How to Remove your Phone Number from Google Account

Have you ever been locked out of your own Google account because you did not have the phone nearby to verify a prompt or SMS code? It happens when you log in from what Google decides is a suspicious device or location.

Google's 2-step-verification-screen with multiple options to sign in

Anyone can lose or damage their device or SIM card, which means it might be a good idea not to keep your Google account subject to the phone’s availability. If you believe that you set up a very strong password and recovery email, it is possible to log in to Gmail and other Google services without a phone. Let’s find out how to temporarily (or permanently) revoke Google’s access to your phone number and smartphone.

Since 2011 Google support has been recommending that account holders always keep their phone numbers handy for two-factor verification. In fact, the day you first set it up, Google took away your privilege to access your own account without a phone number.

2 step verification steps in Google

However, that’s not how two-factor verification is supposed to work. Its definition and scope is wider than that. For example, when you log in to Google with backup codes, that also counts as two-factor verification. There is absolutely no need to lug a phone around everywhere to feel secure.

2 step verification using backup codes

The fact to remember is that associating a phone with a Google account is not compulsory. This means there are ways you can deny Google the permission to force you to use your phone.

A Google prompt on your phone requires you to verify a number that you see on the screen for further login access. This service kicks in immediately after Google labels a device or network that you are using as “suspicious.”

Google Prompt on phone

To disable this service, visit your Google Account homepage and click “Signing in to Google.”

Signing in page of Google Account

Here you can see the option for two-step verification. Even if it is turned off, you must turn it on. That is the only way you can disable Google prompts on your phone. Before you can proceed, you will have to confirm your account password to change the settings.

google-2-step-verification

You will then be led to the next screen where you can “turn off” the Google prompt. In the below screen, it was already turned off. You can also find the option for “Google Authenticator App” right below “Backup codes.”

2 step verification various options

If you don’t want to use your phone with Google but still want the same level of security, you can set up backup codes. There are 10 backup codes, and each can be used only once. Take a PDF print and save it on your computer, or write those codes down somewhere. You can get as many new codes as you like. Just make sure no one can ever see them.

Backup codes in Google Account

Congratulations! If you followed the above step-by-step procedure, Google will no longer be able to ask about your smartphone device for logins. Provided you set up a really strong password, you have nothing else to worry about. Do note that Google does not like it when you turn off two-step verification!

google-2-step-verification-turn-off

In case you forget the password, you will have to set up a recovery account. Again, it does not have to be a phone number. In order to revoke access to your phone number, again visit “Sign-in & Security” in your Google account.

Google recovery phone

All you have to do is delete your recovery phone number in the next screen. This puts an end to verification codes via SMS.

Recovery phone delete from Google

Note: Google no longer supports “Security Questions,” so if you forgot your password after deleting the recovery phone number, the only way to gain access to your account would be through an alternative email. It is recommended not to delete the “recovery email.”

In this tutorial we have learned how to temporarily or permanently remove your phone number and smartphone associated with a Google account. While it is a fairly easy procedure, hardly any information on this method is available online. Indeed, the procedure appears more confusing than what it really is.

For privacy advocates, the more important question is: should Google have the right to dictate whether or not you use a phone number for their services? Please let us know in the comments your thoughts on this.

5 comments

  1. hi, thanks for the post!
    can you do a tutorial on how to stop YouTube from requesting personal phone numbers, either for uploading videos or for account verifications? the privacy invasions this company have are unbelievable!

    • Hi I don’t think you need a phone number to upload videos on YouTube nor create a separate YouTube account which is not connected with Google. Once you disable and delete the Google authenticator app from phone and erase your device from Google account Settings (prompt method) plus recovery number (OTP method), you will not be asked to verify the number again for any of Google services.

      But yes you cannot create a new Google account without a REAL phone number. I tried using temporary phone numbers and even Skype numbers but Google algorithms are too smart to fall for that. Even Microsoft will send you a verification call/code on Skype number (one would think they’d notice that trick immediately but they don’t, as of now!)

      That being said I keep running into stories about people being able to bypass Google’s requirements of a phone number for new account holders. Maybe urban legends :)

  2. Hi, thanks for the reply. A new YouTube account is now fully integrated into the google/gmail system, so getting a youtube account is impossible without a gmail address.. Also, Unfortunately yes indeed YouTube does require you to give them your phone number if you intend on uploading videos longer than 15 minutes. Also, if YouTube notices any “suspicious”, activity on your account they lock you out of your account then require a real phone number for a google login code to access your account. Dystopian days indeed. I would love to see some more information on YouTube privacy on this site! thankyou.

    • This tutorial was primarily intended for Gmail, Calendar, AdWords, Docs, Charts and Google Drive users on a desktop computer. If you are using the Play Store, then you have a registered phone number already and removing your phone number is unlikely to happen. Using an Android phone or Chromebook without a Google ID is simply not possible.

      I have multi-verified Google accounts so I’m unlikely to run into that 15 minute problem with YouTube. But if indeed there is a way to bypass YouTube’s limitations, I will give it a shot and record my observations.

      • Just start a new unverified gmail account then attempt to start a YouTube channel. When you upload something longer than 15 mins they request a phone number! which is utterly insane. I wonder if verification codes could be used instead of a personal phone number in this case! I appreciate your hard work on this issue. YouTube privacy is a very interesting issue indeed. Thankyou!

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