Using two-factor authentication is one of the best ways to safeguard your online accounts from being hacked (2FA). This adds a second layer to the sign-in process, requiring you to utilize a one-time-only generated code (often produced on your smartphone) to successfully sign in using Google Authenticator.
That is, assuming you have a smartphone with the Google Authenticator app loaded. If you don’t, your options are restricted, although Google Authenticator can be used on your PC without the usage of another device. Here’s everything you’ll need to get started with Google Authenticator on Windows 10.
Generating the Google Authenticator Secret Code
Your account is at risk if your username and password are disclosed online. Even if you use a password manager, you’ll still need to reset any passwords that have been compromised as a result of the attack.
You can use a two-factor authentication service like Google Authenticator to assist you to get around this problem. To securely login into Google and other online services, this produces a one-time password (OTP).
If the hacker doesn’t know your 2FA credentials, it doesn’t matter if your password is compromised. Two-factor authentication (or 2FA) offers an extra layer of security. To generate the codes, use a third-party programme to install Google Authenticator on your Windows PC and enter the secret code.
The secret code functions similarly to a master password; without it, the codes generated will not be valid for completing a 2FA sign-in. This code will only work for logging into your Google account; you’ll need other codes to link your other online services to a 2FA app on your Windows PC.
To find the secret code for your Google account, open the Google account website. In the left-hand menu, select Security.
In the Security area of the Google account website, scroll down to the Signing in to Google section, then select the 2-Step Verification option. You may need to sign in again at this point.
If you haven’t already enabled 2FA with a mobile device previously, you’ll need to follow the on-screen instructions to do so on the 2-Step Verification page. Once this is done, scroll down to the Authenticator app section, then select Set Up to begin.
In the pop-up menu, select either Android or iPhone, as the option doesn’t matter. Select Next to continue.
At the next stage, you’ll see a QR code that you’d typically need to scan. You won’t be doing this, however, so select the Can’t Scan It? option instead.
The secret code for your Google account will appear in the box below, in a combination of 32 letters and numbers. Write this down or make a suitable copy of it, then select Next to continue. Keep this page open, as you’ll need it to complete the setup process afterwards.
Once you’ve saved the secret code, you’ll need to install a 2FA app on your PC to proceed.
Installing a Two Factor Authentication App for Windows 10
Unfortunately, there are only a handful of apps that support Google Authenticator on Windows 10. While WinAuth is still popular, it is no longer in active development, so we can’t promise that it will continue to perform as intended as a Google Authenticator alternative.
The finest alternatives to the few desktop apps accessible can be found in the Microsoft Store. WinOTP Authenticator, for example, is an open-source 2FA programme that can be downloaded through the Microsoft Store, though the source code may be viewed on the developer’s GitHub page.
You’ll need to save your Google account details here. Under Service, type Google. For Username, type your Google account email address. Finally, type your 32-digit secret code (with or without spaces) in the Code section, before selecting Save to save it to the app.
If successful, a six-digit one-time passcode will appear at the top of the window. Return to the Google Authenticator app setup page (as described in the section above), or open the Google Authenticator App setup pagedirectly, selecting the Set Up option in the Authenticator app section. Enter the six-digit code you see in the WinOTP app in the Google Authenticator app setup box, then select Verify to continue.
If verified, WinOTP Authenticator will become the default Google Authentication app for your account. You can then use WinOTP to generate the 2FA codes you need to successfully sign in to your Google account (and into other Google services) in the future. If you want to remove the app at any point, press the remove icon next to the Authenticator app option listed in your Google account settings.
Installing a Two Factor Authentication Extension in Google Chrome
While WinOTP Authenticator is a quick and easy way to sign in to Google services with two-factor authentication enabled, you can also use a Google Chrome extension called Authenticator to set up a quick and easy-to-use 2FA app.
To do this, you’ll need to open Google Chrome in your browser and install the Authenticator extension. As the simple name suggests, this extension allows you to quickly create OTP codes for two-factor authentication.
Once installed, select the Authenticator extension icon (or select it from the Extensions menu in the top-right). From the drop-down menu, select the pencil icon.
Press the + (plus) icon that appears in the card below to proceed.
From the menu, select Manual Entry.
You’ll need to provide your Google Authenticator secret code and account information here. Under Issuer, type Google. For Secret, type the 32-digit secret code for your Google account (as explained in the steps above). Select Advanced, then place your Google account username in the Username box, before selecting OK at the bottom to save your details.
Once saved, select the Authenticator extension icon again to view your one-time passcode for your Google account.
Using Google Authenticator on Windows 10
Once you’ve installed a 2FA programme on your PC, you’ll be able to login into your Google account using Google Authenticator on Windows without the need for a smartphone. This serves as a backup 2FA device, ensuring that you won’t be locked out of your Google account if you misplace your smartphone.
You should keep in mind, however, that each account is limited to one Authenticator app. If you want to use Google Authenticator on Windows, you won’t be able to sign in to your Google account using the Google Authenticator app for Android or iPhone after this point.