Home » Two-Step Verification » How to add an Account to Google Authenticator?

How to add an Account to Google Authenticator?

DISCLOSURE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING I GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH MY LINKS, AT NO COST TO YOU. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

Table of Contents

To add an account to Google Authenticator open the app on your phone and press Plus button. Scan the QR Code or enter a setup key displayed on the website and change the Account name if necessary. Follow the instruction on your screen to verify that the code is working. From now on apart from your login and password, you will also need the 6-digit code generated for you by the Google Authenticator app.

  1. Open Google Authenticator app on your phone.
  2. Press Plus button.
  3. Select Scan a QR code or Enter a setup key.
  4. Scan the QR code using you phone camera or type the Secret Key displayed on the website.
  5. Verify your code by following the instruction on the website.

Google Authenticator app is probably the easiest application to use ever, and adding an account to it is as simple as scanning the QR code generated for you during the setup.

The Two-Factor Authenticator apps are great, but why bother.

I have been using 1Password – Password Manager which in my mind is one of the best Password Managers currently available and it has 2FA authentication build into the app. Once set, you can use 1Password on any device without worrying about losing your phone.

You can try 1Password for FREE or you can check the latest offers on the 1Password website. I’m sure you will get a great deal.

Unfortunately, not all accounts make this feature easy to find between all available settings. Some services may also offer other methods of authentication which you may prefer instead.

Google, for example, has six of them including verification via the Google Authenticator app. I listed all of them below.

There are also some additional steps to consider when enabling this security feature, like saving the QR code, Secret Key, or Backup Codes.

Having a copy of the QR code may be useful if for example your original phone was damaged and you no longer have access to your Google Authenticator app. You may then scan the copy of your QR code with your new phone and you up and running without the need to go through each account again.

However, the most important codes to save are your Backup Codes. Issued to you just after scanning the QR code during the activation of the 2FA on your account.

Make sure that you printed them and that they are kept safe. Backup Codes are usually the only way to recover your account if your phone was lost, stolen, or damaged and you have no QR codes.

If you like to know more then read my other post, where I`m explaining what to do if you lost your phone with Google authenticator on it.

Now let see how we can enable Two-Step Verification on some commonly used accounts like Gmail, Twitter, or Dropbox and what other Multi-Step Verification methods they may offer.

You may also like: Google Authenticator vs Microsoft Authenticator – which one is better?

You may also like: Can I use Google Authenticator on multiple devices?

Activating Two-Step Verification on your Google account.

Google has it all, and you can choose the method you like the most. I guess that the 2-Step Verification using Google Authenticator app is the most popular one, but feel free to explore other options available to you.

  1. GOOGLE AUTHENTICATOR APP, AUTHY OR DUO MOBILE
    1. My favourite method, add your Google account to Google Authenticator app or any other third-party authenticator app like Authy, Duo Mobile or even Microsoft Authenticator and generate your verification tokens every time you log-in.
  2. Get Codes via Text Message
    1. Your verification code will be sent to you via text message. Warning! Watch the video below before using this option.
  3. Cell or Landline Phone Call
    1. You will get a phone call from Google with your verification code.
  4. Backup Phone Numbers
    1. Your verification code will be sent to your backup phone in case your main phone is unavailable.
  5. Backup Codes
    1. Log in using your one-time use Backup Code issued to you by Google. Note: Use this feature only to recover your account and when you have no access to any other authentication method.
  6. Security Key
    1. A hardware-based authentication method, insert your Security Key into the USB port and you are done. Note: I’m using my personal favorite – Yubikey 5C NFC key.

Which method you choose is completely up to you, but I recommend avoiding phone call and text message authentication, you can see why in the video below.

Fortunately, activating Two-Factor Authentication on Google is easy, and Google made even a special 2FA Landing Page for us to make the process simple.

Press the “Get Started” button located on the bottom or in the right top corner of the page.

Google two-step verification

If you have not logged in yet you will be asked to do so by providing your username/email and password.

Google sign-in password

Before the setup begin Google will show you additional information about the benefits of having the 2-Step Verification option enabled on your account. Press “Get Started” when ready.

Google two-step verification setup

You will now have an option to set up Google Prompts on your phone. Google prompt was introduced in July 2017 as a more secure 2-Step Verification method in comparison to SMS text messages. You will still have an option to use SMS text message or a phone call, but before you do, please watch the video above.

If you however still prefer to use Text message as your default method of authentication click “Don`t use prompt” and press “Try it Now.”

You will be asked to select either Text message or a Phone call to receive your code. As an example, we will continue setting up the verification using Google Prompt as default, and I will show you later how to switch to the Google Authenticator app.

Note: You can always disable Google Prompt option in your account and set Google Authenticator app as your default method instead.

Google two-step verification prompts

You should now see the message on your phone like the one below. Press “YES” to continue.

