Two factor authentication is an important security measure for many, but can also cause anxiety. Google Authenticator does not automatically migrate codes when you upgrade or change your phone. You need to do this manually.
Although it is not difficult to transfer Google Authenticator codes between phones, it can be cumbersome and time-consuming. This is what Google meant by design. It shouldn’t take too long to get your 2FA codes from any device other than the one you are using.
Here’s how to transfer Google Authenticator (and all your authentication codes) to a new phone. The process works regardless of whether you are moving between platforms or staying within the iOS or Android universes.
Transfer Google Authenticator to a new phone
First, do not modify the Google Authenticator copy on your old phone. You should leave it alone for now. Otherwise, you could be caught without a way of entering 2FA codes before your new phone is set-up. Install Google Authenticator first on your new device. You can choose Google Authenticator Iphone or Google Authenticator Android.
Next, you will need your computer. When asked, open Google’s 2-Step verification page in your browser. Log into your Google account. Click “Change Phone” in the “Authenticator App” section.
Select the phone model you wish to migrate and then click “Next”.
Now you should see the screen “Set up Authenticator”, complete with your barcode. Follow the prompts to scan your barcode with Google Authenticator. Tap “Setup” and then “Scan A Barcode”.
To confirm that the scan was successful, you will need to enter the unique code.
Transfer your Google Authenticator codes to other sites
Congratulations! You probably still have a slew of other apps and services connected to Google Authenticator–perhaps Dashlane, Slack, Dropbox, Reddit, or others. Each of these will need to be migrated one at a. This is the tedious part that we mentioned earlier.
The process itself is simple, even though you may need to look around for settings. Open the Google Authenticator app or log in to the site you’ve chosen. Locate the 2FA settings for that site. It is likely to be located in the account, password or security section of the website. However, it may also be found in the mobile or desktop apps. This is an example: Dashlane’s 2FA settings can be found in the desktop application, not on the website. Reddit, however, places the 2FA controls on its site under the “User Setting” menu on the tab “Privacy & Security”.
After you have found the correct controls, disable 2FA on this site. The site password or authentication code will be required. This is why it’s important to keep the old phone with a copy of Google Authenticator.