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 a smartphone) with tools like Google Authenticator for a successful login.
That is, of course, if you actually have a smartphone with Google Authenticator installed. And in addition to the phone, we can also use applications similar to Google Authenticator on the computer. If you want to know how to use Google Authenticator on Windows 10, then read our article below.
What is Authenticator Verification Code?
Authenticator 2-Step Verifier is a means of verifying user identity. By providing the authentication code from the Authenticator, you are proving to the login portals that you are the real account owner.
How is Authenticator better than SMS?
Same is 2-step verification, but Authenticator has an advantage over SMS (receiving verification code via text message) in that you don’t depend on phone waves, don’t need an internet connection and don’t suffer from errors that don’t send verification codes like SMS.
Generate Google Authenticator secret code
If your online username and password are exposed, your account is at great risk. Even using a password manager won’t help you at this point — you’ll need to change the passwords for all potentially compromised accounts.
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.
2FA adds another layer of security that helps you protect your accounts even if your passwords are stolen by hackers because they don’t have 2FA logins. 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 a master password – without it, the generated codes won’t work to complete the 2FA login. This code will only work for your Google account login, but you will need the same codes to link other online services with the 2FA app on Windows PC.
1. To find the secret code for your Google account, open the page Google account. In the menu on the left, select Security.
2. In the area Security of the Google account, scroll down to the Signing in to Google, then select option 2-Step Verification. You may need to sign in again at this point.
3. If you have not previously enabled 2FA with your mobile device, you will need to follow the onscreen instructions to do so on the page 2-Step Verification. Once done, scroll down to Authenticator app, then select Set Up to begin.
4. In the pop-up menu, select Android or Iphone. Choose next to continue.
5. In the next step, you will see a QR code that you normally scan. However, you will not do this, instead select the item Can’t Scan It?.
6. The secret code for the Google account will appear in the box below, which is a combination of 32 letters and numbers. Rewrite or make a copy, then select 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
Currently, Google Authenticator for official computers from Google is not available. However, there are some apps that extend Google Authenticator support for Windows 10. Examples are WinOTP Authenticator, an open source 2FA application that can be officially installed through the Microsoft Store.
1. To get started, Download and install WinOTP Authenticator from the Microsoft Store. After installing and opening it, select + (Extra) icon at the bottom.
2. You will need to save your Google account details here. In Service, import Google. For Username, enter your Google account email address. Finally, enter the 32-digit secret code (with or without spaces) in the Code, before selecting Save to save to the application.
3. 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 it directly Google Authenticator app setup page, select option Set Up in section Authenticator app. Enter the six-digit code you see in the WinOTP app in the Google Authenticator app setup box, then select Verify to continue.
4, 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 option Authenticator app listed in Google account settings.
Install two-factor authentication extension in Google Chrome
While WinOTP Authenticator provides an easy and quick way to sign in to Google services with two-factor authentication enabled, you can also set up a 2FA app using a Google Chrome extension called Authenticator.
1. To do this, you need to open Google Chrome in your browser and install the extension Authenticator. As the name suggests, this extension allows you to quickly generate OTP codes for two-factor authentication.
2. Once installed, select the extension icon Authenticator (or choose it from the menu Extensions at the top right). From the drop-down menu, select pencil icon.
3. Click + symbol (plus sign) appear in the tab below to continue.
4. From the menu, select Manual Entry.
5. You will need to provide your Google Authenticator secret code and account information here. In Issuer, enter Google. For Secret, enter the 32-digit secret code for the Google account (as explained in the steps above). Choose Advanced, then put your Google account username in the box Username, before selecting OK at the bottom to save information.
6. After saving, select the Authenticator widget icon again to see the one-time password for the Google account.
How to use Google Authenticator on Windows 10
Once the 2FA app is installed on your PC, you can feel free to use Google Authenticator on Windows to sign in to your Google account without a smartphone. This gives you a 2FA backup facility, 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 online privacy.