Setup 2FA for GMail

What Is Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)?

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is an additional layer of protection beyond your password. It significantly decreases the risk of a hacker accessing your online accounts by combining your password (something you know) with a second factor, like your mobile phone (something you have). Many of the world’s largest websites have made 2FA readily available from the security settings of your online accounts, but it’s up to you to turn on this free feature.

How to Enable 2FA for GMail?

There are two primary ways to use two-factor authentication - text message or via an authenticator app. Most sites will send you One Time Passkeys via text message and that’s a perfectly good method of authentication. However if you go abroad or travel to a place with patchy or no network, then you could be locked out of your account because the Text Message may never arrive.

That is why we recommend using an authentication app such as Google Authenticator. Google Authenticator is quite easy to use and the following steps will guide you through using it for Gmail. (Note: You will need a smartphone to complete this process)

  1. Open Google’s two-factor authentication page.
  2. Enter your password when prompted. You’ll reach the landing page for two-factor authentication. Click Get Started.
  3. Enter the phone number you want to use for One Time Passkeys. This is just in case the authenticator app isn’t accessible. Click Next.
  4. Enter the one-time password sent to your phone. Click Next.
  5. Click Turn on.
  6. This enables two-factor authentication via SMS on your Google account. Now scroll down and click Setup under Authenticator app.
  7. In the pop-up, select the type of phone you have - Android or iPhone.
  8. Now you’ll see a QR code on screen. You can either scan this or click Can’t scan it to get a code for two-factor authentication. This is where you’ll have to switch to your smartphone.
  9. Download Google Authenticator on Android or iOS.
  10. Tap Begin Setup.
  11. Tap Scan barcode. This will fire up the camera on your smartphone and you can point that at the QR code on the computer screen. Alternatively you can tap Manual entry and enter the code on screen.
  12. On the Google two-factor authentication page, click Next.
  13. Enter the code on your authenticator app and click Verify.

I've Setup 2FA, Now What?

First, you'll want to know that just because you've setup 2FA doesn't mean that you need your password AND the code from your phone everytime you login. The next time you login to Google/GMail on your computer, you'll be asked to enter the code. In addition, you'll see a checkbox that says "Remember this computer for 30 days". This ties your private code to your computer and your account for 30 days. This will be true for each device, but certainly reduces the number of times you have to pull out your phone for security.

Is Google the Only Site That Supports 2FA?

No, but it is the big one we worry about in district. For your personal accounts on many other sites, there's a website that covers what is available and walks you through the steps to turn it on: