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How to set up two-factor authentication for your Apple ID and iCloud account

Susie Ochs | March 27, 2017
It only takes a minute or two to set up.

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  1. Open System Preferences and select iCloud. Click the Account Details button, and sign in if prompted.
  2. In the Security tab, click the button labeled Turn on two-factor authentication. Read the message and click Continue.
  3. Verify your identity by answering your security questions.
  4. Enter a phone number you can use to receive verification codes, and choose if you want to get text messages or calls.
  5. Enter the code that’s sent you to right away to finish up.

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What if my device is too old?

If your Mac isn’t running El Capitan, or your iOS device isn’t running iOS 9, you can still use two-step verification, which is slightly different than two-factor authentication, mostly because it relies on a text message being sent to a phone number, while the newer “authentication” is baked more seamlessly into the OSes. Plus, the older verification method requires you to hold onto a Recovery Key in case you ever lose your password.

two factor mac popup

Two-step verification always sends you a text message. With the newer two-factor authentication, you'll get this cool pop-up on nearby trusted devices signed in to the same iCloud account. 

You can read more about the differences from Apple as well as from our own Glenn Fleishman.

Apple still provides a way to enable two-step verification, by following this link, signing in, and following the instructions.

 

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