Google will verify your mobile device. Select Turn On to turn on two-factor authentication. Now you'll be prompted to use your second step each time you log on to Gmail.

    Google 2-step verification screen with "Turn On" highlighted

Disable 2-Step Verification in Gmail

Tired of the second step? Here's how to disable it.

  1. Follow steps 1-4 above. If prompted, enter your Gmail password and select Next.

  2. Respond to whichever method of 2-Step Verification you have activated.

  3. At the top of the screen, select Turn Off.

    Google 2-Step verification settings with Turn Off highlighted
  4. Google shows a warning message asking you to confirm that you really want to disable 2-Step Verification. If you're sure, select Turn Off.

    Google confirmation message with Turn Off highlighted
  5. Google takes a moment to process the change and restore your security settings. Afterward, your settings return to the way they were before you enabled 2-Step Verification.

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