Microsoft has updated its Authenticator app so that you no longer need a password to log into your various online accounts. All that’s required now is your smartphone and the accompanying app. We show you how to set up and use Microsoft Authenticator.
What is Microsoft Authenticator?
Authenticator is Microsoft’s own two-step verification security feature. As with Google two-step verification the idea is that to make your accounts more secure you dispense with passwords as the primary way to unlock devices.
Instead, you receive a code on your phone each time you go to log in, which means a thief would need both devices to get access to your data.
The real power of this method is that it’s a strong way to prevent hackers breaking into your account with a stolen password. It’s not fool-proof, but it does make life much harder for data thieves.
Downloading and setting up the app on your phone
The Microsoft Authenticator app is available for Android, iOS, and Windows smartphones. To get started go to the relevant app store, search for Authenticator, make sure it’s from Microsoft Corporation, then download it to your device.
Launch the app and you’ll be prompted to add an account. Tap the Add account button, then choose from either Personal, Work/School, or other.
The latter will allow you to create two-step authentication for the likes of Facebook, Google, and other online services. For now we’ll focus on Microsoft accounts.
Once you’ve selected the account type, you’ll be asked to log in and then confirm you are who you say you are by entering the last four digits of your mobile number.
Enter these and tap Send code, then shortly afterwards you’ll receive a text message containing a code. Type this in and your two-step authentication will be up and running.
Using the Microsoft Authenticator app
The app itself is pretty basic. At the top of the screen you’ll see your account details, beneath which is an eight-figure number that changes every thirty seconds.
This is what you’ll need to enter when you log into accounts that require codes. Microsoft accounts themselves will usually ask you to confirm on your phone that you want to allow access.
To see how this works go to the Microsoft site and make sure you’re logged out. Now when you log back in you’ll see the normal account name field, but when you go to the password page there’s an option beneath that reads Use the Microsoft Authenticator app instead.
Click on this and you should see a notification appear on your smartphone that asks you to Approve sign-in? followed by the account name and location of the attempted login.
Tap Approve and you should now find your account accessible.
That’s it. You’ve now made your account more secure and gotten around the old problem of having to remember lots of passwords. Happy days are here again!