Google prompt on the phone

If all went fine, you should now see the screen below. You must now select your backup option.

Once again, it is up to you if you like to use Text messages or Phone call to get your codes, but in this example, I will select “Use Another Backup Option“.

Google two-step verification backup option

Google will now generate ten blocks of 8-digit long backup codes for you. It is crucial that you keep them in a safe place. You need the Backup Codes if you get locked out of your account.

You can use each backup code only once and generate the new block anytime.

Click “Next” when ready.

Google backup codes

If all went fine, you should now see the summary screen with your default Two-Step Verification method and the Backup Options you selected earlier.

Press “Turn On” when ready

Google two-step verification final setup

Your Google Two-Step verification using Google Prompt is now active.

Hopefully, you have also saved your Backup Codes in case you need them.

However, we want to use the Google Authenticator app which is an alternative method and must be activated separately. So let’s do this now.

Activating Google Authenticator app as a Google login second step.

Scroll down the page to the “Set up alternative second step” section and press “Set Up” under the Authenticator app.

Google two-step verification setting Google Authenticator app

Select the device type you are using – Android or iPhone and press “Next”.

Hopefully, by now you have already downloaded the Google Authenticator app.

Open the app, press add account button and scan the QR code generated for you by Google.

Note: At this stage, you may save your QR code and the key as a backup. Follow my other post where I`m explaining what to do when your phone was lost, stolen or damaged and you had Google Authenticator app installed on it.

If for some reason you can`t scan the QR code press the “Can`t scan it?” link below the code.

Google will generate a one-time-key for you to type in the Google Authenticator app.

Press “Next” when ready.

Google will now ask you to confirm the token generated by the Google Authentication app.

Type the code and press “Next.

Setup Google Authenticator app

If you followed the steps correctly you should be able to see your Google account in your Google Authenticator app list as per image below.

Google authenticator app with an account

Setting up Google Authenticator app as your default Google login second step.

Yes, this is not over yet. But we are almost there :-).

Do you remember the step when we set the Google Prompt option?

This option is now set as your default verification method on your account. If you like to switch to use only the Google Authenticator app, you must delete the Google Prompt option under your 2-Step Verification settings.

However, you don`t have to do that.

During the login procedure, you will have an option to select the method you would like to use to log in to your account.

If you, however, decided to use Google Authenticator app as your default authentication method by deleting the Google Prompt option, from now on, apart from providing your username and password when login into your Google Account you will also need to generate a 6-digit token using your Google Authenticator app.

Google Two-Step Verisification delete google prompt

Activating Two-Step Verification on your Twitter account.

Unlike Google, Twitter offers only two types of verification. You may receive your login code via text message or by using a software token.

Unfortunately, by default, Twitter is using SMS messages as the primary method of authentication. And if you watched the video above, you know that I`m not the biggest fan of this type of authentication.

But stay with me, and I will show you how to make the Authenticator app your primary option for authenticating your account, and how to remove the SMS message method.

  1. Get Codes via SMS Text Message
    1. Your verification code will be sent to you via text message. Warning! Watch the video below before using this option.
  2. Google Authenticator App, Authy or Duo Mobile
    1. My favourite method, add a Twitter account to your Google Authenticator app or any other third-party authenticator app like Authy, Duo Mobile or even Microsoft Authenticator and generate your verification tokens every time you log-in.

Log in to your Twitter account, click your profile icon, and then “Settings and privacy“.

Twitter Settings and privacy

Scroll down to Security section and click “Set up login verification“.

Twitter login verification

On the next screen press “Start“. Twitter will now ask you to confirm your phone number by sending you a verification code. Press “Send Code” when ready.

Type the code you have received via SMS message and press “Submit“.

Twitter verification code

If all went fine, you would now have the chance to get your backup code. Press “Get backup code“, on the next screen copy and/or print your Twitter backup code and keep it in a safe place.

You will need it in case your phone was lost, stolen or damaged and you had the Google Authenticator app installed on it.

Twitter backup code

The process is now complete, and the next time you try to log in to your Twitter account, you will have to type your 6-digit code sent to you by Twitter via SMS message. 

But this is exactly what we don`t want. In the next section, I will show you how to change this, so the code generated for us by the Google Authenticator app will be set as the default method of authentication.

Setting up Google Authenticator app as your default Twitter login second step.

As I mentioned earlier, I would like to set Google Authenticator app or any other third-party authenticator app as my default second step option.

To do this click “Review your login verification methods” under the Security section.

Twitter review your settings

Confirm your password to continue. Under Mobile security app click “Set up“.

Twitter mobile security app setup

Press “Start” on the next window to continue. Scan the QR code generated for you by Twitter or press “Can`t scan code?” link if for some reason you can`t scan the code.

Press “Next” when ready.

Twitter qr code setup

On the next screen verify the code generated for you by the authenticator app and press “Verify“.

