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Microsoft Authenticator: Your guide to the multiplatform 2FA app

Originally posted on androidpolice.

In today’s world, it’s important to protect your online accounts by adding an extra layer of security. Most social media apps, banks, and web services support industry-standard time-based one-time passcodes (TOTP) to prevent unauthorized access to your account. TOTP is secure, offers quicker sign-ins than email and text codes, and works cross-platform. Microsoft Authenticator is one such app that has TOTP and a password manager built-in.

Whether you use a top-of-the-line iPhone or budget Android phone, you can set up and use a two-factor authentication app from Microsoft. The handy service is available on the desktop platform.

Microsoft Authenticator explained

Microsoft Authenticator is a two-factor authentication app from the software giant. However, unlike other similar apps like Authy and Google Authenticator, it isn’t limited to generating time-based one-time passwords. It offers password management, saved addresses, verified IDs, and more.

It’s a cross-platform solution. Microsoft has apps on the Play Store and the App Store. While the company doesn’t have an app on the desktop, you can use the Microsoft Edge browser to access your saved passwords and addresses. The company refers to it as Microsoft Wallet.

Microsoft Authenticator offers password-less login to your personal, work, and school Microsoft accounts. You can use your PIN, password, or biometrics to confirm your identity and log in to your account. As for other online accounts, you can only set up TOTP codes and save their login details in the password manager.

Microsoft Authenticator features

Here are some of the noteworthy features of Microsoft Authenticator.

Enhanced security

Microsoft Authenticator delivers enhanced security through two-factor authentication. When you set it, the web service or app requires an additional six or eight-digit code to confirm your identity. Open Authenticator, tap a code to copy it, and enter the code.

Password management

With Microsoft Authenticator, you no longer need third-party paid password management tools. It offers basic features to manage your login entries efficiently. You can enter the website name, username, and password. However, there isn’t a way to enter notes for a specific entry.

Microsoft Authenticator also supports a password generator. You can set a password length, change relevant settings to include or exclude numbers, letters, and special characters, and generate a unique password in no time.

Addresses

Apart from passwords, you can save your addresses in the Authenticator app. If you use the Microsoft Edge mobile or desktop app, you can use these entries to fill in a form with a single click.

Verified IDs

This is another neat add-on in Microsoft Authenticator. Some websites and organizations offer verified IDs. You can scan a QR code and add your workplace’s ID in no time. The practice makes account setup simple and safer while giving you more visibility and control over your personal data. Your organization usually offers a Verified ID via a QR code.

Biometric support

Support for biometrics is another critical security add-on for Authenticator. Whether you use it on iPhone or Android, go to Settings to turn on the App Lock toggle. You can also activate iCloud backup on your iPhone to restore app data when you switch to a new device.

Password Autofill

You can also use Microsoft Authenticator as a password manager. It works seamlessly with the Microsoft Edge browser. Mobile users can head to Settings and set it as the default password manager. You can easily autofill login details and save new entries with a single tap.

Set up Microsoft Authenticator

Now that you know the basics of Microsoft Authenticator and its features, let’s set it up.

Set up 2FA codes

To set up a Microsoft account, open the Authenticator app and tap Sign in with Microsoft. Now, log in with your account details and complete the process on the web by tapping the link.

Microsoft shows a random number on the web, which you can add on the app to link your account. When the setup is complete, you can sign in to your Microsoft account without a password. Enter the email address and add the code generated by the app.

Authenticator supports other accounts. Let’s use Instagram as an example.

  1. Go to Instagram and sign in with your account.
  2. Navigate to More > Settings.
  3. Select Password and Security > Two-factor authentication.
  4. Select your account and type your password to confirm your identity.
  5. Click Authenticator app.
  6. Check the QR code and security key.
  7. Launch Microsoft Authenticator.
  8. Tap + at the top and select Other.
  9. Scan the QR code, enter Instagram as the account name, and you are good to go.
  10. You’ll see a six-digit authentication code on the Authenticator home screen. Enter the same on Instagram web.
  11. Repeat the same for other essential social media accounts and online services.

From now on, when you log in to your Instagram account with a username and password, it asks for an authentication code. Open Authenticator, copy the code, and enter it on Instagram.

Import and create password entries

If you use another password manager, export your password entries and import them to Authenticator. The steps to export your passwords differ from one service to another, but you’ll download a CSV file.

  1. Open Authenticator and go to Settings.
  2. Scroll to Import Passwords.
  3. Tap Import from Password Managers.
  4. Select your password manager from the following menu.
  5. Select the CSV file and import it from the default file manager app.
  6. When the process is complete, go to the Passwords tab to check your entries.
  7. Tap + at the top to create new entries.

Set Microsoft Authenticator as the default password manager

After adding login entries in Microsoft Authenticator, set it as the default password manager on iPhone and Android.

How to change the password manager on iPhone

  1. Open Settings and scroll to Password.
  2. Confirm your identity with Face ID.
  3. Tap Password options.
  4. Turn on iCloud Keychain and turn on the toggle next to Authenticator.
  5. Follow the on-screen instructions, and you are set to use it as the default password manager.

How to change the password manager on Android

  1. Launch Settings and go to Passwords and accounts.
  2. Tap the settings icon beside the password manager and select Authenticator from the following menu.

Access Microsoft Authenticator on the desktop

While you can’t access your TOTP codes using Authenticator on the desktop, you can check your password entries via the Edge browser.

  1. Open Microsoft Edge and sign in with your Microsoft account details.
  2. Click the three-dot menu and open Settings.
  3. Open Microsoft Wallet and go to Passwords to check saved entries.

Secure your online presence

While Microsoft Authenticator isn’t as feature-rich as some of its rivals, it offers the basics for generating TOTP and managing passwords. If you want to explore other options, check out our dedicated list of the top 2FA apps on Android.

Source: androidpolice

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