How to Use Google Authenticator on Your Desktop
The Google Authenticator is a super-handy app when you need an extra layer of data protection. Sadly, the app is only available on mobile devices. However, many developers have created similar apps for desktop computers.
WinAuth is one of many two-step authentication apps built for use on Windows PCs. You can download it here. In order for WinAuth to work, Microsoft .NET framework is required. With that out of the way, let’s see how to install and set up WinAuth.
- Once you’ve downloaded WinAuth, unzip the file and launch the application.
- Next, click on the “Add” button in the lower left corner of the application window.
- Select “Google” to use Google Authenticator. Glyph/Trion, Guild Wars 2, Battle.Net, and Microsoft are other available options.
- The Google Authenticator window will open. You will need to provide the shared key from Google to obtain the TOTP (time-based one-time password).
- Go to your Google Account and open the Settings page.
- Enable the “Two-step authentication” option.
- Click the “Switch to app” button.
- Next, select your device.
- Click the “Continue” button.
- You will see a barcode. However, WinAuth doesn’t support these. Instead, click the “Can’t scan the barcode” link.
- Google will show you the secret key. Select the key and copy it.
- Head back to the WinAuth app and paste the key.
- Click the “Verify Authenticator” button. A one-time password will be generated.
- You should remember to name this authenticator if you have several Google Authenticator accounts.
- Copy the one-time password and head to your Google Account. Find the Security Settings page. Paste the password there.
- Click the “Verify and Save” button.
- Click the “OK” button once Google displays the confirmation window.
Authy is a Google Authenticator solution for desktop users of Mac OS and Windows operating systems. Have in mind that you’ll only be able to use Authy with Google Chrome. Here’s how to set up Authy on your Mac or Windows PC.
- Launch Chrome and download the application.
- Go to Chrome Web Store and find the Authy Chrome Extension. Click the “Add to Chrome” button.
- Click on “Add App” to confirm.
- Go to Chrome’s app page. Enter chrome://apps/ into the address bar and hit “Enter”.
- Launch Authy.
- Follow the setup instructions and pick whether you want to receive the code via SMS or a call. Authy has to be connected to a phone number, but you can choose a new number later.
- Click the “Settings” icon in Authy’s window.
- Create the Master password.
- Click the “Set” link and follow the instructions.
- Click the “x” icon and go back to the Accounts screen.
- Click the “Add Authenticator Account” button.
- The New Authenticator Account screen will open. Enter the code into the text field and click “Add Account”.
Authy on desktop can’t work with QR codes, as it doesn’t have the ability to scan them. However, there’s a workaround for that as well, and it involves using Chrome’s Inspect Elements feature. Follow these steps to extract the code in its written form.
- When you see a QR code in your browser, open Chrome’s Main Menu.
- Click on the “More Tools” tab.
- Click the “Developer Tools” option.
- Next, click the “Inspect Element” icon.
- Click the QR code to highlight its code in the Inspect Element window.
- Use the “Up” and “Down” arrows to navigate to the “div id=qrcode”.
- Select and copy the “Secret” section of the div class, the piece of code between the “=” and “&” signs.
- Paste the code into Authy’s “Enter Code” field and confirm.
GAuth is an authenticator app that works only with Google Chrome. Follow these steps to install and set up GAuth.
- Launch Google Chrome and download the app.
- Click the “Add to Chrome” button.
- Launch the extension.
- Click the link to Heimdal Security Dashboard. https://dashboard.heimdalsecurity.com/.
- Log in with the credentials you received from the account manager.
- Change the password.
- After you’ve changed the password, click the GAuth extension.
- Click the “Pencil” icon.
- Click “Add” button.
- Enter your email address.
- Enter the secret key you received into the “Secret Key” field.
- Click the “Add” button.
- The dashboard login page shouldn’t be logged into or closed yet.
Wrapping It Up
While not perfect, 2-step verification can significantly improve your online security on your desktop computer. Choose the app that suits you and your operating system, and enjoy safer surfing.