One of the best ways to protect your online accounts from being compromised is to use two-factor authentication (2FA). This adds a second layer to the sign-in process, requiring you to use a one-time generated code (usually generated on your smartphone) to successfully sign in with tools like Google Authenticator.
That is, of course, if you actually have a smartphone with Google Authenticator installed. Otherwise, your options are limited, but you can use Google Authenticator on your PC without another device. If you want to know how to use Google Authenticator on Windows 10, this is what you need.
Generate Google Authenticator secret code
If your username and password are exposed online, your account is at risk. Even using a password manager won’t help you at this point — you’ll need to change any passwords that were compromised in the breach.
To help fix this problem, you can link your online accounts to a two-factor authentication service like Google Authenticator. This generates a one-time password (OTP) to successfully sign in to Google and other online services.
It doesn’t matter if the password is breached if the hacker doesn’t have your 2FA credentials. 2FA adds another layer of security. To generate a code, you’ll need to set up Google Authenticator on your Windows PC using a third-party app and insert a secret code that matches your Google account.
The secret code is like the master password — without it, the generated codes won’t work to complete 2FA login. This code will only work for your Google account login, but you will need similar codes to link other online services with 2FA apps on your Windows PC.
- To find the secret code for your Google account, open Google account website. In the menu on the left, select Guard.
- inside Guard area of the Google account website, scroll down Sign in to Google then choose 2-Step Verification right to buy. You may need to sign in again at this point.
- If you have not previously enabled 2FA with your mobile device, you will need to follow the on-screen instructions to do so on 2-Step Verification Page. Once done, scroll down Authenticator App section, then select Setting to begin.
- In the pop-up menu, select Android or Iphone, because the option doesn’t matter. Option Next to continue.
- At the next stage, you will see a QR code that you normally need to scan. However, you won’t do this, so choose Can’t scan it? instead.
- The secret code for your Google account will appear in the box below, which is a combination of 32 letters and numbers. Write it down or make an appropriate copy of it, then choose Next to continue. Keep this page open at all times as you will need it to complete the setup process afterwards.
Once you’ve saved the secret code, you need to install the 2FA app on your PC to continue.
Install two-factor authentication app for Windows 10
Unfortunately, there are a number of apps that exist to extend Google Authenticator support to Windows 10. WinAuth is an exception, and while it remains popular, WinAuth is no longer under active development, so we cannot guarantee that it continues to work as intended as a Google Authenticator alternative.
With a few desktop apps available, the best alternatives are found in the Microsoft Store. An example is WinOTP Authenticatoran open source 2FA app that can be officially installed through the Microsoft Store, although the source code is available for review on the developer’s GitHub page.
- To begin, Download and install WinOTP Authenticator from the Microsoft Store. Once installed and opened, select + (Add) symbol at the bottom.
- You will need to save your Google account details here. Below Servicetype Google. Because account name, enter your Google account email address. Finally, enter your 32-digit secret code (with or without spaces) in Code before choosing Save to save it to the application.
- If successful, a six-digit single-use 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 Google Authenticator App setup page directly, select Setting option in 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 code you need to successfully sign in to your Google account (and to other Google services) in the future. If you want to remove the app at any point, tap remove icon next to the Authenticator App options listed in your Google account settings.
Install two-factor authentication extension in Google Chrome
While WinOTP Authenticator provides a quick and easy way to sign in to Google services with two-factor authentication enabled, you can also set up a quick and easy 2FA app using Google Chrome extension named Authenticator.
- To do this, you need to open Google Chrome in your browser and install the Authenticator extension. As the name suggests, this extension allows you to quickly generate OTP codes for two-factor authentication.
- After installation, select Authenticator extension icon (or choose it from Extensions at the top right). From the drop-down menu, select pencil icon.
- Click + symbol (plus sign) appear in the tab below to continue.
- From the menu, select Tutorials.
- You will need to provide your Google Authenticator secret code and account information here. Below Publishertype Google. Because Secret, enter the 32-digit secret code for your Google account (as explained in the steps above). Option Advancedthen put your Google account username in account name box, before selecting ALRIGHT at the bottom to save your details.
- Once saved, select the Authenticator extension icon again to see the one-time passcode for your Google account.
Use Google Authenticator on Windows 10
Once the 2FA app is installed on your PC, you’ll be able to comfortably use Google Authenticator on Windows to sign in to your Google account without a smartphone. This gives you a 2FA backup device, providing peace of mind that you won’t get locked out of your Google account, even if you lose your smartphone.
However, you should note that only one Authenticator app is allowed per account. If you want to use Google Authenticator on Windows, you won’t be able to use the Google Authenticator app on Android or iPhone to sign in to your Google account after this point.
If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to set up two-factor authentication on all your important accounts to help improve your privacy online. This includes setting up 2FA on social media to keep your account from being compromised by hackers.