If all went fine, you should see the screen below.

Twitter got it

Press “Got it” to return to your Twitter Login Verification settings.

Disable Twitter Text message verification method.

Now the crucial part, we want our authenticator app to be the primary method of authentication when login to our Twitter account. To do this click “Edit” under Text message section and select the “Off” option.

Finally, confirm the change by pressing the “Save Changes” button. The process is now complete, and the next time you try to log in to your Twitter account, you will have to type your 6-digit code sent generated by your authenticator app.

Note: If your phone was lost, stolen or damaged and you had Google Authenticator app installed, your backup code will be the only tool which will allow you to restore your account.

Twitter text message off

Activating Two-Step Verification on your Dropbox account.

Although Google is a winner here in terms of a number of available authentication methods, Dropbox, like Google also offers Hardware type authentication using Security Key.

  1. Get Codes via SMS Text Message
    1. Your verification code will be sent to you via text message. Warning! Watch the video above before using this option.
  2. Security Key
    1. A hardware-based authentication method, insert your Security Key into the USB port and you are done. Note: I’m using my personal favorite – Yubikey 5C NFC Key.

Sign in to your Dropbox account, click your avatar logo then select “Settings“.

dropbox settings

Select the “Security” tab and locate the Two-Step Verification section.

Toggle the switch located on the right side of the form to “On“.

Dropbox security two-step verification

Read the benefits of having Two-Step Verification enabled on your Dropbox account and press “Get started“.

dropbox confirm your password

Before you can enable this security feature, you have to confirm your password first. Type the password and press “Next” to continue.

Select “Use a mobile app” and press “Next“.

Note: If you are thinking to use the text message as the primary form of authentication, please watch the video on the top of this post first before selecting this option.

Dropbox security two-step verification - use a mobile app

Open your Google Authenticator app.

Press add account and scan the QR code displayed for you on the screen.

If for some reason you can`t scan the code, press “enter your secret key manually” and follow the guide.

Dropbox enable two-step verification - scan QR code

If all went fine, you would now have to confirm the security token generated for you by your Authenticator app.

Type the code and press “Next“.

Dropbox security two-step verification - confirm security code

Dropbox will now offer you a chance to provide a backup phone in case you lose access to your primary security source.

It is up to you to decide if you add this option, I skipped this process. Press “Next” when ready.

Dropbox security two-step verification - backup phone

You will now have the option to save/print your Dropbox backup codes.

Make sure you do this and keep them in a safe place.

Note: Save your Backup Codes and keep them in a safe place!

Press “Next” to continue.

Dropbox security two-step verification - backup codes

If you followed my steps, you should see the screen below. Notice that the Dropbox Two-Step Verification is now active and has been set as the preferred authentication method.

If you like, now is the time to set the backup method, get your recovery codes, or set up the security key as an alternative method.

The choice is yours, just follow the guide.

Dropbox security two-step verification enabled

Two-Step Verification – Who Has it?

Of course, Twitter, Google, or Dropbox are not the only services that support Two-Step Verification also known as Two-Factor Authentication.

You may need to check your other accounts to see what options are available to you. However, to save you some time I have discovered a website which will do the job for you.

The twofactorauth.org is a great resource where you can quickly identify if any of your accounts supports not only the Two-Factor Authentication but also any other type of second-step verification.

Conclusion.

As you can see setting up Two-Factor Authentication is not as tricky as you can think.

Hopefully, if you followed my guide and activated this option on all three accounts, you will now have a solid knowledge of how to do this on any other account you may have and which supports 2FA.

Every account will have a slightly different way to activate this security feature, but usually, the Security section in your account settings is an excellent place to start searching for it.

If you enjoyed reading or you have some questions, please let me know in the comments.

My Favorite Software and Hardware.

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful. Here is the list of the software and hardware I am personally using, which I believe you may also find useful. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to use any of them, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. But in all honesty, this is the exact software I have installed on my computer and the hardware I have been using to secure my online accounts or store my passwords.

1Password Password Manager - I have been using 1Password for the past two years, and in my opinion, it is the best Password Manager yet. You can try 1Password for free or check the latest deals on the 1Password website.

Yubikey 5C NFC - This is a hardware authentication device that you can use to protect your online accounts or even computers. If you are thinking of getting one, I will highly recommend Yubikey 5C NFC, which, thanks to the NFC, can also be used with your phone.

Bitdefender Total Security - I had tried other Anti-Virus software whenever my Bitdefender license was about to expire. However, at the end of the day, this is still my favorite Anti-Virus. You can check the latest offers on the Bitdefender site.

NordVPN - If you are looking for some privacy when browsing the web, NordVPN will have you covered. Save 72% now with a 2-year planvisit the NordVPN website for more details.

Malwarebytes - It will defend you against harmful websites and remove any malware from your computer. Make sure to check the latest offers on the Malwarebytes website.