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Transfer Google Authenticator 2FA codes to a New Phone

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Table of Contents

Until not a long time ago, transferring your Google Authenticator 2FA codes to a new phone was a challenge. It required either visiting each account and rescanning the QR codes with your new phone or rooting your device, risking losing the warranty.

  1. Open Google Authenticator app on you old phone.
  2. Select three dots at the top right corner of your phone.
  3. Select Transfer Accounts.
  4. Select Export Accounts.
  5. Select the account you would like to transfer and press Next.
  6. Open Google Authenticator app on your new phone.
  7. Select three dots at the top right corner of your phone.
  8. Select Transfer Accounts.
  9. Select Import Accounts.
  10. Press Scan QR Code button.
  11. Scan the QR Code displayed on an old phone using your new phone.
  12. Press Done on an old phone.

The option to transfer Google Authenticator codes to a new phone was a highly anticipated update, and it is not hard to see why.

It becomes common to have 20, 30, or even more accounts in the Google authenticator app. Just imagine the amount of work required to register a new phone with each service account secured with 2FA using the Google Authenticator app.

But why bother with transferring your Google Authenticator codes to a new phone when you can have the Authenticator app build into your Password Manager.

You not only have your Passwords protected but also all your 2FA codes in one app which then can be used on any and as many devices as you want.

You can try 1Password for free, or you can check the latest offers on the 1Password website.

1) Open Google Authenticator app on your old phone.

Use the Transfer Accounts option to transfer all Google Authenticator codes to a new phone.

You may also like: Restore Microsoft Authenticator on a New Phone.

You can also use this option to create a Backup of your 2FA codes by transferring them to a spare device that you don’t use.

Google Authenticator app on a phone with 2FA codes.
Google Authenticator app on an old device.

2) Tap the three dots menu at the top right corner on your old phone.

You can change some settings here, including the Time Correction for your codes.

The Time correction may need adjustment from time to time if your phone time settings have shifted slightly and are no longer aligned with the Service Account you are trying to log in to.

Accessing menu by tapping three dots in the Google Authenticator app.
Tap three dots to display the menu in the Google Authenticator app.

3) Tap Transfer Accounts.

An image of a mobile phone with Transfer Accounts option in the app menu.
Transfer Accounts option available in the GA app.

4) Tap Export Accounts.

Using your old phone, select Export Accounts to export your existing accounts to your new phone.

The Google Authenticator app will automatically create an Export QR code for you which you will be able to scan it using your new device.

Transfer accounts with Import and Export options in the Google Authenticator app.
Select Export Accounts on your old phone.

5) Select the 2FA accounts you would like to tranfer.

By default, the Transfer Accounts option will select all accounts for you for export.

Transferring Google Authenticator 2FA accounts.
Select 2FA accounts you would like to transfer.

Unselect the accounts you don’t want to transfer or press Next to continue exporting all selected accounts.

New QR code generated using Google Authenticator Transfer Accounts option.
Transfer the 2FA accounts by scanning the QR code using your new phone.

6) Open Google Authenticator app on your new phone.

You can download the Google Authenticator app from the Google Play Store if you are an Android user or download it from an Apple Store for iPhone.

Fresh copy of the Google Authenticator app without codes.
New phone with Google Authenticator app.

7) Tap the three dots menu at the top right corner on your new phone.

Make sure to explore other options under the settings menu.

One worth mentioning is the Time Correction for codes which you will find under Settings.

The TOTP or Time-Based One-Time Password codes generated by the Google Authenticator app must match the code generated by the service account server you are trying to log in to.

For this to happen, both your phone and the server clocks must match.

Otherwise, the code generated by your Google Authenticator app will not much the code generated by the server preventing you from login in.

Accessing Transfer Accounts option in the GA menu
Tap the three dots to access the GA menu on your new phone.

8) Tap Transfer Accounts.

Transfer Accounts option in the GA menu.
Tap Transfer Accounts on your new device.

9) This time select Import Accounts.

Selecting Import Accounts in the GA app
Select Import Accounts on your new phone.

10) Tap Scan QR Code button.

Instruction on how to import the 2FA Google Authenticator codes.

11) Scan the QR Code displayed on an old phone.

Using your new phone, scan the QR Code displayed for you on your old phone.

The Google Authenticator app may generate more than one QR Code required to be scanned. The number of QR Codes depends on the number of accounts you have on your old phone.

The more accounts you have, the more QR Codes must be generated to accommodate them.

Scanning QR codes displayed on an old phone using a new phone camera.
Scanning QR code with a new phone.

12) Tap Done on an old phone.

Finishing the 2FA transfer by tapping Done on an old phone
Tap Done after scanning the QR code using your new phone.

You should now be able to see all the codes displayed in the Google Authenticator app on your new phone.

Although the application cannot stop anyone with access to your phone from transferring your accounts to another device, the Google Authenticator app will display a message at the top of the application to let you know that someone has recently exported or imported the 2FA accounts.

Accounts were recently imported message in the GA app
List of 2FA accounts after the transfer from an old device.

You can find the details about which accounts were imported to your new phone and when by tapping the message.

Recent activity log in the Google Authenticator app
The Recent Activity log after transferring Google Authenticator accounts.

Google Authenticator Backup.

The Google Authenticator Transfer Accounts option is a great feature to have. Although it is not really a Backup option people were looking forward to, if used correctly can be treated as one.

Get one of your old phones lying around and transfer your accounts by following the steps above.

Keep your old phone in a safe place as a backup option if you lose your phone with the Google Authenticator app installed on it.

You can also use the Google Authenticator app on multiple devices like your phone or tablet.

Final word.

Although the Google authenticator Transfer Accounts option makes the process quick and easy, it is not a dedicated backup solution.

For that reason only, I have recently switched to Microsoft Authenticator, which offers not only a full Cloud Backup but also many more features not available in the Google Authenticator app.

If you are interested, I have written a comprehensive comparison of both Google Authenticator and Microsoft Authenticator apps which I believe will help you to select the best app for your needs.

You can also read my Yubico Authenticator vs Google Authenticator article I wrote when I bought my first Yubikey 5C NFC key.

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.