Below is a quick guide on how to configure your Microsoft Account to work with Google authenticator. You may also find a more detailed version of the guide below, where I also explained why it is important to save your Microsoft Account Secret Key and Recovery Code.
- Download Google Authenticator app.
- Log in to your Microsoft Account.
- Select MORE SECURITY OPTIONS tile.
- Select SET UP IDENTITY VERIFICATION APP.
- Select SET UP DIFFERENT AUTHENTICATOR APP.
- Scan the barcode with your Google Authenticator app.
- Go back to SECURITY SETTINGS.
- Select REPLACE RECOVERY CODE.
- Make sure to save this code and keep it in a safe location. I would recommend storing all your sensitive private data in the Password Manager.
You may also like: Can I use Google Authenticator on Multiple Devices?
Setup Microsoft Account to work with Google Authenticator.
Although Microsoft has its app called Microsoft Authenticator, many people prefer to use Google Authenticator instead. Apps are fairly similar to each other but Google Play store downloads statistics suggest that the Google version of the app is far more popular.
If you are new to the Google Authenticator app, it is also worth mentioning that the latest version of the app brings a long-awaited feature called Transfer Accounts. For me, the lack of this option was a deal-breaker before the update.
You may also like: Can I use Microsoft Authenticator on Multiple Devices?
Although I was using the Google Authenticator app even without this option, I have decided to have a backup option which is called Authy. You can read here about the differences between the Authy and Google Authenticator which will give you an idea of why I choose Authy as my main 2FA app.
If you like a dedicated solution, including an advanced Password Manager, why not try 1Password – Password Manager.
In my opinion, 1Password is the best Password Manager currently available and it has a Two Factor Authenticator build into it. It will not only automatically populate both login and password for you but also the Two Factor Authentication code once set in the app.
You may also like: Restore Microsoft Authenticator on a new phone.
1) Download Google Authenticator app.
2) Login to your Microsoft Account.
On the home page scroll down and click SECURITY tile to update your security information.
3) More Security Options.
You can click the Two-Step Verification icon at the top of the page or select Explore tile to open More Security Options. Either way, you will end up on the same page.
4) Set up Identity Verification App.
Under Additional Security Options find the Identity Verification Apps section and select Set Up Identity Verification App.
5) Set up a different Authenticator App.
Select Set up a different Authenticator App for your Microsoft Account. This will allow you to use Google Authenticator app instead of Microsoft Authenticator for your Microsoft Account login authentication.
Save the Secret Key.
Saving your Secret Key although unnecessary I consider as crucial, you will have only one chance to do this and may save you a lot of headache in the future.
What is a Secret Key?
The Secret Key is a 16 characters long Alpha-Numeric code that you can use anytime to pair your Microsoft Account with Google Authenticator or any other Two-Step Verification app without a need for the barcode.
For example, after you complete this process and set up your Google Authenticator app to work with your Microsoft Account there might be a time when you would like to set up another phone.
As of writing this article, the newest version of the Google Authenticator app offers an Account Transfer option which will allow you to transfer selected accounts to your new phone.
This is great, but what will happen if you lose your phone with Google Authenticator on it?
This is the problem you don`t want to deal with, believe me. That’s where the Secret Key comes to the rescue. And yes you can just use your Recovery Code to access your Microsoft Account and reset the Google Authenticator app again.
I think however that it is much quicker to just grab your new phone, install Google Authenticator, Microsoft Authenticator, or Authy for example, type your code and you are ready to go.
The only difference is that instead of scanning a barcode that you don`t have, you type the Secret Key instead to re-link your account, and you are done.
You can read more about the Secret Key or Recovery Codes in my other article Google Authenticator – How to add an Account?.
Where do I find the Secret Key?
To view the Secret Key make sure to click I can`t scan the barcode link.
Now you can copy the Secret Key but make sure to save it in a secure location. I keep all my sensitive information in my trusted Sticky Password password manager.
6) Scan the QR Code with your Google Authenticator app.
Once is done, click I`ll scan a barcode instead link if you haven’t done so yet and complete the process by scanning the barcode. Finally, verify that the process was completed successfully by entering a code generated by Google Authenticator app to the field below and by pressing next.
7) Save the Recovery Code.
The final step is to save your Recovery Codes.
What is a Recovery Code?
If you lose your phone and you haven`t saved your Secret Key, the Recovery Code will be the only way to access your Microsoft Account. As with the Secret Key make sure to keep this code in a safe place.
Where do I find the Recovery Code?
Go back to your Security Settings, scroll almost all the way down, and click Replace Recovery Code. This will reveal the code which you should copy and store in a safe place.
Remember that this is a one-time use code so you need to visit this place every time and replace your recovery code if you have used the previous one to access your account.
Finally press OK and you are done.
From now on you can have peace of mind that you have secured your Microsoft Account using the latest and safest technology available at the moment.
By saving the Secret Key and the Recovery Code you can be sure that in case of a problem you can always access your account or set up the Google Authenticator app on your new phone.