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How to Set Up Two-Factor Authentication for Apple ID

Authored by:
Support.com Tech Pro Team
This Guided Path® was written and reviewed by Support.com’s Tech Pro team. With decades of experience, our Tech Pros are passionate about making technology work for you. We love feedback! Let us know what you think about this Guided Path by rating it at the end.

Introduction

Are you worried about someone getting access to your online accounts? Have you ever seen strange activity and devices you don't recognize on your Apple account?

You can avoid these by setting up two-factor authentication for your Apple ID.

Two factor authentication, also known as 2-Step or 2FA, is a way to add additional security to accounts and devices. After setting it up on your Apple account, the first time you log into a new Apple device you'll need to provide your password and the six-digit verification code. The six-digit verification code is automatically displayed on your trusted devices or sent to your phone number. Needing not only your password but access to another device gives your account added protection.

This guide will help you set up two factor authentication for your Apple ID.

Apple devices with two factor authentication

1 Setting Up Two-Factor Authentication

Two-Factor is available to iCloud and iTunes users with a device that's using the latest iOS or macOS, or who have access to a web browser and a phone number. A credit card is suggested as well in case you forget your password. The credit card can be used to help verify your identity.

Some Apple IDs created in iOS 10.3 or macOS 10.12.4 and later are protected with two-factor authentication by default. In this case, you will see that two-factor authentication is already turned on.

Minimum System Requirements for all devices that use your Apple ID:

  • iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 9 and later 
  • Mac with OS X El Capitan and iTunes 12.3 and later
  • Apple Watch with watchOS 2 and later
  • Apple TV HD with tvOS
  • Windows PC with iCloud for Windows and iTunes 12.3.3 and later

If you don’t meet the recommended system requirements on all the devices you use with your Apple ID, or you don’t have a valid credit card on file, you'll receive a related warning message. Read the message before proceeding and consider updating your devices or adding credit card information to your account to ensure the best possible experience when signing in or resetting your password.

AppleSet Up Two Factor on an iPad or iPhone

On a Device that has Already Been Setup

  1. Go to Settings.
    Settings
  2. Tap your name or Apple ID. If you're using iOS 10.2 or earlier you'll select iCloud first, then Apple ID.
    The Apple ID or name
  3. Tap Passwords and Security.
    Passwords and security
  4. Tap Turn On Two-Factor Authentication.
    Turning on two factor authentication
  5. Tap Continue.
    The continue button
  6. Enter the phone number where you want to receive verification codes when you sign in. You can choose to receive the codes by text message or automated phone call.
    Entering the number
  7. When you tap Next, Apple sends a verification code to the phone number you provided.
    The next button
  8. Enter the verification code to verify your phone number. Two-factor authentication is now on.
    Apple devices with two factor authentication

Enabling Two-Factor on a New Device

  1. When you first set up your new Apple device you might be asked to set up Apple ID Security. Tap Continue.
    Setting up Two-factor on an iphone
  2. Type in your phone number and select Next.
    The next button
  3. Enter the verification code to verify your phone number. Two-factor authentication is now on.
    Apple devices with two factor authentication
AppleSet Up Two Factor on a Mac
  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
    Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Click Apple ID. On macOS Mojave or earlier you'll choose iCloud and Account Details.
    The Apple ID button in system preferences
  3. Click Password & Security under your name. On macOS Mojave or earlier you'll click Security.
    Password and security
  4. Click Turn On Two-Factor Authentication.
    Turning on two factor
  5. Enter the verification code to verify your phone number. Two-factor authentication is now on.
    Apple devices with two factor authentication

2 Frequently Asked Questions

What if I forget my password?

You can always reset or change your password using a trusted device or web browser.

What if I don't have my trusted device or didn't get a verification code?

If you're signing in and don’t have a trusted device handy that can display verification codes; you can have a code sent to your trusted phone number via text message or an automated phone call instead. Click Didn't Get a Code on the sign in screen and choose to send a code to your trusted phone number. You can also get a code directly from Settings on a trusted device.
Didn't get a code prompt

Request account recovery if you can't sign in

If you can’t sign in, access a trusted device, reset your password, or receive verification codes you'll need to request account recovery to regain access to your account. Account recovery is an automatic process designed to get you back in to your account as quickly as possible while also denying access to anyone who might be pretending to be you. It might take a few days, or longer, depending on what specific account information you can provide to verify your identity.

Can I turn off two-factor authentication after I’ve turned it on?

If you've been using two-factor then you can no longer turn it off. You can only turn it off within two weeks of first enrolling.

Is this different than Apple’s older two-step verification feature?

Yes. Two-factor authentication is a new feature built directly into iOS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS, and Apple’s web sites. It uses different methods to trust devices and deliver verification codes, and offers a more streamlined user experience. You need two-factor authentication to use certain features that require improved security.

What if I don’t recognize the location shown in my sign in notification?

When you sign in on a new device, you’ll get a notification on your other trusted devices. This includes a map showing the approximate location of the new device. This is an approximate location based on the IP address the device is currently using, rather than the exact location of the device. The location shown might reflect the network you're connected to, and not your physical location.

