How to Enable Two-Factor Authentication on Mac and iPhone

Mac 2f Auth Hero

In the era of increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, Mac users can't afford to lull themselves into a false sense of security. Macs are in many ways more secure than Windows – but only when all layers of defense are set up correctly, which is where two-factor authentication, sometimes referred to simply as "2FA," comes in. Learn how to set up two-factor authentication on Mac in minutes by following these steps!

Understanding Two-Factor Authentication

The purpose of two-factor authentication is to make it more difficult for attackers to gain access to your data. It does this by adding a second lock on the digital door you need to walk through to sign in with your Apple ID.

Without two-factor authentication enabled on your Mac, an attacker only needs your password to steal your account – a task made easy if you use a weak password, reuse the same password across multiple accounts, or frequently rely on poorly secured public Wi-Fi networks. However, with two-factor authentication in place, attackers must bypass the second lock – a six-digit verification code displayed on a trusted device.

Good to know: already have two-factor authentication enabled? You can still change your Apple ID and password if need be.

How to Enable Two-Factor Authentication on Your Mac

The process of enabling two-factor authentication on a Mac is straightforward and involves the following steps:

  1. Launch the "System Settings" app.
  2. Click on your Apple ID (the top item in the left pane).
System Settings Apple Id Highlighted
  1. Navigate to the "Password & Security" section.
System Settings Password And Security
  1. Click "Turn On" next to "Two-Factor Authentication."
  2. Complete the setup process by adding your phone number.

Important: Apple makes it possible to disable the 2FA feature only for up to two weeks after you've enabled it. After this two-week grace period, two-factor authentication becomes a permanent fixture of your Apple ID security.

How to Enable Two-Factor Authentication on Your iPhone

Your Mac isn't the only device that can be used to enable two-factor authentication for your Apple ID. Follow the steps below to also use your iPhone or iPad to add this extra layer of security.

  1. Launch the "Settings" app on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap on your Apple ID at the very top of the long list of available settings options.
Iphone Apple Id
  1. Navigate to the "Password & Security" section.
Iphone Password And Security
  1. Tap the "Turn On Two-Factor Authentication" option.
  2. Complete the setup process by adding your phone number.

Tip: you can add multiple trusted phone numbers to verify your identity when signing in. It's a good idea to take advantage of this option, as you could lose access to your primary phone or number at any time.

How to Enable Two-Factor Authentication on the Web

Apple users can also enable two-factor authentication online. This method is useful when you don't have access to your Apple devices but want to strengthen their protection (perhaps because you're currently on the move or are worried that one of your devices may have been lost or stolen). Follow these steps:

  1. Launch your favorite web browser and navigate to
  2. Sign in with your Apple ID and password.
Apple Id Sign In
  1. Click "Continue" to confirm that you want to upgrade account security.
  2. Click "Upgrade Account Security."
  3. Complete the setup process by adding your phone number.

The next time you sign in with your Apple ID on a new device, you'll need to provide two pieces of information: your Apple ID password and a six-digit verification code sent to your trusted phone number or displayed on a trusted device (any device you've already signed in to using two-factor authentication).

Tip: have an iCloud email that you'd like to use with non-Apple hardware? Discover how to add iCloud email to Outlook on Windows and Android.

How to Generate Two-Factor Verification Codes on Your Mac

Now that your Mac is protected, you should also set up two-factor verification on social networks and other essential websites you rely on. Since the release of macOS Monterey in 2021, it's been possible to generate two-factor verification codes for third-party websites directly on your Mac or iPhone.

Follow these steps to set up two-factor authentication for your first website, app, or service:

  1. Launch the "System Settings" app.
  2. Select the "Passwords" option on the left pane.
System Settings Passwords
  1. Enter your password.
  2. Select the login credentials for the website, app, or service for which you want to generate two-factor verification codes, and click the "i" button on the right.
Passwords Info System Settings
  1. Scroll down until you see the "Account Options" section, and click the "Set Up" button.
Password Two Factor Verification Set Up
  1. Enter the setup key or QR code for the website, app, or service.

Tip: as the two-factor verification code generator is seamlessly integrated into Safari, you can enjoy much stronger security without any additional hassle. If you're using Chrome, you can switch to Safari in six easy steps.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a trusted device?

A trusted device is an Apple device that you've already signed in to with two-factor authentication.

What is a trusted phone number?

A trusted phone number is a number that can be used to receive verification codes. You must verify at least one trusted phone number to enroll in Apple's two-factor authentication.

What's the difference between two-factor and multi-factor authentication?

Two-factor authentication is a type of multi-factor authentication that requires two distinct forms of identification to access an account or a device. Multi-factor authentication, on the other hand, is a broader term that refers to any security system that requires more than one form of authentication.

Why do I need two-factor authentication on my Mac?

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your Apple account and devices, making it more difficult for malicious attackers to access your data, even if they've managed to somehow steal your password. If you own multiple Apple devices, share your account info with others, or frequently log in to your Apple ID in public places, 2FA can help you mitigate unwanted sign-in attempts from malicious attackers.

Image credit: Depositphotos. All screenshots by David Morelo.

David Morelo
David Morelo

David Morelo is a professional content writer in the technology niche, covering everything from consumer products to emerging technologies and their cross-industry application. His interest in technology started at an early age and has only grown stronger over the years.

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