How to Use Google Authenticator on a Windows PC

For the past few years, two-step authentication has become one of the most common methods to secure our online accounts as it adds an additional layer of security in the form of TOTP (Time-based One-time Password). One of the most well-known apps for two-factor authentication is the Google Authenticator app by Google itself. In order to use the Google Authenticator to secure an account, you need to have a compatible mobile device like Android, iOS, etc. Since the official Google Authenticator app only supports the mobile devices, you cannot use it on your PC.

But the good thing is the Google Authenticator app is built on a well-documented algorithm. This simply means that any developer can create their own apps on any platform that can generate time-based one-time passwords just like the Google Authenticator. And WinAuth is one such application for Windows PC.

WinAuth is a simple, portable and open-source application which supports different two-step authentication apps like Google Authenticator, Microsoft, Battle.net, etc. You can download the application from its official website.

Once downloaded, extract the zip file and open the application. As you can see, the application itself is minimal and easy to use.

Click the 'Add' button.

To use Google Authenticator in WinAuth, click on the button “Add” and select the option “Google.” This action will open the Google Authenticator configuration window. Here you need to enter the shared key given by Google to get the TOTP.

Select 'Google' from the menu.

To get your secure key, head over to the Google Account settings page, scroll down and enable two-step authentication. Once enabled, click on the button “Switch to app.”

Click on the button 'Switch to app.'

Now select the radio button “Android” and click on the button “Continue.” Actually it doesn’t matter what option you select as we are not going to use any of those mobile devices.

Select the radio button 'Android.'

The above action will show you a barcode which you should scan. Since WinAuth doesn’t support scanning barcodes, click on the link “Can’t scan the barcode” to manually enter the shared secret key.

 Click on the link 'Can't scan the barcode.'

Here in this screen, Google will display the secret key. Simply select the key with your mouse and copy the code.

Google will display the secret key.

Once copied, paste the secret code in the WinAuth window and click on the button “Verify Authenticator” to generate the time-based one-time password. Don’t forget to add a meaningful name to this account as it helps you differentiate when you have multiple Google Authenticator accounts.

Paste the secret code.

Copy the generated one-time password and paste it on your Google security settings page and click on the button “Verify and Save” to verify the generated code.

Copy the generated one-time password.

If everything is done correctly, Google will show you a confirmation window letting you know. Just click on the “Ok” button to save the changes in your Google account.

Google will show you a confirmation.

Now, back to the WinAuth window. As you’ve confirmed the generated code, click on the Ok button to save the changes in the WinAuth application.

Save the changes.

As soon as you click on the “Ok” button, WinAuth will open the Protection window that allows you to set a password to encrypt the files saved by WinAuth. This ensures blocking of any unauthorized access. Simply enter the password twice and click on the “Ok” button to save the changes. Alternatively you can also set WinAuth to encrypt files so that it can only be used on the current computer, but using the password protection is much more viable.

Set a password to encrypt the files saved.

That’s all there is to do. From this point forward you can use the Google Authenticator on your PC using WinAuth.

Use the Google Authenticator on your PC using WinAuth.

Hopefully that helps, and do comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using the above application as Google Authenticator for PC.