It's no secret that two-factor authentication (2FA) is one of the best ways to keep your various digital accounts secure—that's why everyone from Google to Microsoft to Apple to Twitter gives you 2FA as an option.
The “two factor” in the name refers to using a second code alongside your password to log in on a new device. This means that even if someone gets ahold of your username and password, they won't be able to access your data.
That extra 2FA code is typically provided by an app on your phone, and a lot of us rely on Google Authenticator for Android and iOS. The app is simple and straightforward, comes from a well-known company, and gets the job done.
There's nothing wrong with Google Authenticator, but more feature-rich alternatives are available, which is where this guide comes in. The good news is that it's possible to transfer all your 2FA login information to another app without getting locked out of your accounts along the way.
For the purposes of this guide, we're going to show you how to make the jump from Google Authenticator to Twilio Authy (available for Android and iOS). Authy runs on multiple accounts, offers desktop access support, prevents in-app screenshots, uses encrypted recovery backups, and more—it's an excellent all-around 2FA app and very intuitive to use.
Although we're focusing on Google Authenticator and Authy here, the process of switching between any other 2FA apps is roughly the same. Just be sure to double-check the process for your own apps to ensure a smooth transition.
Remember that the codes you're generating with Google Authenticator are key to gaining access to all of your digital accounts. If you lose access to those codes, you're going to have to switch to a backup access method—in the case of Google accounts, that might mean entering one of the backup codes provided when you set up 2FA.
If you're ready and determined to make the switch from Google Authenticator to Twilio Authy, you first need to make sure you've got both apps installed on your phone. Then you can begin switching your accounts over, one by one.
There's no automatic or speedy process here. It's simply a question of going into your accounts, disabling the 2FA feature temporarily, and then re-enabling it with Authy instead of Google Authenticator. You'll only be without 2FA protection for a few seconds before you're up and running with Authy.
Obviously, the exact process will depend on which accounts you use. With a Google account, for example, you need to open your account page on the web, select Security and 2-Step Verification, click Turn Off, confirm your choice, click 2-Step Verification again, and then click Get Started. You'll be taken through the process of setting up 2FA on your account.
These days, Google prefers to use a prompt on your phone as the 2FA confirmation, but you'll find an authenticator app option further down the settings screen once 2FA is back in place. Click Set Up, and you'll eventually be shown a QR code, which you can scan using the Authy app. In Authy, tap Add Account and then Scan QR Code.
It's always a good idea to check that the login you've swapped is working before moving on to the next one. To remove an account from Google Authenticator, tap and hold on it, then press the Trash Button (top right). Go through the list of accounts you've configured in the app, turning 2FA off and on for each one.
We can't give you detailed instructions for all of your accounts, but the 2FA setting shouldn't be too difficult to find. If you've got a Twitter account, go to your account settings page, then click Security and Account Access, Security, and Two-Factor Authentication. The authentication app should already be checked, so uncheck it, choose Turn Off, and check it again to get your QR code for Authy.
Again, make sure the switch has worked by logging out of your account and then back into it. The process might vary slightly between accounts—some might give you a fresh QR code rather than requiring you to turn 2FA off and back on again—but you'll need to dive into the security settings for the account in order to make the switch to Authy.
On a related note, switching your 2FA app to another phone is usually smoother because most apps have made this process straightforward. With Authy, for example, you just sign into the app on a new device to get all your codes. For Google Authenticator, tap the three dots in the app (top right) and then pick Transfer Accounts. You'll use the Export Accounts option on the phone you're leaving and the Import Accounts option on the one you're moving to.