The best way to keep your online accounts safe from interference is to use 2FA (2-factor authentication). This adds a second layer to the sign-in so you need to use a code that is generated for only one use (usually generated on your smartphone) to sign in successfully using a tool like Google Authenticator.
This is of course the case if you do have a smartphone with Google Authenticator installed. If not, your options are limited, but Google Authenticator can be used on your computer without needing another device. If you want to know how to use Google Authenticator on Windows 10, this is what you need.
Why you Need Google authenticator?
If your username and password expire online, your account is at risk. Even using a password manager at this point doesn’t help – you’ll need to change any passwords. To solve this problem, you can link your online account to a two-factor authentication service such as Google Authenticator. This will generate a one-time password (OTP) that you can use to successfully sign in to Google and other online services.
How To Generate code
It doesn’t matter if the password is leaked or if the hacker doesn’t have your 2FA credentials. 2FA adds another tier of safety. To generate a code, you need to set up Google Authenticator with a third-party application on your Windows device and enter the secret code that corresponds to your Google account.
A secret code is like the master key. without it, the code generated will not work for entering 2FA. This code only works for logging into your Google account. However, you will need a similar code to connect your other online services to the 2FA application on your Windows.
Steps to Generate a Code
- To get the secret code for Google Account, simply go to the Google Account. Select Security in the menu on the left.
- Here, scroll to the Signing in with Google section and select the two-step verification option. You may need to log in again once more.
- Yet not activated 2FA using your mobile device, you will need to follow the on-screen instructions on the two-step verification page. Next, scroll down to the Authenticator App tab and select Setup first.
- Choose Android or iPhone from the pop-up menu as it doesn’t matter. Select Next for further steps.
- In the next step, you will see a QR code generated which you should normally scan. However, they don’t want to, so choose Unable to scan? As a replacement.
- The secret code for your Google Account is displayed in the field below using a combination of 32 alphabets and figures. Write this down or make a copy. Then select Next to continue. Leave this page open as you will need it to complete the setup process afterward.
After saving the secret code, you need to install the 2FA application on your computer to continue.
Set-up a two-factor authentication app for Windows 10
There are several apps that can be used to extend Google Authenticator support to Windows 10. One of those is Winauth. Although it continues to be popular, WinAuth is no longer in active development. So we can’t assure that it will continue to serve as an alternative to Google Authenticator or not.
With some desktop apps available, the best alternative can be found on the Microsoft Store. One example is WinOTP Authenticator. That is an open-source 2FA application that can be officially installed via the MS Store. Although the source code can be found on the developer’s GitHub page.
- At the first step download and install WinOTP Authenticator from the MS Store. Once set-up and opened, select the Add icon at the bottom.
- You need to save your Google account information here. Enter Google under Services. Enter your Google Account email address as a username. Finally, enter your 32 digit secret code (with or without spaces) in the Codes tab before selecting Save to save it in the app.
- If successful, a six-digit single-use password will be displayed at the top of the window. Return to the Google Authenticator setup page (as described above), or go directly to the Google Authenticator setup page by selecting Setup from the Authenticator tab. Enter the 6 digit code you see on the WinOTP app into the Google Authenticator app setup box and select Verify to continue.
- Once verified, WinOTP Authenticator will be Google’s default authentication application for your account. You can then use WinOTP to generate the 2FA code you will need to successfully sign in to your Google account (and other Google services) in the future. If you want to delete the app at any time, click on the delete icon next to the Authenticator App option listed in your Google Account Settings.