Mobile

How to move Google Authenticator to a new device

Using two-step verification is a smart way to help protect your data on Google. Follow these steps to move the app to your new mobile device.

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Two-step verification is no longer optional; with database leaks containing login info occurring on a regular basis, you should use two-step verification on any and all online services that offer it. With that protection, anyone trying to break into your account would need both your password and the mobile device that your authentication codes are sent to in order to gain access.

Sure, it takes extra work and time to log in to your accounts, but at the end of the day what's a few seconds when your personal information is involved? Most web services that offer two-step verification give you the option to receive a text message or use a special app that provides the six-digit code you need to log in to your account.

Google's Authenticator app works with your Google account, as well as most other services. The app is available for Android and iOS.

When using the app as your method of authentication code delivery, you may wonder what happens when you want to retire an old phone for a new one. Or, you may have misplaced your device and want to disable the service as a precautionary measure. Here's how to move the authenticator app to a new device or disable it completely:

Step 1: First you'll want to install and sign in to the app on your new device.

Step 2: Next, head to Google's two-step verification Web page using a browser on your computer. You may need to log in to your Google account to access the security settings.

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Step 3: Click the pencil next to the Authenticator section. A popup will ask you if you want to change phones or remove Authenticator from your account altogether.

Switching which phone the Authenticator app is associated with will not invalidate any of your existing application-specific passwords, and does not require any backup codes to complete the transition. It will, however, render the temporary codes on your old device invalid.

Step 4: Select the type of device you are moving to, and then scan the QR code using the Authenticator app on your new phone.

Step 5: Finally, enter the authentication code that appears on the screen to verify the device. This is just like the log-in process when using two-step verification.

Before removing the authenticator from your original device, remember to move your other accounts that are using the app. You'll need to visit each site individually and scan the QR code with your new device.

Editors' note: This How To post was originally published on June 28, 2013, and has been updated to include new information.