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Gmail: How to replace your password for a passkey

Originally posted on androidpolice.

Identity verification without passwords on your Google account is possible. Learn how to use this new system

A passwordless future awaits you as the struggle to remember your combinations and protect them from hackers continues. In May 2023, Google announced it was adopting passkeys to make sign-ins easier and safer. This new method relies on public-key cryptography, a technology where private and public keys communicate to verify your identity.

Typically, the password you use to log in to your Google account grants you access to all associated products. Likewise, passkeys provide entry to your Gmail account on mobile devices and personal computers. Here’s how to use them instead of passwords.

How to change your Gmail password to passkeys on Android tablets and phones

Two key types are involved in every passkey authentication: the public and the private keys. Google stores the public one on its servers and uses it to encrypt your login information or emails. You’ll use the private key your device stores to access your Gmail account, as it’s what decrypts the information. It works only when you use the security method exclusive to your phone or tablet.

When you set a pattern, PIN, or biometrics as your lock method, that’s what you’ll use to enter your account. You no longer need to type a password. Also, you don’t see the passkeys as they remain hidden from direct view. This process emphasizes the importance of maintaining their secrecy to ensure the security of the associated accounts.

Google automatically generates passkeys when you sign in to your account with any Android device. If it doesn’t, you can make a new one. However, you need to create a screen lock method to use passkeys. The security system ties to how you unlock the device. It can’t be without a PIN, password, pattern, or biometrics.

Create passkeys only on devices you own. Anyone can access your account if they know your screen lock method. If you logged in with a device you don’t trust, remove it from your Google account.

Use the following steps to create passkeys on your Android mobile devices:

  1. Go to Settings > Security and privacy > Screen lock.
  2. Select a security method and follow the prompts to set it up.
  3. Open your mobile browser and visit the passkeys creation web page.
  4. Tap Get passkeys.
  5. Tap Create passkeys, then tap Continue.
  6. If an existing passkey is on your phone, tap Use Passkeys. Google prompts you to apply your screen lock.
  7. Tap Give it a try to test that your passkey works.

Moving forward, Google prompts you to use your passkey to access your account instead of your Gmail address and password. When you activate two-factor authentication (2FA), you’ll skip it automatically.

How to use Gmail account passkeys on computers

You can create passkeys on other devices you own, and they can log in. If you own a computer, you may need to scan a barcode that appears on its screen with your phone to log in successfully. Another way is to use a Windows Hello method. You must set it up on your PC to use passkeys. It’s a biometric authentication feature on Windows 10 and newer operating system (OS) versions.

You can use face, PIN, or password sign-in methods, depending on your device’s support for them. If you try to create your passkeys without Hello authentication, you receive an error message saying your device doesn’t support it.

Use the following steps to set it up properly:

  1. Press the Windows button on your keyboard or click it in the lower-right corner of the screen. This action opens the Start menu.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Go to Accounts > Sign-in options.
  4. Select a Windows Hello login method and follow the instructions to set it up.
  5. Open the Google Chrome browser and visit google.com/account/about/passkeys/.
  6. Click Get passkey and sign in to your account with your Gmail address and password. Google automatically uses your Windows Hello security method as a passkey.

How to replace passkeys with passwords or remove them from your Gmail account

If you prefer your old password, you can still use it. When you sign in to your Gmail account, you’ll see an option to Try another method. Selecting it allows you to use your password. The more you choose this option, the less Google recommends the passkey sign-in option as its algorithm learns from your behavior. You can also turn off the option to use passkeys in the Google account security menu.

When you sign in to an untrustworthy device or don’t want passkeys, review the devices you’re signed in to and remove them from your account. This way, they lose access to it completely. Here’s how to use each method:

Replace Gmail account passkeys with passwords

  1. Log in to your Google account from a browser or the Accounts and privacy menu in your device’s settings.
  2. When Google prompts you to use your passkey, tap Try another way instead.
  3. Select Use password, and follow the instructions to log in with your Gmail address and password.

Turn off Gmail account passkeys temporarily

  1. From a PC or mobile browser, visit myaccount.google.com/.
  2. Go to Security Skip password when possible.
  3. Click or tap the toggle switch to turn off the feature.

Passkeys take zero-password access to the next level

Passkeys are brilliant designs as they save you the stress of typing your email address and passwords. But they don’t come without risks. For one, if Google’s servers are breached, your account may be compromised. Second, many users have concerns about recovering a Google account when the host device goes missing or becomes faulty. Passkeys haven’t reached worldwide popularity, and Google isn’t completely replacing passwords. So, you may use your old security methods for now.

Source: androidpolice

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