How to activate Mac’s new built-in two-factor authenticator (and why you should)

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Photo: Kamil Zajaczkowski (Shutterstock)

In case you’ve never heard us preach on this matter before, you really should be using two-factor authentication for all your important accounts. An extra layer of extra security, with a six-digit passcode that is refreshed every 30 seconds, is essential to keep your digital accounts safe. But the question is, how do you do it in a way that is really easy to use?

The options are numerous; Bitwarden and 1Password both have two-factor authentication features built in, but these apps cost money and are ultimately third-party options, rather than something built into our devices. But now Apple has integrated two-factor authentication into the Passwords feature with iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey.

This feature syncs across all of your devices using iCloud Keychain, so all of your iPhone two-factor codes will be available on your Mac, and vice versa. (Here is how to use the two-factor process for iPhone and iPad.) And if you’re using Safari, you can enter two-factor authentication codes just using Touch ID, without the need to dig into a password manager app.

How to set up two-factor authentication on Mac

Setting up two-factor authentication on macOS Monterey is as easy as it gets – just enter the verification code and you’re good to go. The process for most websites, apps, and services is the same. In this example, we’ll be using Twitter in the Safari browser. You will need to add the website connection to iCloud Keychain first.

To get started, open the website and find the two-factor authentication feature in the settings. On Twitter, it is available in Settings and privacy > Security and account access > Security > Two-factor authentication. Here, choose the “Authentication application”Option.

Image from article titled How to Activate Mac's New Built-in Two-Factor Authenticator (and Why You Should Do It)

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

From the wizard, click on the “Start“button. Enter your password and choose the”To verify”Option.

Image from article titled How to Activate Mac's New Built-in Two-Factor Authenticator (and Why You Should Do It)

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

Twitter will show you a QR code by default. Instead, click on the small “Unable to scan QR code? “link at the bottom.

Image from article titled How to Activate Mac's New Built-in Two-Factor Authenticator (and Why You Should Do It)

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

Copy the verification code you see.

Image from article titled How to Activate Mac's New Built-in Two-Factor Authenticator (and Why You Should Do It)

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

On your Mac, open “System Preferences, “and go to “Passwords. Authenticate, then open the “Twitter“connection. Here, click on the”Edit” button.

Image from article titled How to Activate Mac's New Built-in Two-Factor Authenticator (and Why You Should Do It)

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

In the Verification code section, click on the “Enter the configuration key” button.

Image from article titled How to Activate Mac's New Built-in Two-Factor Authenticator (and Why You Should Do It)

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

Paste the website verification code and click “Okay. ” Then click on the “to safeguard”To save the details.

Image from article titled How to Activate Mac's New Built-in Two-Factor Authenticator (and Why You Should Do It)

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

You will now see a six-digit verification code which is refreshed every 30 seconds. Go back to Twitter, click the “Next”On the verification code screen and enter the six-digit code.

Image from article titled How to Activate Mac's New Built-in Two-Factor Authenticator (and Why You Should Do It)

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

If you’re using a Mac with Touch ID, you can grab it just by scanning your finger—you will see the code is checked, and two-factor authentication will be configured and enabled. You will also see a backup code that you need to save in a safe place (perhaps a password protected note in the Notes app).

How to sign in using two-factor authentication on Mac

Image from article titled How to Activate Mac's New Built-in Two-Factor Authenticator (and Why You Should Do It)

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

If you’re using Safari, you don’t need to search for verification codes. Safari will automatically fill them in for you. The next time you sign in to the site and find yourself on the verification page, just use Touch ID to sign in. If you are not using Safari, you will have to manually find the verification code. To do this, open System Preferences > Passwords, and find the connection to the website. You will see the verification code on the details screen.

Image from article titled How to Activate Mac's New Built-in Two-Factor Authenticator (and Why You Should Do It)

Screenshot: Khamosh Pathak

How to remove two-factor authentication on Mac

If you no longer want to use two-factor authentication for a website, you can remove it from the Passwords app. First, make sure to turn it off on the website itself (as this might require you to enter a verification code).

Then go to System Preferences > Passwords. Find the website in question, and click the “Edit“button. In the Verification code section, click the”Remove verification codebutton “, and on the confirmation window, choose “Remove verification code“ again. The two-factor authentication section will now disappear.


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Steven L. Nielsen

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