If you know you’re the person trying to sign in but you don’t recognize the location shown, you can still tap Allow and continue signing in. However, if you ever see a notification that your Apple ID is being used to sign in on a new device and you're not the one signing in, tap Don’t Allow to block the sign in attempt.

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Are you worried about someone getting access to your online accounts? Have you ever seen strange activity and devices you don't recognize on your Apple account?

You can avoid these by setting up two-factor authentication for your Apple ID.

Two factor authentication, also known as 2-Step or 2FA, is a way to add additional security to accounts and devices. After setting it up on your Apple account, the first time you log into a new Apple device you'll need to provide your password and the six-digit verification code. The six-digit verification code is automatically displayed on your trusted devices or sent to your phone number. Needing not only your password but access to another device gives your account added protection.

This guide will help you set up two factor authentication for your Apple ID.

Apple devices with two factor authentication

Two-Factor is available to iCloud and iTunes users with a device that's using the latest iOS or macOS, or who have access to a web browser and a phone number. A credit card is suggested as well in case you forget your password. The credit card can be used to help verify your identity.

Some Apple IDs created in iOS 10.3 or macOS 10.12.4 and later are protected with two-factor authentication by default. In this case, you will see that two-factor authentication is already turned on.

Minimum System Requirements for all devices that use your Apple ID:

  • iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 9 and later 
  • Mac with OS X El Capitan and iTunes 12.3 and later
  • Apple Watch with watchOS 2 and later
  • Apple TV HD with tvOS
  • Windows PC with iCloud for Windows and iTunes 12.3.3 and later

If you don’t meet the recommended system requirements on all the devices you use with your Apple ID, or you don’t have a valid credit card on file, you'll receive a related warning message. Read the message before proceeding and consider updating your devices or adding credit card information to your account to ensure the best possible experience when signing in or resetting your password.

AppleSet Up Two Factor on an iPad or iPhone

On a Device that has Already Been Setup

  1. Go to Settings.
    Settings
  2. Tap your name or Apple ID. If you're using iOS 10.2 or earlier you'll select iCloud first, then Apple ID.
    The Apple ID or name
  3. Tap Passwords and Security.
    Passwords and security
  4. Tap Turn On Two-Factor Authentication.
    Turning on two factor authentication
  5. Tap Continue.
    The continue button
  6. Enter the phone number where you want to receive verification codes when you sign in. You can choose to receive the codes by text message or automated phone call.
    Entering the number
  7. When you tap Next, Apple sends a verification code to the phone number you provided.
    The next button
  8. Enter the verification code to verify your phone number. Two-factor authentication is now on.
    Apple devices with two factor authentication

Enabling Two-Factor on a New Device

  1. When you first set up your new Apple device you might be asked to set up Apple ID Security. Tap Continue.
    Setting up Two-factor on an iphone
  2. Type in your phone number and select Next.
    The next button
  3. Enter the verification code to verify your phone number. Two-factor authentication is now on.
    Apple devices with two factor authentication
AppleSet Up Two Factor on a Mac
  1. Click the Apple menu and select System Preferences.
    Apple Menu with System Preferences highlighted.
  2. Click Apple ID. On macOS Mojave or earlier you'll choose iCloud and Account Details.
    The Apple ID button in system preferences
  3. Click Password & Security under your name. On macOS Mojave or earlier you'll click Security.
    Password and security
  4. Click Turn On Two-Factor Authentication.
    Turning on two factor
  5. Enter the verification code to verify your phone number. Two-factor authentication is now on.
    Apple devices with two factor authentication

What if I forget my password?

You can always reset or change your password using a trusted device or web browser.

What if I don't have my trusted device or didn't get a verification code?

If you're signing in and don’t have a trusted device handy that can display verification codes; you can have a code sent to your trusted phone number via text message or an automated phone call instead. Click Didn't Get a Code on the sign in screen and choose to send a code to your trusted phone number. You can also get a code directly from Settings on a trusted device.
Didn't get a code prompt

Request account recovery if you can't sign in

If you can’t sign in, access a trusted device, reset your password, or receive verification codes you'll need to request account recovery to regain access to your account. Account recovery is an automatic process designed to get you back in to your account as quickly as possible while also denying access to anyone who might be pretending to be you. It might take a few days, or longer, depending on what specific account information you can provide to verify your identity.

Can I turn off two-factor authentication after I’ve turned it on?

If you've been using two-factor then you can no longer turn it off. You can only turn it off within two weeks of first enrolling.

Is this different than Apple’s older two-step verification feature?

Yes. Two-factor authentication is a new feature built directly into iOS, macOS, tvOS, watchOS, and Apple’s web sites. It uses different methods to trust devices and deliver verification codes, and offers a more streamlined user experience. You need two-factor authentication to use certain features that require improved security.

What if I don’t recognize the location shown in my sign in notification?

When you sign in on a new device, you’ll get a notification on your other trusted devices. This includes a map showing the approximate location of the new device. This is an approximate location based on the IP address the device is currently using, rather than the exact location of the device. The location shown might reflect the network you're connected to, and not your physical location.

If you know you’re the person trying to sign in but you don’t recognize the location shown, you can still tap Allow and continue signing in. However, if you ever see a notification that your Apple ID is being used to sign in on a new device and you're not the one signing in, tap Don’t Allow to block the sign in attempt.