Google Authenticator can be useful, but it’s annoying that Google hasn’t made an official app for the desktop yet. However, you can use Google Authenticator on your Windows PC via other means. Let’s explore the ways you can use Google Authenticator on PC.
Exporting Google’s 2FA to Your PC
To do this, you’re going to need the “secret code” for Google Authenticator. This is the seed from which the code generators can make codes that work with Google.
To get the secret code, head to the Google Account security page. Go to the “Signing in to Google” section and click “2-Step Verification.”
If Google knows you have a phone connected to your account, it will take you through the steps to set up a basic phone notification service.
After you have completed the steps, you’ll have the chance to set up the Authenticator app. While we’re not going to download the actual app, we do need to pretend we are getting the secret key. Click “Set up.”
Go through the prompts until it asks you to scan a QR code. Under the code, click “Can’t scan it?”
On the next page, look for the secret key and copy it. This is what you’ll enter into third-party apps when they ask for a key. However, be sure to keep it a secret. If someone else gets this information, they can use it to get into your account!
Now that we have the code, let’s see where we can put it.
If you’re worried about a third-party app stealing or leaking your code, try WinAuth. Its major draw is that it’s an open-source app that you download to your PC. As such, there’s no obfuscated code or cloud storage that can leak your key.
Setting up with WinAuth is very easy. Once WinAuth is running, add a new Google account.
Enter your private key, then click the “Verify Authenticator” button. Continue with your Google account setup and enter the code that WinAuth gives you.
Copy the generated one-time password, paste it to your Google security settings page and click on the button “Verify and Save” to verify the generated code.
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.
Back to the WinAuth window: now that you’ve confirmed the generated code, click on the OK button to save the changes in the WinAuth application.
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 any unauthorized access will be blocked. 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.
Now you can use the Google Authenticator on your Windows PC using WinAuth.
2. WinOTP Authenticator
WinOTP Authenticator is actually exclusive to Windows 10, and you can download it directly from the Microsoft Store. Click the “+” button at the bottom to add a new service. While the app claims to be able to read QR codes, it didn’t work for me, but definitely give it a try to see if it works for you.
Otherwise, all you have to do is enter the name of the service, your username, and your code. Then, you’re all set. For the service name and username, you can pick what you want, but make sure you’re able to tell different services apart.
If you want to sync your mobile and PC codes, try Authy. You can use it as a standalone on your PC, but it does ask you for your phone details during signup. If you have Authy on your phone, you can quickly sync your details between the two devices.
On the PC version of Authy, click the plus icon at the top right.
Paste the secret key in the box.
You can name and assign a color to the account. Once you’ve set it up, you’ll have a working Google code.
4. 2 Factor Authentication
2 Factor Authentication currently only supports Google, Microsoft, LastPass, and Facebook accounts, but it does work well as a Google authenticator on PC. Start by pressing the “+” icon at the bottom to add a new account.
Enter a name for the account, such as Google, then enter your secret key. You can also use the camera icon to scan a QR code if available. This worked better than WinOTP Authenticator but not perfectly.
5. GAuth Authenticator
Adding your authenticator to GAuth is easy. First, click on the pencil on the top right, then click Add.
Enter the name of the authentication code (in this case, Google) and the secret key.
Once done, you’ll have a functioning authenticator.
If you want to tinker around more on Windows 10, you can check out some of the Easter eggs and secrets on Windows 10, or the things to do before and after installing Windows 10.