Microsoft Authenticator is a security app for two-factor authentication. It is in direct competition with Google Authenticator, Authy, LastPass Authenticator and many others. You can run the app while updating your Microsoft account settings or enabling two-factor authentication. Alternatively, you may simply want to have a TFA available for your security purposes. Regardless, let’s talk about Microsoft Authenticator and how it works. Press the button at any time to download the app. You can also find the iOS version by clicking here. Here the version for Android. The entire guide works for both the iOS and Android versions of the app.
What is Microsoft Authenticator?
Microsoft Authenticator is Microsoft’s two-factor authentication app. It was originally launched in beta in June 2016. The app works like the others. Log in to an account and the account requires a code. This app generates those types of codes. It is extremely useful for quick access, runs on multiple platforms and is faster than e-mails or text codes.
You can also use the password-free login app for your Microsoft account. The app also offers support for multiple accounts and support for non-Microsoft websites and services.
How does Microsoft Authenticator work?
The app works like most other authentication apps. Generate a string of numbers on a rotating base of about 30 seconds. In other words, it generates a six-digit code every 30 seconds. Simply log in to your app or service as usual. Eventually, the site requires the two-factor authentication code. Access the Microsoft Authenticator app to receive those codes.
It works slightly differently on Microsoft accounts than on non-Microsoft accounts. In fact, you can simply use the codes in this app to log in without a password for your Microsoft account. However, on all other account types (Facebook, Google, etc.), you need to log in with your username and password before you can add the code.
Microsoft supports any website that uses the TOTP (time-based one-time password) standard. Therefore, the app can continuously generate codes and use them as needed. This is different from the HOTP standard in which a code is generated specifically for you only once. Sites that use this method, such as Twitter and most likely your banking app, cannot use Microsoft Authenticator.
How to use Microsoft Authenticator?
Configuring the app is quite simple. Let’s go to setup with your Microsoft account. Just download the app and open it to start the tutorial.
Setup for Microsoft account:
- Log in with your Microsoft account credentials in the Microsoft Authenticator app. This should be your first suggestion when you open the app for the first time. Just select “My Account” or “Work or School Account” to log in to your Microsoft account.
- After successfully logging in, you must authenticate the access with a code. You can do it via SMS, email or another method.
- That’s all! Once the code has been entered, the app is linked to your Microsoft account, you use it for access without a password. The next time you log in, enter your username and enter the code generated by the app.
Installation for non-Microsoft accounts:
This varies from site to website, but the general idea remains the same. It’s a fairly simple process. You can prepare the Microsoft Authenticator app for the task by tapping the three-point button in the Microsoft Authenticator app and selecting the “Add account” option. From there, select the “Other account” option and get ready to follow the steps below.
- Return to the website where you should ask yourself if you want two-factor authentication via SMS, e-mail or an application. Select the option.
- You will see a QR code on the screen or a six-digit code. Use the Microsoft Authenticator app to scan the QR code.
- Alternatively, the site could show you a code to insert instead of a QR code. It’s not a problem! Go back to the app and tap the “Or enter the code manually” option at the bottom of the page. Give your account a name to understand which account it is.
That is all, really. Setting up your Microsoft account is something you should only do once. In the meantime, you can add any online account you’d like by repeating the steps in your non-Microsoft account on all other accounts.
From there, using the app is very simple. Simply log in with your email or username and password on non-Microsoft websites and enter the six-digit code from the Microsoft Authenticator app when prompted. Microsoft websites simply require you to add your username and then ask you for a code from the app. This is all that this app does and that’s all it is designed to do!