by Anthony 

September 28, 2021

Using 2FA is a great way of protecting your accounts. The problem with most 2FA apps is the lack of desktop support. Most are mobile apps, which isn’t always ideal if you’re on your desktop or laptop. That’s why I prefer Authy, which can be installed on both your phone and your desktop. What’s more, Authy desktop is really easy to use.

To use Authy on desktop and mobile, first install the app on your mobile device and set a backup password. Then, install the desktop version and complete the verification. You should then see any accounts previously configured in the app. Finally, enter the backup password to decrypt the accounts.

In a previous video, I talked about why Authy is my recommended free two-factor authenticator app. Thankfully, the setup process is all fairly standard.

You’ll need to provide a phone number and email address and you’ll receive an SMS code to authenticate your account. You’re then ready to link your first account with Authy.

For this example, I’ll enable two-factor authentication on Wilson’s Microsoft Account.

Microsoft account's two factor authentication settings.

The option to enable 2FA is usually either found in account or security settings. For Microsoft, it’s under Advanced Security options. We’ll click Turn On and hit next.

We’re then asked what method of 2FA we wish to use. In some cases, you can opt for using an SMS message instead of using a dedicated app like Authy. But since I’ll be using Authy and not Microsoft’s own authenticator app, I’ll choose “Set up a different authenticator app”.

We’re now presented with a QR code, which is the standard way of linking your authenticator app to your accounts.

So in Authy, we’ll click on the plus button followed by “scan QR code” and I’ll hold the phone’s camera up to the screen to scan the code.

Now, because this is the first account we’re linking, Authy prompts us to enter a password to back up the app.

This is important because if you ever lose access to the app, you potentially lose access to all your accounts. Confirm your password by re-entering it and then you need to enter the 6 digit pin shown in the app on the Microsoft website to finish linking Authy.

And that’s it, we’ve now enabled two-factor authentication on our Microsoft account.

Sample of linking Authy to Microsoft account.

From this point onwards, whenever we log into Microsoft we’ll be asked for our username and password, and the 6 digit pin provided by Authy.

Let’s click on the Settings icon in the top, right corner of the screen to see the other features available in Authy. Once in Settings we have a menu along the bottom of the screen.

Clicking on Accounts displays all the accounts we have linked to the app and shows we have backups enabled.

Here we have the option to change our backup password and, if we click on an individual account, we can change how the name is displayed.

Sliding right gives us the option to delete; however, be sure to have disabled 2FA for the associated account before deleting anything inside Authy.

The next menu option is where we enable multi-device access, which is a really useful feature. It will allow us to use Authy on multiple mobile devices, say your phone and a tablet, or such as in my case, my mobile and my laptop.

This is so handy because it means I don’t need my mobile close to hand every time I log in to one of my accounts on my computer.

To install Authy on Mac or PC, navigate to authy.com and click on Download. Choose your operating system and once downloaded, run through the installation process.

Download Authy desktop.

As with the mobile setup, you’ll be asked to provide your phone number. At this point, Authy recognizes you already have an account and asks if you wish to authenticate your Authy account using the app on your existing device.

We’ll click on that and on our phone you can see we’re prompted to link our account. Type Yes to confirm and we can see my computer is now listed under connected devices. To complete the process, we need to enter our backup password in the desktop version of the app.

And that’s it, Authy is now installed and synced on both my laptop or mobile phone.

For additional security, in Authy’s settings, you can click on Security to configure a pin code or face unlock for each time you open the app. This provides an extra layer of protection should your phone ever be compromised.

How to recover your Authy account

Here I’ll demonstrate the process of recovering your Authy account should you ever accidentally delete the app or, as can happen, you upgrade your mobile phone.

To recreate this scenario, I’ll delete and reinstall the app.

As before, we’re asked to provide a phone number and, again, Authy recognizes we already have an account. Now, because we had multi-device access enabled before deleting the account, I can use the desktop app to link the new instance of the mobile app.

Again we’re asked to provide the backup password to decrypt my linked accounts, and that is all that is required to restore Authy.

If you don’t have multi-device support enabled, you will need to contact Authy to go through the account recovery process. Assuming you have a backup, you will still be able to recover your account, but it will take a little longer.

Is it possible to use Authy without a phone number?

According to the official Authy support site, you must use a phone number to both verify your account and register the app. It is not possible to use Authy without a phone number.

Hope this guide was helpful. For more tips like this, please check out my Youtube playlist of Internet Security Apps. See you there!

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